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  • Bomb explodes outside crowded mosque in north Nigeria’s Kano


    SHAFAQNA - A bomb exploded outside the central mosque of north Nigeria's biggest city, Kano, just as residents were packing into the area for Friday prayers, witnesses said.

    "These people have bombed the mosque. I am face to face with people screaming," said Chijjani Usman, a local reporter who resides inside the old city where the blast took place, and who had gathered there for prayers himself.

    Source : Reuters.com

    Sunni tried for deadly arson attack on Belgian Shiite mosque


    SHAFAQNA - Moroccan man admitted setting fire to a Shiite mosque in Brussels to protest the crackdown on fellow Sunnis in Syria when he went on trial Thursday for the attack that killed the imam.

    But Rachid El-Boukhari, 35, denied intending to kill the preacher at the main Shiite mosque in the Belgian capital when he addressed the court here, according to news reports.

    Boukhari, who describes himself as Sunni, risks a life sentence if found guilty of carrying out the attack on the Rida mosque just before evening prayers on March 12, 2012.

    He is accused of "a terrorist offence" as well as "arson causing death" under the "aggravating circumstances" that the attack was "based on religion."

    "Yes, I knew that there was at least one or two people in the mosque when I set it on fire," the defendant told the Brussels court, according to the Belga news agency.

    "But I thought they would leave through the door. The problem is that ...

    UK’s Cameron to restrict welfare benefits for immigrants


    SHAFAQNA- Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday promised tough curbs on welfare for EU migrants to counter a surge in arrivals and warned European leaders that blocking them could put Britain's EU membership in doubt.

    He said the package of reforms would require changes to European Union treaties but said he was "confident" he could deliver a deal.

    Immigration to Britain has increased sharply in the past decade and Cameron is under intense pressure to address voters' concerns ahead of the May 2015 general election.

    His Conservative party is  losing support to the UK Independence Party (UKIP), which advocates leaving the EU altogether as the only way to curb EU migration.

    In a long-awaited speech on the issue, Cameron stopped short of calling for a cap on new arrivals or a mooted "emergency brake", which had caused consternation in EU capitals.

    But he announced plans to make EU workers wait four years to receive income tax credits and access social housing, and vowed to stop migrants claiming benefits for children ...

    Bahrainis rally to protest raid on top Shia cleric’s house


    SHAFAQNA - Bahraini people have rallied to express their solidarity with prominent Shia cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Ahmed Qassim after his house was raided by mercenaries security forces backed with Saudi troops.

    Dozens of people held demonstrations in the capital, Manama, and Saar village on Thursday after the Bahraini regime forces stormed the cleric’s house in the mostly Shia village of Diraz, west of the capital, on Tuesday. Regime forces also checked the identities of everyone inside the house.

    The raid on the top Shia cleric’s house came after the Bahraini opposition boycotted the parliamentary elections which were held with a low turnout across the tiny kingdom.

    Since mid-February 2011, thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations in the streets of Bahrain, calling for political reforms.

    Manama’s heavy crackdown on protesters turned people’s demands for reforms into calls for the downfall of the regime.

    Bahrain has been severely criticized by human rights groups for its harsh crackdown on ...

    Pope urges solidarity to stop aggressors in Syria and Iraq


    SHAFAQNA - Pope Francis called for an end to all forms of fundamentalism on Friday and said fighting hunger and poverty, rather than military intervention alone, were key to stopping Islamist militants carrying out "grave persecutions" in Syria and Iraq .

    Speaking at the start of a three-day trip to  Turkey , Francis said "terrorist violence" showed no sign of abating in Turkey's southern neighbors, where Islamist insurgents had declared a caliphate and persecuted Shi'ite Muslims, Christians and others who do not share their ultra-radical brand of Sunni Islam.

    "It is licit, while always respecting international law, to stop an unjust aggressor," the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics said in reference to the Islamic State militants after a meeting with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

    "What is required is a concerted commitment on the part of all ... (to) enable resources to be directed, not to weaponry, but to the other noble battles worthy of man: the fight against hunger and sickness," he said.

    Before the meeting with Erdogan, Francis visited the tomb of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who founded the modern secular Turkish state in 1923.

    Francis faces a delicate mission in  Turkey , a majority Muslim but constitutionally secular state, in strengthening ties with religious leaders while condemning violence ...

    Protesters target Black Friday sales in Ferguson


    SHAFAQNA - Protesters in Ferguson, Missouri began targeting Black Friday sales at major retailers overnight in a new tactic to vent their anger at a grand jury decision not to indict a white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teen.

    Kicking off their latest strategy inside a Walmart in another nearby suburb of St. Louis, about 75 demonstrators protested peacefully, chanting "Hands up, don't shoot!", bemusing bargain-hunters pushing their brimming shopping carts.

    They dispersed peacefully when ordered by a small group of police, moving on to a Target store where they staged a similar demonstration. More protests were planned for Friday.

    Ferguson became a flashpoint for often troubled U.S. race relations after officer Darren Wilson shot dead Michael Brown on Aug. 9. The U.S. Justice Department is probing possible civil rights abuses, and President Barack Obama has called for reflection on the difficulties minorities face in the country.

    The grand jury's decision on Monday not to charge Wilson prompted a spasm of fury in Ferguson. About a dozen businesses were torched and more than 100 people were arrested in clashes with riot police that rumbled on into Tuesday night.

    But Wednesday and Thursday were far quieter, with no major incidents reported.

    Before heading in convoy to Walmart late on Thursday, a group of some 100 demonstrators ate Thanksgiving dinner, sang, prayed and discussed their new strategy in ...

    Mexico president vows police reform in bid to quell massacre anger


    SHAFAQNA  - Embattled President Enrique Pena Nieto on Thursday vowed to simplify Mexico's chaotic police structure and stop collusion between officials and drug gangs as he tried to defuse anger over the apparent massacre of 43 students in September.

    Pena Nieto is under growing pressure from protesters to end impunity and brutality by security forces since the trainee teachers were abducted by corrupt police and handed over to a local drug gang in the southwestern city of Iguala on Sept. 26.

    The government says the students were almost certainly murdered and their bodies incinerated, but it is still investigating the case that has sparked the biggest crisis of Pena Nieto's two-year rule.

    " Mexico cannot continue like this," Pena Nieto said in a speech to an assembly of Mexico's political leaders.

    It was his most concerted effort to retake the initiative on an issue that has left his government scrambling for answers.

    "After Iguala, Mexico has to change," he added, speaking inside the ceremonial presidential palace in Mexico City whose door was set ablaze by demonstrators earlier this month. "Our country has been shaken by cruelty and barbarism."

    Promising a new law to stop the infiltration of local governments by organized crime, Pena Nieto also pledged to reform the penal system and send an proposal to Congress to unify multi-layered police forces in Mexico's 31 states.

    Smoking Rates Falling Despite Growing Population



    Cigarette Smoking Rate Among Adults in the United States  at Lowest Rate Ever Recorded Cigarette Smoking Rate Among Adults in the United States at Lowest Rate Ever Recorded (Photo : Flickr / Morgan)

    According to a  study published this week by the  Center for Disease Control (CDC), the rate of cigarette smoking by adults in the United States has hit an all-time low rate, the lowest ever recorded actually.

    At a rate of just under 18 percent, this study shows that we are seeing the lowest prevalence in cigarette smoking in this country since the CDC's Nation Health Information Survey (NHIS) began keeping a tally on this and related data in 1965.

    In terms of specific statistics, the data shows that the current rate of smokers is 17.8 percent, a significant fall from 2005 when the percentage of smokers was measured at 20.9. The report also reveals that in comparison to the 45.1 million smokers nationwide tallied in 2005, the number of adult American smokers today in the nation numbers approximately 42.1 million.

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    "There is encouraging news in this study, but we still have much more work to do to help people quit," Tim McAfee, M.D., M.P.H., director of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health said in a statement.

    "We can bring down cigarette smoking rates much further, much faster, if strategies proven to work are put in place like funding tobacco control programs at ...

    FDA Implements New Calorie Count Rules To Combat Obesity


    SHAFAQNA - The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently released an order requiring all chain restaurants and amusement parks to display the calorie counts of the items in their menus. This mandate was made in accordance with the fight of the United States government against obesity, which is a prevalent condition in the country.

    "Obesity is a national epidemic that affects millions of Americans," disclosed Margaret Hamburg, the Food and Drug Administration commissioner. In addition, Hamburg revealed that Americans consume roughly one-third of their calories in establishments outside their homes.

    Health experts attribute this problem to the rising sizes of portions served in some establishments, as well as the practice of using unhealthy items to the dishes, as potential major contributory factors.  To offer a solution to this growing health problem, the FDA ordered all business establishments that serve food and have at least 20 locations nationwide to "clearly and conspicuously" display the calorie content of their menu items.

    Apart from this, business owners are also instructed to willingly provide other nutritional information, such as calories obtained from protein, fat, sugars, and cholesterol, if customers seek the data. These shall be made available in writing as well.

    This new rule does not only include restaurants as mandated by its 2011 counterpart, but also amusement parks and movie theatres. It also requires restaurants serving alcoholic beverages to display the calorie count of such drinks while meals covered by this new guideline include all served at sit-down restaurants, pizza, bakery products, and ice cream, and take-out ...

    Promising Result in Dry Powder Measles Vaccine



    The powdered Measles vaccine is showing promising results in early human testing. The vaccine being used today for measles, which is administered through injection, is both safe and effective. Researchers are always trying to discover new things and develop the present’s systems. Researchers of University of Colorado develop a dry delivery technique that SoEliminates the need for needles and produces less waste., a new measles vaccine that uses dry powder could increase the coverage of the vaccine by making it easier to transport and administer.

    The dry powder measles vaccine has proven safe in early batches of trails on humans, and it has proven to be effective in previous trials on animals. The test results were published in the vaccine journal. The recent developments on measles vaccines are becoming more significant as the disease is making a comeback over the past few years. While the disease was once largely believed to be contained, there have already been 603 confirmed cases of measles in the USA for the year, which is the highest number since 2000.Other people that have been infected spread measles through direct contact or droplets from throat or nose secretions. The disease can also be caught airborne. The trial enrolled 60 adult males, ages from 18 to 45 years old, who’s were already immune the disease. Researchers of university of Colorado tested the delivery of the powder vaccine with two devices and then compared the group with the group, which received the typical infection. The vaccine shows no negative side effects in 60 participants.Contain secretions.

    “ Traditional measles vaccines start off dried and become injectable when health ...