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Archive for January, 2011

Easy way to check your health

Good health is the key for a long and happy life, but how often do we go to the doctor and check our body from top to toe? Luckily for us, there are a few steps we can do ourselves at home.

1. Check your resting heart rate.

Resting heart rate indicates how effectively your heart is. When you exercise and get in better physical shape, your heart will be ever more efficient, pumping more blood around the body with each heartbeat. What you coach at the endurance exercise, oxygen uptake, endurance, and it is primarily the heart’s stroke volume – how much blood the heart pumps out per stroke – that increases and improves maximal oxygen uptake or improved condition. Resting heart rate is reduced when stroke volume increases; therefore, resting heart rate is an indication of fitness. An average heart beats about 60-80 beats each minute when the body is at rest.

How to test:
When you wake up in the morning before you stand up from bed, check your resting heart rate by placing the forefinger and middle finger lightly over the main arteries of the wrist or neck artery, which is about 2.5 cm from the trachea, on each side of the neck. Count your strokes in 15 seconds and multiply the number by four to get the number of beats per minute.
You can also test by using a heart rate monitor.

  • 30-40 beats per minute: Very well trained, at the elite level athlete.
  • 40-50 beats per minute: You are very healthy and well trained.
  • 50-60 beats per minute: Wanted: people usually have a resting pulse below 60, then you’re doing well.

65 + beats per minute: 60-70 beats per minute is considered normal. Is resting heart rate 75 or higher, then that is a sign of increased risk of heart attack, according to a Norwegian study. In other words, there is good reason to aim to reduce the resting heart rate with exercise. Be aware that some medications / drugs will affect heart rate. Some are born with naturally high resting heart rate even if the shape is good.

2. Check your eyes

The eyes can give you an indication of your cholesterol level. White matting around the edge of the iris of the eye could be a sign that the cholesterol is too high. High levels of cholesterol in the blood increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, like heart attacks

How to check your eyes:

Look at the iris of your eyes in a mirror. Is there white matting around the edge of the iris of the eye or a little inside? If so, this may be a sign of high cholesterol. Go to the doctor and take a blood test, and make sure your diet includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and oats, which lower the cholesterol.

3. The secret is in the waist measurement, the bigger the waist, the higher the risk for heart diseases.

Measurement of the waist:

Measure around your stomach between the lower rib and iliac crest while standing without any clothes on. It is important that you relax, do not hold your breath and breathing in the abdomen or exhale and balusters on the stomach.

* Women should be aware if the waistline is about 80 cm, and should take some measures if the waistline is about 88 cm or more.
* Men should be aware if the waistline is about 94 cm, and should do something if the waistline is about 102 cm or more.

A European study found that the risk of premature death is about twice as large for people with a lot of fat around the waist (more than 120 cm for men and more than 100 cm for women), compared with those with a narrow waist (smaller than 80 cm for men and less than 65 cm for women). The researchers behind the study believe the increased risk of premature death due to abdominal fat secretes substances and hormones that can help you develop chronic diseases, especially heart disease and cancer.

4. Check your responsiveness
How fast do you manage to grab something that is falling?

How to test?

Get somebody to hold a 30 cm long stick in front of you. The person shall keep the stick at the end where it says 30 cm, and the stick should be facing down. Place your hand on a level with 0-marked, with the thumb and index finger ready to intervene. Without warning, your friend will drop the ruler. You should grab it as quickly as you can, before it goes to the floor. Then, note the length of your finger where you grabbed the ruler.
Under 5 cm: Great
Under 10 cm: Average
Between 10 0g 29 cm: Are you sure that you get enough exercise and rest?
Boom: You can have low levels of potassium and need to exercise more.

5. Check your flexibility. One side of the body may be softer than the other.

To test your flexibility:
Stand with your right arm straight up in the air, bend your elbow so your hand hangs behind you. Raise your left arm up behind his back, as if to scratch between the shoulder blades, and try to obtain the other hand, as if you shake hands on yourself behind your back. Repeat on other side. Can you grasp your hands, you are very smooth. To touch the fingertips is the next best. By practicing this, you can improve your flexibility. It is normal to be softer on one side.

6. Check your brain

Your brain needs exercise just as much as the body to work and to strengthen your memory.

To test the brain:
Count backward from 100 for seven figures at a time (100 – 93 – 86 and so on) and try to get as low as you can without stopping. If you come down to 65 is considered a good result. To keep your mind focused, try to solve crosswords daily or read books as often as you can.

Note: These advices are just indicators and may not tell you how your health is 100%, though the best thing is to seek a professional doctor.

Important events on January 31st

  • 314 – Silvester I begins his reign as Pope of the Catholic Church, succeeding Pope Miltiades.
  • 1504 – France cedes Naples to Aragon.
  • 1606 – Gunpowder Plot: Guy Fawkes is executed for his plotting against Parliament and James I of England.
  • 1747 – The first venereal diseases clinic opens at London Lock Hospital.
  • 1814 – Gervasio Antonio de Posadas becomes Supreme Director of Argentina.
  • 1846 – After the Milwaukee Bridge War, Juneautown and Kilbourntown unified as the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
  • 1848 – John C. Fremont is court-martialed on grounds of mutiny and disobeying orders.
  • 1849 – Corn Laws are abolished in the United Kingdom (following legislation in 1846).
  • 1862 – Alvan Graham Clark discovers the white dwarf star Sirius B, a companion of Sirius, through an 18.5-inch telescope now located at Northwestern University.
  • 1865 – American Civil War: The United States Congress passes the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, abolishing slavery, submitting it to the states for ratification.
  • 1865 – American Civil War: Confederate General Robert E. Lee becomes general-in-chief.
  • 1867 – Maronite nationalist leader Youssef Karam leaves Lebanon on board a French ship for Algeria
  • 1876 – The United States orders all Native Americans to move into reservations.
  • 1891 – The first attempt at a Portuguese republican revolution breaks out in the northern city of Porto.
  • 1900 – Datu Muhammad Salleh is assassinated in Kampung Teboh, Tambunan, ending the Mat Salleh Rebellion
  • 1915 – World War I: Germany uses poison gas against Russia
  • 1917 – World War I: Germany announces its U-boats will engage in unrestricted submarine warfare.
  • 1918 – A series of accidental collisions on a misty Scottish night leads to the loss of two Royal Navy submarines with over a hundred lives, and damage to another five British warships.
  • 1919 – The Battle of George Square takes place in Glasgow, Scotland.
  • 1929 – The Soviet Union exiles Leon Trotsky.
  • 1930 – 3M begins marketing Scotch Tape.
  • 1942 – World War II: Allied forces are defeated by the Japanese at the Battle of Malaya and retreat to the island of Singapore.
  • 1943 – German Field Marshall Friedrich Paulus surrenders to the Soviets at Stalingrad, followed 2 days later by the remainder of his Sixth Army, ending one of World War II’s fiercest battles.
  • 1944 – World War II: American forces land on Kwajalein Atoll and other islands in the Japanese-held Marshall Islands.
  • 1944 – World War II: During Anzio campaign 1st Ranger Battalion (Darby’s Rangers) is destroyed behind enemy lines in a heavily outnumbered encounter at Battle of Cisterna, Italy.
  • 1945 – US Army private Eddie Slovik is executed for desertion, the first such execution of an American soldier since the Civil War.
  • 1946 – Yugoslavia’s new constitution, modeling the Soviet Union, establishes six constituent republics (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia).
  • 1950 – President Harry S. Truman announces a program to develop the hydrogen bomb.
  • 1953 – A North Sea flood causes over 1,800 deaths in the Netherlands.
  • 1957 – Eight people on the ground in Pacoima, California are killed following the mid-air collision between a Douglas DC-7 airliner and a Northrop F-89 Scorpion fighter jet.
  • 1958 – Explorer program: Explorer 1 – The first successful launch of an American satellite into orbit.
  • 1958 – James Van Allen discovers the Van Allen radiation belt.
  • 1961 – Project Mercury: Mercury-Redstone 2 – Ham the Chimp travels into outer space.
  • 1966 – The Soviet Union launches the unmanned Luna 9 spacecraft as part of the Luna program.
  • 1968 – Viet Cong attack the United States embassy in Saigon, and other attacks, in the early morning hours, later grouped together as the Tet Offensive.
  • 1968 – Nauru gains independence from Australia.
  • 1971 – Apollo program: Apollo 14 Mission – Astronauts Alan Shepard, Stuart Roosa, and Edgar Mitchell, aboard a Saturn V, lift off for a mission to the Fra Mauro Highlands on the Moon.
  • 1971 – The Winter Soldier Investigation, organized by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War to publicize war crimes and atrocities by Americans and allies in Vietnam, begin in Detroit, Michigan.
  • 1990 – The first McDonald’s in the Soviet Union opens in Moscow.
  • 1995 – President Bill Clinton authorizes a $20 billion loan to Mexico to stabilize its economy.
  • 1996 – An explosives-filled truck rams into the gates of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in Colombo, Sri Lanka killing at least 86 and injuring 1,400.
  • 2000 – Alaska Airlines flight 261 MD-83, experiencing horizontal stabilizer problems, crashes in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Point Mugu, California, killing all 88 persons aboard.
  • 2001 – In the Netherlands a Scottish court convicts Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and acquits another Libyan citizen for their part in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 which blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988.
  • 2003 – The Waterfall rail accident occurs near Waterfall, New South Wales, Australia.
  • 2007 – Suspects are arrested in Birmingham in the UK, accused of plotting the kidnap, holding and eventual beheading of a serving Muslim British soldier in Iraq.
  • 2009 – In Kenya, at least 113 people are killed and over 200 injured following an oil spillage ignition in Molo, days after a massive fire at a Nakumatt supermarket in Nairobi killed at least 25 people.

Weekly headlines 24.01.2011 – 30.01.2011

24.01.2011 France is investigating Ben Ali assets

The Paris state prosecutor’s office has issued a statement that they have opened a preliminary investigation into the property assets belonging to Zine al-Abidine in France when after three rights group filed a legal case against the former President. The groups; Sherpa, Transparency International France and the Arab Commission for Human Rights, accuse Mr Ben Ali of corruption, misusing public funds and money-laundering. Ben Ali, who has sought refuge in Saudi Arabia, has not so far commented on the allegations. Last week, Tunisian prosecutors decided to investigate the foreign assets of Ben Ali and his family, including illegal transactions and foreign bank accounts. 33 members of Ben Ali family were also arrested before they managed to leave the country, under suspicion that they might have plundered the nation’s sources. All this was sparked by Swiss officials who ordered to freeze all the funds Ben Ali had to ensure that a new Tunisian government would be able to retrieve any assets in case they were taken illicitly.

Gaza-based group behind church bombing


Egypt claims that a small Palestinian group with links to Al-Qaeda was behind the New Year’s Day bombing in Alexandria which resulted in 23 people being killed. According to Interior Minister Habib al-Adli, Cairo has “decisive proof” that the group carried out the attack but the group denied all responsibility so far.

Karbala, Iraq – Two separate car bombs kills 25

The attacks in Karbala happened as millions of Shia pilgrims gathered together to mark the end a 40 day of mourning period for the death of one of Shia sect’s most prominent figures, Imam Hussein in a 7th century battle. The first bomb exploded at a bus terminal at the al-Ibrahimi area, 12.5 miles (20km) east of the city killing 7 and injuring more than 18. Four hours later, a second car bomb struck some 9 miles (15km) south of the city killing 18 and injuring more than 50 people. Last week was one of the bloodiest as three suicide bombers killed 56 people and wounded 180 others. During the holy period, police officials have imposed vehicle ban in Karbala, so pilgrims are dropped off in car parks and walks in.

Moscow, Russia – Suicide bomber in Russian airport kills 31


More than 31 people was killed and more than 100 injured on Monday as a suicide bomber hit the busiest airport 40 km (25 miles) South East in Moscow. The blast happened at the baggage reclaim area of the international arrivals hall and Russia’s chief investigator said that the explosion was the work of terrorists and the President has ordered to increase the security across Russia’s capital and at other airports as he called an emergency meeting with top officials. March, last year, Moscow’s underground system was a target when two female suicide bombers from Dagestan region detonated their explosives on the busy metro system during a rush hour killing 40 and injuring more than 80 people.

Islamabad, Pakistan – Kidnapped former Pakistan intelligence agent dies

The once kidnapped former Pakistani agent Col. Sultan Amir Tarar (Col. Imam) who once worked together with the CIA and became a Taliban supporter has died in North Waziristan, one of the districts of Pakistan’s tribal region by the Afghan border. Some Pakistani media have reported that Tarar was killed by his captors but it is not certain how he died. Tarar was kidnapped last year while he was travelling to Pakistan’s tribal region with another former Pakistani intelligence agent, Khalid Khawaja and a Pakistani filmmaker they acted as guides for. The kidnappers demanded the release of three Afghan Taliban leaders in return for the release of three hostages but in April last year, Pakistani officials confirmed that they found Khawaja’s body in a village in North Waziristan. He was shot three times in the chest and a letter was found next to him accused him of being a government spy signed by a little known militant group called the Asian Tigers. “This is Khalid Khawaja who has been working for ISI and the CIA, the biggest enemy of Muslims,” the letter said, referring to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, the country’s top spy agency, and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

In September, Pakistani government officials said the filmmaker had been released but could not give any details of Tarar’s whereabouts and condition. Tarar was a retired ISI member and played a vital role with the CIA in training the Afghan mujahedeen during the 1980’s against the Soviet Union. After the Soviet Union drew out, Tarar became a strong supporter of the Taliban regime in Kabul and criticized the U.S. government and the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan after 9/11.

6.1 magnitude earthquakes hit Tajikistan

A 6.1-magnitude earthquake hit Tajikistan on Monday and the quake’s epicentre was 90 km (55miles) southwest of Karakul, Tajikistan. The earthquake was also felt in parts of Pakistan such as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, Kashmir, Islamabad, Lahore and Faisalabad. Monday morning’s quake was not related to an earthquake that hit Pakistan’s Baluchistan province on Wednesday.

25.01.2011 Protesters in Egypt clashed with police

Thousands were reported to join the protests after an internet campaign inspired by the same in Tunisia as they marched in Cairo chanting anti-government slogans such as “down with Mubarak”. Some chants also referred to Mubarak’s son Gamal, who is believed to be groomed as his father’s successor. There was a series of violent confrontations including in front of the parliament building where police with riot shields, tear gas and water cannon clashed with protesters who were throwing rockets. There were also reports of protests in Alexandria and Ismailia. Egypt has had many of the same problems that the Tunisians had regarding food prices, high unemployment and frustration over corruption.

Beirut, Lebanon – Hezbollah backed Najib Mikati appointed as PM


Lebanon’s president appointed Najib Mikati who is backed by the Shia Islamist group Hezbollah and its allies as prime minister despite all the demonstrations from thousands of supporters of the outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri. This has raised concern among many Sunni Muslims as they are worried about Hezbollah’s growing political power and accuse Hezbollah for being supported by Iran for staging a coup. Only 68 out of 125 members of the parliament expressed support for Mikati. After his appointment, Mikati said he hoped that the new government would serve all of Lebanon and protect its unity and sovereignty. Lebanon has a power sharing system and the post of Prime Minister is reserved for a Sunni, the President must be a Maronite Christian and the speaker of the parliament, a Shia. “I am not at all related to Hezbollah by any means, I am a moderate politician and I am always at equal distance from everybody,” he said. Hezbollah’s leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, meanwhile urged him to form a coalition including all political and sectarian factions. The protesters anger increased because they think that they have been outmanoeuvred by Hezbollah, and it was triggered by allegations that Hezbollah figures were behind Rafik Hariri’s murder. The question now is what kind of Prime Minister Mikati will be and what kind of government he will head.

Lahore & Karachi, Pakistan – Shias target of a suicide bomber

9 people, including three police officers were killed and over 50 people injured when a suicide bomber detonated his bomb. The victims were taking part in a Shia Muslim procession and the blast took place in a Shia marked to mark the end of their holy month, Muharram. According to a senior police officer, the bomber was around 13-16 year old boy who tried to rush in and throw a bag into the crowd. When he was stopped, he blew himself up. Meanwhile a suicide bomber on a motorcycle killed two policemen in the Southern city of Karachi. Two policemen were killed and several casualties were said to be in a critical condition. A police officer said the bomber had tried to hit a bus carrying Shia devotees but the attacker targeted a police Jeep instead after it blocked his way.

Kabul, Afghanistan 6 Pakistanis accused of plotting attacks arrested

Six Pakistani men accused of being terrorists and planning suicide attacks on the Indian embassy in Kabul was arrested according to a statement from the spokesman of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security. At a press conference Tuesday, Lutfullah Mashal said the terrorist group was the main group responsible for the biggest attacks in Kabul. “After investigations we found out that all the six terrorists were from Pakistan and they were linked with Sirajuddin Haqani Network,” Lutfullah Mashal said. Sirajuddin Haqqani, or Siraj Haqqani, is a senior Taliban commander and a long-time ally of al Qaeda; the group operates on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. “This is not the only terrorist group which was working in Kabul, but we hope with the arrest of this main terrorist group, the level of terrorist attacks will decrease,” Mashal added.

Tehran, Iran Iran hangs 2 men who made videos of post-election turmoil

Two men were hanged on Monday for their actions during the post-election protests in 2009. The men were described as terrorists and members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) by the Iranian Press TV. Jafar Kazemi and Mohammad Ali Haj Aqaei were hanged “for distributing placards and photos of the terrorist group, making videos and images during the post-election unrest in Iran in 2009 and chanting slogans in favour of the MKO,” the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported. In August 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged the Iranian government to stop the executions of the men who were “exercising their right to free expression.”

26.01.2011 Kabul, Afghanistan, Parliament opened


President Hamid Karzai failed to delay the opening of the parliament to investigate the September’s disputed election as the elected MPs claimed that it was unconstitutional and they were backed by the international community which was worried the standoff could spill onto the streets. Analysts say that Karzai is not happy with the results of the parliamentary poll, which has produced a lower house with a larger, more vocal and coherent opposition. The 249-member lower house of parliament – the Wolesi Jirga – was originally scheduled to open on Sunday.

“With regard to holding election, safeguarding the people’s votes, preventing abuse and foreign interventions, we have been facing serious problems,” he told MPs.

Tunis, Tunisia – Revolt erupting

About 800 people have been arrested throughout Egypt in the anti-government protests. Police clashed with the protesters in two different cities. One protester and one policeman was killed in Cairo, while in Suez, a government building was set on fire and the interior ministry stated that public gatherings will not be tolerated anymore. Protesters have been inspired by the uprising in Tunisia as they vowed to stay on the streets until the government falls. They have been using social networking sites to call for fresh demonstrations but Twitter and Facebook has been blocked from time to time. The government has denied that they have anything to do with the blocking of the webpage’s. “I want to see an end to this dictatorship, 30 years of Mubarak is enough – we’ve had enough of the state of emergency, prices are going up and up,” Mostapha al-Shafey, Protester.

Other developments

  • Egyptian Trade Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid cancels his visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland
  • Activists have called on protesters to observe “Anger Friday”, by going to rallies after praying in mosques and churches
  • In the northern city of Machala, police have cordoned off the headquarters of the Democratic Front opposition party, which is threatening a hunger strike
  • Hundreds have been arrested in Alexandria, activists say, as police prevent organised rallies
  • Stone-throwing
  • Following a “day of revolt” across Egypt on Tuesday, in which four people died, protesters attempted to stage new demonstrations in Cairo on Wednesday.
  • Police moved to break up demonstrations as they happened
  • There were scuffles outside the journalists’ union building in central Cairo as hundreds of people gathered to protest.
  • Police beat some with batons and fired tear gas when they tried to break through a cordon.
  • Protesters burned tyres and threw stones at police.
  • Reuter’s news agency reported more clashes outside a central court complex in the city.
  • Witnesses said riot police had been charging demonstrators throughout the day wherever in Cairo they happened to gather.
  • Doctors said a policeman and a protester were killed in the clashes, apparently during stone-throwing in a poor neighbourhood of the city.
  • However, security officials said the deaths were unrelated to the protests.
  • Meanwhile, in the eastern city of Suez, protesters threw petrol bombs at a government building, setting parts of it on fire, witnesses said.
  • The headquarters of the ruling National Democratic Party in the city was also attacked.
  • Earlier, protests were held outside the morgue where the body of a victim of Tuesday’s protests was being kept. At least 55 people were injured in the city.
  • One of Tuesday’s demonstrators, Mostapha al-Shafey, told the BBC he planned to join protests again on Wednesday.
  • “I want to see an end to this dictatorship. Thirty years of Mubarak is enough. We’ve had enough of the state of emergency. Prices are going up and up,” he said.
  • Demonstrations are illegal in Egypt, which has been ruled by President Mubarak since 1981. The government tolerates little dissent and opposition demonstrations are routinely outlawed.
  • Social media’s role
  • Tuesday’s protests were co-ordinated through a Facebook page, where organisers say they are taking a stand against torture, poverty, corruption and unemployment. One page called for protesters all over Egypt to gather after prayers on Friday.
  • However, Wednesday brought reports that Facebook was being blocked inside Egypt.
  • Twitter also played a key part, with supporters inside and outside Egypt using the search term #jan25 to post news on Tuesday, but it was blocked later in the day.
  • BBC technology correspondent Mark Gregory said that while this clampdown had undoubtedly restricted access to information, technically minded protesters had found ways of evading the restrictions.
  • Many have stayed in touch by routing their messages through proxy servers – web facilities based in other countries.
  • The government blamed the violence on the banned Islamist movement the Muslim Brotherhood, although this group was reported to have been ambivalent about the protests.
  • One opposition leader, Mohamed ElBaradei, had called on Egyptians to take part in the protests.
  • US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “We urge the Egyptian authorities not to prevent peaceful protests or block communications including on social media sites.
  • “We believe strongly that the Egyptian government has an important opportunity at this moment in time to implement political, economic and social reforms to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.”
  • Tunisia’s President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted from power and fled the country earlier this month, after weeks of protests in which dozens of people were killed.
  • Egypt has many of the same social and political problems that brought about the unrest in Tunisia – rising food prices, high unemployment and anger at official corruption.
  • However, the population of Egypt has a much lower level of education than Tunisia. Illiteracy is high and internet penetration is low.
  • There are deep frustrations in Egyptian society, our Cairo correspondent says, adding that Egypt is widely seen to have lost power, status and prestige in the three decades of President Mubarak’s rule.

27.01.2011 Baghdad, Iraq – 40 people killed in bombing

A series of bombings left 40 people dead and a dozen wounded in different neighbourhoods. At least 37 people were killed and 78 wounded when a parked car bomb detonated near a funeral tent in the Shiite neighbourhood of Shula in northwest Baghdad. The blasts came after Wednesday night’s assassination of three government employees by gunmen using pistols equipped with silencers in three neighbourhoods in Baghdad. Two of the three government employees worked at Iraq’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the third employee worked at the Ministry of Housing and Reconstruction. A roadside bomb exploded next to a police patrol in southern Baghdad, killing a civilian and wounding seven people, including three police officers. In another attack in south-eastern Baghdad, a roadside bomb exploded near a government convoy. It missed the convoy but killed one civilian and wounded three others. In central Baghdad, a roadside bomb exploded on a busy road, killing one civilian and wounding four others.

Australia – Aftermaths and costs of the flood

The cost of repairing the flood damage in Australia will cost AUS $5.6 billion (US $5.58 billion), according to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who proposed a one-year tax to help fund the reconstruction.”The great floods of this summer have been a national tragedy, not just a natural disaster, because of the awful loss of human life,” Gillard said Thursday. “The great floods of this summer have destroyed billions of dollars of wealth and robbed us of billions of dollars of income. In time they may prove to be the most expensive disaster in Australian history.”

Gillard said the money will come from $2.8 billion (US $2.79 billion) in spending cuts, $1 billion (US $995.6 million) in delayed infrastructure projects and $1.8 billion (US $1.79 billion) raised through a progressive, one-year income tax on people earning more than $50,000. Flooding in Australia, primarily in the state of Queensland, has affected more than 3 million people, making it one of the most costly disasters in the nation, the federal treasurer said over the weekend. The floods have devastated crops, tourism, retail and manufacturing, and have disrupted major urban areas like Brisbane, according to Swan.

Davos, Switzerland – Davos hotel hit by a minor blast


There was a small explosion at the Post Hotel Morosani in Davos which is hosting the high-powered annual World Economic Forum this week. Fon Mahturos, a WEF spokesman, said “a small firework went off at the back entrance” of the hotel. One window was damaged, and police are investigating but the hotel is fully operational and accessible as there were no reports of injuries. Someone at the hotel for a meeting said the blast was so minor that most guests and visitors would not know that anything had happened.

Lahore, Pakistan – Us diplomat kills two Pakistanis

An American diplomat in the Pakistani city of Lahore has shot and killed a Pakistani motorcycle rider and his pillion passenger in self-defence as the men were pursuing the diplomat’s vehicle police said. A pedestrian was also killed by a speeding car from the US consulate which came to help, and the police is now investigating whether the two men on the motorcycle were robbers as weapons has been recovered from the bodies. The American diplomat had stopped at a traffic light when the two men stopped near his car. Local TV has also showed footage of the American official’s car and it had several bullet holes in the windscreen. He had used a wireless radio to call for help immediately after the shooting and a second consular car came to help. The diplomat was taken into custody by the police. Officials at the US embassy in Islamabad said that they are still investigating the incident and cannot comment further. More than 100 people blocked the road after the incident by setting tires on fire to protest against the killing. The protest later moved to picket the police station where the car involved in the incident was impounded. Now this incident may bring more to the anti-American sentiment in Pakistan. Questions are certain to be asked as to why the American was carrying arms and why, if he was a diplomat, he was not provided with armed protection.

Sanaa, Yemen – Thousands in the street demonstrating

Thousands of people were gathered in the streets as they called for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down after ruling for more than 30 years. This was followed by a mass demonstrating in Tunisia and Egypt. The protesters called for economic reforms and an end to the corruption as well as anti-government slogans. Yemenis has complained long about the increasing poverty growing among the young people and frustration over lack of political freedom. The country has also been plagued by a range of security issues, including a separatist movement in the south and an uprising of Shia Houthi rebels in the north. There are also fears that Yemen will become a leading Al-Qaeda haven because of the high number of unemployed youth seen as potential recruits.

Protesters gathered several locations of the city on Thursday morning shouting that it was time for change referring to Ben Ali. President Saleh, who is a western ally, became leader of North Yemen in 1978 has ruled since the North and South merged in 1990 and he was re-elected in 2006. Yemenis are angry over that Saleh might loosen the rules on presidential term limits and appoint himself as president for life as he also is accused to wanting to hand over the power to his eldest son, Ahmad who rejected this. “We are a republic. We reject bequeathing [the presidency],” he said in a televised address.

Economic and social problems

  • Poorest country in the Middle East with 40% of Yemenis living on less than $2 (£1.25) a day
  • More than two-thirds of the population under the age of 24
  • Illiteracy stands at over 50%, unemployment at 35%
  • Dwindling oil reserves and falling oil revenues; little inward investment
  • Acute water shortage
  • Weak central government

28.01.2011 Kabul, Afghanistan – Kabul’s finest supermarket hit by bomb attack

8 people have been killed when a suicide attacker detonated his bomb in a supermarket that is popular with foreigners in Kabul. The bomber opened fire in the store before detonating his explosives. The market is not far from the British embassy and located roundabout a police checkpoint and many stores that are armed with Afghan guards. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack stating “We claim responsibility for the attack, and it was carried out at a time when foreigners were shopping, including the head of a security company,” said Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid.

29.01.2011 Kandahar, Afghanistan – Kandahar deputy governor killed in suicide attack

A suicide bomber attacked Abdul Latif Ashma’s convoy as he was being driven to work in Kandahar city by slamming his motorcycle into the deputy governor’s car. The deputy governor died and three of his bodyguards were wounded.

Islamabad, Pakistan – Explosion in Pakistan

7 people died and 15 were wounded when a car bomb exploded in Kohat tunnel in Northwest Pakistan in the area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in late Friday.

Teheran, Iran – Dutch-Iranian woman hanged

The Dutch-Iranian woman, Sahra Bahrami, 46, was arrested after taking part of anti-government protests in Iran, has been hanged for drug smuggling. She was held in jail for 1 year after being arrested while she visited some relatives. Her execution is number 66 this year. During a search of her house, authorities found 450g cocaine and 420g opium, the Teheran prosecutor stated. They also added that Bahrami was a member of an international drug gang who smuggled cocaine into the country using her Dutch connections. Bahrami’s daughter has said that the drug charges were fabricated against her mother. “She doesn’t even smoke cigarettes, let alone possessing drugs. How could someone who participates in [post-] election gatherings and endanger her life, engage in such actions against her country?” Dutch officials were denied access to her because Tehran does not recognise her dual nationality. A Dutch foreign ministry spokesman has said that they could not yet confirm her death as they had yet to be approached by the Iranian authorities.

 

Cairo, Egypt – 50 people defy curfew
Tens of thousands gathered at Tahrir Square in Cairo. Al Jazeera has reported that over 100 people have been killed and over 1000 injured as well as cafés and shops have been looted. The police are no longer to be seen in Cairo. Reports have been saying that looters also have used weapons to occupy homes. Residents try to defend themselves and protect their homes. It has been speculated that several of the criminals were released by the authorities. 50 000 people defied the curfew and continued the demonstrations. As the whole city stands still, the authorities are losing control. Criminals also broke into Cairo’s museum and destroyed two Mummies Pharaohs late Friday but didn’t manage to steal anything as some residents blocked the entrance. The former Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei has been seen as a visible leader for the people and as an opposition leader. For the first since 1981, when Mubarak himself went from being vice President to take over power, he now appointed a Vice President. Omar Suleiman was until now the country’s intelligence chief. Previously it has been in the cards that Mubarak’s son Gamal Mubarak, was to be appointed new president ahead of the planned presidential election in years. Now the speculation of whether Suleiman is the Mubarak plan to take over at a later date. Mubarak is trying to meet the demands of the people about the reforms but Suleiman is one of the persons who will be accepting people in Egypt, said a representative from the Mubarak government party. Suleiman has also been a general in the army. In recent days the army has not attacked the demonstrators, unlike the police security forces. Omar Shafeeq, the former commander of Air Force, has been appointed the new Prime Minister.

Cairo, Egypt – Rumors say Mubarak’s family has left the country

There were rumours that Mubarak’s two sons had escaped the country during the ongoing demonstrations demanding their father to step down, but half an hour later this was denied by the Egyptian state channel. According to twitter messages, Gamal Mubarak was based in London planning a demonstration outside where he is believed to owe an apartment. Gamal Mubarak was seen as the successor to his father but after appointing Omar Suleiman, his chances are minor. Now other rumours say that 82 year old Mubarak has a failing health and sources say that he is dying.

Cairo, Egypt – 28 dead after one episode

The employees at the mortuary said that they received 28 dead bodies on Sunday when protesters tried to storm the Egyptian Interior Ministry. Most of them had died from gunshot wounds as the troops from inside the building opened fired. After first having attempted to drive away the protesters with rubber bullets and teargas, the police eventually used live ammunition. Eyewitnesses have also told that the snipers were on the roof of the building, firing at anyone attempting to approach. How many people exactly lost their lives during the fighting around the ministry building, and the violence in general is very uncertain but Al Jazeera has confirmed that at least 100 have died since Friday. The police brutality and they killing dozens of protesters has become a burden to the President. Neither the appointment of a new government cabinet, with his right hand Omar Suleiman as vice president, helped to calm fears as thousands of protesters defied the curfew last night which was introduced as early as at 4 o’clock. “There must be full respect for human rights and democratic freedoms,” wrote Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron French President Nicolas Sarkozy at a joint request to Mubarak yesterday. “Avoid at all costs the use of violence against unarmed civilians,” admonished the three state leaders Mubarak.

30.01.2011 – The internet is about to run out of IP addresses

At the moment there are only 17,636,446 available IP addresses of the current format, according to calculations carried out by Hurricane Electric. The IP addresses are a group of numbers that make you unique on the internet as a phone number for computers and other Internet devices. It could be read on Hurricane Electric’s Twitter account; “It is about 4 days left to IPocalyse, and “the world is basically not ready to move from the current solution, IPv4, to tomorrow’s solution, IPv6.”

Juba, Southern Sudan – 99% wants to divide

Numbers show that 99% of the voters in South Sudan have voted yes to form their own state according to final figures. The official results of the count from the referendum earlier in January were presented by the Election Commission of Southern Sudan on Sunday. They show that a total of 98.83 per cent voted yes to secession. Only the votes from South show 99.57%. There have also been protests in Khartoum that has raised concerns. Stability in the north is very important for the entire disengagement process. There is a widespread feeling in the world community that Bashir has delivered in relation to the referendum, which he should get “paid” for,” said a Minister. Bashir took power in Sudan in a military coup in 1989 and has ruled with a heavy hand side. The Sudanese president is both indicted for genocide and accused of corruption in the billions.

Important events on January 30th

  • 1048 – Protestantism: The villagers around today’s Baden-Baden elect their own priest in defiance of the local bishop. Later, in a move that would not be seen before the Protestant Reformation, he is also elected Pope by acclamatio, just to die that same day. It is rumored that Ildebrando di Soana heard of the acclamatio and used it later to get elected himself as Pope Gregory VII.
  • 1648 – Eighty Years’ War: The Treaty of Münster and Osnabrück is signed, ending the conflict between the Netherlands and Spain.
  • 1649 – King Charles I of England is beheaded.
  • 1661 – Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England is ritually executed two years after his death, on the anniversary of the execution of the monarch he himself deposed.
  • 1667 – The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth cedes Kiev, Smolensk, and left-bank Ukraine to the Tsardom of Russia in the Treaty of Andrusovo.
  • 1703 – The Forty-seven Ronin, under the command of Ōishi Kuranosuke, avenge the death of their master.
  • 1790 – The first boat specializing as a lifeboat is tested on the River Tyne.
  • 1806 – The original Lower Trenton Bridge (also called the Trenton Makes the World Takes Bridge), which spans the Delaware River between Morrisville, Pennsylvania and Trenton, New Jersey, is opened.
  • 1820 – Edward Bransfield sights the Trinity Peninsula and claims the discovery of Antarctica.
  • 1826 – The Menai Suspension Bridge, considered the world’s first modern suspension bridge, connecting the Isle of Anglesey to the north West coast of Wales, is opened.
  • 1835 – In the first assassination attempt against a President of the United States, Richard Lawrence attempts to shoot president Andrew Jackson, but fails and is subdued by a crowd, including several congressmen.
  • 1841 – A fire destroys two-thirds of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico.
  • 1847 – Yerba Buena, California is renamed San Francisco.
  • 1858 – The first Hallé concert is given in Manchester, England, marking the official founding of the Hallé Orchestra as a full-time, professional orchestra.
  • 1862 – The first American ironclad warship, the USS Monitor is launched.
  • 1889 – Archduke Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria, heir to the Austro-Hungarian crown, is found dead with his mistress Baroness Mary Vetsera in Mayerling.
  • 1902 – The first Anglo-Japanese Alliance was signed in London.
  • 1911 – The destroyer USS Terry (DD-25) makes the first airplane rescue at sea saving the life of James McCurdy 10 miles from Havana, Cuba.
  • 1911 – The Canadian Naval Service becomes the Royal Canadian Navy.
  • 1913 – The United Kingdom’s House of Lords rejects the Irish Home Rule Bill.
  • 1925 – The Government of Turkey throws Patriarch Constantine VI out of Istanbul.
  • 1930 – The world’s second radiosonde is launched in Pavlovsk, USSR.
  • 1933 – Adolf Hitler is sworn in as Chancellor of Germany.
  • 1943 – World War II: Second day of the Battle of Rennell Island. The USS Chicago (CA-29) is sunk and a U.S. destroyer is heavily damaged by Japanese torpedoes.
  • 1944 – World War II: United States troops land on Majuro.
  • 1945 – World War II: The Wilhelm Gustloff, overfilled with refugees, sinks in the Baltic Sea after being torpedoed by a Soviet submarine, leading to the deadliest known maritime disaster, killing approximately 9,000 people.
  • 1945 – World War II: Raid at Cabanatuan: 126 American Rangers and Filipino resistance liberate 500 prisoners from the Cabanatuan POW camp.
  • 1948 – Indian pacifist and leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is assassinated by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu extremist.
  • 1956 – American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.’s home is bombed in retaliation for the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
  • 1960 – The African National Party is founded in Chad, through the merger of traditionalist parties.
  • 1964 – Ranger program: Ranger 6 is launched.
  • 1968 – Vietnam War: The Tet Offensive begins when Viet Cong forces launch a series of surprise attacks in South Vietnam.
  • 1969 – The Beatles’ last public performance, on the roof of Apple Records in London. The impromptu concert is broken up by the police.
  • 1971 – Carole King’s Tapestry album is released, it would become the longest charting album by a female solo artist and sell 24 million copies worldwide.
  • 1972 – Bloody Sunday: British Paratroopers kill fourteen unarmed civil rights/anti internment marchers in Northern Ireland.
  • 1972 – Pakistan withdraws from the Commonwealth of Nations.
  • 1979 – Varig 707-323C freighter, flown by the same commander as Flight 820, disappears over the Pacific Ocean 30 minutes after taking off from Tokyo.
  • 1982 – Richard Skrenta writes the first PC virus code, which is 400 lines long and disguised as an Apple boot program called “Elk Cloner”.
  • 1989 – The American embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan closes.
  • 1994 – Péter Lékó becomes the youngest chess grand master.
  • 1995 – Workers from the National Institutes of Health announce the success of clinical trials testing the first preventive treatment for sickle-cell disease.
  • 1996 – Gino Gallagher, the suspected leader of the Irish National Liberation Army, is killed while waiting in line for his unemployment benefit.
  • 1996 – Comet Hyakutake is discovered by Japanese amateur astronomer Yuji Hyakutake.
  • 2000 – Off the coast of Ivory Coast, Kenya Airways Flight 431 crashes into the Atlantic Ocean, killing 169.

Smoking kills

How did smoking start?

The idea of smoking has varied over time and from one place to another as holy and sinful, sophisticated and vulgar and as deadly health hazard. Only relatively recently, and primarily in industrialized Western countries, has smoking come to be viewed in a decidedly negative light. Today medical studies have proven that smoking tobacco is among the leading causes of many diseases such as lung cancer, heart attacks, COPD, erectile dysfunction and can also lead to birth defects. The inherent health hazards of smoking have caused many countries to institute high taxes on tobacco products and anti-smoking campaigns are launched every year in an attempt to curb tobacco smoking.

The history of smoking dates back to as early as 5000 BC in shamanistic rituals and has also been recorded in many different cultures across the world. Smoking was used as offerings to deities, in cleansing rituals or for shamans and priests to alter their minds for purposes of spiritual enlightenment. Many ancient civilizations like the Babylonians, Indians and Chinese would burn incense as a part of religious rituals followed by the Israelite s, Catholics and Orthodox Christians. After the European exploration and conquest of the Americas, the practice of smoking tobacco quickly spread to the rest of the world. In regions like India and Sub-Saharan Africa, it merged with existing practices of smoking (mostly of cannabis). In Europe, it introduced a new type of social activity and a form of drug intake which previously had been unknown.

As the cigarette production started to be modernized together with the increasing of life expanses during the 1920s, health effects became more prevalent. In Germany, anti-smoking groups started to publish advocacy against the consumption of tobacco in the journal Der Tabakgegner in 1912 and 1932. In 1929, Fritz Lickint of Dresden in Germany published a paper containing formal statistical evidence of a lung cancer-tobacco link. Adolf Hitler did also condemn his previous smoking habits as a waste of money and this was strengthened with the Nazi reproductive policy as women who smoked were viewed as unsuitable to be wives and mothers in a German family. By the end of the Second World War, American cigarette manufactures quickly re-entered the German black market and illegal smuggling of tobacco became very common and leaders of the Nazi anti-smoking campaign were assassinated.  As part of the Marshall Plan, the United States shipped free tobacco to Germany; with 24,000 tons in 1948 and 69,000 tons in 1949.

In 1950, Richard Doll published a research in the British Medical journal showing a close link between smoking and lung cancer. Four years later, in 1954, the British Doctors Study consisting of 40 doctors over 20 years confirmed that smoking and lung cancer was related to each other. As scientific evidence mounted in the 1980s, Tobacco companies neglected the health effects because of the economical gain. The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement between the four largest US tobacco companies and the Attorneys General of 46 states did manage to restrict certain types of tobacco advertisement and required payments for health compensation which then ended in the largest civil settlement in the US history. Today Russia leads as the top consumer of tobacco followed by Indonesia, Laos, Ukraine, Belarus, Greece, Jordan, and China. The World Health Organization has begun a program known as the Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI) in order to reduce rates of consumption in the developing world.

Health effects

Tobacco related diseases are some of the biggest death reasons in the world today. Only in the United States, about 500,000 deaths each year are related to smoking caused diseases and a recent study estimated that China’s 1/3 male population will have their life shortened due to smoking. Male and female smokers do lose an average of 13.2 and 14.5 years of life. At least half of all lifelong smokers die earlier as a result of this. Male and female smokers lose an average of 13.2 and 14.5 years of life, respectively. At least half of all lifelong smokers die earlier as a result of smoking.

  • The risk of dying from lung cancer before age 85 is 22.1% for a male smoker
    11.9% for a female current smoker
  • The corresponding estimates for lifelong non-smokers are a 1.1% probability of dying from lung cancer before age 85 for a man of European descent and a 0.8% probability for a woman
  • Smoking one cigarette a day results in a risk of heart disease that is halfway between that of a smoker and a non-smoker.

Many governments are trying to deter people from smoking with anti-smoking campaigns in the mass media telling about the harmful long-term effects of smoking. Passive smoking/second hand smoking affects people immediately and is the reason of the smoking bans. This has changed the law and banned smoking indoors in public places such as bars, pubs and restaurants to discourage people from smoking by making it more inconvenient and to stop harmful smoke being present in public spaces. But surveys show that rates of smoking has declined in the developed countries and continued to rise in the developing world.

Even though nicotine is a highly addictive drug and its effects, its effects is not as intense as other drugs like cocaine, amphetamines or any other opiates including heroine or morphine.

Smoking is also a risk factor in Alzheimer’s disease but smoking more than 15 cigarettes a day has also shown to worsen symptoms of Crohn Disease. So what happens when we inhale the vaporized gas from a cigarette? The drug is delivered very fast into the bloodstream as the gas diffuses directly into the pulmonary vein, then into the heart and from there to the brain and affects the user within less than a second of the first inhalation. Explained with details; our lungs consists of several million tiny bulbs called alveoli that altogether have an area of over 70 m². The inhaled substances, a cigarette in this case, triggers a chemical reaction in nerve endings in the brain due to being similar to naturally occurring substances such as endorphins and dopamine’s, which are associated with sensations of pleasure. The result is what is usually referred to as a “high” that ranges between the mild stimulus caused by nicotine to the intense euphoria caused by heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines. There are also several other toxic compounds in tobacco that constitute serious health hazards to long-term smokers from a whole range of causes; vascular abnormalities such as stenosis, lung cancer, heart attacks, strokes, impotence, low birth weight of infants born by smoking mothers. 8% of long-term smokers develop the characteristic set of facial changes known to doctors as smoker’s face.

Psychology

Most smokers begin smoking during early adulthood and it has something to do with risk taking, rebellion and friends, although many young adults are also affected by their parents that smoke. Teenagers may also be influenced by high-status models, actors or singers who smoke as it encourages them. One common thing the smokers say is that the cigarette helps them to relieve the feeling of stress even though the stress levels of adult smokers are higher than the non-smokers and it actually increase stress. This is confirmed in the daily mood patterns described by smokers as they have normal moods during smoke and it worsens between the cigarettes.

Psychologists Hans Eysenck developed a personality profile for the typical smoker explaining that smokers tend to be more sociable, impulsive, risk taking and excitement seeking people. During the early stages, smoking dos provide pleasurable sensation (because of the dopamine system that serves positive reinforcement). When a person has smoked for years, the negative reinforcement becomes higher. And also because people who smoke are aware of the negative effects smoking has on their body, they do rationalize their behaviour as they rationalize and justify why they must smoke. Smokers who need a cigarette first thing in the morning will often quote the positive effects, but will not accept that they awake feeling below normal levels of happiness (lower levels of dopamine) and merely smoke to return themselves to a “normal” level of happiness (“normal” level of dopamine).

Statistic on deaths caused by smoking worldwide

Around 5.4 million deaths a year are caused by smoking. Here are some numbers;

  • Smoking is set to kill 6.5 million people in 2015 and 8.3 million humans in 2030, with the biggest rise in low-and middle-income countries.
  • Every 6.5 seconds a current or former smoker dies, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and an estimated 1.3 billion people are smokers worldwide (WHO).
  • Over 443,000 Americans (over 18% of all deaths) die because of smoking each year. Second-hand smoke kills about 50,000 of them.
  • 1.2 million people in China die because of smoking each year. That’s 2,000 people a day.
  • 33% to 50% of all smokers are killed by their habit. Smokers die on average 15 years sooner than non-smokers.
  • Between 33% and 50% of all smokers will die an average of 15 years sooner than non-smokers, the Tobacco Atlas from the World Lung Foundation and the American Cancer Society believes.
  • Around 100 million people died because of tobacco use in the 20th century.
  • 10 years of life are robbed from smokers because they die 10 years earlier than non-smokers. Smoking causes more death and disability than any single disease (World Health Organization).
  • In India, about 900,000 Indians a year die from smoking-related diseases that are nearly one in 10 of all deaths in India. Half of Indian males use tobacco and it is becoming more popular with younger people. Nearly 6 lakh people die from bidi-smoking every year in India, according to the Caught in a Death Trap: A Study on Bidi Rollers of West Bengal and Gujarat study.
  • In Russia, smoking kills between 400,000 and 500,000 Russians every year from smoking ailments.
  • In Japan, smoking is the leading cause of death and is responsible for 20% of all cancers. 50 percent of men and 14 percent of women smoke.
  • In Indonesia, an estimated 200,000 people die each year of smoking-related diseases.
  • About a quarter of deaths in 2005 were from smoking and 80% of lung and respiratory cancer cases were due to smoking.
    About 220 million cigarettes were smoked by Indonesians in 2006.
  • About 140,000 Germans die every year from tobacco-related illnesses. Nearly 1 in 3 German adults smokes regularly.
  • In the UK, 90,000 people die from smoking each year.
    6,000 people in Wales are killed by smoking every year.
  • In Turkey, around 110,000 people each year die of smoking-related illnesses, according to official figures.
  • In Nigeria, 6.5 million citizens are expected to die from smoking over time.
  • In Pakistan, 100,000 people die each year because of smoking.
  • In France, there are about 66,000 smoking-related deaths each year and up to 5,800 deaths from passive smoking, inhaling the smoke of smokers. About 12 million people are a smoker, that’s 25% of the population.
  • Mexico has around 65,000 cigarette-related deaths a year. The country has 105 million people.
  • In Spain, there are 50,000 smoking-related deaths annually. About 30% of Spaniards smoke.
  • In South Korea, an estimated 49,000 people die each year of smoking-related diseases, according to the private Korean Association of Smoking and Health.
  • 50,000 Iranians die each year from tobacco related illnesses, according to the government. Some say the number of deaths is 60,000 a year. 200,000 Iranian projected to die from smoking by 2019.
  • In Malaysia, nearly 40,000 people died of smoking-related diseases in the last 5 years, now it is around 10,000 a year.
  • In Vietnam, 40,000 citizens die every year due to diseases caused by smoking.
  • In Canada, 37,000 people die from smoking every year, according to the Ministry of Health.
    In Egypt, there are 34,000 tobacco-related deaths each year.
  • 33,000 Romanians die every year because of smoking. There were 6.5 million smokers aged 25 to 44 years old in Romania.
  • In Saudi Arabia, 22,000 Saudis die of smoking related diseases every year, according to the Anti-Smoking Society.
  • In Greece, where 45% of the population smokes, an estimated 20,000 people die of smoking-related diseases each year. 600 people die every year from passive smoking and the number of smokers in Greece has gone up 10% in 10 years.
  • In South Africa, 44,000 adults die each year from smoking, according to the National Council against Smoking (NCAS).
  • In Australia, 15,000 to 19,000 Australians deaths each year are caused by smoking and almost 20% of the Australian population smokes. Aboriginal life expectancy is 17 years less than non-indigenous Australians. Their high smoking rate gets part of the blame. Government officials are trying to address the issue.
    13,000 Scots are killed every year by tobacco where about 30% of the population smokes. Up to 2,000 people die of passive smoking annually.
    Smoking kills 6 times more Scots than accidents, murder, suicide, falls and poisoning combined (Edinburgh Evening News).
  • In Ireland, 6,000 people die each year from smoking-related diseases.
    Smoking-related illnesses kill 2,500 people in Northern Ireland each year.
  • In the Philippines, 20,000 Filipinos die from smoking-related illnesses each year (that’s 2 every hour). Smoking is linked to 5 of the top 10 leading causes of deaths, according to Government data.
  • Croatia with 4.4 million people, nearly 13,000 of them dies each year because of smoking. 3,000 of those deaths are from passive smoking.
  • Some 6,000 Cubans die from smoking-related illnesses.
  • In New Zealand, around 5,000 kiwis die every year because of smoking-related diseases.
  • About 7 people die each day in Uruguay from smoking-related causes including lung cancer, emphysema and other illnesses, anti-smoking groups estimate.
  • In the Western Pacific region, tobacco kills more than 3000 people each day. It’s the leading cause of death. The Western Pacific has one third of the world’s smokers, the highest rate of male smokers and the fastest increase of smoking among children and young women.

Give yourself a chance to live longer

41% of men who smoked a pack or more a day died in middle age, compared to 14% of those who never smoked.

26% of women who smoked heavily died in middle age, compared to 9% of those who never smoked.

44.5 million Americans, currently smoke or about 21% of American adults, according to estimates from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

168,000 Americans died of cancer due to tobacco use in 2007 (American Cancer Society).

Up to 2.5 million people in China will die annually by 2025, if growing tobacco use in China continues at current trends the Beijing Daily Messenger reported, citing World Health Organization (WHO) estimates.

Harmful Effects of Smoking

The mixture of nicotine and carbon monoxide in each cigarette you smoke temporarily increases your heart rate and blood pressure, straining your heart and blood vessels.

This can cause heart attacks and stroke. It slows your blood flow, cutting off oxygen to your feet and hands. In worst case some smokers end up having their limbs amputated.

Tar coats your lungs like soot in a chimney and causes cancer as a 20-a-day smoker breathes in up to a full cup (210 g) of tar in a year. Some believe that if they change into light cigarettes with low-tar it would help but the fact is that it doesn’t because smokers usually take deeper puffs and hold the smoke in for longer, dragging the tar deeper into their lungs.

Carbon monoxide robs your muscles, brain and body tissue of oxygen, making your whole body and especially your heart work harder. Over time, your airways swell up and let less air into your lungs. The strain of smoking effects on the body often causes years of suffering. Emphysema is an illness that slowly rots your lungs. People with emphysema often get bronchitis again and again, and suffer lung and heart failure.

Nicotine Damages Brain Cell Quality

Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 16(4) 1994

Human reports as well as animal studies have recorded accelerated motor activity, learning and memory deficits in offspring’s of mothers exposed to nicotine during pregnancy. This study, conducted by Dr. T. S. Roy, Department of Anatomy, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India, is the first to investigate actual physiological changes of the cerebral cortex of rats after prenatal nicotine exposure. Several groups of experimental rats were exposed to varying levels of nicotine reaching up to that experienced by a heavy smoker. Animals were examined at different periods after birth. Observable effects included significantly reduced thickness of the cerebral cortex, smaller cerebral cortex neurons, and reduced brain weight. Also noted was an overall decrease in “dendrite branching” (connections to other brain cells), as seen in the camera lucida drawings at right. The present study also shows that the greater the dose of nicotine, the greater the biological effects upon the offspring. This research provides an excellent biological model to support the many other studies linking increased hyperactivity, attention deficits, lower IQ, and learning disabilities in children with parents who smoked during pregnancy.

Dr. T. S. Roy
Department of Anatomy, All India Institute of Medical Sciences New Delhi, India
Effects of Prenatal Nicotine Exposure on the Morphogenesis of Somatosensory Cortex

Types of cancer caused by smoking

People usually think of lung cancer when it comes to smoking and the fact is that most cases of lung cancer deaths, 90% in men and 80% in women are caused by smoking.  But there are also several other forms of cancer related to smoking as well, and they include cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, bladder, stomach, cervix, kidney and pancreas, and acute myeloid leukemia.

  • Cancer is the second leading cause of death and was among the first diseases causally linked to smoking.
  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, and cigarette smoking causes most cases.
  • Compared to non-smokers, men who smoke are about 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer and women who smoke are about 13 times more likely. Smoking causes about 90% of lung cancer deaths in men and almost 80% in women.
  • In 2003, an estimated 171,900 new cases of lung cancer occurred and approximately 157,200 people died from lung cancer.
  • The 2004 Surgeon General’s report adds more evidence to previous conclusions that smoking causes cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, lung and bladder.
  • Cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) in tobacco smoke damage important genes that control the growth of cells, causing them to grow abnormally or to reproduce too rapidly.
  • Cigarette smoking is a major cause of esophageal cancer in the United States. Reductions in smoking and smokeless tobacco use could prevent many of the approximately 12,300 new cases and 12,100 deaths from esophgeal cancer that occur annually.
  • The combination of smoking and alcohol consumption causes most laryngeal cancer cases. In 2003, an estimated 3800 deaths occurred from laryngeal cancer.
  • In 2003, an estimated 57,400 new cases of bladder cancer were diagnosed and an estimated 12,500 died from the disease.
  • For smoking-attributable cancers, the risk generally increases with the number of cigarettes smoked and the number of years of smoking, and generally decreases after quitting completely.
  • Smoking cigarettes that have a lower yield of tar does not substantially reduce the risk for lung cancer.
  • Cigarette smoking increases the risk of developing mouth cancers. This risk also increases among people who smoke pipes and cigars.

New cancers confirmed by Surgeon General’s report;

  • The 2004 Surgeon General’s report newly identifies other cancers caused by smoking, including cancers of the stomach, cervix, kidney, and pancreas and acute myeloid leukaemia.
  • In 2003, an estimated 22,400 new cases of stomach cancer were diagnosed, and an estimated 12,100 deaths were expected to occur.
  • Former smokers have lower rates of stomach cancer than those who continue to smoke.
  • For women, the risk of cervical cancer increases with the duration of smoking.
  • In 2003, an estimated 31,900 new cases of kidney cancer were diagnosed, and an estimated 11,900 people died from the disease.
  • In 2003, an estimated 30,700 new cases of pancreatic cancer were diagnosed, attributing to 30,000 deaths. The median time from diagnosis to death from pancreatic cancer is about 3 months.
  • In 2003, approximately 10,500 cases of acute myeloid leukaemia were diagnosed in adults.
  • Benzene is a known cause of acute myeloid leukaemia, and cigarette smoke is a major source of benzene exposure. Among U.S. smokers, 90% of benzene exposures come from cigarettes.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

How does smoking cause ageing of the skin?

It is not certain exactly how smoking cause’s early ageing of the facial skin but theories include that;

  • Heat from the cigarette directly burning the skin
  • Changes in the elastic fibers of the skin
  • Narrowing of blood vessels (vasoconstriction), which reduces blood supply to the skin and can cause changes in skin elastic fibers and loss of collagen
  • Reducing Vitamin A levels and moisture of the skin
  • Smoking ages the skin
  • Smoking can accelerate the skin aging process in the skin. Aging of the skin means that it droops, develops wrinkles and lines and can become dry and coarse with uneven skin coloring and broken blood vessels (telangiectasia). Smokers can appear gaunt and develop an orange or gray complexion.

Since the 1970’s studies have shown that smoking results in more premature facial wrinkling than sun exposure. Lines around the eyes called “crow’s feet” can develop at an earlier age. Multiple vertical lines around the mouth also occur and are called “smoker’s lines”. These effects continue into old age. By the age of 70 years, smoking 30 cigarettes a day could lead to the equivalent of an extra 14 years of skin ageing.

Another thing smoking causes is that it delays wound healing including skin injuries and surgical wounds as it increases the risk of wound infection, graft or flap failure, and death of tissue and blood clot formation. The reasons for this are;

  • Vasoconstriction and lack of oxygen reaching skin cells
  • Decreased collagen synthesis
  • Delayed growth of new blood vessels within the wound.

It’s never too late to quit smoking

Quitting smoking reduces the risk of cancer and other diseases, such as heart disease and COPD, caused by smoking. People who quit smoking, regardless of their age, are less likely than those who continue to smoke to die from smoking-related illness:

  • Age 30: Studies have shown that smokers who quit at about age 30 reduce their chance of dying prematurely from smoking-related diseases by more than 90%.
  • Age 50: People who quit at about age 50 reduce their risk of dying prematurely by 50% compared with those who continue to smoke.
  • Age 60: People who quit at about age 60 or older, live longer than those who continue to smoke.

What are the immediate benefits of quitting smoking?

The immediate health benefits of quitting smoking are substantial:

  • Heart rate and blood pressure, which are abnormally high while smoking, begin to return to normal.
  • Within a few hours, the level of carbon monoxide in the blood begins to decline. (Carbon monoxide reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen.)
  • Within a few weeks, people who quit smoking have improved circulation, produce less phlegm, and don’t cough or wheeze as often.
  • Within several months of quitting, people can expect substantial improvements in lung function.
  • In addition, people who quit smoking will have an improved sense of smell, and food will taste better.
  • Within the first 20 minutes of quitting, the healing process begins. The benefits will continue to improve your health and quality of life for years.

If you want to know what substances each cigarette contains, take a look at;

http://quitsmoking.about.com/cs/nicotineinhaler/a/cigingredients.htm

Important events on January 29th

  • 904 – Sergius III comes out of retirement to take over the papacy from the deposed antipope Christopher.
  • 1676 – Feodor III becomes Tsar of Russia.
  • 1814 – France defeats Russia and Prussia in the Battle of Brienne.
  • 1834 – US President Andrew Jackson orders first use of federal soldiers to suppress a labor dispute.
  • 1845 – “The Raven” is published in the New York Evening Mirror, the first publication with the name of the author, Edgar Allan Poe
  • 1850 – Henry Clay introduces the Compromise of 1850 to the U.S. Congress.
  • 1856 – Queen Victoria institutes the Victoria Cross.
  • 1861 – Kansas is admitted as the 34th U.S. state.
  • 1863 – Bear River Massacre.
  • 1886 – Karl Benz patents the first successful gasoline-driven automobile.
  • 1891 – Liliuokalani is proclaimed Queen of Hawaii, its last monarch.
  • 1900 – The American League is organized in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with 8 founding teams.
  • 1916 – World War I: Paris is first bombed by German zeppelins.
  • 1936 – The first inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame are announced.
  • 1940 – Three trains on the Sakurajima Line, in Osaka, Japan, collide and explode while approaching Ajikawaguchi Station. 181 people are killed.
  • 1943 – The first day of the Battle of Rennell Island, U.S. cruiser Chicago is torpedoed and heavily damaged by Japanese bombers.
  • 1944 – USS Missouri the last battleship commissioned by the United States Navy is launched.
  • 1944 – World War II: The Battle of Cisterna takes place in central Italy.
  • 1944 – World War II: Approximately 38 men, women, and children die in the Koniuchy massacre in Poland.
  • 1944 – In Bologna, Italy, the Anatomical Theatre of the Archiginnasio is destroyed in an air-raid.
  • 1963 – The first inductees into the Pro Football Hall of Fame are announced.
  • 1967 – The “ultimate high” of the hippie era, the Mantra-Rock Dance, takes place in San Francisco and features Janis Joplin, Grateful Dead, and Allen Ginsberg.
  • 1979 – Brenda Spencer kills two people and wounds eight at the Grover Cleveland Elementary School shootings.
  • 1985 – Final recording session of We Are The World, by the supergroup USA for Africa.
  • 1989 – Hungary establishes diplomatic relations with South Korea, making it the first Eastern Bloc nation to do so
  • 1996 – President Jacques Chirac announces a “definitive end” to French nuclear weapons testing.
  • 1996 – La Fenice, Venice’s opera house, is destroyed by fire.
  • 1998 – In Birmingham, Alabama, a bomb explodes at an abortion clinic, killing one and severely wounding another. Serial bomber Eric Robert Rudolph is suspected as the culprit.
  • 2001 – Thousands of student protesters in Indonesia storm parliament and demand that President Abdurrahman Wahid resign due to alleged involvement in corruption scandals.
  • 2002 – In his State of the Union Address, President George W. Bush describes “regimes that sponsor terror” as an Axis of Evil, in which he includes Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
  • 2005 – The first direct commercial flights from mainland China (from Guangzhou) to Taiwan since 1949 arrived in Taipei. Shortly afterwards, a China Airlines flight lands in Beijing.
  • 2006 – India’s Irfan Pathan becomes the first bowler to take a Test cricket hat-trick in the opening over of a match.

Some useful advice for travelers

LOCAL LAWS & CUSTOMS


Saudi Arabia

Relationships & Communication

Saudis do not require as much personal space as most western cultures. As such, they will stand close to you while conversing and you may feel as if your personal space has been violated. Hey also prefer to work with people they know and trust, but they will also spend a great deal of time on the getting-to-know-you part of relationship building, and the secret is to be patient. Since Saudis will most likely judge you on appearances, dress and present yourself well.

Business Meeting Etiquette

Appointments are necessary and should be made several weeks to one month in advance if it is possible. When meeting with government officials, a firm date will not be settled upon until you are physically in the country and try to schedule meetings in the morning. Remember to arrive at meetings on time, although it is an accepted custom to keep foreigners waiting. Meetings are generally not private until after a relationship of trust has been developed. This means you may expect frequent interruptions as others may wander into the room and start a different discussion. You may join in, but do not try to bring the topic back to the original discussion until the new person leaves. Business meetings start after prolonged inquiries about health, family, etc. Never inquire about a Saudi’s wife.

Business Negotiating

Decisions are made slowly, so do not try to rush the process because the society is very bureaucratic and most decisions require several layers of approval as several visits to accomplish simple tasks is necessary.
Saudis are tough negotiators and business is hierarchical and decisions are made by the highest-ranking person and do not use high-pressure tactics.
When discussing price, Saudis will often make an initial offer that is extremely low when they are buying. Conversely, when they are selling, their initial offer will be extremely high and you may need to compromise on a point if someone’s dignity is at stake. Business travelers involved in commercial disputes with a Saudi company or individual may be prevented from leaving the country until the dispute is resolved

Dress Etiquette

Most Saudis wear long white thobes and you would be expected to wear a suit as dressing well makes a good impression. Business women should make certain that their collarbones and knees are covered and that their clothes are not form-fitting.

Gift Giving Etiquette

Gifts are not the norm as in many other countries so if you are invited to a Saudi’s house bring something small as a thank you. Flowers do not make good gifts from a man, although a woman could give them to her hostess.
Never give alcohol unless you are positive they partake and gifts are not opened when received.

Dining Etiquette

  • Saudis socialize primarily in restaurants and international hotels when entertaining expatriates whom they do not know well and after some time you will be invited to the home.
  • Entertainment will generally be same-sex only but if both sexes are included, they will be in separate rooms.
  • If you are invited to a Saudi’s house:
  • You would usually remove your shoes.
  • Dress conservatively.
  • Try to arrive at the invited time. Punctuality is appreciated but not crucial.
  • Show respect for the elders by greeting them first.
  • Accept the offer of Arabian coffee and dates even if you do not normally drink coffee.
  • If you are invited for a meal, understand that there will be a great deal of socializing and small talk before the meal is served.

Table manners

  • If the meal is on the floor, sit cross-legged or kneel on one knee.
  • Eat only with the right hand as the left is considered unclean.
  • Try a bit of everything that is served.
  • Meals are generally served family-style.
  • Honored guests are often offered the most prized pieces such as a sheep’s head so be prepared
  • There is often more food than you can eat. Part of Saudi hospitality and generosity is to shower guests with abundance.
  • There is little conversation during meals so that diners may relish the food.

Consumption of Alcohol, illegal drugs and other

The importation and use of alcohol is forbidden. Possession of alcohol may result in imprisonment and corporal punishment. There are strong penalties for possession of or dealing in illegal drugs, including in some cases the death penalty. Preaching religions other than Islam may result in imprisonment and/or deportation.

The import and use of pork products and pornographic material is forbidden and can lead to imprisonment.

Marriage

It should be noted, on marriage to a Saudi national that under the country’s customs the family has strong power over the individual, therefore if a woman wants her right of movement guaranteed, she must insist on a premarital settlement, stipulating this right. Such an agreement is binding, and can be used in court to settle a possible dispute. Men and women must not hold hands and/or kiss in public.

Dress Code


In public, ladies should wear an Abaya, a full-length black over-garment. It is also advisable to have a head scarf although it is not, strictly speaking, required.  Men are also expected to dress modestly in full length trousers and shirts with sleeves, even if short.

Road Safety

Driving standards in Saudi Arabia are very poor and the annual death toll on Saudi roads is extremely high. Care should be taken when traveling by vehicle and seat belts should be worn at all times.

Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. For male drivers, driving can be difficult, particularly since road signs may not be in roman letters.

Given the relatively low cost, most visitors will use taxis or chauffeur-driven cars. Female travelers should only travel in pre-booked taxis known to be safe and should normally avoid hailing a taxi in the street.

Iran


Iran is an Islamic Republic. Islamic practices and beliefs are closely adhered to in the country’s customs, laws, and regulations and common sense and discretion should be exercised in dress and behavior. Visitors should dress conservatively (men should not wear shorts or sleeveless shirts; women must cover their head with a scarf and conceal the body’s contours by wearing a loose fitting knee length outer garment and trousers). Respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.

Strict rules

It is prohibited to import alcohol or pork products.

Photography near military, government installations and many other areas are also strictly prohibited and there may be warnings signs displayed to this effect. Any transgression may result in detention and serious criminal charges.

During the lunar month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim calendar), visitors should refrain from drinking, eating, and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset.

Crime

Travelers have occasionally been victims of petty theft. Avoid displays of affluence and ensure personal belongings, passports, and other travel documents are secured at all times.

Road safety

The standard of driving in Iran, particularly in urban centers, is poor and can be challenging to newcomers. Iran has one of the highest rates of road accidents in the world and travelers should drive with great care. If you are involved in an accident, no matter how minor, do not leave the scene. You should wait until the police arrive to make their report.

Cash Banking

Visitors should bring sufficient hard currency (Euros or US dollars) with them to fund their stay.

UAE

The UAE is a Muslim country in which Islamic law is enforced. Women should dress in a modest way, particularly in Sharjah and Ajman emirates where Islamic law is rigorously enforced.  Clothes should cover the tops of the arms and legs, and underwear should not be visible.  Public displays of affection are frowned upon, and there have been several arrests for kissing in public. Sex outside of marriage is illegal, as is cohabitation, adultery and homosexual behavior. Swearing or making rude gestures is considered an obscene act and offenders can be prosecuted.

Strict rules

The importation of narcotics, pork products and pornographic books and material is totally forbidden. Fraud, including bouncing cheques and the non-payment of bills (including hotel bills), is regarded seriously in the UAE and can often result in imprisonment and/or a fine. Bail is generally not available to non-residents of the UAE who are arrested for crimes involving fraud. Convicted debtors will not generally be released from jail until the debt is paid or waived.

Consumption of alcohol

Liquor licenses can be obtained by residents to consume alcohol in private homes, and alcoholic drinks are served in licensed hotels and clubs. But it is a punishable offense to drink or to be drunk in public.

Illegal drugs

The penalties for drug trafficking, smuggling and possession are severe. Drug trafficking penalties can include the death sentence or life imprisonment. The presence of drugs in the body constitutes possession and carries a minimum sentence of four years.

Any such medication is not allowed into the UAE without prior permission from the UAE Ministry of Health. Medication on the website is listed by its generic name, so travelers should check the generic name of their medication with a doctor or pharmacist. Further queries should be directed to the local Embassy or Consulate of the UAE.

Road Safety

Excursions to the desert can be dangerous unless undertaken in adequately equipped 4 x 4 vehicles. You should always travel in convoy with other cars, take a supply of water and a mobile telephone if you have one and leave travel plans with friends or relatives. It is an offense in the UAE to drink and drive. There is zero tolerance for drinking and driving, and the penalties can be severe. Insurance is likely to be invalidated, leaving the driver to pay claims by other parties involved.

Egypt

Egypt is a conservative society, and modest dress should be observed.  Women’s clothes should cover their legs and upper arms. Public displays of affection are frowned upon. During Ramadan, eating, drinking or smoking between sunrise and sunset is forbidden for Muslims, who make up the majority of Egypt’s population. To avoid offense you may wish to avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public during this time.

Possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs is a serious offense and can, even for possession of small amounts, lead to long prison sentences (25 years) or the death penalty.

Road Safety

Driving conditions in Egypt can be hazardous and travelers are advised to avoid driving at night outside major cities. There have been a series of bus crashes in Egypt in recent years, which have resulted in the death of a considerable number of Egyptians and foreign tourists.

India


You should not become involved with drugs of any kind. Penalties for possession of narcotic substances can be severe. There is a minimum sentence of six months for possession of small amounts for personal consumption only. However, a 10 year sentence for possession of other amounts applies. The slow judicial process means that lengthy pre-trial detention, usually of several years, is the norm.

Table manners

Table manners are formal but the formality is tempered by the religious beliefs of the various groups and most of the places, food is eaten with fingers.

  • Wait to be told where to sit.
  • If utensils are used, they are generally a tablespoon and a fork.
  • Guests are often served in a particular order: the guest of honour is served first, followed by the men, and the children are served last. Women typically serve the men and eat later.
  • You may be asked to wash your hands before and after sitting down to a meal.
  • Always use your right hand to eat, whether you are using utensils or your fingers.
    In some situations food may be put on your plate for you, while in other situations you may be allowed to serve yourself from a communal bowl.
  • Leaving a small amount of food on your plate indicates that you are satisfied. Finishing all your food means that you are still hungry.

Dress Etiquette

Business attire is conservative and men should wear dark colored conservative business suits. The weather often determines clothing. In the hotter parts of the country, dress is less formal, although dressing as suggested above for the first meeting will indicate respect.

Titles

  • Indians revere titles such as Professor, Doctor and Engineer.
  • Status is determined by age, university degree, caste and profession.
  • If someone does not have a professional title, use the honorific title “Sir” or “Madam”.
  • Titles are used with the person’s name or the surname, depending upon the person’s name.
  • Wait to be invited before using someone’s first name without the title.

Pakistan

Pakistan is a Muslim state and local customs, such as dress and behavior, should be respected. Always dress modestly as men and women should cover their shoulders and legs when in public. Women should cover their heads when entering mosques or other holy places, and when traveling in more rural areas.

Importing alcohol and pork products is illegal. Possession of even small quantities of illegal drugs can lead to imprisonment and drug smuggling can attract the death penalty.

You are advised not to take photographs at military establishments, airports or any infrastructure, including bridges and dams or from aircraft.

Crime

Criminal violence, including armed car-jacking, robbery, kidnap and murder, is common, especially in Karachi and therefore travelers have been offered drugged food and then robbed.  You should be very careful and confident of your personal security arrangements throughout your visit. Much of Baluchistan, rural Sindh and the North West Frontier Province, including the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas and Agencies, have a high incidence of lawlessness. Beware of the risk of street crime and take personal security measures.  Take particular care to safeguard your passport and bank cards, particularly when traveling by public transport and when walking in crowded areas.

Turkey

Turkey has strict laws against the use, possession or trafficking of illegal drugs.  If you are convicted of any of these offences, you can expect to receive a heavy fine and a prison sentence of up to 15 years. Normally, the dress code in Turkey is the same as in Europe, however, you should dress modestly if visiting a mosque or a religious shrine (long trousers or dress and women should wear a headscarf). Do not take photographs near military or official installations and seek permission before photographing individuals.

Crime

Incidents of violent crime against tourists in Turkey are rare. Street robbery and pick pocketing are common in the major tourist areas of Istanbul. There have been a number of cases of theft from apartments in some of the coastal resorts. Visitors should heed the advice of their local tour operator representative.

Road safety

You should take particular care when traveling by road throughout Turkey, as road conditions and driving standards can be poor. Serious traffic accidents are common particularly at night.

Some other countries;

Clothing: Wearing shorts in public is generally not acceptable in most parts of the world, including some European countries. In Arab countries, low necklines, sleeveless shirts, and short skirts are definitely a bad idea. When in doubt, dress conservatively. Also, while it is tempting to dress in the local style, like wearing a sari in India, be sensitive to the culture – sometimes the local citizenry will appreciate your attempt to fit in; sometimes it will be considered an insult.

Greetings/touching: Handshakes are an almost universally accepted form of greeting, although in some countries, like Japan, a traditional bow from the waist down is preferred. Be careful how you address someone; don’t use first names unless you are invited to do so. In some countries, you’ll see a lot of hugging and kissing going on among the locals (Greece, Italy, Latin countries, Slavic countries); an affectionate hug or peck on the cheek that you share with a new acquaintance is fine, but usually if you are responding to, not initiating it.

Language/Gestures: Taking a crash course in the language of the country you will be visiting rarely results in the mastery of the language. Instead, learn some polite expressions (hello-goodbye-thank you) and relax. English is pretty common worldwide, especially in tourist areas, and you can always include body language to get your message across. However, some American gestures have totally different meanings in other countries. For example, in Bulgaria, shaking your head horizontally means “yes”; shaking it vertically means “no”. Also using the American gesture for “OK” (the thumb and forefinger making a circle with the other fingers pointing up) can be embarrassing. In Brazil that gesture means “screw you”: in Japan it means “money”: in Southern France it means “zero” or “worthless”.

Food/Drink: You may find yourself staring down at a local delicacy – snake soup in China, a yak burger in Tibet, sheep’s eyes in Saudi Arabia, calves’ brains in France – and wonder what to do, particularly if you are a guest in someone’s home. Be brave, take small bites, and pretend it tastes like something you like. When presented with a strong alcoholic drink, like ouzo in Greece, take small sips and stop when you must (you can refuse, citing medical reasons as your excuse). Remember that Hindus and some Buddhists don’t eat beef (the cow is sacred); Muslims don’t eat pork, and strict Muslims abstain from alcohol. If you are eating with Muslims, never touch food with your left hand (the left hand is for bathroom use and is considered unsanitary; using it would be very offensive).

Socializing/conversations: If you are acquainted with the history and culture of the country, you shouldn’t get unnerved. In general, some topics can be touchy or controversial, like money, religion, politics, and sex. But the particular nature of the people is critical. The Japanese do not want to talk about World War II; the French scowl at the classic American question: “What do you do for a living?”; the Chinese call their country “China” or the “People’s Republic of China” – not “the Mainland”; people in Scotland are “Scots” or “Scotsmen,” not “Scotch” (the drink) or “Scottish” (the language or the terrier).

Something to remember

Do not blow your nose in public as it is a sign of bad manner in Japan. The best would be to sniffle until you are alone. It is also seen as bad manners to open a gift you receive in front of the gift giver. The best would be to thank and wait until opening it when you are alone. When it comes to business cards, you should read it before you put it in your pocket or wallet.

Dinner in the evening? Then take a long shower or relax at home before you arrive. People do not arrive right on time in France or Latin America as people tend not to be on time because arriving right on time seems like you are greedy rather than being polite. Last, know your time as when the first people leave the table, the others follow after. Staying late will make you look like you are misusing the hosts hospitality.

In China, the food is eaten with chopsticks, therefore never leave the chopsticks vertical on the rice bowl but  horizontal because it will remind of incense the Chinese use under funerals and seem rather offensive. And if you are served fish, do not turn the fish around cause according to superstition belief, if you turn the fish, the fishing boat will turn over in the sea as a result of an accident. But it is good to drink as Chinese people enjoy the company where alcohol is floating since peoples true colors come forward when they are drunk.

It is important to be careful in when traveling in Russia. Try to avoid these;

Do not shake hands in the doorway, light a cigarette from a candle or whistle inside. It is also important to not kiss someone on the forehead and give flowers containing of a even number as this is done for the deceased.

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