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Claiming Islam is a misunderstood and vilified religion, journalism students have penned a book in the name of clearing up what they say are misconceptions about the faith.

“One Hundred Questions and Answers About Muslim Americans” is a booklet published recently as part of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism’s “cultural competence” series.

“This guide has sections [on] culture, language, religions, social norms, politics, history, politics, families and food,” explains the booklet’s Amazon.com description.

“At the beginning of the course, we agreed that there were several misconceptions about Muslim Americans,” Kate Kerbrat, a senior at MSU who helped write the guide last semester along withMuslimbook other students, told the Detroit Free Press. “A lot of people spread misinformation about Islam in order to scare people and vilify the religion.”

Among the questions the book attempts to answer:

* How do I say “Muslim?”
* What is the difference between Islam and Muslim?
* Who is Allah?* Who is Muhammad?
* How many Muslims are there around the world?
* Where do most of the world’s Muslims live?
* Are most Arabs in the world Muslim?
* How many Muslims are there in the United States?
* Are most Muslims in the United States immigrants?
* What are the major countries of origin for American Muslims?
* What are the fundamental components of Islam?
* What is the Quran?
* What the Quran say about Jesus?
* What does the Quran say about peace and violence?
* How does one become Muslim?
* What is the difference between Shia and Sunni Muslims?

“It’s the latest guide by a journalism class at MSU that seeks to inform about various groups, including East Asian Americans, Latinos and Arab Americans. This month, the class will start work on a guide about Jewish Americans,” the Free Press reports.

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The Wellness Center at the publicly funded Central Washington University has scheduled a “fashion show” in which student models will wear outfits made entirely out of condoms.

The event, scheduled for Feb. 10, complements the university’s “Love Glove” program, in which it doles out free condoms to students.

“Each member of Love Glove Club is allowed up to 20 condoms each quarter and we have extra items such as lubrication, dental dams, and female condoms that are available upon request,” states the Wellness Center’s website.

As for the condom fashion show, “each team will be given 600 condoms with which to create a design, and will compete for prizes in a variety of categories,” explains the Daily Record News.

This is the first year the show has been offered. It’s touted with the tagline: “Condom catwalk: Where the rubber meets the runway!”

“CWU’s Wellness Center is hosting the inaugural show as part of Sexual Health Week on campus, and to reduce the stigma and discomfort of discussing condoms, STIs and other sexual health topics,” the Daily Record reports. “The show’s 15 featured outfits will be created by CWU students, all of whom will tie their outfit to a sexual health-related theme.”

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IMAGE: Facebook screenshot

Kirksville, Missouri dad Dr. Justin Puckett’s response to a ridiculously invasive note from a substitute teacher is simply marvelous.

The substitute, a “N. Krueger,” wrote a note to Dr. Puckett and his wife stating that their daughter’s lunch was unacceptable: “Please see that she packs a proper lunch tomorrow.”

To add insult to injury, the note requested a parent’s signature.

Dr. Puckett would have none of it, and posted about it on Facebook.

WATE.com TV-6 reports:

The substitute teacher wrote in the note sent home on Tuesday that a cafeteria employee said that her lunch consisted of four chocolate bars, a bag of marshmallows, Ritz crackers and a pickle.

“Please see that she packs a proper lunch tomorrow,” the teacher wrote. An attempt to reach the teacher for comment wasn’t immediately successful.

Puckett told ABC News that, since the note was addressed to “Dr. and Mrs. Puckett,” it was clear that the teacher knew he was a physician which he said “just adds to the irony of it all.”

puckett-letter
What the cafeteria worker and the substitute missed, however, was that the 8-year-old also had four pieces of ham and a low fat string cheese rather than a sandwich, since “we don’t eat a lot of bread,” said Puckett, who is double board certified in osteopathic family medicine and obesity medicine.

“We leave it up to her and she looks at the school menu and she packs her own lunch and she’s a very independent second grader,” he told ABC News.

“Sure, I’d liked her to pack a few more veggies and maybe a piece of fruit, but we compromise on pickles occasionally,” he wrote in his original Facebook post.

Apparently, the story has gotten a bit out of hand since the doctor wrote about it. In response, Puckett writes in part:

Set the Story Straight: The post I made a few days ago went viral today, and like a game of telephone, the story has morphed, and may not represent the facts, just as the initial letter was not based on facts.

1) Without a doubt, the letter was poorly worded, and a poor choice by the teacher. I know this teacher personally, and she has the children best interest in mind.

2) The school took responsibility, as I received a personal apology from the principal and the district superintendent, both people of whom I have a great relationship! I value them both, as well as all educators, greatly.

3) It is absolutely inexcusable what some have done from afar, sending faxes and emails to the school. You action and choice of words far exceeds anything done in the letter of discussion (completely indecent). Stop this non-productive action immediately.

Indeed, the teacher/school should have handled this a lot differently. First, they already knew Puckett is a physician — it’s probably fairly safe to assume he knows a little about nutrition. But if they were still concerned about the nutritional value of the girl’s lunch, why not just call the home to inquire if such a meal was the norm?

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IMAGES: DC Central Kitchen/Flickr, Facebook screencap

Researchers tell us that pulling an all-nighter for that mid-term or final exam is probably self-defeating.

It’s long been known that sleep is crucial for one’s memory, but for the first time researchers have seen how some critical neurons operate.

University Herald reports:

For the study, researchers focused their research on dorsal paired medial (DPM) neurons, well-known memory consolidators in Drosophila. They observed, for the first time, that when DPM neurons are activated, the flies slept more; when deactivated, the flies kept buzzing.

These memory consolidators inhibit wakefulness as they start converting short-term to long-term memory. All this takes place in a section of the Drosophila brain called the mushroom body, similar to the hippocampus, where our memories are stored. As it turns out, the parts of the mushroom body responsible for memory and learning also help keep the Drosophila awake.

“It’s almost as if that section of the mushroom body were saying ‘hey, stay awake and learn this,'” researcher Bethany Christmann said in a statement. “Then, after a while, the DPM neurons start signaling to suppress that section, as if to say ‘you’re going to need sleep if you want to remember this later.'”

The researchers’ findings were published in the journal eLife.

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IMAGE: Simon Shek/Flickr

(This post has been UPDATED. See below.)

After the imbroglio surrounding Duke University’s decision to allow, and then not allow, a weekly call to Muslim prayer from the Duke Chapel bell tower, there were claims that this had also been going on for some time at UCLA. However, the school refutes that assertion. (See UPDATE below.)

Christian News.net notes the video below takes place at “the north side of the [UCLA] campus near the athletic field off Sunset Boulevard.”

And, “while the audio is faint, Arabic-style chanting can be heard in the footage as students gathered on the lawn.”

Unlike Duke, UCLA is a public institution. Stay tuned.

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h/t to WND.

UPDATE: The Washington Times reports that the UCLA call to prayer was “a one-time event conducted by students hosting a weekend conference.”

[UCLA] spokesman Phil Hampton said students issued the call to prayer during a student conference last weekend sponsored by the Muslim Students Association.

“The call to prayer was played over a portable device in a campus quad during a conference last weekend hosted by the Muslim Student Association, one of nearly 1,000 registered student groups on campus,” Mr. Hampton said in a statement.

“While UCLA respects freedom of religion and assembly and values the diversity of students’ beliefs, a public call to prayer is not a regularly scheduled occurrence at UCLA,” he said.

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If it isn’t bad enough Al Gore got a Nobel Peace Prize for An Inconvenient Truth (among other global warming climate change “sky is falling” alarms), the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has now made use of global warming climate change to move their famous clock two minutes closer to midnight — aka “doomsday.”

The Doomsday Clock had stood at five minutes until 12:00, but the scientists moved it up to a mere three this past Thursday.

The move was made because, as bulletin executive director Kennette Benedict had noted, “both climate change and modernization of nuclear weaponry [are] equal but undeniable threats to humanity’s continued existence.”

The Associated Press (via Philly.com) reports:

She called both climate change and modernization of nuclear weaponry equal but undeniable threats to humanity’s continued existence that triggered the 20 scientists on the board to decide to move the clock closer to midnight.

“The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon,” Benedict said.

But other scientists aren’t quite so pessimistic.

Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of both geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University, said in an email: “I suspect that humans will ‘muddle through’ the climate situation much as we have muddled through the nuclear weapons situation – limiting the risk with cooperative international action and parallel domestic policies.”

The bulletin has included climate change in its doomsday clock since 2007.

“The fact that the Doomsday clock-setters changed their definition of ‘doomsday’ shows how profoundly the world has changed – they have to find a new source of doom because global thermonuclear war is now so unlikely,” Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker wrote in an email. Pinker in his book “The Better Angels of our Nature” uses statistics to argue that the world has become less war-like, less violent and more tolerant in recent decades and centuries.

A member of the Bulletin’s board, Richard Somerville, agreed that “the threat from climate change isn’t quite as all-or-nothing as it is with nuclear war.”

Gosh, y’think?

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IMAGE: Maximas Prime/Flickr