Egypt Independent: Living-Main news en Omar Samra completes Grand Slam, arrives at North Pole <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Egyptian adventurer Omar Samra has arrived to the North Pole, raising the Egyptian flag, in what the Tourism Ministry describes as&nbsp;&ldquo;a great step to improve the image of Egypt&rdquo;.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Samra is the first Egyptian to complete the Grand Slam international challenge to climb the highest peaks on every continent.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He said on Facebook that he has successfully reached the North Pole at 5 am on April 21 to become one of 40 people in history that have completed the Grand Slam challenge.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Samra, who was born in 1978, was the first Egyptian to climb Mount Everest on May 17, 2007.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 14:16:00 +0000 Al-Masry Al-Youm 2448630 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/04/24/1755/omar_samra_on_mount_everest.jpg Researchers identify 6 types of obesity for targeted treatment <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>There are six major types of obesity, according to a study conducted in the US and the UK. To battle the disease more effectively, the researchers suggest, the medical community could recognize these different sub-categories and treat them separately.</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1429876613788_608">Taking into account the various demographic, health and behavioral factors that may play a role in obesity, researchers at the University of Sheffield in the UK and at the Harvard School of Public Health in the US have defined six different types of obesity.</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1429876613788_609">The researchers worked with data on over 4,144 obese adults from the Yorkshire Health Study cohort. All of them had a BMI over 30 (average BMI in the group was 34), and the average age was 56. Fifty-eight percent of these participants were female.</p><p>After collecting details on the participants&#39; lifestyle, diet, physical activity and previous efforts to lose weight, the researchers developed a questionnaire that was distributed to the participants through their doctors.</p><p>Based on the responses to the questionnaire, the research team was able to identify patterns in clinical characteristics and establish six types of obese patients:</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1429876613788_610">- Young healthy females, who have not yet developed complications from obesity such as Type 2 diabetes.</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1429876613788_611">- Heavy-drinking males, who consume at least 12 drinks per week.</p><p>- Unhappy and anxious middle-aged individuals, predominately women with mental health issues.</p><p>- Affluent and healthy elderly individuals, who are in fairly good health overall but have higher alcohol intake and high blood pressure.</p><p>- Physically sick but happy elderly individuals, who exhibit good mental health but suffer from chronic conditions such as arthritis.</p><p>- Poorest health individuals, who are economically deprived and suffer from a greater number of chronic conditions than the other groups.</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1429876613788_749">In their study, published in the Journal of Public Health on April 18, the researchers suggest that recognizing these different types may be essential to fighting obesity. Between excessive alcohol intake, erratic eating behaviors and lack of physical activity, factors leading to the condition can vary between the different groups, and the idea is that taking this into account could help doctors to develop more targeted interventions.</p> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 11:57:00 +0000 AFP 2448614 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/02/19/43/obesity.jpg Get thrilled in the world's happiest countries <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Switzerland is the happiest country in the world, closely followed by Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Canada, according to a global ranking of happiness unveiled in New York on Thursday.</p><p>The 2015 World Happiness Report is the third annual report seeking to quantify happiness as a means of influencing government policy. The United Nations published the first study in 2012.</p><p>Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand and Australia round out the top 10, making small or medium-sized countries in Western Europe seven of the top 10 happiest countries.</p><p>Academics identified the variables as real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption and generosity.</p><p>Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and one of the editors, said the top 13 countries were the same a second year running although their order had shifted.</p><p>They combined affluence with strong social support, and relatively honest and accountable governments, he told a news conference.</p><p>&quot;Countries below that top group fall short, either in income or in social support or in both,&quot; Sachs explained.</p><p>The United States trails in 15th place, behind Israel and Mexico, with Britain at 21, pipped by Belgium and the United Arab Emirates. France ranks number 29, behind Germany in 26th place.</p><p>Afghanistan and war-torn Syria joined eight sub-Saharan countries in Africa -- Togo, Burundi, Benin, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea and Chad -- as the 10 least happy of 158 countries.</p><p>Despite the conflict raging in Iraq, that country was ranked 112, ahead of South Africa, India, Kenya and Bulgaria.</p><p>The 166-page report was edited by Sachs, John Helliwell of the University of British Columbia in Canada and Richard Layard from the London School of Economics.</p><p>&quot;One of our very strong recommendations is that we should be using measurements of happiness... to help guide the world during this period of the new sustainable development goals,&quot; Sachs said.</p><p>- Iceland, Ireland and Japan resilient -</p><p>The report would be distributed widely at the United Nations and closely read by governments around the world, he said.</p><div><img src="" /><div><em style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.5em;">Children play in the snow in a park in Reykjavik on May 1, 2011</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p>&quot;We want this to have an impact, to put it straight forwardly, on the deliberations on sustainable development because we think this really matters,&quot; Sachs said.</p><p>Besides money, the report emphasized fairness, honesty, trust and good health as determinants, saying that economic crisis or natural disaster themselves did not necessarily crush happiness.</p><p>Iceland and Ireland were the best examples, the report found, of how to maintain happiness through resilient social support despite the severity of banking collapses during the financial crisis.</p><p>The Fukushima region of Japan also saw &quot;increased trust and happiness&quot; after the 2011 earthquake by allowing people to build their mutual dependence and cooperative capacities, it said.</p><p>On the other hand, recession-hit Greece was the &quot;biggest happiness loser,&quot; down almost 1.5 points from 2005-2007 to 2012-2014, and where data points to the erosion of trust, it said.</p><p>They said more and more governments are listening and responding with policies that put well-being first.</p><p>Political consensus in Britain, Layard said, had fueled &quot;a major transformation&quot; in mental health services to give evidence-based treatment to 500,000 people with 50 percent recovery rates.</p><div><img src="" /><div><em style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.5em;"><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.5em;">German Chancellor Angela Merkel plays with children on March 25, 2013 in Langenfeld, Germany</span></em></div><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p>But he singled out German Chancellor Angela Merkel as &quot;the most interesting world leader&quot; in responding to happiness data.</p><p>He praised her for initiating a grass roots project &quot;of very great importance&quot; that seeks to find out &quot;what people want to see changing in order that their well-being might change.&quot;</p><p>A positive outlook during childhood also lays the foundation for greater happiness during adulthood, the report found.</p><p>&quot;We must invest early on in the lives of our children so that they grow to become independent, productive and happy adults, contributing both socially and economically,&quot; Layard said.</p> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 11:43:00 +0000 AFP 2448613 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/04/24/43/afp-switzerland-scandinavia-top-global-happy-index.jpg From Hebron, Palestinian scarf resists... Chinese competition <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>In the face of strong competition from China, the traditional, locally produced Palestinian headscarf has put up a show of resistance, successfully pulling itself back from the brink of extinction.</p><p>Thanks to the business sense of two brothers from the southern West Bank city of Hebron, the traditional black-and-white keffiyeh headscarf has discovered a new lease of life.</p><p>In 1961, their father Yasser Hirbawi, who sold keffiyehs he brought from Syria and Jordan, decided to set up his own production line.</p><p>When the factory began, two employees managed two looms to produce the famous black-and-white patterned headscarf.</p><p>Today, his sons are at the head of a business which employs 15 people and exports keffiyehs worldwide, all of them bearing the logo: Made in Palestine.</p><p>Each year, they sell around 30,000 scarves, of which two or three percent are sold locally while the rest go overseas with the main markets in Italy, France and Germany, most of which are ordered online, according to Juda Hirbawi.</p><p>Paradoxically, it was the British who turned the keffiyeh into a widespread symbol of resistance during the time of Palestine under their mandate (1920-1948), says Abdelaziz al-Karaki, 61, who has spent more than four decades working in the Hirbawi factory.</p><p>&quot;They said that anyone who wore the Bedouin scarf was an opponent and suddenly everyone started wearing them,&quot; he said.</p><p>But the keffiyeh&#39;s appearance on the international scene can be put down to the influence of one man: Yasser Arafat, the late Palestinian leader and icon of the resistance who was hardly ever pictured without his trademark headscarf.</p><p><strong>- Modelled by Arafat -</strong></p><p>Thanks to him, the headscarf was pictured at the United Nations, on the White House lawn and in Oslo when Arafat was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with Israel&#39;s Shimon Peres and the late Yitzhak Rabin for their Middle East peace efforts.</p><p>And it is a portrait of the late leader in his keffiyeh which greets visitors at the entrance to Hirbawi&#39;s factory.</p><p>&quot;Arafat used to offer a keffiyeh to all his distinguished visitors and today, keffiyehs from our factory are still offered by his successor Mahmud Abbas,&quot; said Juda, speaking over the roar of the looms, which are now automated.</p><p>His factory has made a big comeback.</p><p>At the start of the last decade, in the face of strong competition from China and India who were selling keffiyehs at a third of the price, he decided to shut down the factory.</p><p>&quot;They literally flooded the market. With their prices, we just couldn&#39;t compete,&quot; he told AFP.</p><p>It was a tough decision for a family whose production line had lived through decades of conflict and the first Palestinian uprising (1987-1993) and had survived the rigours of daily life in the Israeli-occupied territories.</p><p>Although the factory was closed for five years, it gave them time to come up with a new strategy.</p><p><strong>- All hues and colours -</strong></p><p>&quot;We could never beat them on price, so we decided to focus all our efforts on quality,&quot; said Juda, who has to import all his raw materials for lack of local alternatives, from thread to the automatic looms.</p><p>As well as quality, they have had to adapt the keffiyeh to international demands.</p><p>&quot;Foreigners want different colours so we have had to revisit the traditional style,&quot; he said.</p><p>Hard at work, the looms are fitted with not only the traditional black and white thread but also red for the Jordanian version.</p><p>From turquoise and petrol blue, to pearl grey and lemon yellow, these days the keffiyeh comes in all hues and shades.</p><p>And it&#39;s not only used as a scarf. It can be worn as a tunic, reworked as a shoulder bag or transformed into pockets.</p><p>This eye-catching fabric with its chequered effect has spread far and wide.</p><p>Whether it is dancers on TV, US rap artists filming a video, or Palestinians competing in the Arab Idol talent show, they are all wearing the scarf.</p><p>This revival of sorts has drawn some measure of scepticism among those who have never stopped wearing it.</p><p>&quot;It is the symbol of Palestine,&quot; said Abu Fahmi al-Kisswani, a Palestinian from annexed east Jerusalem.</p><p>&quot;For some people it&#39;s perhaps just a fashion accessory,&quot; said Maria, a woman from Uruguay who had just purchased a scarf in Jerusalem&#39;s Old City.</p><p>For her, the keffiyeh means more than that: it is a way of &quot;showing solidarity with the Palestinians&quot;.</p><p>Down a neighbouring alleyway, Yussef Sinjlawi has just sold three keffiyehs. Tourists, he said, are keen to take them home as a memento.</p><p>&quot;Some tourists don&#39;t want to pay too much, so we offer them keffiyehs for 25-30 shekels ($7.50/7 euros)&quot; which are Chinese- or Indian-made, whereas a &quot;good quality keffiyeh costs 70-80 shekels ($20/19 euros),&quot; explained Bassem Barakat who has worked as a shopkeeper in the Old City for three decades.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s up to them to chose.&quot;</p><p>He himself has already made his choice.</p><p>&quot;Like all Palestinians, I have my keffiyeh -- and it comes from Hebron.&quot;</p><div>&nbsp;</div> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 07:18:00 +0000 AFP 2448594 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/04/24/499612/palestinian_factory_which_locally_produces_traditional_black-and-white_keffiyeh_headscarf.jpg