SHAFAQNA - From the bombers of 9/11 to the Tsarnaev brothers, everyone asks the question: why? Why would these men kill? Why would these men aim for such destruction? We know there is no one path to radicalization. The reasons why someone picks up a gun or blows themselves up are ineluctably personal, born variously of grievance and frustration; religious piety or the desire for systemic socio-economic change; irredentist conviction or commitment to revolution. And yet, though there is no universal terrorist personality, nor has a single, broadly applicable profile ever been produced, there are things we do know. Terrorists are generally motivated by a profound sense of (albeit, misguided) altruism; deep feelings of self-defense; and, if they are religiously observant or devout, an abiding, even unswerving, commitment to their faith and the conviction that their violence is not only theologically justified, but divinely commanded.
All terrorists fundamentally see themselves as altruists: incontestably believing that they are serving a “good” cause designed to achieve a greater good for a wider constituency—whether real or imagined—which the terrorist and his organization or cell purport to represent. Indeed, it is precisely this sense of self-righteous commitment and self-sacrifice that that draws people into terrorist groups. It all helps them justify the violence they commit. It gives them collective meaning. It gives them cumulative power. The terrorist virtually always sees himself as a reluctant warrior: cast perpetually on the defensive and forced to take up arms to protect himself and his community. They see themselves as driven by desperation——and lacking any viable alternative—to violence against a repressive state, a predatory rival ethnic or nationalist group, or an unresponsive international order.
But individuals will always be attracted to violence in different ways. Just look at the people who have gravitated towards terrorism in the United States in recent years. We have seen terrorists of South Asian and North as well as East African descent as well as those hailing both from the Middle East and Caribbean.
Now we have the Tsarnaev brothers products of centuries-long conflict between Russia and Chechnya. We have seen life-long devout Muslims as well as recent converts—including one Philadelphia suburban housewife who touted her petite stature and blonde hair and blue eyes as being so atypical of the stereotypical terrorist so as to defy any efforts at profiling. Radicalized over the Internet, she sought to use her self-described ability to avoid detection to assassinate a Swedish artist who drew a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad. They come from every walk of life, from marginalized people working in menial jobs, some with long criminal records or histories of juvenile delinquency, to people from solidly middle and upper-middle class backgrounds with university and perhaps even graduate degrees and prior passions for cars, sports, rock music and other completely secular, material interests.
The spectrum of British jihadis over the past decade illustrates the panoply of individuals attracted to terrorism. Richard Reid, the so-called “shoe bomber,” who attempted to blow up an American Airlines flight en route from Paris to Miami in December 2001 was a career criminal who dropped out of high school and converted to Islam while in prison before he was recruited to al Qaeda. By comparison, Omar Khyam, the mastermind behind a 2004 bombing plot of a shopping mall outside London, was the son of a wealthy businessman and grew up in a comfortable, upper-middle-class environment. Similarly, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the al Qaeda operative responsible for the kidnapping of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002, attended an exclusive (e.g., expensive) private school. He later was admitted to the world-renowned London School of Economics (LSE), where he studied applied mathematics statistical theory, economics, and social psychological. Described as “handsome, tall and muscular, very bright and charming,” his parents expected he would be knighted some day and not languishing in prison awaiting execution for his role in Pearl’s execution.
And, as we have also seen, relationships formed at work, at school, on sports teams, and other recreational and religious activities as well as over the Internet can prey upon the already susceptible. In some instances, first generation sons and daughters of immigrants embrace an interpretation of their religion and heritage that is more political, more extreme and more austere—and thereby demands greater personal sacrifices—than that practiced by their parents. The violence inflicted on Muslims in general and Muslim women and children especially around the world have been cited by many homegrown terrorists as a salient motivating factor in their politicization and radicalization and may explain why the American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were cited by Dzhogar Tsarev as the reasons behind his and his older brother’s bombing of the Boston Marathon.
Indeed, the common element in the radicalization process reflects these individuals’ deep commitment to their faith—often recently re-discovered; their admiration of terrorist movements or leading terrorist figures who they see as having struck a cathartic blow for their creed’s enemies wherever they are and whomever they might be; hatred of their adopted homes, especially if in the United States and the West; and, a profoundly shared sense of alienation from their host countries.
At the start of the war on terrorism a dozen years ago the enemy was clear and plainly in sight. It was a large terrorist organization, situated mostly in one geographic location, and it was led by an identifiable leader. Today, when the borders between domestic and international terrorism have blurred, when our adversaries are not only identifiable organizations but enigmatic individuals, a complete re-thinking of our counterterrorism policies and architecture is needed. We built an effective defense against the previous threat. Our challenge today is to develop new defenses against this more amorphous, diffuse and individualized one.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Assad made the remarks on Sunday in Damascus while receiving a Lebanese delegation representing national parties and forces.
The Syrian president pledged to make Syria free from terrorism in all its forms.
He underlined that the government will make no reconciliation with terrorist groups and will sternly confront with them.
Meanwhile, the army inflicted more losses on foreign-backed militants on Sunday across the country.
State media reports said an operation in Damascus suburb destroyed weapons and ammunition and left unknown number of terrorists killed and wounded.
The Syrian Army units have conducted similar successful operations in Hama and Homs governorates over the past few days.
The Syrian troops have also seized four cars carrying a cache of weapons in the northwestern governorate of Idlib. Several militants were killed in clashes there.
The troops dismantled five Turkish-made anti-armor mines and captured thirteen explosive devices planted on the road between Khan Shekhun and Ma'art al-Nouman in Idlib governorate.
Government forces also inflicted heavy losses on armed groups near the shrine of Sayyida Zainab in the south of the capital Damascus.
Syria has been gripped by a deadly unrest since March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of government forces, have been killed in the violence.
Damascus says the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals.
The Syrian government says the West and its regional allies including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey are supporting the militants.
Several international human rights organizations have accused militants operating in Syria of committing war crimes. -www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Most people you know probably talk about not getting enough sleep, but the percentage of U.S. adults who sleep for more than nine hours a night is actually on the rise, a new study suggests.
Between 1970 and 2007, the percentage of survey participants who reported sleeping for more than nine hours over a 24-hour period increased from 28 percent in 1985 to 37 percent in 2007, the study found. The trend was seen in participants' reports of both their weekday and weekend sleep habits.
What's more, the percentage of people who slept for less than six hours a night decreased, from about 11 percent in 1985 to 9 percent in 2007, the researchers said.
"This turns the current concept of an increasingly 'sleep-deprived society' on its head," the researchers write in the March 22 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.
Although there's been lots of talk about society sleeping too little, not much attention has been paid to the problem of too much sleep. However, studies show that sleeping more than nine hours a night is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, thinking problems and premature death, the researchers said.
A 2010 study published in the journal Sleep also found that there has been no overall increase in the percentage of U.S. adults who sleep for less than six hours, although there was an increase among full-time workers.
The new study, conducted by researchers at the University of Sydney, examined information from surveys done in 10 countries which asked participants to record how much time they allocated to different tasks in a 24-hour period. The study included surveys from over three decades. (Surveys in each country were from a nationally representative sample of that country's population.)
The U.S. participants were about 1.5 times more likely to report sleeping for more than nine hours a night, and 15 percent less likely to report sleeping less than six hours, in 2007 compared to 1985.
The study found a similar trend in other countries — Australia, Finland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom all reported increases in the percentage of people who slept for more than nine hours a day (only Canada and Italy reported decreases). Sweden and the United Kingdom also saw decreases in the percentage of people who slept for more than six hours, while Italy and Norway had increases.
"One does hear again and again…that people are sleeping less than they used to. There's never been any good evidence for that," said Diane S. Lauderdale, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Chicago's Department of Health Studies, who was not involved in the study.
One reason it may seem like we're sleeping less is that, as we grow up, we do, in fact, sleep less than we used to in childhood or as teenagers. "It makes sense to people, because everybody has experienced that" as they mature, Lauderdale said.
However, it's important to note that the way people define "sleep" can be ambiguous, and it's possible that in the study, participants recorded how long they spent in bed, rather than how long they actually spent sleeping, the researchers said. People are probably sleeping for most, but not all, of the hours they indicated on the survey, Lauderdale said.
It's not clear if long sleep duration itself is responsible for poor health outcomes, or if it is a sign of other problems, such as depression or reduced physical activity. It's possible that people in the study who appeared to sleep for a long time actually had trouble sleeping, and so they stayed in bed for longer, Lauderdale said. More research is needed to investigate the link between long sleep duration and poor health, she said.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – People have staged a demonstration in Washington to protest against the United Sates’ use of assassination drones.
The protesters gathered outside the White House as they were chanting slogans and holding signs against Washington’s use of drones.
Saturday’s protest is part of a series of public protests, dubbed April Days of Action, which the organizers say will spread nationwide and target the infrastructure -- the military bases, universities and companies -- that supports the US government's overseas drone program.
The activists want President Barack Obama to abandon his assassination drone program.
US officials refuse to publicly discuss any details of the covert program and the death toll from drone strikes remains a mystery.
According to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, in Pakistan alone 366 strikes have killed up to 3,581 people, with 884 being innocent civilians.
Washington uses assassination drones in several countries, claiming that they target “terrorists.” According to witnesses, however, the attacks have mostly led to massive civilian casualties.-www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Press TV
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –A new analysis pokes holes in a widely accepted theory that connects biodiversity abundance with a reduced disease risk for people.
More than three quarters of new, emerging, or re-emerging human diseases are caused by pathogens from animals. The dilution effect—considered to be one of the most important ideas in disease ecology—theorizes that disease risk For example, a tick has a higher chance of infecting a human with Lyme disease if the tick has previously had few animal host options beyond white-footed mice, which are carriers of the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.
If many other animal hosts had been available to the tick, the tick’s likelihood of being infected and spreading that infection to a human host would go down, according to the theory.
If true, the dilution effect would mean that conservation and public health agendas could be united in a common purpose: to protect biodiversity and guard against disease risk.
‘Very weak support, at best’
The theory of risk reduction is likely wrong, researchers say.
“However, its importance to the field or the beauty of the idea do not guarantee that it is actually scientifically correct,” says James Holland Jones, senior fellow at the Stanford University Woods Institute for the Environment.
In the first study to formally assess the dilution effect, Jones, former Woods-affiliated ecologist Dan Salkeld, and California Department of Public Health researcher Kerry Padgett tested the hypothesis through a meta-analysis of studies that evaluate links between host biodiversity and disease risk for disease agents that infect humans.
The analysis, published in the journal Ecology Letters, allowed the researchers to pool estimates from studies and test for any bias against publishing studies with “negative results” that contradict the dilution effect.
It found “very weak support, at best” for the dilution effect. Instead, the researchers found that the links between biodiversity and disease prevalence are variable and dependent on the disease system, local ecology, and probably human social context.
The role of individual host species and their interactions with other hosts, vectors and pathogens are more influential in determining local disease risk, the analysis found.
“Lyme disease biology in the Northeast is obviously going to differ in its ecology from Lyme disease in California,” Salkeld says. “In the Northeast, they have longer winters and abundant tick hosts. In California, we have milder weather and lots of Western fence lizards (a favored tick host) that harbor ticks but do not transmit the Lyme disease bacterium.”
So, these lizards should be considered unique in any study of disease risk within their habitat. Or, as Salkeld put it, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
Oversimplification of disease
Broadly advocating for the preservation of biodiversity and natural ecosystems to reduce disease risk is “an oversimplification of disease ecology and epidemiology,” the study’s authors write, adding that more effective control of “zoonotic diseases” (those transmitted from animals to humans) may require more detailed understanding of how pathogens are transmitted.
Specifically, the researchers recommend that more focus be placed on how disease risk relates to species characteristics and ecological mechanisms. They also urge scientists to report data on both prevalence and density of infection in host animals, and to better establish specific causal links between measures of disease risk (such as infection rates in host animals) and rates of infection in local human populations.
For their meta-analysis, the researchers were able to find only 13 published studies and three unpublished data sets examining relationships between biodiversity and animal-to-human disease risk.
This kind of investigation is “still in its infancy,” the authors note. “Given the limited data available, conclusions regarding the biodiversity-disease relationship should be regarded with caution.”
Still, Jones says, “I am very confident in saying that real progress in this field will come from understanding ecological mechanisms. We need to turn to elucidating these rather than wasting time arguing that simple species richness will always save the day for zoonotic disease risk.”for humans decreases as the variety of species in an area increases.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Health officials in the UK believe they have the strongest evidence yet that a new respiratory illness similar to the deadly Sars virus can spread from person to person.
Cases of the infection may come from contact with animals. However, if the virus can spread between people it poses a much more serious threat.
One man in the UK is thought to have caught the infection from his father.
However, officials say the threat to the whole population remains very low.
There have been 11 confirmed cases of the infection around the world. It causes pneumonia and sometimes kidney failure - five patients have died.
This is the third case identified in the UK. The first was a patient flown in from Qatar for treatment. The second was linked to travel to the Middle East and Pakistan.
The virus is then thought to have spread from the second patient to his son. There have been suggestions of person to person transmission in earlier cases in the Middle East, but this was not confirmed.
The third UK case is being treated in intensive care at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
The patient is known to have an underlying health condition which left them with a weakened immune system. This may have made them susceptible to the infection.
There have been no signs of the virus spreading to staff at the hospital.
Prof John Watson, head of the respiratory diseases department at the Health Protection Agency (HPA), said: "Confirmed novel coronavirus infection in a person without travel history to the Middle East suggests that person-to-person transmission has occurred, and that it occurred in the UK.
"Although this case provides strong evidence for person to person transmission, the risk of infection in most circumstances is still considered to be very low."
The exact source of the new virus and how it spreads is still unknown. The leading theory is that it comes from animals, the new Sars-like virus does appear to be closely related to bats.
However, if the infection needs to jump from an animal to a person with each infection the threat would be much lower.
The World Health Organization reported cases from within the same family in Saudi Arabia in November 2012.
It was impossible to tell whether each patient caught the infection separately - or if it had spread between them.
A WHO spokesperson said: "We know that in some of those cases there was close physical contact between family members caring for one another, so we can't rule out human-to-human transmission."
The two cases in the UK, with only one case linked to foreign travel, provide the strongest evidence that the infection can spread between people. The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said it was "overwhelmingly likely" human-to-human transmission had occurred.
However, if the virus could readily and easily spread between people then far more cases than the 11 detected so far would have been detected.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses ranging from the common cold to the Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome) virus, which spread through droplets of body fluids produced by sneezing and coughing.
It is thought these cases do not represent a "tip of the iceberg" with far more people being infected with mild or no symptoms, but the infection is still being analysed.
In 2003 an outbreak of Sars killed about 800 people after the virus spread to more than 30 countries around the world.
The new coronavirus was first identified in September 2012 in a patient in Saudi Arabia who has since died.
No travel restrictions are in place.
Prof John Oxford, a virology expert at Queen Mary, University of London, said: "This doesn't raise too many alarm bells.
"In a family things can spread far more easily than they would spread outside, people share towels and toothbrushes etc.
"If it was somebody who was not related or a nurse or a doctor - that would be a lot more serious."
Prof Ian Jones, from the University of Reading, said: "There is really close contact involved here, it is not 'true' human transmission in the general public.
"Although it is severe, it's not doing anything worse than some other respiratory infections, it's just a new one."
Prof Wendy Barclay, from Imperial College London, said it was wise to keep a close eye on the virus.
"We're an incremental step closer to worrying, but it isn't a worry where we need to say there is a pandemic coming," she said.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – A new study has revealed that people living closer to the equator are more likely to have asthma and allergies compared to those living further from the latitudinal line, HealthDay News reported.
According to the study authors, the association may be related to more exposure from ultraviolet-B rays in sunlight.
“This increase in UV-B may be linked to vitamin D, which is thought to modify the immune system,” study lead author Vicka Oktaria from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “These modifications can lead to an elevated risk of developing allergy and asthma.”
This study, published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, is the first to examine the link between geography and allergy/asthma risk. Previous studies have found that environmental factors related to living in different latitudes can alter a person’s exposure to airborne allergens.-www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: Fox News
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Thousands of people in Mali have been forced to flee their homes amid the French-led war on the West African nation.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that more than 5000 Malian refugees have arrived in Mauritania alone since January 11, when France launched a war on Mali under the pretext of halting the advance of fighters in the country.
In addition to Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger are also providing the displaced Malians with shelter.
Meanwhile, the UN agency said aid is needed to prevent what it calls the worsening of the now acutely fragile humanitarian situation across the Sahel region.
It highlighted that almost 380,000 people have fled their homes to seek safety both inside and outside Mali.
On January 18, UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming warned that “in the near future there could be up to 300,000 people additionally displaced inside Mali, and over 400,000 additionally displaced in the neighboring countries.”
The United States, Canada, Britain, Belgium, Germany, and Denmark have voiced support for the French war on Mali.
France has also imposed media restrictions on the developments on the ground with the help of the Malian army, which human rights groups say has committed ‘serious abuses.’
Some political analysts believe that Mali’s abandoned natural resources, including gold and uranium reserves, could be one of the reasons behind the French war.
Chaos broke out in the African country after Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure was toppled in a military coup on March 22, 2012. The coup leaders said the move was in response to the government’s inability to contain the Tuareg rebellion in the north of the country.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – At least 20% of people, including half of schoolchildren, were infected with swine flu during the first year of the pandemic in 2009, according to data from 19 countries.
It is thought the virus killed 200,000 people around the world.
A World Health Organization-led study looked for evidence of the body's immune system fighting the virus.
It showed large numbers of people had been infected, although not all would have developed full-blown flu.
The H1N1 virus first appeared in Mexico in 2009 and rapidly spread around the world.
An international group of researchers looked at more than 90,000 blood samples before and during the pandemic in countries including India, Australia and the UK.
They looked for antibodies which are produced when the body is infected with H1N1.
By comparing the figures before and during the pandemic, the researchers can determine how many people were infected as the virus spread around the world.
Approximately 24% of people had been infected overall, but half of school-age children showed signs of infection.
One of the researchers, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove from Imperial College London, said fewer than two in every 10,000 people infected died during the pandemic.
"However, those that did die are much younger than in seasonal flu so the years of life lost will be much more," she told the BBC.
"The figures drive home how incredibly infectious the virus is," she said.
Many older people, who typically die during outbreaks of flu, were protected as they had been exposed to the virus decades before.
Prof John Oxford, a virology expert at Queen Mary, University of London, said the figures "make sense".
"It was the busiest virus on the block and it displaced other influenza viruses - it was the only virus in town."
He said a similar pattern would be expected in other countries which were not analysed in the study.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Upon returning from his five-month tour of duty in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand Province, the third in line to the British throne, Prince Harry, says he killed Muslims to protect his people.
“Take a life to save a life, that’s what we revolve around,” Harry said.
It is not clear how many people Prince Harry has killed during the Helmand tour, but he has confirmed responsibility for killings.
“If there’s people trying to do bad stuff to our guys, then we’ll take them out of the game,” he said.
Prince Harry, who served as co-pilot gunner, compared killing people from an Apache helicopter to playing video games and described his job as a “joy.”
“It's a joy for me because I’m one of those people that loves playing PlayStation and Xbox, so with my thumbs I like to think I’m probably quite useful,” he said.
The 28-year-old prince was deployed to serve a 20-week mission with NATO forces in Afghanistan shortly after his scandalous nude pictures at a hotel in Las Vegas were published on the Internet, making headlines worldwide.
According to the website icasualties.org, a total of 3,257 US-led troops have lost their lives in Afghanistan since 2001, when the United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror.
The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity continues to rise across the country, despite the presence of thousands of US-led troops.
Hundreds of foreign soldiers were killed in the war-torn country in 2012 alone.-www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: Press TV