Egypt Independent: Living-Main news en CNN:How to visit a 'country' that doesn't exist <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Unusual travel experiences are nothing new, and some are becoming so common their mystique is losing its luster.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>North Korea? No big deal.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Bhutan? Not so secretive any more.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But visiting a country that doesn&#39;t even exist &mdash; now that would be a niche.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>We&#39;re not talking Narnia or Oz, but places here on planet Earth.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>And there&#39;s at least 50 of them.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Everyone&#39;s familiar with the political world map,&quot; says Nick Middleton, travel author and Oxford University geography fellow.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;It looks as if the entire planet&#39;s surface is carved up, every square centimeter accounted for &mdash; which it is, in one sense. But what that map doesn&#39;t show you is the large number of wannabe nation states, which are also there, but seldom get a look in.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Middleton has compiled a collection of these unrecognized nations in his book &quot;An Atlas of Countries That Don&#39;t Exist: A Compendium of Fifty Unrecognized and Largely Unnoticed States.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It&#39;s a tour of the world&#39;s forgotten, shunned and unrecognized corners.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;They&#39;re all intriguing in their own different ways,&quot; he says.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Some are politically contentious; some, such as Forvik in the Shetland Islands, are microscopic; others, for example Greenland, hide in plain sight.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>What&#39;s clear is that many make great destinations for travelers.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>So where to go?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Here are the highlights (passport not always required):</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Christiania</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="Christiania: &amp;quot;The ultimate liberal paradox.&amp;quot;" src="" style="height: 301px; width: 536px;" />x</div><div><em>Christiania: &quot;The ultimate liberal paradox.&quot;</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A social experiment that began in 1971, Christiania was founded in central Copenhagen by a group of Danish hippies squatting on a former military barracks.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Declaring the 0.34-square-kilometer site the Freetown of Christiania, the citizens of this highly democratic community were known to dabble in hard drugs.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Yet within a year, the Danish defense ministry had granted them use of the land in return for paying their utility bills.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;It&#39;s the ultimate liberal paradox,&quot; Middleton explains. &quot;In one regard the government likes having this experimental commune on their doorstep, but on the other hand they don&#39;t like it because they don&#39;t adhere to the rules.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Despite having built schools, houses and a variety of businesses, today Christiania&#39;s population of 850 faces a moral dilemma: Pay the Danish government for the land outright by 2018, or face eviction.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In the meantime, visiting is straightforward, and Christiania says it receives more than one million guests every year.With no border control, entry is simple &mdash; anyone can just walk in.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Somaliland</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="Somaliland: &amp;quot;An island of tranquility.&amp;quot;" src="" style="height: 301px; width: 536px;" /></div><div><em>Somaliland: &quot;An island of tranquility.&quot;</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Located in the Horn of Africa, the 3.5 million people of Somaliland have sought independence from Somalia since 1991.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The would-be nation is an &quot;island of tranquility, relatively speaking, compared to the rest of the country,&quot; according to Middleton.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>There are direct flights available from Nairobi.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Somaliland&#39;s self-declared borders reflect those of the former British Somaliland Protectorate.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Its capital Hargeisa is abuzz with an optimism not always felt by its Somalian counterpart Mogadishu &mdash; remarkable considering the former was largely destroyed in the 1980s civil war.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>With 850 km of coastline there&#39;s no shortage of beaches, as well as Laas Geel, a collection of 5,000-year-old cave paintings, only discovered in 2002 and located just 50 km from Hargeisa.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Tuva</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="Tuva: Putin&amp;#39;s playground." src="" style="height: 301px; width: 536px;" /></div><div><em>Tuva: Putin&#39;s playground.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Deep in the heartland of Central Asia, Tuva (or Tyva) was once an independent nation, but experienced a seismic overhaul under the rule of General Secretary Salchak Toka in the 1930s and &#39;40s, when the country tilted towards Soviet principles.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Tuva eventually asked for admittance into the Soviet Union and is now part of modern-day Russia, but still retains many of its own cultural practices.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Known for its forests and steppe, this area of southern Siberia is a summer playground for President Vladimir Putin, who has been photographed hunting and fishing in the rugged and largely untamed region.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Spa tourism is popular, as is wildlife spotting. The region&#39;s rich fauna includes lynx, ibex and wolverine.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Tuvan throat singing is also not to be missed.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Greenland</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="Greenland: Warming to independence?" src="" style="height: 301px; width: 536px;" /></div><div><em>Greenland: Warming to independence?</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Nick Middleton says that &quot;of all the 50 that I&#39;ve included in the book, Greenland probably has the best chance of gaining independence in my lifetime.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It will come as a surprise to some that Greenland is not a recognized country, but instead a 2.23-million-square-kilometer autonomous part of Denmark &mdash; itself over 50 times smaller.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Only in 2009 was Greenlandic &mdash; spoken by nearly all 57,000 residents &mdash; recognized as the island&#39;s official language, along with the decision by Denmark to allow self-rule (seen as the last step towards full independence).</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Ilussant Icefjord is among the UNESCO-recognized highlights of any trip to the territory, or Uummannaq, where the World Ice Golf Championship is hosted every year.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Seborga</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="Seborga: Backed by flower power." src="" style="height: 301px; width: 536px;" /></div><div><em>Seborga: Backed by flower power.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Situated close to the Italian border with Monaco, Seborga is indebted to Giorgio Carbone, once head of the flower-growers&#39; cooperative, who discovered the town wasn&#39;t mentioned in documents written up at the formation of Italy.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Carbone became a prince after a 1995 referendum, and took the title of His Tremendousness until his death in 2009.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>His loyal subjects continue his legacy &mdash; despite still paying taxes to the Italian government.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Visiting the hilltop town in the Liguria region is easy.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>There are stunning views over the Mediterranean and plenty of olive groves.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>St Bernard&#39;s Feast on August 20 is a cultural highpoint.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Mayotte</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="A little piece of France in the Indian Ocean." src="" style="height: 301px; width: 536px;" /></div><div><em>A little piece of France in the Indian Ocean.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Defying the United Nations, Mayotte in the Comoros Islands rebuffed decolonization &mdash; and its neighbors in the archipelago &mdash; when it opted to stay within French control, despite its independence in 1975.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Although located 8,000 km from Paris, the island is administered by France as if it were a territory in Europe.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Mayotte is a regular stop on the French presidential campaign trail, attracting the likes of Francois Hollande, and it&#39;s easy to see why.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Its 213,000 inhabitants live in a beautiful tropical jewel in the Indian Ocean.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Densely populated, it&#39;s nevertheless extremely biodiverse.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Visitors can hike up 594-meter-high Mont Choungui or scuba dive in the pristine waters, where turtles and whales make appearances.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Mapuche</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="Mapuche: Divided between Chile and Argentina." src="" style="height: 301px; width: 536px;" /></div><div><em>Mapuche: Divided between Chile and Argentina.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Middleton describes this ancient territory as &quot;straddling parts of Argentina and Chile,&quot; but the Mapuche people, despite formal recognition by the Spanish empire, lost control of their territory to both nations in the 19th century.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Many of the Mapuche &mdash; &quot;people of the land&quot; &mdash; have forgone their rural lifestyle, moving to cities.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Its nominative capital Temuco, in southern Chile, is now home to a large chunk of the 1.7 million Mapuche population.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Mapuche textiles and craftwork are easily available in Temuco.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Attractions in wider Mapuche include Parque Nacional Conguillio and Pucon in the Chilean Lake District, with its forests of Monkey Puzzle trees.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Patagonia Highway also passes through the region.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Click <a href="" target="_blank">here </a>for the original story</div> Sat, 13 Feb 2016 14:09:00 +0000 CNN 2466602 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/02/13/501184/seborga.jpg Exercise programs may lower the risk of serious falls for older men <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Older men who do moderate exercise several times per week may experience fewer injuries and hospitalizations from falls, a new study suggests.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>For men and women combined, the exercise program did not significantly reduce fall injuries, but in men it was associated with reduced risks of serious fall injuries, including broken bones.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;We also found that men had greater improvements than women in their gait, balance and muscle strength, in response to the physical activity program,&rdquo; said lead author Dr Thomas Gill, a professor of geriatric medicine at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Each year, nearly a third of older people living in a community setting suffer a fall, with 20 to 30 percent of these falls resulting in moderate to severe injuries, the researchers write in The BMJ.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Serious fall injuries are one of the most dreaded and devastating conditions experienced by older persons,&rdquo; Gill told Reuters Health by email.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The researchers used data from the Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE) study, the largest study to examine the benefits of physical activity in older people.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The 1,635 participants were sedentary adults, ages 70 to 89, with physical limitations. They all scored low on a test of physical performance but were able to walk a quarter mile.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Half of the participants completed exercise programs twice a week in centers across the US. They also completed at-home exercises three to four times weekly including aerobic, strength, flexibility, and balance training activities.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The rest of the participants were assigned to a comparison group that completed a health education program and did upper body stretching.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The study team checked on participants&rsquo; rates of injuries from falls for up to 3.5 years, asking them every six months if they had fallen and broken a bone or gone to the hospital.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Overall, 75 people in the physical activity group, or 9.2 percent, had a serious fall injury, compared with 84 people, or 10.3 percent, in the comparison group.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>There was no significant difference between the two groups in serious fall injuries, broken bones, or hospital visits.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>After the fact, the researchers decided to look at sex differences and found that men in the physical training group had greater improvements on serious fall injuries, fractures and hospital admissions than women.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Dr Mary Tinetti, who also studies falls in the elderly at Yale but wasn&rsquo;t involved in the new study, told Reuters Health by email that this work alone is not enough to prove that men benefit more than women from physical activity.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Many previous studies have shown that exercise also reduces fall injuries in women, said Tinetti.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Gill&rsquo;s team too had previously found that physical activity can help with mobility issues in older adults of both genders. &ldquo;Hence, women and men should be advised that physical activity is beneficial,&rdquo; said Gill.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He added, &ldquo;Exercises that focus on improving balance, gait and muscle strength are most useful. Older persons often fall because they have problems with their balance and gait.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Tinetti noted that balance training is integral to preventing falls but may be safer to do in a supervised environment. She warned, &ldquo;Balance training can be particularly tricky because to improve balance one needs to &lsquo;challenge&rsquo; balance, which means to temporarily get off balance and then recover safely.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Serious fall injuries such as hip fractures and head injuries are comparable to strokes in clinical importance for older adults,&rdquo; said Tinetti. &ldquo;Therefore, it is important to identify ways to prevent series fall injuries, particularly as the population is rapidly aging.&rdquo;</div> Sat, 13 Feb 2016 12:26:00 +0000 Reuters 2466580 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/05/23/501184/exercise.jpg Can a cluttered kitchen give you the munchies? <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>If you can&rsquo;t seem to stop yourself from snacking, your messy kitchen may be at least partly to blame, a recent study suggests.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s easier to spend five minutes cleaning up your kitchen than 24 hours trying to resist snacks,&rdquo; senior study author Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab and author of Slim by Design, said by email.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>To test how clutter impacts food choices and calorie consumption, researchers invited about 100 college women to participate in what they were told was an experiment exploring the link between personality and taste preference. To sweeten the invite, the students were promised course credit and a chance to win an MP3 player.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The small experiment was also designed to test how mindset influences food choices.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Half of the women were randomly sent to an ordinary, clean kitchen, while the rest were directed to an extremely disorganized room with tables out of place and heaped with piles of papers, dishes and pots scattered around.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Then, researchers asked the women to complete brief writing assignments on one of three topics: a time when they felt chaotic and out-of-control; a time when they felt organized and in control; or a neutral recollection of the last class lecture they attended.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>While they worked, women in the messy kitchen were treated to a cacophony of distracting sounds as a researcher made a deliberate show of cleaning up the room. In the clean kitchen, women worked without distractions.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>When they finished writing, the snacks came out for what women thought was the main point of the experiment &mdash; a taste test of cookies, crackers and baby carrots.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Women in the messy kitchen who had just finished writing about a stressful moment in their lives ate more cookies &mdash; 103 calories &mdash; than their peers in this room who had just recalled a time when they felt organized and in control &mdash; they ate only 38 calories.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Meanwhile, in the clean kitchen, women given the out-of-control writing assignment consumed 61 calories of cookies, compared to 50 calories for their peers asked to recall a moment when they felt organized and in charge.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>One limitation of the study is that researchers didn&rsquo;t assess how the different kitchens actually made women feel, or the mind-set produced by the various writing tasks, the authors note.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Because the messy kitchen also had noise and other distractions, it&rsquo;s also impossible to say how much the women&rsquo;s snack choices were influenced by the dirty room versus the other things happening in their environment, the researchers also note.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Even so, the findings underscore that less cluttered, less distracting and less chaotic environments might lead people to snack less, the researchers conclude in the journal Environment and Behavior.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Eating healthy can be hard, and understanding the environmental factors like kitchen clutter than influence our eating can help individuals structure their homes in a way to make the healthier food choice the easier choice,&rdquo; said Lindsey Smith Taillie, a nutrition researcher at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill who wasn&rsquo;t involved in the study.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Maintaining a calm, clutter-free kitchen environment can help keep us from overeating sugary snacks,&rdquo; Taillie added by email. &ldquo;When that&rsquo;s not possible, thinking about times of personal control can also help prevent overeating.&rdquo;</div> Sat, 13 Feb 2016 10:29:00 +0000 Reuters 2466579 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/01/09/43/screen_shot_2016-01-09_at_11.30.59_am.png Universities host awareness workshops on female genital mutilation <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>An NGO alliance has held a series of workshops at universities in Egypt to raise awareness about female genital mutilation (FGM) and violence against children.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Union Against Harmful Practices on Women &amp; Children said it has held workshops at universities across Egypt tackling issues from medical and religious perspectives.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Union head Randa Fakhr Eddin said the workshops will continue into the next week.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Egypt is among the countries with the highest FGM rates..It is a religiously prohibited custom according to an edict by Dar al-Iftaa made in 2007,&rdquo; Fakhr Eddin stated.<br /><br />&ldquo;The Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs had also made a statement clarifying it has no basis in Islamic Sharia,&rdquo; she added.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The government is also gearing up efforts to combat the surgery. Health Minister Ahmed Emad Eddine announced earlier this month that the ministry will launch an initiative called &ldquo;Doctors against FGM&rdquo; to crystalize the vision among doctors to reject the circumcision surgery.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Egypt&#39;s 2015 health survey revealed that 9 in 10 women aged between 15-49 have experienced female genital cutting, which defies an official ban of the surgeries traditionally sought by girls&#39; parents with a belief that it enhances sexual health.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In January 2015, a doctor was sentenced to two years for the fatal circumcision of 13-year-old Soheir al-Batea.</div><div><br />&nbsp;</div><div><em>Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div> Thu, 11 Feb 2016 15:10:00 +0000 Al-Masry Al-Youm 2466526 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/02/11/94/female_genital_mutilation_fgm.jpg