Egypt Independent: Life Style-Main news en Colombia's Paulina Vega wins Miss Universe title <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Colombia&#39;s Paulina Vega was crowned Miss Universe Sunday, beating out contenders from the United States, Ukraine, Jamaica and The Netherlands at the world&#39;s top beauty pageant in Florida.</p><p>The 22-year-old model and business student triumphed over 87 other women from around the world, and is only the second beauty queen from Colombia to take home the prize.</p><p>The last time Colombia won the crown was in 1956 when Luz Marina Zuluaga took home the title.</p><p>Vega, wearing a long silver sequined gown, was beaming and tearful as she accepted her sash and crown from reigning Miss Universe, Venezuelan Gabriela Isler.</p><p>She edged out first runner-up, Nia Sanchez from the United States, hugging her as her win was announced.</p><p>Vega spoke proudly of her country, and said in the question round Colombia &quot;has been a role model for the rest of the world.&quot;</p><p>&quot;We are persevering people, despite all the obstacles, we keep fighting for what we want to achieve. After years of difficulty, we are leading in several areas on the world stage.&quot;</p><p>Vega won highest possible score of 9.9 in every presentation at the Miss Universe Colombia contest, according to the pageant&#39;s website.</p><p>The five-foot-nine (180 centimeter) model from Barranquilla is the granddaughter of legendary tenor Gaston Vega and 1953 Miss Atlantico, Elvira Castillo.</p><p>She beat out Ukraine&#39;s Diana Harkusha, Yasmin Verheijen from the Netherlands and Miss Jamaica Kaci Fennell, who were also top five finalists.</p><p>The 63rd edition of the Miss Universe pageant, held at Florida International University, geared up with the traditional parade of eye-catching national costumes before a full house of enthusiastic fans.</p><p>Ten judges were tasked to select this year&#39;s winner, including Cuban-American music mogul Emilio Estefan, Cuban soap opera star William Levy and Philippine boxing great Manny Pacquiao.</p><p>The event is actually the 2014 Miss Universe pageant. The competition was pushed back until now to try to get a bigger television audience.</p><p>The contest, owned by Donald Trump, is watched by about 600 million worldwide, pageant officials say.</p><p>There was some criticism of the $2.5 million contribution that the city of Doral made to the pageant, as local politicians were divided over whether the promotion for the city near Miami is worth that money.</p><p>The Miss Universe contest started out in 1952 as a local &quot;bathing beauty&quot; competition organized by a swimwear company in Long Beach, California.</p><p>Today, the competition is more than a beauty pageant and contestants &quot;compete with hope of advancing their careers, personal and humanitarian goals and... seek to improve the lives of others,&quot; according to the Miss Universe website</p> Mon, 26 Jan 2015 07:52:00 +0000 AFP 2443200 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/01/26/499612/colombias_paulina_vega_wins_miss_universe_title.jpg Egyptian female cyclists pedal for acceptance <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Yasmine Mahmoud cuts a defiant figure as she weaves her bicycle through the chaotic streets of Cairo, a place where few women dare to pedal.</p><p>Every day, like for the past four years, she takes her bicycle from her 10th floor apartment and rides through the Egyptian capital, to the astonishment of bystanders.</p><p>&quot;Unfortunately, it&#39;s socially unacceptable in Egypt for a girl to ride a bicycle in the street,&quot; said the 31-year-old executive secretary, as she prepared to set off from the upscale Cairo neighbourhood where she lives.</p><p>Women enjoy more freedom in Egypt than in deeply conservative Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, but the most populous Sunni Arab country still considers it inappropriate for them to ride bicycles.</p><p>Unlike in many countries, the two-wheeler is considered unsafe for travelling in Cairo&#39;s traffic-clogged roads.</p><p>For Egyptian women it is all the more challenging given the city&#39;s notorious sexual violence, and female cyclists in particular are targeted by passers-by.</p><p>The majority of cyclists in Egypt are working class men, preferring two wheels for running daily errands.</p><p>Mahmoud&#39;s family objected to her cycling initially, but later started trusting her ability to cruise through the capital&#39;s traffic bottlenecks.</p><p>&quot;I used to ride a bicycle when I was a kid, either near the beach where we went for holidays or in sports clubs,&quot; said Mahmoud, dressed in a yellow sweater and blue jeans, and wearing bicycle-shaped earrings.</p><p>&quot;It took me a while to ride it again, but now it&#39;s my daily companion.&quot;</p><p><strong>- &#39;Saving time and money&#39; -</strong></p><p>Mahmoud now refuses to drive her car unless she has to travel far.</p><p>&quot;A bicycle saves both time and the money required for gas,&quot; she said.</p><p>&quot;This road would have taken at least half an hour,&quot; she said, pointing to a queue of crawling cars at a roundabout, which she quickly passes on her bicycle.</p><p>Mahmoud said Egyptian streets should have separate lanes for cyclists given the risk of being mowed down by &quot;scary&quot; microbuses breezing past recklessly.</p><p>In addition to traffic hazards, &quot;verbal sexual harassments and cynical passers-by are big problems too,&quot; said Mahmoud, who still recalls how a young man once tried to forcefully jump behind her on her bicycle.</p><p>&quot;I just ignore them and ride on,&quot; she said laughing.</p><p>Sexual assaults against women rose following the 2011 uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak, with hundreds of attacks reported, activists say.</p><p>But this does not deter Mahmoud, who has taken her passion to a new level. She is a member of Go Bike, a group that promotes cycling.</p><p>Every Friday morning, the group arranges cycling tours. Many participants are women keen to learn the sport and wanting to follow Mahmoud.</p><p>&quot;I am ready for the challenge,&quot; said Shaimaa Ahmed, a veil-wearing 26-year-old pharmacist, as she brushed dust from her clothes after falling off her bicycle minutes into her first attempt at cycling.</p><p>Fifty-year-old amateur Wafaa Ahmed is proof that cycling is not just for the young.</p><p>&quot;The only fear is harassment, more than the chaotic traffic and lack of security on the streets,&quot; said the mother-of-two, who wants to travel to her workplace by bicycle.</p><p><strong>- Changing perceptions -</strong></p><p>Go Bike founder Mohamed Samy wants bicycles to replace cars for travelling short distances.</p><p>&quot;But what we need are separate lanes for cyclists,&quot; he said.</p><p>President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi threw his weight behind promoting cycling just days after coming to office.</p><p>In July last year, Sisi took part in a cycling marathon to encourage people to switch from automobiles.</p><p>Go Bike aims to &quot;change society&#39;s perception&quot; about girls riding bicycles, said the group&#39;s spokeswoman Hadeer Samy, wearing a bicycle-shaped necklace.</p><p>&quot;We want bicycles to be a means for Egyptian girls to break the moulds of customs and traditions.&quot;</p><p>For women still hesitating to ride on their own on the streets, Mahmoud has some words of advice.</p><p>&quot;Try not to be scared. Forget those around you, challenge yourself and just enjoy,&quot; she said, hopping onto her bicycle and pedalling off into Cairo&#39;s busy streets.</p> Mon, 26 Jan 2015 07:44:00 +0000 AFP 2443198 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/01/26/499612/egyptian_female_cyclists_pedal_for_acceptance.jpg British nurse makes full recovery from Ebola <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>&nbsp;</p><p>A British nurse who had been critically ill with Ebola after working in Sierra Leone has been discharged from a London hospital after making a full recovery.</p><p>Pauline Cafferkey was admitted to the Royal Free Hospital in north London on Dec. 30 after falling ill on her return from Sierra Leone, where she had been working for the charity Save the Children at a treatment center outside the capital, Freetown.</p><p>Cafferkey was the first person to have been diagnosed with Ebola on British soil.</p><p>&quot;I am just happy to be alive,&quot; she said in a statement released via the hospital. &quot;I still don&rsquo;t feel 100 percent, I feel quite weak, but I&#39;m looking forward to going home. I want to say a big thank you to the staff who treated me - they were amazing.&quot;</p><p>The Royal Free, Britain&#39;s main center for Ebola cases, also successfully treated British aid worker William Pooley who contracted the virus in West Africa.</p><div>&nbsp;</div><p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 20px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 15px; font-family: georgia, 'times new roman', serif; line-height: 23px; ">&nbsp;</p> Sun, 25 Jan 2015 15:29:00 +0000 Reuters 2443170 at sites/default/files/photo/2012/07/30/72636/photo_1343648952019-4-0.jpg Sleep apnea tied to memory problems <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The ability to remember locations and directions may suffer when deep sleep is disrupted by breathing difficulties, a new study suggests.</p><p>People with sleep apnea tended to score worse on spatial memory tests after sleeping without their breathing aid, compared to mornings after they&rsquo;d used their breathing aids at night, researchers found.</p><p>&ldquo;There had been some evidence in animal models that REM sleep or dreaming sleep is important for spatial memory, but no one had shown or proven that in people,&rdquo; said Dr. Andrew Varga, the study&rsquo;s lead author from NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.</p><p>&ldquo;Spatial memory&rdquo; helps people remember how to get to their children&rsquo;s schools, or where they left their keys, for example.</p><p>It&rsquo;s thought that people may have difficulty forming new spatial memories if their deep sleep and shallow sleep are interrupted, according to Varga.</p><p>People with sleep apnea - some 18 million Americans, according to the National Sleep Foundation - experience numerous pauses in breathing that can last from seconds to minutes. As a result, people with sleep apnea are often tired when they wake.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>To see whether individuals with sleep apnea tended to have more difficulty forming new spatial memories, the researchers recruited 18 such people to spend two nights in their sleep center, about two weeks apart.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The volunteers had always slept with a so-called CPAP machine to eliminate sleep apnea. During one night in the sleep lab, they slept with CPAP. The other night, their CPAP was reduced or turned off during deep sleep to induce apnea.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>On each of the two nights, before they went to bed, participants were asked to complete a video game maze. The next morning, they completed the maze again.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>After a night of sleep with their CPAP machine, the time it took the volunteers to complete the maze improved by about 30 percent. They also traveled farther in the maze and spent less time backtracking.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>But after a night with sleep apnea, the volunteers were about 4 percent slower at completing the maze, compared to the night before.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;People had no improvement and actually on average they got a bit worse,&rdquo; Varga said. &ldquo;We interpret that to mean their consolidation in spatial memory wasn&rsquo;t as good when REM (deep) sleep was disrupted.&rdquo;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The researchers can&rsquo;t say whether the worse performance is directly from the disruptions in sleep caused by the apnea, or whether it&rsquo;s the lack of oxygen the condition causes.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Varga said they are testing the apnea or oxygen question now. They are also looking at whether apnea during shallow sleep affects spatial memory.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;The thought is that you need both (deep and shallow sleep),&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;If you don&rsquo;t have one or the other, you don&rsquo;t&rsquo; have the ability to consolidate the information.&rdquo;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Varga said he hopes the results of the study, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, will encourage more doctors to treat sleep apnea early &ndash; instead of waiting until the condition worsens.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Apnea is very common and has a variety of deleterious effects that have to do not only with cardiovascular health, but also there is an emerging dataset - of which this paper is only one piece - to suggest there are really cognitive effects also,&rdquo; he said.</p> Sun, 25 Jan 2015 10:18:00 +0000 Reuters 2443147 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/01/25/43/r.jpg