Fermentation

June 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

scan0009Fermentation, process by which the living cell is able to obtain energy through the breakdown of glucose and other simple sugar molecules without requiring oxygen. Fermentation is achieved by somewhat different chemical sequences in different species of organisms. Two closely related paths of fermentation predominate for glucose. When muscle tissue receives sufficient oxygen supply, it fully metabolizes its fuel glucose to water and carbon dioxide. However, at times of strenuous activity, muscle tissue uses oxygen faster than the blood can supply it. During this anaerobic condition, the six-carbon glucose molecule is only partly broken down to two molecules of the three-carbon sugar called lactic acid. This process, called lactic acid fermentation, also occurs in many microorganisms and in the cells of most higher animals. In alcoholic fermentation, such as occurs in brewer’s yeast and some bacteria, the production of lactic acid is bypassed, and the glucose molecule is degraded to two molecules of the two-carbon alcohol, ethanol, and to two molecules of carbon dioxide. Many of the enzymes of lactic acid and alcoholic fermentation are identical to the enzymes that bring about the metabolic conversion known as glycolysis. Alcoholic fermentation is a process that was known to antiquity. Before 2000 B.C. the Egyptians apparently knew that crushed fruits stored in a warm place would produce a substance with a pleasant intoxicating power. By 1500 B.C. the production of beer from germinating cereals (malt) and the preparation of wines from crushed grapes were established arts in most of the Middle East. Aristotle believed that grape juice was an infantile form of wine and that fermentation was, therefore, the maturation of the grape extract. Interest in the process of fermentation has continued through the ages, and much of modern biochemistry, especially enzyme studies, has emerged directly from early studies on the fermentation process. One of the earliest laboratories established for the study of biological chemistry was that founded in Copenhagen in 1875 and financed by the brewing family of Jacob Christian Jacobsen.

Fermentation is one of the oldest known food preservation techniques. Along with drying and salting, fermentation was a key method of extending the life of foods, allowing them to be available, and eaten safely, in times of scarcity or seasonal nonavailability. These methods helped allow the transition from hunting and gathering to organized food cultivation and storage, which took place some ten to fifteen thousand years ago in the Middle East.

Fermentation involves the action of desirable microorganisms, or their enzymes, on food ingredients to make biochemical changes, which cause significant modification to the food. Often lactic-acid bacteria convert the carbohydrate energy source of food, such as lactose in milk, to lactic acid; examples are yogurt and cheeses from milk, and pickles from fruits and vegetables. Alternatively, yeasts, often of the Saccharomyces species, may convert the glucose to ethanol and carbon dioxide in leavened breads, or the sugars in grain or fruit beverages to beers and wines. Molds also can be active in certain fermentations, such as Stilton cheese and soy sauce. It is estimated that about one-third of all the food we consume is fermented. World estimates for beer consumption are about 22 million gallons, and a total of 15 million tons of some one thousand varieties of cheese are eaten annually.

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God’s Word Against Israel

June 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Karin Friedemann, TMO

Zionist Judaism claims that the Covenant of God is a real estate deal. An “eternal” real estate deed given to the Jews unconditionally by God. Their claim to the “Land of Israel” is based on one or two verses in the Bible cited out of context, although throughout the many centuries of pre-Zionist history, Jewish scholars never understood those verses to call for a nation state “For Jews Only” in Palestine.

Fortunately, the Zionists are as wrong as the American white slaveowners who justified slavery using the Bible. The Covenant of God is not a real estate deed. It is a contract made between people and God, wherein God says, “I created you, therefore follow My Laws,” and the people reply in fear, “We hear and we obey.” God does not care where you live. He cares how you live.

When making the moral argument for Palestine with Jews, one often reaches a dead end: There is no conceptual framework in Judaism that provides any moral guidance on how to run a nation state.
The Jews by and large understand that Israel was created by ethnic cleansing. They understand that Israel’s existence is dependent on past and future displacement and disenfranchisement of Palestinians. They call this “Redeeming the Land of Israel.” According to the Covenant as Zionists understand it, the property of Palestinians belongs to Jews, and God commanded the Jews to kill the Palestinians.

Zionist Jews imagine themselves as Joshua’s army. Joshua, in the Bible, was an Israelite prophet that commanded a mass execution of all the Canaanites at the behest of God. According to the Bible, the reason was because the Canaanites were idolaters who practiced child sacrifice. Hence, the frequent references by Jewish pseudo-intellectuals to the Palestinian religion as a death cult of child sacrifice; overlooking the obvious fact that it is Israel who has shot thousands of Palestinian youngsters. Palestinians are not murdering their own children. Furthermore, it is simply intellectually dishonest racism to suggest that Muslim and Christian Palestinians are pagans.

The Muslims have always been very clear that they do not approve of child sacrifice. When the Muslims under Caliph Umar came to Egypt, they learned that the Egyptians used to throw a virgin girl into the Nile every year to appease the goddess of the Nile because they thought this would prevent it from flooding too much. The Muslim government applied some pressure and convinced the king of Egypt that next year he should try writing a prayer to Allah on a piece of paper and put that in the Nile instead of a virgin girl. He actually did it, and it worked. And that is the story of how the Egyptians, after so many centuries of paganism, finally gave up idol worship and accepted the religion of Moses!

The Caliph did not use a moral argument, which would have been as ineffective against the Egyptian pagans as with Zionists, who are themselves idolaters worshiping a death cult called Blood and Soil Nationalism. It is most commendable that the traditional Islamic approach to a real, existing culture of idolatrous child murderers was not “Kill them all!” but a process of gradual deprogramming through the use of intellectual reasoning.

Zionism is a racist movement. But Jewish ethnic nationalism was never part of orthodox Judaism, which teaches that God had put the Jews out of Palestine on account of their sins, and therefore they ought to repent and wait for the Messiah in a state of humility. Jewish theology has simply been thrown out of the window as if it were irrelevant to Jewish understanding. Zionism is now championed as the true spirit of Judaism. And perhaps the Zionists are right in this regard.

Throughout the centuries, Jewish thought evolved from a childish conception of “my God is better than your god!” to a spiritual maturity based on universal moral ethics. Much of the moral content in rabbinical Judaism, which was written after the Muslims conquered Jerusalem, is borrowed or learned from Islam. Now, the Zionists, the “true Jews” are rejecting this injection of foreign intellectualism and going back to the true Judaic spirit of tribalism and war. Indeed, Zionists say that their God is a deity other than Allah.

Zionists find it frustrating that Muslims reject the Bible as a final authority and use it more as a cross-reference to the Qur`an. Even if we were to accept the Bible verses they quote as true, Muslims don’t accept the Zionist interpretation of the Covenant. We rely on moral reasoning to analyze the Bible, and come up with a universal ethical principle using the Children of Israel as an example for all nations. For example, when Zionists read the story of Moses they get something out of it like this: Israelites = Good. Egyptians = Bad. In the Islamic reading of the same story we get a warning from Allah to all human beings to remember that Humble Servants of Allah = Good. Haughty Rejecters of Truth = Bad.

Anyone who has opened the Qur`an must agree that Prophet Muhammad (s) is prophet to Jews as he is to all humanity. In the Qur`an, God addresses the Children of Israel directly and confronts them about racist tribalism, employing references from the Torah and Bible to support His arguments. God admonishes the Israelites, accusing them of lying about the Covenant by claiming it applies only to themselves.

“Woe to them for what their hands do write, and for the gain they make thereby… Say: “Have ye taken a promise from Allah for He never breaks His promise? Or is it that ye say of Allah what ye do not know?” (2:79-80).

The religion of Abraham is not something to be bought and sold for a price. The Qur`an is the Book of Allah bearing witness against the Children of Israel. God Himself calls them to give up their ethnic superiority complex and commands them to bow down with those who bow down, to pray side by side with their Arab brothers and sisters in worship of the One God. Allah invites the self-proclaimed Chosen Ones to join the Ummah of Islam.

There are no moral guidelines in Jewish Law, other than genocide and enslavement, for the treatment of conquered peoples, as one would find in Islamic Law. While Islam views Muslims as God’s appointed defenders of religious freedom for people of all religions, Judaism neither proclaims respect for other people’s prophets nor guarantees any respect of other people, except in so far as they are useful to the Jewish community. This fact alone makes it clear that if the principles of individual liberty, majority rule, and world peace are to prevail, then it would make far more sense for the Jews to live as minorities in an Islamic state where they would have legal protection backed up by threats and warnings from God, rather than forcing the Arab majority to live as if they were minorities within a Jewish state which has no legal nor any moral qualms regarding the lives and property of non-Jews.

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Egypt’s Mubarak Set to Go on Trial August 3

June 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Dina Zayed

2011-05-27T143917Z_1705055056_GM1E75R1QWY01_RTRMADP_3_EGYPT

A man sits at his shoe-shine stall as his sleeping child (R) is covered with the Egyptian national flag at Tahrir square in Cairo, May 27, 2011. Thousands of Egyptians converged on Cairo’s Tahrir square on Friday in what organisers called a "second revolution" to push for deeper reforms and a speedy trial for ousted President Hosni Mubarak and his former aides.

REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

CAIRO (Reuters) – Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, overthrown by a popular uprising this year, was ordered on Wednesday to stand trial in August for the killing of protesters on charges that could carry the death penalty.

Mubarak, ousted on February 11 after mass protests demanding an end to his 30 years in power, has been questioned about his role in a crackdown in which more than 840 demonstrators died, as well as about alleged corruption.

He could face the death penalty if convicted on the charge of “pre-meditated killing.”

His two sons, Gamal, who was once viewed as being groomed for the presidency, and Alaa, will also stand trial alongside their father and prominent business executive Hussein Salem.
Judge Sayed Abdel-Azim, the head of the appeals court, said the trial would open on August 3 in a Cairo criminal court.

Egypt’s public prosecutor said on Tuesday that Mubarak was in no condition to be transferred to a prison hospital and would for now stay in a health facility in a Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where he has been detained since mid-April.

Mubarak was admitted to hospital after reportedly suffering heart problems during his initial questioning.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States hoped Egypt would ensure due process for Mubarak, who was long a close Arab ally of Washington.

While emphasizing that it was up to the Egyptians to decide whether to prosecute Mubarak, she said any trial should be conducted to the highest standard. “Obviously we want to see the rule of law,” she told reporters.

Mubarak’s alleged crimes listed by the prosecutor include pre-meditated murder, abuse of influence, wasting public funds and unlawfully making private financial gains.
His sons and other former top officials are being held in Torah prison on the outskirts of Cairo.

(Writing by Edmund Blair, editing by Alistair Lyon)

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In Egypt’s Democracy, Room for Islam

April 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Ali Gomaa, Grand Mufti of Islam

AliGomaaLast month, Egyptians approved a referendum on constitutional amendments that will pave the way for free elections. The vote was a milestone in Egypt’s emerging democracy after a revolution that swept away decades of authoritarian rule. But it also highlighted an issue that Egyptians will grapple with as they consolidate their democracy:  the role of religion in political life.

The vote was preceded by the widespread use of religious slogans by supporters and opponents of the amendments, a debate over the place of religion in Egypt’s future Constitution and a resurgence in political activity by Islamist groups. Egypt is a deeply religious society, and it is inevitable that Islam will have a place in our democratic political order. This, however, should not be a cause for alarm for Egyptians, or for the West.

Egypt’s religious tradition is anchored in a moderate, tolerant view of Islam. We believe that Islamic law guarantees freedom of conscience and expression (within the bounds of common decency) and equal rights for women. And as head of Egypt’s agency of Islamic jurisprudence, I can assure you that the religious establishment is committed to the belief that government must be based on popular sovereignty.

While religion cannot be completely separated from politics, we can ensure that it is not abused for political gain.

Much of the debate around the referendum focused on Article 2 of the Constitution — which, in 1971, established Islam as the religion of the state and, a few years later, the principles of Islamic law as the basis of legislation — even though the article was not up for a vote.

But many religious groups feared that if the referendum failed, Egypt would eventually end up with an entirely new Constitution with no such article.
On the other side, secularists feared that Article 2, if left unchanged, could become the foundation for an Islamist state that discriminates against Coptic Christians and other religious minorities.
But acknowledgment of a nation’s religious heritage is an issue of national identity, and need not interfere with the civil nature of its political processes. There is no contradiction between Article 2 and Article 7 of Egypt’s interim Constitution, which guarantees equal citizenship before the law regardless of religion, race or creed. 

After all, Denmark, England and Norway have state churches, and Islam is the national religion of politically secular countries like Tunisia and Jordan. The rights of Egypt’s Christians to absolute equality, including their right to seek election to the presidency, is sacrosanct.

Similarly, long-suppressed Islamist groups can no longer be excluded  from political life. All Egyptians have the right to participate in the creation of a new Egypt, provided that they respect the basic tenets of religious freedom and the equality of all citizens. To protect our democracy, we must be vigilant against any party whose platform or political rhetoric threatens to incite sectarianism, a prohibition that is enshrined in law and in the Constitution.

Islamists must understand that, in a country with such diverse movements as the Muslim Brotherhood; the Wasat party, which offers a progressive interpretation of Islam; and the conservative Salafi movements, no one group speaks for Islam.

At the same time, we should not be afraid that such groups in politics will do away with our newfound freedoms. Indeed, democracy will put Islamist movements to the test; they must now put forward programs and a political message that appeal to the Egyptian mainstream. Any drift toward radicalism will not only run contrary to the law, but will also guarantee their political marginalization.

Having overthrown the heavy hand of authoritarianism, Egyptians will not accept its return under the guise of religion. Islam will have a place in Egypt’s democracy. But it will be as a pillar of freedom and tolerance, never as a means of oppression.

Ali Gomaa is the grand mufti of Egypt.

New York Times

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A Crisis of Health and Minds

January 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, MMNS Middle East Correspondent

blowing_cement Ever since the H1N1 virus reared its ugly head this past summer it has jumped to the top of the list of diseases most deadly to humans. However, an older and wiser disease is still infecting many people across the world with the same deadly consequences. Tuberculosis (TB), a lethal lung infection, is as contagious as the H1N1 virus and spreads easily from person to person. For this reason alone, it is vital for the person infected with TB to be kept away from other people and treated in a hospital.

Unfortunately, in some regions of the world, people with TB are treated as if they have leprosy. They are often shunned by their society and isolated because people are afraid of contracting the disease. Nowhere is this more evident than in Egypt where having TB is often a death sentence for the person afflicted with it. According to the Egyptian government 21 out of every 1,000 Egyptians are infected with TB. However, only 1 in 10 cases becomes active while the remaining stay dormant. Doctors have approximated the number of TB cases in Egypt to be around 17,000. However, independent analysts believe that the number of TB cases in Egypt is a lot larger and could pose even a greater health epidemic than the pandemic flu.

Like most societies, it is the poorest and weakest members of a community that often bear the brunt of disease. In Egypt, slum-dwellers and cement workers are the most prone. In the case of the latter, Scientists believe that years of breathing the talcum-like powdery cement, which often causes Silicosis or lung disease, makes a person 30 more times likely to develop full-blown TB. However, there is no tangible evidence to support that claim besides the fact that cement workers are increasingly developing TB in droves. “TB has come to pose a real danger to the people of this country. The problem is that poor Egyptians living in the country’s slums are more prone to it,” revealed Essam al-Moghazy, chief of the National Tuberculosis Control Program, in a recent interview.

Once infected, company protocol often dictates that cement workers infected with TB are fired from their jobs. With most only earning a meager living in the first place, a stay in the hospital for treatment is out of the question. And the company the workers labor for day in and day out simply washes their hands of the sick employee without even offering insurance or other assistance. As a result, the workers have no recourse but to turn towards their home where it is common for them to spread the disease to their families. Cement workers are just one class of workers out of thousands whose jobs are dissolved once the employee contracts TB.

The Egyptian government has high hopes of eradicating TB by the year 2050 as it is the third leading cause of death amongst Egyptians, behind Bilharzia and Hepatitis C. In 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report stating that Egypt had been successful in managing the disease with case detection averaging 72% and successful treatment registering at 87%, which is 2% higher than the WHO’s global objectives.

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