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From : Sohaib

No more eating shark fin in Hawaii after new law

HONOLULU – The $48-a-plate shark fin has been a favorite dish to celebrate 80th birthdays and fete out of town VIPs since Vienna Hou's Chinese restaurant opened 25 years ago.
But Kirin Restaurant customers won't be dining in that style starting July 1, 2011, when Hawaii becomes the first state in the nation to ban the possession of shark fins. The state is attempting to help prevent the overfishing and extinction of sharks around the world.
"Something will be missing," said Hou, who grew up watching her father sell shark fin as part of his seafood trading business in Hong Kong. "Decent Chinese restaurants — they all serve shark fin."
Gov. Linda Lingle on Friday signed a bill prohibiting the possession, sale or distribution of shark fins. The bill passed the state House and Senate with broad support earlier this year.
The legislation generated some grumbling in Hawaii's sizable Chinese community — more than 13 percent of the state population is Chinese or part Chinese. Many consider shark fin a delicacy and important part of Chinese culture.
The ban also comes as the tourism-dependent state expects a surge in affluent Chinese visitors.
Restaurateurs say about a dozen establishments in Hawaii serve shark fin, which doesn't taste like much by itself. The flavor in shark fin dishes comes from the ingredients it's cooked with, either the rich sauce it's served with on a plate or the savory pork and chicken base in shark fin soup.
Some people eat it for the supposed health benefits, claiming that it's good for bones, kidneys and lungs and helps treat cancer. Shark fin is also considered a status symbol in high-end restaurants, a dish to impress or lavishly treat guests. At Kirin, on a busy street near the University of Hawaii, one soup serving is $17.
In Hong Kong, high end restaurants can charge $1,000 for premium shark fin.
"I don't think you should say it should be illegal to have shark fin," said Johnson Choi, president of the Hong Kong China Hawaii Chamber of Commerce. "Shark fins are part of food culture — Chinese have had food culture for over 5,000 years."
Environmentalists say the tradition is leading to a dangerous depletion of sharks worldwide.
A report last year by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimates 32 percent of open ocean shark species are in danger of becoming extinct primarily because of overfishing.
Hawaii's lawmakers heard testimony that sharks are being killed for their fins at a rate of 89 million per year.
"It's not a local issue. It's an international issue," said Sen. Clayton Hee, D-Kahuku-Kaneohe, the sponsor of the Hawaii bill.
Restaurants serving fins will have until next July to run through their inventory. After that, those caught with fin will have to pay a fine between $5,000 to $15,000 for a first offense. A third offense would result in a fine between $35,000 to $50,000 and up to a year in prison.
It's designed to go a step further than the previous law which aimed to control shark finning — the act of cutting fins off sharks at sea and dumping their carcasses in the ocean — by banning the landing of shark fins at Hawaii ports.
Shark conservation activists say they hope the law inspires other states and the federal government to follow suit.
"This is a landmark bill," said Marie Levine, the founder and executive director of the Shark Research Institute in Princeton, N.J. "This is enormously important for the conservation of sharks."
Conservation efforts suffered a major setback earlier this year when an effort to protect six shark species under the 175-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES, failed in March.
Hee, who is of Chinese and Native Hawaiian descent, rejected the argument that shark fins shouldn't be banned because they're an important part of Chinese culture. He argued the food is only eaten by an elite few at Chinese restaurants.
"It's a tradition of serving shark fin to those who could most afford it. It's an indulgent activity," Hee said.
In contrast, he noted sharks are deeply ingrained in Hawaiian culture as ancestral gods, or aumakua, and are featured prominently in ancient legends.
The law's power may be primarily symbolic given Hawaii is a small market for shark fin, especially compared to Hong Kong. The IUCN estimates Hong Kong handles at least 50 percent and perhaps 80 percent of the world's shark fin trade.
Some restaurant managers — both inside and outside of the tourist mecca of Waikiki — said their biggest eaters of shark fin are Japanese tourists who like to order the dish because it's three to four times cheaper here than back home.
"I doubt it very much that people will be very disappointed," said David Chui, manager of Legends Seafood Restaurant.
Carroll Cox, president of the Hawaii-based group EnviroWatch, hopes the governor makes enforcement a high priority. Other countries will also have to commit to limit the shark fin trade for any restrictions to have an effect, he said.
"People learn to circumvent the law, especially when you have a product that's expensive and in demand," said Cox.
By AUDREY McAVOY, Associated Press Writer


First Human Infected with a Computer Virus !

As if humans didn't have enough viruses to worry about, one British researcher has successfully infected himself with a computer virus.
Mark Gasson, senior research fellow at the University of Reading, was able to infect a tiny, radio frequency identification (RFID) chip with a virus before he placed it under the skin on his hand. He uses that chip to activate his cell phone, as well as open secure doors.
Thanks to the computer chip, his cell phone knows when he's using it, and when someone else is trying to operate the device. If someone else tries to use his phone (after, say, stealing it), that person is not able to use it. Only Gasson can.
And instead of him swiping an ID card to enter his building, he just needs to wave his hand to gain entrance. The convenience of not taking out his ID and the safety of his phone come with a price, however.
He served as carrier, and was able to pass the virus on to an external computer. The virus was of Gasson's own design and was not malicious. But he was able to show that computer viruses can move seamlessly between computers within and outside the body. And theoretically, if a person had several computers in his or her body, a computer virus could spread from one to another, infecting them all.
Discovery News' Rossella Lorenzi talks to Pierpaolo Petruzziello about the bionic hand experiment. Why would people have computers in their bodies? Researchers around the world are developing tiny electronics that can be ingested or embedded in people for health or even security reasons. Consider the camera pill, which records data from the intestines, bionic eyes, bionic limbs, implantable telescopes to improve vision, and more.
The kind of computer chip that Gasson installed in his body is not in wide use, so no need to worry as of yet. In fact, you have more reason to worry about bed bugs than computer bugs. But in the future, computers will get under our skin, and people will have to take precautions to spread digital infections.
Analysis by David Teeghman/Discovery News


Many Supplements Said to Contain Toxins, Make False Health Claims

A Congressional investigation of dietary herbal supplements has found trace amounts of lead, mercury and other heavy metals in nearly all products tested, plus myriad illegal health claims made by supplement manufacturers, The New York Times reported .
One ginkgo biloba product had labeling claiming it could treat Alzheimer's disease (no effective treatment yet exists), while a product containing ginseng asserted that it can prevent both diabetes and cancer, the report said.
Steve Mister, president of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade group that represents the dietary supplement industry, said it was not surprising that herbal supplements contained trace amounts of heavy metals, because they are routinely found in soil and plants. "I dont think this should be of concern to consumers," he told the Times.
The report findings were to be presented to the Senate on Wednesday, two weeks before discussion begins on a major food safety bill that will likely place more controls on food manufacturers, the Times said. The newspaper said it was given the report in advance of the Senate hearing.
How tough the bill will be on supplement makers has been the subject of much lobbying, but the Times noted that some Congressional staff members doubt manufacturers will find it too burdensome.
At least nine misleading health claims were noted in the report, which was prepared by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). These claims included assurances that the products could cure diseases, such as diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and cancer, investigators said. In one instance, a salesperson claimed that a garlic supplement could replace blood pressure drugs, the Times reported.
Products that purport to treat or relieve disease must go through strict reviews because they are considered drugs by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The oversight of supplements has improved in recent years, said Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisconsin), who will preside over Wednesday's hearing. However, the FDA needs the authority and tools to ensure that dietary supplements are as safe and effective as is widely perceived by the Americans who take them, he told the Times.
One witness scheduled to testify, Dr. Tod Cooperman, president of, said supplements with too little of the indicated ingredients and those contaminated with heavy metals are the major problems. In testing more than 2,000 dietary supplements from some 300 manufacturers, his lab has found that one in four has quality problems, the Times said.
According to the newspaper's account, the proposed food safety bill could require that supplement manufacturers register annually with the FDA and permit the agency to recall potentially dangerous supplements.
It's estimated that half of adult Americans take vitamin supplements regularly, and about a quarter take herbal supplements at least occasionally. Annual sales are about $25 billion a year, the Times said.
/By:(HealthDay News)


Japanese team finds material that could make super disc

Tokyo (AFP)
A Japanese research team has found a material that could be used to make a low-price super disc with data storage capacity thousands of times greater than a DVD, the lead scientist said Monday.
The material transforms from a black-colour metal state that conducts electricity into a brown semiconductor when hit by light, according to Shin-ichi Ohkoshi, chemistry professor at the University of Tokyo.
The material, a new crystal form of titanium oxide, can switch back and forth between the metal and semiconductor states at room temperature when exposed to light, creating an effective on-off function for data storage.
It is "promising as a material for a next-generation optical storage device," Ohkoshi told AFP by telephone.
A material that changes colour with light can be used in storage devices as colours reflect light differently to contain different information.
His team has succeeded in creating the material in particles measuring five-to-20 nanometres (a five-billionth to 20-billionth of a metre) in diameter.
If the smallest particle is used, the new disc could hold more than 1,000 times as much information as a Blu-ray disc, provided that matching data-writing and reading equipment are developed.
A single-layer Blu-ray disc can hold five times as much data as a conventional DVD.
Titanium oxide's market price is about one-hundredth of the rare element -- germanium-antimony-tellurium -- that is currently used in rewritable Blu-ray discs and DVDs, Ohkoshi said.
"You don't have to worry about procuring rare metals. Titanium oxide is cheap and safe, already being used in many products ranging from face powder to white paint," the professor said.
Ohkoshi said it was not known when a disc with the material would be manufactured and put to practical use, adding that he would start talks with private-sector companies for commercialisation.
The study was published in the advance online edition of the British magazine Nature Chemistry.


Keep Life In Balance

It's nice to relax on a regular basis. Yet a life of nothing but relaxation would be unbearably miserable.
It is extremely fulfilling and energizing to put forth great effort and to make things happen. Yet if that's all you ever do, your spirit will surely become worn away.
Life is best when it is balanced. Night and day, warm and cool, wet and dry, effort and rest all benefit from each other and from the natural balance that permeates all of life.
Are you plagued by frustrations, or weariness, anxiety, doubt, confusion or lack of motivation?
Then the chances are very good that something in your life is out of balance.
Often, the best way to get something done is to stop working on it for a while.
And the best way to fully enjoy the time when you're not working is to practice discipline, diligenc e and commitment during the times when you are working.
Your life is blessed with many different aspects.
Keep them all in balance, and they will all be of much greater value to you.
~Ralph Marston~


Allergies: Avoiding indoor triggers

Allergic rhinitis results in symptoms of sneezing, congestion, and a runny nose. However, you can control these symptoms with medicine and by avoiding the things that cause them (allergens). If you are allergic to indoor allergens, such as dust mites, animal dander, and mold, you can take some simple steps to get them out of your house.
By taking these precautions, you may have fewer symptoms or less severe symptoms.
What do I do first?
Why should I control allergens in my home?
How can I control allergens in my home?
Where to go from here
Return to topic:
What do I do first?
To avoid allergens in your home, you need to try to identify what you are allergic to. Work with your doctor to find this out. With this knowledge, you can cut back on the allergens in your home. For example, you may be allergic to your pet. You can then decide what steps to take, such as keeping your pet outside or limiting your pet to certain areas of your home.
Many of these steps are simple and are easy to do. Others may mean changes to your home and furnishings—such as removing carpeting or adding an air-conditioning system—that can be costly or difficult to do. If you live in a rented apartment or house, you may not be able to make some changes. You will need to decide which ones you can do. Try to use as many of them as you can.
Test Your Knowledge
1.Many steps for controlling allergens in your home are simple and easy to do.
The answer is correct
Many of the steps for controlling allergens in your home are simple and easy to do, and can be done in any home.
The answer is incorrect
Many of the steps for controlling allergens in your home are simple and easy to do, and can be done in any home.
Continue to Why should I control allergens in my home?
Return to Allergies: Avoiding indoor triggers
Why should I control allergens in my home?
By avoiding or reducing your contact with indoor allergens, you may be able to:
■Reduce your allergy symptoms and feel much better.
■Manage your allergy symptoms without medicine or with fewer medicines.
■Reduce your risk of developing complications of long-term (chronic) allergic rhinitis, such as sinusitis.
Test Your Knowledge
1.It is useful to try to control allergens in your home because:
a.Reducing the allergens may help reduce your allergy symptoms.
The answer is correct
Reducing allergens can help reduce your allergy symptoms. This may make it easier for you to manage your allergy symptoms without medicine or with fewer medicines.
b.You may be able to take fewer allergy medicines.
The answer is correct
Reducing allergens can help reduce your allergy symptoms. This may make it easier for you to manage your allergy symptoms without medicine or with fewer medicines.
Continue to How can I control allergens in my home?
Return to Allergies: Avoiding indoor triggers
How can I control allergens in my home?
To reduce allergens inside your home, you can:
■Remove items where allergens build up, such as stuffed animals or rugs.
■Use regular cleaning and housekeeping to prevent allergens from building up.
Measures to control allergens throughout your home include:
■Controlling dust and dust mites, such as dusting regularly and washing bed linens in hot water. Dust contains most of the allergens in your home.
■Controlling animal dander and other pet allergens, which includes keeping pets only in certain areas of your home.
■Controlling molds, which includes cleaning bathtubs and showers monthly.
Because adults spend one-third of their time and children spend half of their time in their bedrooms, it is important that you take steps to prevent allergens in this room.
Other things you can do
Polluted air does not cause allergies, but it can irritate the nose and lungs. This may make it more likely that you will have symptoms.
■Avoid tobacco smoke, smoke from wood-burning stoves, and fumes from kerosene heaters.
■If you have a wood-burning stove, try to use one that is airtight and does not leak smoke into your home.
Test Your Knowledge
1.Most of the allergens in your home are found in dust.
The answer is correct
Most of the allergens in your home are found in dust. Dust builds up on furniture, floors and carpeting, on beds and other soft furniture, and on clothing.
The answer is incorrect
Most of the allergens in your home are found in dust. Dust builds up on furniture, floors and carpeting, on beds and other soft furniture, and on clothing.
2.You should pay special attention to controlling allergens in:
a.The bedroom.
The answer is correct
Because you generally spend so much time in your bedroom, you should take special care in controlling allergens in this room.
b.The bathroom.
The answer is incorrect
Although controlling mold in the bathroom is important, you should pay more attention to controlling allergens in your bedroom. Most people spend a lot of time in the bedroom.
Continue to Where to go from here
Return to Allergies: Avoiding indoor triggers
Where to go from here
Talk with your doctor
If you have questions about this information, take a printout with you when you visit your doctor. You may want to mark areas or make notes where you have questions. Your doctor may have more ideas on how you can control allergens in your home.
By Debby Golonka, MPH


A step to artificial life: Manmade DNA powers cell

WASHINGTON – Scientists announced a bold step Thursday in the enduring quest to create artificial life. They've produced a living cell powered by manmade DNA.
While such work can evoke images of Frankenstein-like scientific tinkering, it also is exciting hopes that it could eventually lead to new fuels, better ways to clean polluted water, faster vaccine production and more.
Is it really an artificial life form?
The inventors call it the world's first synthetic cell, although this initial step is more a re-creation of existing life — changing one simple type of bacterium into another — than a built-from-scratch kind.
But Maryland genome-mapping pioneer J. Craig Venter said his team's project paves the way for the ultimate, much harder goal: designing organisms that work differently from the way nature intended for a wide range of uses. Already he's working with ExxonMobil in hopes of turning algae into fuel.
"This is the first self-replicating species we've had on the planet whose parent is a computer," Venter told reporters.
And the report, being published Friday in the journal Science, is triggering excitement in this growing field of synthetic biology.
"It's been a long time coming, and it was worth the wait," said Dr. George Church, a Harvard Medical School genetics professor. "It's a milestone that has potential practical applications."
Following the announcement, President Barack Obama directed the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues he established last fall to make its first order of business a study of the milestone.
"The commission should consider the potential medical, environmental, security and other benefits of this field of research, as well as any potential health, security or other risks," Obama wrote in a letter to the commission's chairwoman, Amy Gutmann, the president of the University of Pennsylvania.
Obama also asked that the commission develop recommendations about any actions the government should take "to ensure that America reaps the benefits of this developing field of science while identifying appropriate ethical boundaries and minimizing identified risks."
Scientists for years have moved single genes and even large chunks of DNA from one species to another. At his J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Md., and San Diego, Venter's team aimed to go further. A few years ago, the researchers transplanted an entire natural genome — the genetic code — of one bacterium into another and watched it take over, turning a goat germ into a cattle germ.
Next, the researchers built from scratch another, smaller bacterium's genome, using off-the-shelf laboratory-made DNA fragments.
Friday's report combines those two achievements to test a big question: Could synthetic DNA really take over and drive a living cell? Somehow, it did.
"This is transforming life totally from one species into another by changing the software," said Venter, using a computer analogy to explain the DNA's role.
The researchers picked two species of a simple germ named Mycoplasma. First, they chemically synthesized the genome of M. mycoides, that goat germ, which with 1.1 million "letters" of DNA was twice as large as the germ genome they'd previously built.
Then they transplanted it into a living cell from a different Mycoplasma species, albeit a fairly close cousin.
At first, nothing happened. The team scrambled to find out why, creating a genetic version of a computer proofreading program to spell-check the DNA fragments they'd pieced together. They found that a typo in the genetic code was rendering the manmade DNA inactive, delaying the project three months to find and restore that bit.
"It shows you how accurate it has to be, one letter out of a million," Venter said.
That fixed, the transplant worked. The recipient cell started out with synthetic DNA and its original cytoplasm, but the new genome "booted up" that cell to start producing only proteins that normally would be found in the copied goat germ. The researchers had tagged the synthetic DNA to be able to tell it apart, and checked as the modified cell reproduced to confirm that new cells really looked and behaved like M. mycoides.
"All elements in the cells after some amount of time can be traced to this initial artificial DNA. That's a great accomplishment," said biological engineer Ron Weiss of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Even while praising the accomplishment — "biomolecular engineering of the highest order," declared David Deamer of the University of California, Santa Cruz — many specialists say the work hasn't yet crossed the line of truly creating new life from scratch.
It's partially synthetic, some said, because Venter's team had to stick the manmade genetic code inside a living cell from a related species. That cell was more than just a container; it also contained its own cytoplasm — the liquid part.
In other words, the synthetic part was "running on the 'hardware' of the modern cell," University of Southern Denmark physics professor Steen Rasmussen wrote in the journal Nature, which on Thursday released essays of both praise and caution from eight leaders in the field.
The environmental group Friends of the Earth said the new work took "genetic engineering to an extreme new level" and urged that Venter stop until government regulations are put in place to protect against these kind of engineered microbes escaping into the environment.
Venter said he removed 14 genes thought to make the germ dangerous to goats before doing the work, and had briefed government officials about the work over the course of several years — acknowledging that someone potentially could use this emerging field for harm instead of good.
But MIT's Weiss said it would be far easier to use existing technologies to make bioweapons: "There's a big gap between science fiction and what your imagination can do and the reality in research labs."
Venter founded Synthetic Genomics Inc., a privately held company that funded the work, and his research institute has filed patents on it.


Rare Flowers

Here are some pictures of some rare flowers, enjoy!
/Priya Malhotra

Study suggests processed meat a real health risk

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Eating bacon, sausage, hot dogs and other processed meats can raise the risk of heart disease and diabetes, U.S. researchers said on Monday in a study that identifies the real bad boys of the meat counter.
Eating hot dogs, bacon, sausage or deli meats increases the chance of heart disease by 42 percent, US researchers said in a report out Monday.
Eating unprocessed beef, pork or lamb appeared not to raise risks of heart attacks and diabetes, they said, suggesting that salt and chemical preservatives may be the real cause of these two health problems associated with eating meat.
The study, an analysis of other research called a meta-analysis, did not look at high blood pressure or cancer, which are also linked with high meat consumption.
"To lower risk of heart attacks and diabetes, people should consider which types of meats they are eating," said Renata Micha of the Harvard School of Public Health, whose study appears in the journal Circulation.
"Processed meats such as bacon, salami, sausages, hot dogs and processed deli meats may be the most important to avoid," Micha said in a statement.
Based on her findings, she said people who eat one serving per week or less of processed meats have less of a risk.
The American Meat Institute objected to the findings, saying it was only one study and that it stands in contrast to other studies and the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
"At best, this hypothesis merits further study. It is certainly no reason for dietary changes," James Hodges, president of the American Meat Institute, said in a statement.
Most dietary guidelines recommend eating less meat. Individual studies looking at relationships between eating meat and cardiovascular diseases and diabetes have had mixed results.
But studies rarely look for differences in risk between processed and unprocessed red meats, Micha said.
She and colleagues did a systematic review of nearly 1,600 studies from around the world looking for evidence of a link between eating processed and unprocessed red meat and the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
They defined processed meat as any meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or with the addition of chemical preservatives. Meats in this category included bacon, salami, sausages, hot dogs or processed deli or luncheon meats.
Unprocessed red meat included beef, lamb or pork but not poultry.
They found that on average, each 1.8 oz (50 grams) daily serving of processed meat a day -- one to two slices of deli meats or one hot dog -- was associated with a 42 percent higher risk of heart disease and a 19 percent higher risk of developing diabetes.
They found no higher heart or diabetes risk in people who ate only unprocessed red meats.
The team adjusted for a number of factors, including how much meat people ate. They said lifestyle factors were similar between those who ate processed and unprocessed meats.
"When we looked at average nutrients in unprocessed red and processed meats eaten in the United States, we found that they contained similar average amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol," Micha said.
"In contrast, processed meats contained, on average, four times more sodium and 50 percent more nitrate preservatives," Micha added.
Last month, the Institute of Medicine urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate the amount of salt added to foods to help Americans cut their high sodium intake.
The FDA has not yet said whether it will regulate salt in foods, but it is looking at the issue.
/ By Julie Steenhuysen