Sunday, 16 December 2012

An eyeful of Azzinano

Not on your typical Italian itinerary, the town of Azzinano offers a unique insight into countryside culture through murals painted on home facades in an annual festival.

Every year, around mid-August, the mountain town of Azzinano in Italy gets a makeover. Artists from all over the country descend into this tiny village, home to some 164 inhabitants, in the foothills of Gran Sasso, the highest mountain of the Apennine range in the Teramo province. In true Italian tradition, they take to their paints and brushes and draw murals like past Italian maestros did on church ceilings and palace walls. Only this time, their canvasses are the modest, but quaint, village houses lining cobbled streets.

Not on your typical Italian itinerary, the town of Azzinano offers a unique insight into countryside culture through murals painted on home facades in an annual festival.
Every year, around mid-August, the mountain town of Azzinano in Italy gets a makeover. Artists from all over the country descend into this tiny village, home to some 164 inhabitants, in the foothills of Gran Sasso, the highest mountain of the Apennine range in the Teramo province. In true Italian tradition, they take to their paints and brushes and draw murals like past Italian maestros did on church ceilings and palace walls. Only this time, their canvasses are the modest, but quaint, village houses lining cobbled streets.

The ten-day event called “Walls Tell” has been held two years in a row since 2011 to commemorate the memory of Annuziata Scipio, a renowned painter hailing from Azzinano. Originally the brainchild of Luciano Marinelli, who painted murals in honour of Scipio, the event has become a celebration of the region’s life and culture where painters now paint murals on specific topics on the front walls of houses.

Of course, the sight is refreshing for the locals, who see their houses bathed in new colours every year. And it “spreads peace, joy and happiness among all villagers,” as Antonello Pescosolido, a local tourist guide says. But the locals specifically pride themselves on this tradition for it serves to preserve and showcase the region’s cultural heritage that the new generation is losing touch with.

“It is important to revive the old culture of the land, even if it means through paintings,” says Silivia Bucci, a local. “When youngsters come to this village and see the [depictions of] indigenous games played in the countryside that are now extinct, they learn about their history, which they should not have forgotten [in the first place]. The murals offer stories from the past, knowledge of tradition and a message on local culture and philosophy. They also depict the colours of life in Azzinano and the surrounding towns.”

For tourists who visit Azzinano at this time of the year, it’s probably a detour from the conventional, and massively popular, tourist trail in Italy. The village and its attractions boast of no grandiosity like the Colosseum in Rome does, nor does it offer the romance that gondola rides over Venetian canals do. Still tourists find the sights of colourful paintings against the green and tidy backdrop of lush mountains and quaint cityscape very unique. After all, like Bucci says, “It is like a gallery of large paintings under the sky roof, an outdoor museum which can be visited free of charge anytime of the year.”

Healthy living: Detox bath recipe

Now that winter is here, a long hot bath sounds particularly tempting. And if these hot baths are converted into therapeutic treatments for detoxification, it’s a double treat for your body. 

The science behind a Detox Bath is fairly simple. Sweating is the most common and effective way to dextoxify a human body efficiently. Skin pores of a human body react to differences in the temperatures of the surroundings. So when you soak your body in hot water, the pores on your skin open up and all the toxins from your body drain out. The process begins when the bath medium is hot, peaks after the body is immersed for 20 minutes and ends as the temperature falls below the effective degree.
Here is the recipe for a detox bath that works wonders in making you stress-free, helping you to sleep better and give you a refreshing start for the next day.
Detox bath recipe
• Sea salt 1/3 cup
• Epsom salt 1/3 cup
• Baking soda 1/3 cup
• Apple cider vinegar 1 cup
• Ground ginger 2 1/2 tbsp
• Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
• Prepare a hot water bath, setting the temperature according to your preference. Add the dry ingredients and vinegar while the water fills up the tub, so that these mix in well. Don’t be alarmed if the water turns orange or yellow, as it is due to the ginger and vinegar.
• Soak yourself in the bath for about 40 minutes and enjoy the ‘me time’. You can also rub your skin to activate the lymphatic system that helps you clear out harmful toxins from your body.
• You can make the dry mix and store it in a bottle for future use. All you will need when you want to have a detox bath is one cup of dry mix and one cup of vinegar. It also makes for a great gift!
Health benefits:
1. Sea salt: It helps to sooth open sores or blemishes.
2. Epsom salts: It helps to relieve muscle aches, makes you sweat more and reduces inflammation.
3. Baking soda: It is alkaline in nature and helps to balance off a highly acidic system. As a result, it softens the skin and eliminates chlorine present in the water.
4. Apple cider vinegar: It softens your skin and helps restores the acid-alkaline balance of your body. It is also good for acne treatment.
5. Ginger: It opens up pores and makes you sweat more. Ginger also helps in increasing blood circulation.
Important considerations before the bath:
• This bath can dehydrate you. So it is important to take plenty of water before, during and after taking this bath.
• You can feel a little light-headed after taking this bath, so don’t stand up so quickly.
• The preparation and duration of the bath could make you tired, so it’s better to take this bath right before bedtime.
• Do not take hot or salt baths if you are hypertensive, pregnant, diabetic, or if you have a history of heart disease. If you are unsure, ask your doctor first.
• If you come down with flu-like symptoms after a detox bath, then know it’s fairly common. Your body is flushing out toxins, and you have to make sure you are well hydrated at all times.

Friday, 30 November 2012

China party mouthpiece ridiculed after missing 'sexy' Kim joke

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) visits the Thrice Three-Revolution Red Flag Kamnamu (persimmon tree) Company under the Korean People's Army Unit 4302 in this undated picture released by the North's official KCNA news agency in Pyongyang on August 24, 2012. PHOTO: REUTERS
SHANGHAI: Tongue-in-cheek clearly doesn’t come naturally to the Chinese Communist Party’s official mouthpiece and the stodgy People’s Daily faced ridicule on Wednesday for missing a joke about North Korea’s leader.
The newspaper’s website published an extensive photo spread of pudgy North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Tuesday, apparently falling for a spoof report by the satirical US-based website The Onion naming Kim the “Sexiest Man Alive for 2012″.
It certainly amused readers – though perhaps not as intended.
The photo spread was re-posted and commented on more than 25,000 times by Wednesday afternoon on the Sina Weibo microblogging site.
“Now I understand our party’s aesthetical standards,” said a blogger by the name of “butterfinger”.
The People’s Daily website, run separately from the print version, did not mention in photo captions or text if it understood the satirical nature of The Onion, and an editor reached by telephone declined to comment.
“This was just a normal report. We covered The Onion’s report objectively and factually,” he said.
If the spoof article was mistaken for being genuine it would not be a first for China’s tightly controlled media.
In 2002, the Beijing Evening News ran a story quoting The Onion about the US Congress threatening to leave Washington DC for Memphis or Charlotte unless the city gave it a new Capitol building with a retractable dome.
To some readers the Kim spread – which showed him riding horses, shaking soldiers’ hands, clapping, waving – was an embarrassment.
The People’s Daily congratulates Mr Kim Jung-un as the sexiest man in the world and the whole world is laughing,” microblogger “Fu Laidi” said on Weibo.
“I just want to know if the editor was fired or not … according to China’s news rules, this is a very serious accident … all the foreign media are laughing at us,” wrote “Zhen Ye Ku Shami”.
At least one user took pity on the People’s Daily.
“You know how hard it is to pick positive news about North Korea?” wrote “Hacintosh”. “When they finally find one, no matter what, they just put it on online.”
The People’s Daily print edition feeds readers a steady diet of pro-forma propaganda, including reports on the activities of China’s leaders, texts of state policies and feel-good tales of model workers.
But the website has been given a long leash in some sections to pull in readers.
The Onion, meanwhile, updated its story with a link to the People’s Daily photo spread, calling the paper “a proud Communist subsidiary of The Onion, Inc.”
“Exemplary reportage, comrades,” it said.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

What a Drag: Researchers develop 'High-less' Marijuana

Researchers have developed marijuana that can be used to ease symptoms of some ailments without getting patients high
They grow in a secret location in northern Israel. A tall fence, security cameras and an armed guard protect them from criminals. A hint of their sweet-scented blossom carries in the air: rows and rows of cannabis plants, as far as the eye can see.

It is here, at a medical marijuana plantation atop the hills of the Galilee, where researchers say they have developed marijuana that can be used to ease the symptoms of some ailments without getting patients high.
“Sometimes the high is not always what they need. Sometimes it is an unwanted side effect. For some of the people it’s not even pleasant,” said Zack Klein, head of development at Tikun Olam, the company that developed the plant.
Cannabis has more than 60 constituents called cannabinoids. THC is perhaps the best known of those, less so for its medical benefits and more for its psychoactive properties that give people a “high” feeling.
But cannabis also contains Cannabidiol, or CBD, a substance that some researchers say has anti-inflammatory benefits. Unlike THC, it hardly binds to the brain’s receptors and can therefore work without getting patients stoned.
“CBD plants are available in different forms all over the world,” said Klein, adding that the company’s plant is free of THC and very high in CBD.
Tikun Olam began its research on CBD enhanced cannabis in 2009 and about six months ago they came up with Avidekel, Klein said, a cannabis strain that contains 15.8 percent CBD and only traces of THC, less than one percent.
Cannabis as medicine
Marijuana is an illegal drug in Israel. Medicinal use of it was first permitted in 1993, according to the health ministry.
Today cannabis is used in Israel to treat 9,000 people suffering from illnesses such as cancer, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease and post traumatic stress disorder, according to Israel’s health ministry.
Drug companies have also been interested in cannabis as a medicine. Britain’s GW Pharmaceuticals, with Bayer and Almirall, sells an under-the-tongue spray called Sativex that is designed to minimize highs by manipulating ratios of active ingredients.
Raphael Mechoulam, a professor of medicinal chemistry at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, said Avidekel is thought to be the first CBD-enriched cannabis plant with no THC to have been developed in Israel.
“It is possible that (Avidekel’s) CBD to THC ratio is the highest among medical marijuana companies in the world, but the industry is not very organized, so one cannot keep exact track of what each company is doing,” he explained.
Although there have been no clinical trials in humans, Mechoulam, who is a leading researcher of cannabinoids, said that Avidekel showed promise as a potent anti-inflammatory.
Ruth Gallily of the Hebrew University who works for the company and has been studying CBD for more than 12 years, said she has found that the substance has impressive anti-inflammatory qualities. She has been testing the effects of Tikun Olam’s CBD-enhanced cannabis on mice and expects clinical trials to begin in a few months.
Avidekel is a new strain of a plant that is already permitted for medical use so there is nothing stopping patients who are already being treated with marijuana from trying Avidekel. About 10 patients began using it in the past six months, Klein said.
“The cannabis plant, enriched with CBD, can be used for treating diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, liver inflammation, heart disease and diabetes,” she said, adding there are no side effects.
“It’s a huge advantage,” said one 35-year-old patient who asked not to be identified, “I can smoke during the day, function with a lot less pain and still be focused, work and drive. It is a great gift.”
The woman began suffering chronic pains after a tumor was removed from her spine. She began treatment with regular THC-containing marijuana eight months ago. Two months ago she started smoking Avidekel.
“The difference is huge. Before, I would only smoke at the end of the day and stay in pain.” Now, she said, with the highless marijuana “my life is so much better.”
Despite Avidekel’s highless benefit, Klein does not see regular marijuana disappearing any time soon. THC has its own unique effects that alleviate illness symptoms.
“Don’t worry, I think that cannabis with THC will still be (around),” he said.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

40 Most Beautiful Mosques In The World

Mosque is a Holy place for Muslims. It refers to its Arabic name – Masjid. A Mosque is a place for worship for all the followers of Islam. Mosques all around the world are well known for the general importance to Muslims as well as for Islamic architecture and representation of Islamic culture. Although Mosque is the place where all the Muslims of the community come together and have their prayers, Mosque can also be the place of beautiful architecture that is famous all around the world.

Masjid al-Haram (The Holy Mosque) – Saudi Arabia

Masjid Nabawi – Saudi Arabia
Mosque in Brunei
Putrajaya Mosque on Water – Malaysia
The Umayyad Mosque – Damascus
Ubudiah Mosque in Kuala Kangsar
Faisal Mosque – Pakistan
Jame Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque, Brunei
Jumeirah Grand Mosque, Dubai
The Putra Mosque in Putrajaya, Malaysia
UAE – Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque in Abu Dhabi
Turkey – Brand New Day over The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii) in Istanbul
Crystal Mosque, Malaysia
Schwetzinger Mosque from Germany
Sehzade Mosque (Istanbul) Turkey
Holy Makkah – Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia – Evening prayer at Floating Mosque in Jeddah
Lao Huasi sufi mosque in Linxia, China
Cordoba Cathedral – The Mezquita – Spain
Grand Mosque – a.k.a. Sheikh Zayed Mosque
Shahjahan Mosque – Pakistan
Petronas Twin Towers – Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
Mosque on Mirror
The Omayad Mosque and full moon – Syria
Bahrain Grand Mosque
Cairo · Muhammad Ali mosque #1
Badshahi Mosque
Tooting Mosque, London
Stormy weather over the mosque. Paris, France
Zahir Mosque, Malaysia
Ubudiah Mosque (in mono and square)
Masjid Sultan (Sultan Mosque) Singapore
The Blue Mosque from Hagia Sophia
The largest Mosque in India
Masjid Al-Hassan II, Casablanca, Morocco
Largest Mosque in North America
Alnour Mosque Sharjah
Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque, Brunei
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