Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Nation Surrounded By Enemies


A new sniff-sensing device designed in Israel may help the severely paralyzed to communicate, surf the Net and steer their wheelchairs.

Weizmann Institute Sniffing Technology fMRI

Sniffing is a precise motor skill that is controlled partly by the soft palate, which in turn is controlled by several nerves that connect directly through the braincase.

A stroke patient locked into her body for seven months unable to move or communicate was able to write an email to her family using a new device developed in Israel that allows severely disabled people to communicate and steer a wheelchair by sniffing.

The revolutionary new device identifies changes in air pressure inside the nostrils and translates these into electrical signals which can then be used either to write messages or to move a wheelchair.

"The most stirring tests were those we did with locked-in syndrome patients. These are people with unimpaired cognitive function who are completely paralyzed - 'locked into' their bodies," says Prof. Noam Sobel of the Weizmann Institute, who developed the device. "With the new system, they were able to communicate with family members, and even initiate communication with the outside. Some wrote poignant messages to their loved ones, sharing with them, for the first time in a very long time, their thoughts and feelings."

Ability to sniff is preserved

Sniffing is a precise motor skill that is controlled, in part, by the soft palate - the flexible divider that moves to direct air in or out through the mouth or nose. The soft palate is controlled by several nerves that connect to it directly through the braincase. This close link led Sobel and his scientific team to theorize that the ability to sniff - that is, to control soft palate movement - might be preserved even in the most acute cases of paralysis.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) added support to the idea, showing that a number of brain areas contribute to soft palate control. This imaging revealed a significant overlap between soft palate control and the language areas of the brain, hinting to the scientists that the use of sniffing to communicate might be learned intuitively.

To test their theory, Sobel and his team, Dr. Anton Plotkin, Aharon Weissbrod and research student Lee Sela from the Weizmann Institute's Neurobiology Department, created a device with a sensor that fits on the opening of the nostrils and measures changes in air pressure.

For patients on respirators, the team developed a passive version of the device, which diverts airflow to the patient's nostrils.

Initial tests, carried out with healthy volunteers, showed that the device compared favorably with a mouse or joystick for playing computer games. In the next stage, carried out in collaboration with Prof. Nachum Soroker of Loewenstein Hospital Rehabilitation Center in Ra'anana, quadriplegics and locked-in patients tested the device.

The team found that the method of use is easily mastered, both by healthy volunteers and the disabled. Seventy-five percent of the subjects on respirators were able to control their soft palate movement to operate the device.

Simple to learn, cheap to produce

One patient who had been locked into his body after a traffic accident 18 years ago, wrote that the new device was much easier to use than one based on blinking. Another 10 patients, all quadriplegics, succeeded in operating a computer and writing messages through sniffing.

In addition to communication, the device can function as a steering mechanism for wheelchairs: Two successive sniffs tell it to go forward, two out mean reverse, out and then in turn it left, and in and out turn it right. After 15 minutes of practice, the researchers found that a patient paralyzed from the neck down could navigate a wheelchair through a complex route - sharp turns and all - as well as a non-disabled volunteer.

Sniffs can be in or out, strong or shallow, long or short; and this gives the device's developers the opportunity to create a complex 'language' with multiple signals.

Now Yeda Research and Development Company, the Weizmann's technology transfer arm, is exploring the possibility of commercializing the technology, which is not only simple to learn, but also relatively inexpensive to produce.

In future, Sobel, who has been involved in numerous studies related to the sense of smell, believes that this invention could also be useful in other areas, for instance as a control for a 'third arm' for surgeons and pilots.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Malaysian government supports suicide bombings & jihad long as the 'right people' are killed. (-editor)

By Madeline Brooks (click the title above or here for the full article)

Malaysian officials have come out with statements that are virulently anti-American and anti-Semitic, including explicit calls for jihad and suicide bombing.

Previously unpublished English translations of sermons from Malaysia’s Department of Islamic Development reveal potentially lethal levels of hostility towards the West that appear to have gone unnoticed. The Department of Islamic Development cannot be dismissed as some renegade fringe group. It is an official and intrinsic part of the Malaysian government, similar in function to the Department of Health and Human Services in the United States. On its website, the Department defines itself thusly:  “Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM) is a Malaysian Government institution which has a vision to assist in the creation of a progressive and morally upright ummah based on Islamic principles in line with the Malaysian vision through an efficient and effective Islamic Affairs Management organisation.” JAKIM is an acronym for Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia.

Every Friday, the Muslim holy day, sermons (khutbahs) are given in mosques. During Israel’s Cast Lead operation in January 2009, when Israel entered Gaza to stop being bombarded with rockets, the khutbahs of Malaysia’s Department of Islamic Development became warlike.

On January 9, 2009, the khutbah denounced Israel as “evil” and a call was made to use the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to channel financial assistance to the Palestinians. A boycott was demanded of all goods and services connected with both Israel and America. Countries that are part of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and all other Muslims were urged to stop using the American dollar as currency.

(Click here for the link to a translation of the January 9, 2009 khutbah.)

On January 16, 2009, military plans were further consolidated. There was a call to “strengthen strategic planning in the defense system of Islamic countries” and to stop allowing foreign military bases to be built in Islamic countries on the grounds that they are used for spying.

(Click here for the link to a translation of the January 16, 2009, khutbah.) 

On January 2, 2009, we have the most alarming khutbah of the three given here. The unnamed imam proclaimed his support for Hamas and Hezbollah, demanded a boycott of any goods associated with all Jews (not just Israelis), and called for jihad and suicide bombing, or “bind(ing) the stomach” in the manner of the “fatwa [of] Sheikh Yusof Al-Qaradawi.

By using the word "fatwa", the imam gives moral authority to his call for jihad and suicide bombing. Sheikh Qaradawi is a Muslim Brotherhood ideologue based in Qatar who has made himself very popular throughout the Muslim world by constantly calling for “martyrdom operations” against Israelis. Qaradawi even expresses admiration fo Adolf Hitler and hopes that Jews will be “punished” with another Holocaust. He has stated: “Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption.The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them — even though they exaggerated this issue — he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.” (Translated by MEMRI).

What could be more hateful than to call for another Holocaust against Jews, assume that Jews deserved a Holocaust because they were guilty of something or other, and say that Jews “exaggerate” what was done to them, implying they are lying to manipulate public opinion?

(Click here for the link to a translation of the January 2, 2009, khutbah.).

These khutbahs and others in the original Malay can be viewed here. [Acknowledgement is gratefully given to Kalvan Kam, a Malaysian native, who found these khutbahs and brought them to my attention.]

What does this mean for the United States? As a fairly stable constitutional monarchy, Malaysia appears to be considered a moderate Muslim country by the U.S. State Department, whose website claims that the two countries “share a diverse and expanding partnership” with “robust” economic ties. The United States is Malaysia’s largest trading partner and Malaysia is the sixteenth-largest trading partner of the U.S. The fact that Malaysia would even consider boycotting American goods, services, and currency shows that the level of rage is extraordinarily high and must be carefully monitored.

Crossposted at Malaysia Today