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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Why Is Germany Collecting Italy's Trash?

Germany appears to be the only country in Europe that is in a position to help Italy tackle its massive trash problem, which came to light when the city of Naples ran out of places to dump its trash, forcing the Italians to turn to its European partners for help.

Naples Garbage
Cars pass mounds of garbage left on a roadside in Naples' suburb of Afragola.
(Ciro de Luca/AGN/Reuters)
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The two countries recently cut a multimillion dollar deal that allows Italy to dispose of up to 160,000 tons of waste and ship it to Germany for incineration.

Most of the Italian waste comes from the region of Campania, which includes the Amalfi coast, Pompeii and Naples, which has been under a kind of "garbage siege" since last December, when the dumps in southern Italy were declared full and garbage collectors refused to collect the trash.

Ever since, Naples has seen thousands of tons of trash pile up along its streets. The city has become notorious as the city of garbage.

The deal brokered by the two countries means that over the next three months three to four trains per week will arrive at the northern German town of Hamburg after a 45-hour ride all the way from southern Europe, each train bearing some 700 tons of refuse.

Up to 60,000 tons of trash will be collected from the streets of Naples alone, and another 100,000 tons will be made up of household waste from around the Campania area.

Other German cities, like Bremerhaven and Düsseldorf, are partners in the deal. They are sharing the trash in order to put their state-of-the art incinerators to work, but Hamburg can easily handle up to 3,000 tons per week in addition to managing its own trash.

The Italians are reportedly paying approximately $235 per ton, and paying for the transport as well. Hamburg officials admit that the city makes good money helping the Italians.

However, they insist they can provide only a short-term solution.

"Our incinerators have excess capacity because it's summertime, which allows us to provide 'first aid' to Naples. There's no way we can provide a long-term solution, but we do have the capacity available to help Naples out from under," Reinhard Fiedler, spokesman for Hamburg's waste management agency, told ABC News.

"There's less trash in summertime because so many people travel, which gives us extra capacity."

Fiedler said, "There is no quick fix for Italy's problem, which goes back some 20 years, because local governments have apparently been unable to get all sides to agree to a long-term plan allowing for the problem to escalate. Our city is lucky in that it has completely overcome the opposition toward building incinerators."

Fiedler explains that the city of Hamburg owns some of the best, high-quality incinerators that are relatively clean, using the latest technologies to filter out heavy metals, nitrous oxides, particles and sulphites.

"One of our incinerators is able to produce heat for some 12,000 apartments in downtown Hamburg. The heat from burning trash is fed into the local heating grid," he explained.

"Another example is the huge Hamburg Harbor container terminal, where the entire surface consists of recycled incinerator slag used for road construction instead of having to dump it."

There are plenty of good examples of how to deal with garbage, mainly, how to reduce it not only in Germany but also in the Scandinavian countries, all of which have focused on reducing the amount of trash they send to landfills.

With garbage dumps filling up quickly, not only in Italy but everywhere in densely populated Europe, the European Union ruled that its member nations had to cut their waste dramatically, and the EU has strictly limited the reuse of garbage dumps because of health and environmental problems.

In Germany, the birth place of the environmental Green Party, waste management has successfully kept the use of landfills to a minimum, so much so that between 1990 and 2005 it has saved some 46 million tons of CO2 per year.

A spokesperson for the Berlin Environment Ministry explained the German system: "Ever since 2005, no biodegradable waste goes to landfills. Everything that is recyclable should be recycled, everything that is reusable should be reused, everything that does not fit into either of those categories should be dumped into the incinerator; in other words, Germany has managed to almost completely do away with disposing its trash at landfills."

"Trash management is really a hot issue here in Europe, and there is no one-size-fits all solution. Different countries face different problems. A recent study shows that countries like Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Britain, where some 60 percent of the trash is still being sent to landfills, will have difficulties to meet a 2016 deadline by the European Union requiring them to reduce biodegradable trash sent to landfills to 35 percent of what it was in 1995," said Almut Reichel, project manager at the European Environment Agency, referring to a study published by her agency last year.

"On average, one can say that overall, a total of 45 percent of all municipal waste in Europe is still being disposed of at landfills, and the road from land filling to recycling is a difficult road ahead."

Back in Hamburg, Fiedler is convinced that his city's waste management system will soon be adopted by other European cities, especially in Italy.

"We were more or less forced into tackling these problem years before other countries in Europe, because there was too much trash and we were constantly running out of space for it. Now that we have overcome the teething problems, we're self-sufficient and we're encouraging other cities to follow us."

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The terrifying truth about Komodo dragons

Komodo dragons eat a cow

I have seen hell, and it is indisputably on Rinca Island in Indonesia. This Komodo dragon-infested spot is where three British divers who got caught in a rip tide washed up last week. Far from being "misunderstood" reptiles who only "occasionally" attack humans, as my G2 colleague Jon Henley described them afterwards, the Rinca dragons engage in what must be the vilest animal practices ever witnessed by man.

I met three particularly nasty ones last year. We had walked past a few harmless-looking dragons sunning themselves in the bush or lurking under the stilts of houses, and were not beyond thinking we could be friends when we reached a water hole. A large buffalo was lying on its side, clearly having been brought down by two 6ft dragons and one that was even larger. The three reptiles were crawling over it, and during the next 24 hours they proceeded to eat it alive.

The first dragon had grabbed it by its testicles and was starting to chew its way into the body from below. The second dragon was slowly forcing the buffalo's head open and was going down its throat. The third was, as they say, going in the back door. To make an already grisly scene far worse, the whole slow-motion kill was being conducted in deep mud.

After a few hours all was black - apart from the blood that occasionally bubbled up from the muddy depths, the white saliva that sometimes oozed from the buffalo's mouth and the bright, flickering forked tongues of the three dragons, which were forever darting around. Slippery things slithered slowly over other slippery things until it was hard to tell whose tail was whose, where one body started and another stopped and who was doing what to whom. The smell was fetid, the heat intense.

Every so often the buffalo shuddered and tried to rise. Was it really still alive? We watched from a few feet away, our guide armed only with a stick, transfixed and disgusted like us. Our stomachs heaved. The buffalo continued to twitch.

We left and returned several times; each time the horror was more complete. The next day, two Americans told us that the three dragons had got deep inside the buffalo, which was still twitching.

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America's Most Time-Draining Airports

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America's Most Time-Draining Airports




















At the Chicago O'Hare International Airport, passengers with spare time can get a massage at the Back Rub Hub, peruse artsy gifts at the Field Museum store or dine on ginger salmon at a Wolfgang Puck outpost. Such options should be a relief to delayed passengers--and at O'Hare there are bound to be plenty of them wandering the terminals.

O'Hare is the nation's worst airport for delays, according to our analysis of 2007 Bureau of Transportation statistics for 100 of the largest airports. It earns this unenviable title based on delays related to security, late aircraft, the national aviation system, cancellations, carrier problems and weather. We also factored in the percentage of flights with on-time arrival and departures. (See methodology here.)

In Depth: America's Top 20 Time-Draining Airports

The Midwestern hub, which transported 30.8 million passengers last year, ranked last in three categories: late aircraft, air traffic control and cancellations. Its best showing was in the percentage of arrivals category--66% of its flights arrive on time, giving it a rank of 92 out of 100 airports. To translate that into time lost, O'Hare flights in 2007 were delayed by a cumulative total of 2.5 million minutes due to a late aircraft.

Chronic delays like these are nothing new, but as the national aviation system struggles under the weight of outdated infrastructure and the airline industry tries to cope with financial turmoil, congestion and delays worsen.


This shows at airports like Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, Logan International in Boston and San Francisco International, which ranked in the top 20 on our list.

At Hartsfield-Jackson, carrier-related delays are the most time-draining, accounting for 1.9 million minutes. In Boston and San Francisco, difficulties with the National Aviation System, delayed flights by 700,700 and 876,000 minutes, respectively. Also on our list are all three major New York airports, Denver International and Seattle/Tacoma International.

What Causes Delays?
The 20 airports on our list transported 345 million passengers last year, about 45% of all U.S. passengers. This massive volume--almost double what it was two decades ago--strains the existing infrastructure. From 2003 to 2008, the percentage of on-time arrivals nationwide declined from 81% to 71%. During the same period, late departures increased 9%.

Paul Takemoto, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), says that efforts are underway to make the system more efficient. Currently, commercial carriers in the U.S. fly using radar signals, but these degrade over distance, meaning that air traffic controllers don't know the precise location of a plane in relationship to another flight. Instead, they distance them safely three to five miles apart in the air, but this decreases efficiency.

The FAA will begin testing a new satellite system in the Gulf of Mexico and Philadelphia in 2009. Preliminary results elsewhere show that planes operating on satellite feeds, which send real-time information about location, weather and terrain to pilots in the cockpit, are significantly more efficient.

It may be a decade, though, before passengers benefit from the technology. Takemoto says the nation's airports will be equipped for satellite technology by 2013, but airlines have until 2020 to acquire the necessary on-board technology.

Complete List: America's 100 Top Time-Draining Airports

Until then, the FAA is relying on improvements to the system, like freeing up military airspace for commercial traffic and enhanced software that allows planners to single out and delay flights going through a storm. Prior to the spring of 2006, when the Airspace Flow program was initiated, the FAA had to issue a blanket ground stop for an entire airport.

Storms are ultimately unstoppable, though, and weather delays made up about 44% of all delays in 2007. Officials in Chicago are painfully aware of this statistic: The airport was pounded by 60 inches of snow this winter, compared with an average 37 inches.

What You Can Do
When weather is the culprit, there is little a passenger can do. Gregg Cunningham, a spokesman for the City of Chicago's Department of Aviation, says passengers waylaid overnight can look for the airport's standard issue, complimentary amenity kit stocked with a toothbrush, soap and comb.

The airport also sets up cots with pillows and blankets and requires concession stands to remain open for 24 hours. Known at O'Hare as the Passenger Assistance program, similar efforts go by a different name at other airports around the country.

A more pro-active alternative is delay insurance. This new service is offered by companies like American Express (nyse: AXP - news - people ) and Travel Insured International. Travelers can purchase a policy, which provides a benefit of $100 to $250 a day, for a fee based on the cost of the ticket. In many cases, this is separate from general trip insurance, so consumers should be mindful of the fine print.

Finally, travelers can try flying from regional airports, which had far fewer delays than their city counterparts. For example, while the three New York City airports ranked in the top 10 on our list, Islip on Long Island ranked eighth and White Plains in Westchester, N.Y., ranked 25th.

On the West Coast, San Francisco ranked 95th, but nearby airports in San Jose and Oakland placed 37th and 45th, respectively.

If you'd like to witness the miracle of smooth travel, fly to Hawaii. Three of its local airports ranked as the least time-draining, with minimal delays in each category and, in two cases, on-time departure and arrival rates of 90% or greater.

And unlike most places, getting stranded in Hawaii is more likely a blessing than a curse.

Methodology
In order to determine where delays are the most egregious, we looked at 2007 Bureau of Transportation statistics for 100 of the country's largest airports. While we could not quantify the typical delay at each airport, we did rank performance in six different delay categories: security, late aircraft, traffic control, cancellations, carrier problems and weather. We also factored in the percentage of flights with on-time arrival and departures. The individual ranks were combined for a total score and then ranked from 1 (the best) to 100 (the worst).

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Report: Marijuana potency rises

WASHINGTON (AP) — Marijuana potency increased last year to the highest level in more than 30 years, posing greater health risks to people who may view the drug as harmless, according to a report released Thursday by the White House.

The latest analysis from the University of Mississippi's Potency Monitoring Project tracked the average amount of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, in samples seized by law enforcement agencies from 1975 through 2007. It found that the average amount of THC reached 9.6% in 2007, compared with 8.75% the previous year.

The 9.6% level represents more than a doubling of marijuana potency since 1983, when it averaged just under 4%.

"Today's report makes it more important than ever that we get past outdated, anachronistic views of marijuana," said John Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. He cited baby boomer parents who might have misguided notions that the drug contains the weaker potency levels of the 1970s.

"Marijuana potency has grown steeply over the past decade, with serious implications in particular for young people," Walters said. He cited the risk of psychological, cognitive and respiratory problems, and the potential for users to become dependent on drugs such as cocaine and heroin.

While the drug's potency may be rising, marijuana users generally adjust to the level of potency and smoke it accordingly, said Dr. Mitch Earleywine, who teaches psychology at the State University of New York in Albany and serves as an adviser for marijuana advocacy groups. "Stronger cannabis leads to less inhaled smoke," he said.

The White House office attributed the increases in marijuana potency to sophisticated growing techniques that drug traffickers are using at sites in the United States and Canada.

A report from the office last month found that a teenager who has been depressed in the past year was more than twice as likely to have used marijuana than teenagers who have not reported being depressed — 25% compared with 12%. The study said marijuana use increased the risk of developing mental disorders by 40%.

"The increases in marijuana potency are of concern since they increase the likelihood of acute toxicity, including mental impairment," said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which funded the University of Mississippi study.

"Particularly worrisome is the possibility that the more potent THC might be more effective at triggering the changes in the brain that can lead to addiction," Volkow said.

But there's no data showing that a higher potency in marijuana leads to more addiction, Earleywine said, and marijuana's withdrawal symptoms are mild at best. "Mild irritability, craving for marijuana and decreased appetite — I mean those are laughable when you talk about withdrawal from a drug. Caffeine is worse."

The project analyzed data on 62,797 cannabis samples, 1,302 hashish samples, and 468 hash oil samples obtained primarily from seizures by law enforcement agencies in 48 states since 1975.

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Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Drinking four cups of tea a day cuts heart attack risk

Drinking four cups of tea a day cuts the risk of a heart attack, according to a review of studies by the British Nutrition Found-ation.

The review suggests that tea can also improve your mood, strengthen bones, boost hydration and increase alertness, reports the Daily Express.

For her study, Carrie Ruxton, a dietician and member of the independent Tea Advisory Panel, reviewed existing scientific literature on black tea, the type found in most teabags in Britain.

Clinical studies reveal that natural plant antioxidants found in tea, called polyphenols, have beneficial effects on many biochemical processes in the body.

The advantageous properties include reducing the risk of a heart attack.

Dr Ruxton said: "The clearest consistent evidence points to an association between tea consumption, in excess of three cups per day, and a reduced risk of myocardial infarction or a heart attack."

"This is good news for the many avid tea drinkers in Britain.

"My study also found emerging evidence that older women - those most at risk of brittle bones - had significant increases in bone density if they drank more than four cups of tea a day.

"It is clear that tea is worthy of further research and, in the meantime, can be enjoyed within the optimal intake range of three to eight cups per day," she added. (ANI)

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Size 12 woman told she was too big by model agencies will compete for Miss England title

Size 12 model Leah Green

Healthy attitude: Aspiring size 12 model Leah Green, who was told she needed to lose weight by modelling agencies, has now been crowned Miss London

An aspiring model who was rejected by leading model agencies for being a size 12 has beaten 200 other girls to be crowned Miss London.

Leah Green, 22, will next month compete for the Miss England title with regional finalists from across the country.

Today she told how she was rejected by several model agencies, despite being two dress sizes smaller than the average British woman. Her experiences follow the debate over the trend for size-zero models - equivalent to a British size four.

"I have tried to get into modelling," she said. "But I have been turned away as I'm apparently too big to be a regular model. I've been told I'm too fat and I need to lose weight. One agent told me I would have to work hard to achieve the gaunt look he was after.

"If you have to be the size of Victoria Beckham or Girls Aloud to even get a look in, then it just isn't for me."

One of the agencies that rejected Miss Green, of Primrose Hill, North London, over her size was Models 1. Only a plus-size agency showed any interest.

The London College of Fashion graduate, who works as a design assistant at French Connection, said the industry was fixated with thin models and was responsible for many girls developing eating disorders.

"I helped out with London Fashion Week last year and many of the models looked like they were about to keel over and die," she said.

A spokeswoman for Models 1 said it did not employ models larger than size 10, but it was not the agency that labelled Miss Green "fat" or told her to lose weight.

Storm Model Management also rejected Miss Green but its owner said it was not because of her size.

Sarah Doukas said she had not been aware of Miss Green's case but added: "I think she has a fantastic figure. We have four girls on our books who are more than a size 12. If she was rejected, it might simply be that her look wasn't right for us. I'm shocked that anybody would say such terrible things."

Miss Green hopes to offer women an alternative role model by competing in Miss England. "I saw it as a chance to get my message across," she said.

The Miss England final takes place on 18 July at the Troxy, in Stepney, London.

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A self-help program delivered online can improve insomnia in adults

WESTCHESTER, Ill. – A cognitive behavioral intervention for insomnia delivered via the Internet can significantly improve insomnia in adults, according to a research abstract that will be presented on Wednesday at SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS).

The study, authored by Lee Ritterband, PhD, of the University of Virginia, focused on 44 participants (mostly female) with an average age of 45 years. The participants were randomly selected to either the cognitive behavioral intervention for insomnia via the Internet or a wait list control. Measures of sleep, mood, cost, and cognitive functioning were collected at pre- and post-treatment, while additional measures of sleep were collected throughout treatment.

According to the results, sleep improved significantly for those who received a cognitive behavioral intervention for insomnia via the Internet over the six-week intervention, whereas control participants showed no change during the treatment period. Sleep efficiency also significantly improved for the experimental group from pre- to post- assessment, with no change for the controls. The experimental group increased total sleep time by 80 minutes and the control group increased by nine minutes.

“We believe these types of Web-based treatment programs have the potential to impact countless individuals around the world,” said Dr. Ritterband. “Specifically related to insomnia, the availability of non-pharmacological help is significantly lacking. The Internet has already become a critical source of health-care and medical information. The Internet may prove an effective tool to more broadly disseminate cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia.”

Insomnia is a classification of sleep disorders in which a person has trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up too early. It is the most commonly reported sleep disorder. About 30 percent of adults have symptoms of insomnia. It is more common among elderly people and women.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps you change actions or thoughts that hurt your ability to sleep well. It helps you develop habits that promote a healthy pattern of sleep. CBT is most often used for people who suffer from insomnia.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) offers the following tips on how to get a good night’s sleep:

  • Follow a consistent bedtime routine.
  • Establish a relaxing setting at bedtime.
  • Get a full night’s sleep every night.
  • Avoid foods or drinks that contain caffeine, as well as any medicine that has a stimulant, prior to bedtime.
  • Do not bring your worries to bed with you.
  • Do not go to bed hungry, but don’t eat a big meal before bedtime either.
  • Avoid any rigorous exercise within six hours of your bedtime.
  • Make your bedroom quiet, dark and a little bit cool.
  • Get up at the same time every morning.

Those who suspect that they might be suffering from insomnia, or another sleep disorder, are encouraged to consult with their primary care physician or a sleep specialist.

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The annual SLEEP meeting brings together an international body of 5,000 leading researchers and clinicians in the field of sleep medicine to present and discuss new findings and medical developments related to sleep and sleep disorders.

More than 1,000 research abstracts will be presented at the SLEEP meeting, a joint venture of the AASM and the Sleep Research Society. The three-and-a-half-day scientific meeting will bring to light new findings that enhance the understanding of the processes of sleep and aid the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy and sleep apnea.

SleepEducation.com, a patient education Web site created by the AASM, provides information about various sleep disorders, the forms of treatment available, recent news on the topic of sleep, sleep studies that have been conducted and a listing of sleep facilities.

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How to Make Profound and Lasting Change


Is there an area of your life that you would like to change? Is there an area of your life you’ve tried changing, made some progress but somehow ended up in the same spot you started in?

Maybe you want to lose weight; you want to improve your temper; you want to control your web browsing addictions; to be a better parent; or in my case, to wake up early and to exercise regularly. Often, I’ve found myself struggling when revisiting the subject.

I came across a google talk of Professor Srikumar Rao. His mission is to help highly intelligent people find meaning in their lives. His talk deeply moved me and I knew instantly that I had to share with you. The following are part one of my notes, along with what I learned from this talk.

Learning New Concepts

Before we dig into making profound and lasting change, here’s a caveat on learning new concepts.

When we are introduced to new concepts, our mind tends to seek out ways that it will fail. Automatically, we think of reasons why this isn’t true. Of course, if you push hard enough every statement a person can say will crumble. However, just as equally, the models we are currently using which we have not subjected to the same scrutiny will too crumble.

The question is not to ask whether something is true or false, right or wrong, good or bad. The question to ask is: Does this work for me better for my life than what I am presently using?

If the answer is yes, use it. If not, don’t waste your time and energy judging it, because it may be useful to you at a later time.

Profound Change

There may be things present in our lives and our habits that we are not happy about. We want change, yet as hard as we try, sometimes, we are just not seeing the level of profound change we desire.

As it turns out, real behavior changes are very difficult to bring about by effort of will alone. Often times you will fail, yet even if you succeeded, there can be negative side effects. A solution to this that brings about profound change is to change our mental models, which will change the way we look at the world.

When this happens, change will rise naturally out of us.

Three Important Building Blocks

Before this change happens, we need to understand three important building blocks. They are the basis for tools that will help us transform problems and unhappiness to a life of meaning and happiness.

1. Mental Chatter

Our mental chatter is the internal dialog that is going on in our heads at all times. Our thoughts run an endless stream from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed. Thoughts are flowing through your mind right now as you read this. What is she talking about? That’s a tall order they’re claiming, isn’t it? Gosh, what am I going have for dinner?

Sometimes our mental chatter is so loud that it prevents us from sleeping. It has been with us and apart of our lives for so long, that we have learned to ignore it. However, what we don’t realize is that our mental chatter and mental models are what we use to create our lives.

We think that we are given a set of things that is our reality, but that is not really the case. We construct it with our mental chatter. Much of the time, we are building it without knowing that this is what we are doing.

Be aware that we have mental chatter and recognize that the voice in our head is not us. Our mental chatter often works against us and is highly dysfunctional. This is the voice that talks down to us, challenges our self-esteem and is the source that limits our infinite potential.

2. Mental Models

A mental model is our belief of how the world works. We say, this is the way the world works. Mental models can be very useful because they simplify our lives and save us mental energy. Each of us has many mental models. For example, we have mental models for how to find a date; mental models for how to pick a movie; mental models for how to find a good restaurant.

The problem is not that we have mental models, but that we don’t recognize we have mental models. We think this is how the world works. But, this is not how the world works; this is our perception of how the world works, built in our mind.

The interesting thing about mental models is that the moment we have a mental model defined, the universe cooperates and gives you enough evidence that this is in fact the way it is working. You notice and take account of the positive evidence, and make excuses when evidence does not fit your model.

Every time you find yourself unhappy with something in your life, you can always trace it back to one or more mental models which are not serving you very well.

3. Me-Centered Universe

Most of us have a habit of living in a Me Centered Universe. We interpret everything that happens in terms of, What impact does it have on me?

For example, If our spouse gets a new job, we instantly think of how we can benefit from it. If our kids were to drop out of school, we instantly think of what our neighbors and friends will think of me?

It’s worthwhile to take a moment to think about this. How much of the time do you live in a Me Centered Universe? Where regardless of what happens, the first thing we think about is in terms of What is its impact on me?

If you spend a dominate amount of time in the Me Centered Universe, you are guaranteed to find more than your share of frustrations, of pain, of suffering, of life sucks. They come with the territory of being in a Me Centered Universe.

The only way you can live a completely fulfilled life is to design your life such that what you are doing aligns with something which will bring greater good to a greater community. You are the one who gets to define what the greater good means and what the greater community means.

The good news is that once you recognize this, it is not that hard to make a shift.

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Photo by Zara Jay

Living in The Matrix

Given the building blocks above, let’s entertain an idea: All of us are living in a dream world. We are all living in The Matrix, except we don’t realize it. We believe that this is the real world, and as such, what we perceive as reality becomes definite and fixed. But is this necessary?

The answer is no, of course not. We have the power to choose what our reality is, because we are the captains of our perception.

Steps for Altering Your Reality: An Exercise

Try this simple yet powerful exercise. You can do this in a group of 2 or 3, or you can do it on your own.

  1. Articulate a reality - In your life, you have something of concern to you, right now. Around this concern, you have crafted a reality. You say, this is what it is. Now, articulate this reality. Write it down if you are working on your own. Every detail and every assumption.
  2. Craft an alternative reality - Come up with a possible alternative reality. This alternative reality must meet two criteria:
    1. It has to be better than the one you were describing, the one you are presently using.
    2. It has to be a reality that you can plausibly believe, on some level.
  3. Start living as if your alternative reality were THE reality - when you start to do this, you will find two things happening:
    1. You will get lots of evidence saying: it’s not working. It’s not working. I guarantee you will. Just ignore that. Remember? Your mind is not you.
    2. You will get lots of evidence saying: It’s working! It’s working! - Recognize and celebrate it.
  4. Write it down - When you get evidence that it is working, do more than celebrating it. Make sure you record it down. Write it down. This is a very important step. There will be a natural laziness that comes into play whispering in your ears that you will remember it. But you won’t remember. Make sure to carry a note book or notepad with you at all times.

If you consistently write down evidence that your alternative reality is working, you will find over time that, as you review your words, there is a shift happening. Slowly, your alternative reality becomes your new reality. You will find that your life has changed, for the better. And that you are living in a different reality than the one you were in before.

When we craft a statement that says this is where we are and we are stuck here. What we are doing is expressing the reality of our lives. The thing to recognize here is: It is a reality, but we treat it as if it is the reality.

Once we define our lives as Yes, I can do all these things. Then suddenly, ways will be shown to you such that you can do it.

This alternative reality exercise is very powerful, because it can get you out of the straight jacket that you’ve put on. Over time, it’s not just an exercise anymore, but it becomes who you are.

Other Tips

In addition to the building blocks and alternative reality exercise above, here are some tips for making habitual changes in your life.

  • Focus on just one - It’s challenging enough to make one habitual change, it’s even tougher if you try to divide your attention to make multiple drastic changes at the same time. I’ve successfully tried and failed at this. Give yourself at least 3 weeks of total concentration to change one reality before moving on to the next area of your life. Give yourself more time if you need. Some deep rooted realities can take months to undo.
  • Mutual Support - Be around positive, uplifting and supportive people. Share with them your wins, joys and celebrations. It’s a great idea to form empowerment groups around you to discuss issues like this and to support each other in your personal growth. If you have a spouse, team up with them and make this a fun time to connect with one other.
  • Understand Why - Be clear and specific on the why you want change. Motivation is the intrinsic drive which moves us into action and to ultimately change for the better. Motivation is created when our motives are clear. Fully understand the results of such change and results of no change. Write them down.
  • Be Inspired - Spent at least 10 minutes every day reading or listening to something positive and empowering that inspires you. There is so much junk out there in our media heavy society, that if we don’t take the steps to surround ourselves with positive messages of hope, it’s easy to get sucked in to what we’re being exposed to. I’ve found this little video to be an uplifting thing to watch in the morning.
  • Reward & Celebration - I can’t stress this point enough, as I am guilty of not rewarding myself for Wins (because I’m too busy beating myself up over what I haven’t done yet). I recommend physical celebrations, because those tend to leave lasting marks on our unconscious mind. Give a high-five! Jump up and down! Do a happy dance! Reward yourself and treat yourself to something nice, like ice-cream or a movie.

My focus for this week is to become an early riser. My present reality is: I can’t possibly sleep early, I’m not sleepy before midnight. I’m creative at night, so why change that? Besides, I can’t hear my alarm in the morning anyways. My alternative reality is: it is possible to sleep before mid night, it is possible to turn off all electronics by 10pm and I can get up before 7am every morning. :)
Wish me success!

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Global Market for Pharmaceuticals Worth Over $1 Trillion by 2013

According to a new technical market research report, Global Pharmaceutical Markets (PHM037B) from BCC Research ( www.bccresearch.com ), the global market for pharmaceuticals was worth $693.6 billion in 2007. This is expected to increase to $737.6 billion in 2008 and reach over $1.0 trillion in 2013, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.9%.

The market is broken down into applications of branded prescription drugs, generic prescription drugs and over-the-counter (OTC) products. Of these, branded prescription drugs have the largest share of the market. Worth an estimated $525.1 billion in 2007, this segment is expected to grow to a value of $553.2 billion in 2008 and $741.5 billion by the end of 2013, for a CAGR of 6.0%.

The second largest segment, generic prescription drugs, will experience the highest growth rate over the study period. Worth $78.5 billion in 2007 and an estimated $88.7 billion in 2008, it will reach $151.4 billion by the end of 2013, for a CAGR of 11.3%.

The OTC segment was worth over $90.0 billion in 2007. It should increase to $95.7 billion in 2008 and reach $135.1 billion in 2013, for a CAGR of 7.1%.

Though the worldwide pharmaceutical industry remains one of the most profitable and stable industries, several variables are influencing fundamental changes in its structure including increasing examples of government-imposed price reductions in pharmaceutical prices, the increasing role of generic substitutes, and enhanced outsourcing, in-licensing, contract research and manufacturing activities.

Increased health awareness amongst patients and governments, changing world demographics, declining R&D productivity, worldwide compliance of general agreements on tariffs and trade (GATT) and trade related intellectual property rights (TRIPS), along with the emergence of e-pharmaceuticals also are reshaping the dynamic pharmaceuticals industry.

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How to find fast food friendlies

Healthy fast food ... sushi

Healthy fast food ... sushi

IT’S Chinese food – not medicine – that can save your health, say docs.

New research says the spicy preservative that gives dishes like Peking duck and pickled tofu their red colour can cut cancer by two thirds.

And heart attack victims who took the extract in pill form were 45 per cent less prone to repeat attacks.

This amazing discovery got us wondering what other goodies are tucked away in our takeaways.

We all know we should watch how often we get take out, but can it ever be good for us?

Sun nutrition expert Amanda Ursell gives us the lowdown on the hidden health benefits of fast foods.

PIZZA

The tomato paste on your pizza is said to help beat sunburn and wrinkles.

Researchers believe that lycopene, the antioxidant in tomatoes which gives them their colour, is responsible.

Tomato paste is made from highly concentrated cooked tomatoes which boosts the level of the super-nutrient.

INDIAN

A night at the Indian needn’t be too calorific if you keep clear of creamy Kormas. Go for tomato-based curries with chicken, veg or lentils rather than red meat.

The turmeric used in many Indian dishes contains super-nutrient curcumin which is packed with anti-oxidants and is said to lower the risk of bowel cancer.

And as a bonus, spicy foods fill you up more quickly and boost the metabolism.

THAI

Thai women who eat a diet rich in sticky rice are less likely to develop breast cancer, according to a study at the University of Leicester.

Tricin, an agent in the rice is thought to be effecting in fighting cancerous cells.

Bok Choy, the cabbage-like green veg used in stir-fries, is packed with Vitamin C, fibre for digestion and calcium for healthy bones.

Fresh ginger is a great cure for indigestion and travel sickness.

JAPANESE

Sushi and sashimi are packed with omega-3 oils which boost brain and heart health.

Brown seaweed, used to flavour Asian soups and salads, contains a fat-burning compound called fucoxanthin that is said to aid weight loss.

And spicy wasabi is thought to speed up metabolism.

KEBAB

A typical lamb shish kebab is the least fattening choice and contains iron to boost energy and keep your blood healthy.

Onions contain sulphur compounds which are said to keep your blood thin and prevent heart disease.

Extra salad can also be counted as one of your ‘five a day’ fruits and vegetables.

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Mini-Hummer Gets 60mpg


A 45 year old mechanic from Dorset, England, always wanted a Hummer, but not the cost of maintenance and keeping it filled with gas.

So, Andy Saunders took a 1998 Suzuki Wagon, which he called an “old people carrier”, added custom steel panels and other parts to get that special Hummer look.

Now he drives a pint-sized version of the army’s Humvee personal troop transporter at a savings. Instead of 12mpg, he says the “credit crunch Hummer” gets 60mpg.

The complete transformation cost him nearly $7-thousand for parts, and some 300 hours of hard work.

Saunders has decided not to keep his customized car in favor of putting it up for auction in London this October.

How much would you pay for it? Saunders hopes it will fetch up to $30-thousand.

Want to see a real Hummer that gets 60 MPG? Hit the link for Jonathan Goodwin’s car hack.

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13 Things Your Car Mechanic Won't Tell You

1. "Watch out for scare tactics. Admonitions like 'I wouldn't drive this another mile' should be viewed with suspicion."

2. "Check for ASE [National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence] or AAA [American Automobile Association] certification, as well as a state license. Reputable shops are proud to display them."

3. "Ask, ask, ask. For recommendations, years in business, warranties offered, licenses, and the type of equipment used. Look for a clean garage. A floor cluttered with empty oil cans, worn tires, and dirty rags is a red flag."

4. "Never sign a blank authorization form. Always get a signed work order with a specific estimate for each job and warranties that apply."

5. "It's nuts to take a car with engine problems to a shop without a good engine analyzer and scan tool. Any mechanic who says 'I don't need fancy equipment' should be avoided."

6. "Synthetic motor oils may cost more, but you'll get a lot more miles between changes."

7. "When you go for a second opinion, don't tell the mechanic what the first diagnosis and price were."

8. "Coolant flushes and power steering flushes are very common gimmicks at quick lubes. Check your owner's manual; many cars have fluid that is designed to go 100,000 miles. And cleaning fuel injectors is a waste of time and money. There are additives on the market that do a great job."

9. "Always ask for OE [original equipment] brake pads or at least equivalent material. A $49.95 brake job will usually get you the worst friction material you can buy-it's the difference between stopping short and causing a pileup on the way to work."

10. "Ask about your new tire's 'build date.' If you're getting an unusually good deal, you might be receiving three-year-old treads, especially risky for snow tires."

11. "Lifetime mufflers? What would ever make you think a muffler will last a lifetime? Yes, they'll give you free replacements, but they'll hit you over the head for expensive pipe repairs."

12. "Consult your dealer before you have work done on a catalytic converter or emissions parts. Some of these items carry a very long warranty, and free replacement is often required by law."

13. "It's not okay for your 'check engine' light to stay on all the time. It's probably not 'a loose gas cap.'"

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The Ten Craziest Concept Cars Of All Time

BMW's GINA concept car today got us to thinking about concept cars in general. They exist at the inflection point where our dreams and technology meet. Whether we yearn for nuclear power, extreme performance or phallic shapes, we have the concept car to thank for pointing us toward the uncertain future. And while not all concept cars see the light of day, the automotive wishes of yesterday often influence the driving realities of today. With the help of some of our readers, we've put together a top ten list of what we believe are the most insane concept cars ever created. We'll leave it to you to pick the craziest in the poll below. 10. Alfa Bat Concepts
Though perhaps tame when compared to today's cars, these Bertone-penned concept cars represented a revolution in the early 1950's. The cars were designed for Alfa Romeo with the goal of creating extremely aerodynamic cars that could handle the speeds engineers were creating, eventually achieving a wind resistance better than today's Porsches or Corvettes. They're also, as 68Stang is right to recognize, completely gorgeous. 9. Powell Motors Presents The Homer
This is the car that most credit with taking down economy car giant Powell Motors. Envisioned by Herbert Powell's brother, Homer Simpson, The Homer did foresee certain automotive achievements, such as extremely large beverage holders and excessively large grilles. On the other hand, the bubble-top domes have yet to catch on in a widespread manner, much to the disappointment of Jchabotte. [Simpsons Wiki] 8. Peugeot 20cup
Man has always attempted to bridge the ages-old axiom of "two wheels bad, four wheels good" by merging the car and the motorcycle. Unfortunately, this has usually resulted in the sidecar. Though there have been many copies, the Peugeot 20cup stands out as the most fantastic and awkwardly attractive attempt. Despite taking some of the danger out of motorcycles, Dr. Danger sees this as an "odd duck," offering seriously confusing proportions yet also the promise of extreme sportiness. 7. Tang Hua Book Of Songs
Chinese automaker Tang Hua looked to an aerodynamic shape to power the design of their oddly-named Book of Songs electric car. And what's the most aerodynamic shape they could come up with for this electric-gas hybrid? The — umm — well — you can just ask MIke the Dog, he can explain it to you. 6. Assystem City Car
As strange as the Assystem City Car looks, and as unfortunate as the company's name is, it's some of the technology inside that moves us. The car features a "biometric" interface that recognizes when drivers begin to nod off, a "reality display" that uses cameras to show the world around the car, and mood settings that change the car's coloration and sounds based upon the feelings of the driver. Though far-fetched looking, the car actually has some seriously prescient technology that's finding its way into newer cars that KingFling might buy some day. [Assystem.com]
5. Mercedes Bionic Car
When looking to design a car after an animal, you think Mercedes would have looked to something muscular like a Cheetah, tight like a Tiger or fast like a Falcon. Instead, those nutty Germans chose a car designed after the Boxfish. The dimensions of the Mercedes Bionic Car are all wrong and yet somehow all right at the same time. Order one up for Simpson Movie Ruled so he can swim drive it to the theatre. 4. Ford Nucleon
Let's see, it's a Ford, it's got a nuclear reactor and it's a Ranchero. Someone pinch us, because the Ford Nucleon is making us woozy. Or maybe that's the radiation? Either way, the Nucleon stands out as our favorite car from the Nuclear era — a time when every other concept car was powered by some sort of futuristic energy source, including good ol' plutonium. Yes, it presaged the Delorean by nearly 30 years. A freaking nukachero. Thanks Scroggzilla. 3. Luigi Colani-Designed Suzuki Truck
Graverobber knows there are few designers that are more Jalopnik than Luigi Colani, the man behind anthropomorphic concepts such as the Ekranoplans and supercars such as the Utah 8. Though none of his pod trucks, such as this Colani Suzuki truck, have seen production, the extreme aerodynamics are starting to see use on cabs from Mercedes. 2. Aurora Safety Car
Perhaps one of the ugliest cars of all time, the Aurora Safety Car has a sad story. The dream of a priest who was also a car nut, the Aurora ESV was built on a Buick platform with the hope of encouraging automakers to build safer cars both for drivers and pedestrians. The insane safety features included crumple zones, hydraulic jacks, a cow-catcher nose for people walking by, and real, live seatbelts for all passengers. The Priest, Father Juliano, was eventually ruined because of the project in what he claimed was a conspiracy by General Motors. If they'd have listened maybe they could have avoided "Unsafe At Any Speed. " SlantSick recognizes it is ugly, but it sure is fascinating. [NYTimes] 1. The Dymaxion

Can you top the Dymaxion car? DrewDraws doesn't think so, and we tend to agree. Designed by none other than the legendary Buckminster Fuller, this car was meant to make the world a better place. How? It achieved 30 mpg, could transport 11 people at high speeds and was probably the first minivan ever. All this in 1933. It was so awesome it never saw the light of production. Pity. We could use one right about now.
[Photo Uncovering.org]

Toyota promises plug-in hybrid vehicle by 2010

TOKYO - Toyota is introducing a plug-in hybrid with next-generation lithium-ion batteries in Japan, the U.S. and Europe by 2010, under a widespread strategy to be green outlined Wednesday.

The ecological gas-electric vehicles, which can be recharged from a home electrical outlet, will target leasing customers, Toyota Motor Corp. said. Such plug-in hybrids can run longer as an electric vehicle than regular hybrids, and are cleaner.

Lithium-ion batteries, now common in laptops, produce more power and are smaller than nickel-metal hydride batteries used in hybrids now.

The joint venture that Toyota set up with Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., which makes Panasonic products, will begin producing lithium-ion batteries in 2009 and move into full-scale production in 2010, Toyota said.

Toyota also said it's setting up a battery research department later this month to develop an innovative battery that can outperform even that lithium-ion battery.

Japan's top automaker, which leads the industry in gas-electric hybrids, has said it will rev up hybrid sales to 1 million a year sometime after 2010.

Hybrids reduce pollution and emissions that are linked to global warming by switching between a gas engine and an electric motor to deliver better mileage than comparable standard cars. Their popularity is growing amid soaring oil prices and worries about global warming.

"Without focusing on measures to address global warming and energy issues, there can be no future for our auto business," Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe told reporters at a Tokyo hall.

He said developing breakthrough technology was critical to allow Toyota and other automakers to continue to grow while avoiding damage to the environment.

The Prius, which has been on sale for more than a decade, recently reached cumulative sales of 1 million vehicles. When including other Toyota hybrids, the company said it sold 1.5 million hybrids so far around the world.

Toyota said it is also working on fuel cell vehicles, which produce no pollution by running on the energy produced when hydrogen combines with oxygen in the air to produce water.

It is also improving mileage of all its models, including gasoline engine and clean diesel vehicles, it said.

The company plans to set up more environmentally friendly factories that will produce fewer carbon gas emissions and develop production techniques that require less energy, using solar energy and planting trees, Watanabe said.

On Tuesday, Toyota said it will start making the Camry hybrid in Australia and Thailand as part of its efforts to step up production of "green" cars around the world.

The two plants were only Toyota's second and third overseas production point for the Camry hybrid after its Kentucky plant in the U.S. The only other nation where Toyota manufactures its hybrids besides Japan is China.

Toyota, close to overtaking General Motors Corp. as the world's No. 1 automaker, faces competition from rivals, which are also all working on ecological technology.

For 2010, General Motors is planning a Chevrolet Volt plug-in electric vehicle, while Nissan Motor Co. is planning electric vehicles for the U.S. and Japan. Honda Motor Co. is also developing new hybrid models, targeting sales of 500,000 hybrids a year sometime after 2010.

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Gay marriages worth $684 million

SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- The flowers have been selected, the Veterans' Memorial Center has been booked, and the three-piece band has been chosen. The e-invitations have gone out and relatives are flying in. The brides -- and there will be two of them -- might not have time to buy something new to wear, but that's OK.

art.cake.ap.jpg

A window display for gay marriage celebrations is seen at the Castro Village Wine Co. in San Francisco.

Shelly Bailes and Ellen Pontac, who have been together for 34 years, do not want to wait a day longer than necessary to tie the knot now that California's Supreme Court has legalized gay marriage. They had five weeks to plan a June 21 reception for 250 people.

"We should have been ready, but we weren't," Pontac said with a laugh. "We are taking care of all the details we can, and no matter what happens, we know we will have good company and good music and food and drink."

The gay marriage ruling could give a big, sudden boost to California's sputtering economy, with thousands of same-sex couples from across the nation expected to converge on the state when the decision takes effect June 16. Hotels, restaurants, florists and other wedding services are reporting a flurry of business.

"The good news for California is that in the face of probably the worst budget problems the state has ever faced, the LGBT wedding industry is going to be a financial shot in the arm," said Jeffrey Prang, mayor of West Hollywood, a popular destination for gay travelers in Southern California.

A study issued this week by UCLA's Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation and the Law projected that gay men and lesbians will spend $684 million on cakes, photographers and other services over the next three years unless voters reverse the high court's ruling in the fall.

The researchers found that about half of the state's more than 100,000 same-sex couples will get married during the next three years, and an additional 68,000 out-of-state couples will travel to California to exchange vows. The study estimated that over that period, gay weddings will generate $64 million in tax revenue for the state, $9 million in marriage-license fees for counties, and some 2,200 jobs.

Rena Puebla, who makes wedding-cake figures that can be customized to come in bride-bride and groom-groom pairs, said she has gone from selling 50 a day to 150 since the May 15 ruling.

"It's unbelievable," said Puebla, whose Costa Mesa company, Renellie International, sells the cake toppers online. "People are just so excited that there's something like this out there for them."

Puebla's company designs a variety of single figurines and then pairs them according to the customer's wishes. Some bride figurines come in a tailored skirt and tuxedo jacket instead of a big gown. "People can do whatever they want because it's not already stuck together," Puebla said.

The possibility that the window for weddings could close after the November election -- when a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage will appear on the ballot -- has added to the rush to wed. Also, the prospect of getting hitched became even more inviting when New York state announced recently that it would recognize gay marriages performed in California and other jurisdictions.

Unlike Massachusetts, the only other state where gay couples can wed, California does not have a residency requirement for marriage licenses.

Gay-friendly destinations such as West Hollywood, Palm Springs and San Francisco are not the only places saying "We do" to couples planning long-awaited weddings. The California Travel and Tourism Commission posted a special gay wedding page on its Web site last week listing spots in Napa County, Yosemite National Park and comparatively conservative Orange County that are offering wedding and honeymoon packages.

Kathryn Hamm, president of Washington-based gayweddings.com, an online retailer and wedding planner, said the number of businesses submitting listings for her gay-friendly vendor's directory has tripled in the past three weeks.

"Vendors are absolutely looking to get their services out there," said Hamm, who has been working overtime to get invitations printed for couples planning late-summer and early-fall weddings. "Some identify as gay and lesbian and have been serving the community for a while, and some are straight and longtime supporters. But they have all said how excited they are about how about the recent development from a social justice perspective."

The timely economic infusion has been noted by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who twice vetoed bills that would have legalized gay marriage but has supported the court's decision.

"I hope that California's economy is booming because everyone is going to come here and get married," Schwarzenegger told the California Chamber of Commerce.

Brian Siewert, co-owner of the Sonoma Orchid Inn in Guerneville, a small town in Sonoma County wine country, said the region is already home to a lot of gay-owned and gay-operated businesses, including his own, which he runs with his partner.

"We've always had honeymoon getaways here in the Russian River Valley, but it's really nice that now they will be gay honeymoons this time," he said.

But he added: "We are really concerned about this whole thing that people are trying to make a buck off it, as opposed to the feeling we have that we are really trying to celebrate and have them have a great experience and build their lives together."

Pontac said that she is having a lot of fun planning her wedding and that the rush has made certain decisions -- such as what to serve -- a little easier.

"It's amazing how when you have no time, it's `Anything but Gorgonzola is fine,"' she said.

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Red Bull: Art Of Can

If you ask me what can I do with the empty Red Bull cans, I will tell you that I could create a unique piece of art. It’s what Red Bull have been doing with their exhibition “Red Bull Art of Can” since 1997. The exhibition have been held throughout the world from Europe to New Zealand.

This year the exhibition will take place in Houston,Texas US from July 11 to July 25. This is actually a competition that is open to everyone. Whoever can build, sculpt, weld, glue, hammer, bend, fold, print, tape and paint can enter the competition. The artists around the world are asked to create works of art using the Red Bull cans as the primary medium. For more information on this competition click on this link Red Bull Art Of Can. You will see below some pictures of the amazing works that have been done in London, England back in 2005.

















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Muslim parents to blame for children turning to extremism

British Muslim parents are to blame for leaving their children open to the lure of Islamic extremism, according to an influential academic

Dr Farhan Nizami CBE, a key adviser on Islam to the Prince of Wales, accused British Muslims of failing to make sure their children learn to speak English or supporting them in their education.

He said this leaves them alienated from mainstream society and exposed to being groomed by radical Islamic groups.

It is the first time Dr Nizami, the director of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, which has links with Oxford University, has spoken out about the failure of Muslims to integrate with British society.

The academic institution, whose patron is the Prince of Wales, carries considerable influence and aims to build bridges between Islam and the West.

His comments come just weeks after the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, warned that radical Islam is filling the "moral vacuum" created by the decline of Christian values in Britain.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Dr Nizami said Muslims would never play a full role in British society until they improved their education, language and aspirations.

He warned that those who feel marginalised are most easily influenced by the rhetoric of extremism, and called on Muslim parents to do more to avert the danger of their children becoming fanatics.

"Muslim families have to realise the importance of education for their children and make an effort to push them into achieving more," Dr Nizami said.

"They need to make them aspire to things higher rather than just being self-employed and looking for small-jobs."

Despite the fears over the threat posed by foreign imams such as Abu Hamza and Omar Bakri, Dr Nizami claimed homegrown Muslims can be even more dangerous.

The four suicide bombers who murdered 52 people in London on July 7, 2005, were all born in Britain while the four Islamic terrorists jailed for plotting to blow up Bluewater and the Ministry of Sound with half a ton of fertiliser were all raised and schooled here.

Dr Nizami said: "The assumption that foreign imams equal something undesirable is not always true. In fact some of the more radical elements of British society are British-born. This is not an issue that needs to be seen in terms of religion, but in issues of alienation and deprivation."

He said education was key to preventing a new generation of Muslim extremists growing up in Britain.

"Immigrant communities have to do more to get integrated, particularly on issues of language and education," he said.

Dr Nizami, who is a British delegate at a conference on bridging the gap between Islam and the West, expressed concern at the poor academic achievements of Muslims in Britain, particularly those from Pakistan and Bangladesh.

"This is partly because of issues about their access to good state schools, but this is also because they receive poor family support," he said.

But on Tuesday some Muslim groups said it was unfair to point the finger of blame at parents, and that the Government should commit more funding to language lessons for immigrants while mosque leaders must ensure sermons are delivered in English.

Inayat Bunglawala, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, said: "There is really no question regarding the central importance of parents taking an active interest in the better education of their children. But we need to be cautious of putting too much blame on parents for the actions of their children.

"As we have seen in the cases of the 7/7 bombers and terrorists who have been convicted since then, many of them were extremely adept at deceiving their closest family relatives about their intentions."

A spokesman for the Ramadhan Foundation, British's leading Muslim youth organisation, said: "There are systematic mistakes, with the Government cutting funding for people who want to learn English. The imams have also got to look at sermons being delivered in English."

The conference at which Dr Nizami spoke, held in Kuala Lumpur this week, heard that the divide between the Muslim world and the West continues to undermine constructive political, economic, social and religious engagement.

One of the world's leading Muslims told delegates that the former British prime minister, Tony Blair, is viewed with suspicion by the Arab world in his new role as a Middle East envoy.

Imam Feisal, leader of New York's Masjid al-Farah mosque said: "The perception exists that his being at the forefront of taking Britain into war has reduced his credibility in being able to be seen as an honest broker."

Meanwhile the Vatican warned on Tuesday that the West is in danger of becoming "obsessed" with Muslims.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the Roman Catholic Church's leading expert on inter-faith dialogue, said discussions between different religious groups must not be "held hostage" by Islam.

His comments came just a day after a report commissioned by the Church of England found that the Government was "focusing intently" on Islam at the expense of Christianity, to which it only paid "lip service".

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