Saturday, 10 December 2011

Premier League table snapshot

Premier League table snapshot

As it stood on 10 Dec 2011 23:59 UK
1Man City143538
2Man Utd152136
8Aston Villa15-119
15West Brom15-915

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Man Utd 4 - 1 Wolverhampton

Rooney's strike partnership with Welbeck is starting to blossom for United

Wayne Rooney and Nani both scored twice as Manchester United gave the perfect response to their Champions League exit with a commanding win over Wolves.
Nani cut inside from the left and blasted the opener into the corner before Rooney made it 2-0 with a low drive from the edge of the area.
Steven Fletcher gave Wolves a lifeline with a header just after half-time.
But United hit back with Antonio Valencia setting up Nani for a tap-in and crossing for Rooney to rifle home.
United put their miserable surrender in Basel behind them in a display brimming with positive intent and attacking verve.
And in the week when Rooney's three-match England ban was reduced to two by European football's governing body Uefa, the striker ended an eight-game Premier League goal drought with two authoritative finishes.
While Wolves boss Mick McCarthy's decision to field an attacking 4-4-2 formation merely played into United's hands, United boss Sir Alex Ferguson's tactics paid off, as he made four changes to the side that lost 2-1 in Switzerland.
Phil Jones produced a confident attacking performance alongside Michael Carrick in midfield and Valencia - brought in at Ashley Young's expense - proved a constant threat on the right wing.
The victory ensured United closed the gap on Premier League leaders Manchester City to two points, with Roberto Mancini's side heading to Chelsea on Monday.
The game might have taken a different course had Fletcher not sliced wide after being teed up in space on the edge of the box in the first minute.
But United soon settled into their rhythm, with Valencia enjoying plenty of space down the right and crossing for Carrick, whose diving header flew just over the bar.
Carrick then played a ball inside right-back Ronald Zubar for Rooney, whose shot from a tight angle was sharply saved by Wayne Hennessey.
Moments later, Nani cut in from the left-hand side before unleashing a powerful shot into the corner from 20 yards.
The second goal arrived in similar fashion, with Rooney this time darting across the edge of the box and smashing a shot through a crowd of players past an unsighted Hennessey.
Wolves got themselves back in the game shortly after half-time as Matt Jarvis crossed from the left for Fletcher to head his 11th goal in 16 games into the roof of the net.
The goal only served to reawaken United, who re-established their two-goal lead when Jones threaded a pass to Valencia, who crossed low for Nani to convert from six yards.
Valencia rounded off a fine afternoon's work with the assist for the fourth goal as his cross picked out Rooney to beat Hennessey with a powerful low shot on the turn.
Another marauding run from Jones almost produced a fifth goal but Hennessey did well to foil Federico Macheda at the near post.
Wolves' sixth away league defeat in eight games leaves them just three points clear of the relegation zone.

Friday, 9 December 2011

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Japan: Looking to the past for answers

Survivors of Japan's worst natural disaster in decades may be forced to re-consider an old code of self-preservation.

The great Tohoku earthquake of March 2011 resulted in the most devastating tsunami to hit Japan for generations, forcing people in coastal communities to question how they prepare for future disasters. Many looked to the past for answers.
"I did not plan to let go of my grandfather's hand, I just did it. I was pulling him, but he was too slow and I felt the huge wave bearing down so I let go of him and ran up the hill. I didn’t look back," says 39-year-old Akiko Yorozu, recalling her escape from the massive tsunami that devastated her hometown.

Shortly after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off Japan's northeastern coast, a colossal body of sea water smashed onto land and, within minutes, hundreds of towns and villages were swamped. It was the largest tsunami seen for generations and with the official death toll over 20,000, Naoto Kan, the then Japanese prime minister, called it the worst natural disaster to affect the country since the end of World War II.

Many, like Yorozu, faced split second choices that decided their fate.

“At that point, I thought, I had to get to higher ground or I would drown. You have to save yourself first. It may seem cold hearted but it is really the only way.”

Yorozu was practicing Tendenko, a code of tsunami survival that teaches people to ignore others and save themselves. It appears to be a starkly selfish ethos, but if practiced across an entire community, it is a simple and effective way to ensure that the highest numbers survive.

“As children we were taught, if the earthquake strikes you should not try to come home or look for parents, you have to save yourself, otherwise the tsunami will wash you away” says Yorozu, who now has two children of her own.

The communities living on Japan’s north east, or Sanriku, coast have always been at the mercy of massive and destructive geological forces. Lying directly along the fault line created by the shifting Pacific and Eurasia plates, it is an area of intense seismic ferment. Earthquakes under the sea produce frequent tsunamis - some only a few inches high that result in nothing more than official warnings from authorities relayed by loud speakers along the fishing ports and harbours that dot the inlets and bays of this scenic coastline.

However, once every so often (on average every 100 to 150 years) a massive wave is sent pulsing towards the land. One such tsunami hit in 1896, killing 22,000 people and destroying thousands of homes. In 1933, another large tsunami killed 3,000 in the same region - in one town alone 98 per cent of homes were lost.

The practice of Tendenko emerged from these repeated disasters. A local Sanriku folk wisdom, it urges individuals to forget everyone else and save themselves. In some senses this Darwinian-like survival instinct should come naturally to anyone sensing their life is in danger. But in Japan acts of individualistic self-preservation do not come easily to a society firmly rooted in putting others before yourself.

“It may seem obvious to say ‘save yourself first’, but actually most people in Japan don’t,” says Professor Toshitaka Katada of Gunma University, a social engineer who specialises in disaster management and tsunami survival.

For the past eight years Katada has been re-introducing Tendenko to schools in Yorozu's home town, Kamaishi in Iwate prefecture.

“What actually happens is that people do not run even though they know a tsunami is coming. Instead they seek out family members and they all end up dying - they die together because they thought they could save each other. This happened repeatedly in this region and so Tendenko arose from this. It teaches you to resist that impulse and to act immediately and do whatever it takes to save yourself. And if everyone does this then more people survive. So it is also about trust, trusting that others will do the same. It does not mean that you cannot help others around you, but your own survival is your first priority.”

More than any other country in the world, Japan is well prepared in the event of a tsunami: huge imposing sea walls on land and out at sea are there to protect the towns and villages against the waves, whilst countless safety and evacuation drills are rehearsed in communities and schools across the country, in case the water ever breaches these forward defences.

In a land where earthquakes and tsunamis are a constant threat not much was left to chance, but the sheer size of the March 11 tsunami meant many of Japan’s well-planned precautions proved inadequate. The sea walls built at huge public cost were overwhelmed by the wave while evacuation centres and muster points were inundated, often with tragic consequences.

There is a growing debate in Japan as to how best to plan for future tsunamis, with many now asking why the existing preparations proved inadequate.

Katada believes that the teaching of Tendenko is essential to help at risk communities to radically change their thinking.  It prepares people, particularly children, to rely on themselves and to always expect the worse.

“These communities are experiencing small and medium-sized earthquakes and tsunamis quite often, and this breeds a kind of complacency. I found too that because there were periods of several generations between the ‘large tsunami’ like the one that hit in March 2011, the folk memory of their power and destructiveness fades - so too does the idea of self-reliance and an individualistic approach to escaping. People rely too much on a single fixed evacuation plan,’ says Katada, who claims that the teaching in Kamaishi helped save many lives.

According to the figures, in Iwate prefecture where Katada has been teaching, only 27 pupils died out of a total number of 3,423 deaths; a rate of less than 1 per cent. Neighbouring Miyagi prefecture had a rate of more than 3 per cent.

Some now believe that infrastructure like sea walls give a false sense of security. Many people died because, despite the approaching wave, they opted to stay in their homes, such was their faith in concrete barriers. At the same time, the fixed safety drills that direct people to gather in designated muster points, where they wait for further instruction from the team leader, also failed in many instances. In the town of Minamisanriku, Miyagi prefecture, 31 out of the 80 evacuation sites were hit by the massive wave.

At the Unosumai disaster evacuation centre in Kamaishi - opened just last year - of the approximately 200 people who sought refuge there, less than 30 were found alive after the building was overwhelmed by the surging waters. In contrast to this, Katada cites the example of school children in the town, where nearly all of the 2,900 pupils survived. School was finishing for the day and pupils were starting to make their way home or to clubs when the quake struck. In one case, children from Higashi Junior High and the neighbouring elementary school began running up the hill away from the school and stared in horror as the wave smashed onto their school - even ramming a car into the third floor, where only minutes before they had been gathered. And still the wave continued to surge towards them. Taking the initiative the pupils ran further up the hill - from that vantage they watched as moments later the evacuation point itself was engulfed.

“We had felt the earthquake  - the tremors were huge and cracks opened up in the ground, I was pretty frightened by that,” says Shingo Yorozu. “I don't know what started it but we all began running out thinking we better just in case a tsunami came. There was no guidance from the teachers, I am glad we did run because there’s not much left of our school.”

Japan is just beginning the long process of rebuilding the towns and villages along the devastated coast, and people are slowly starting to rebuild their lives. Many in those communities have been forced to change their perception of tsunamis and as people prepare themselves and their children for a time when they will face another huge tsunami, many are learning from the past so that they might have a future.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

China's CPI growth eases to 4.2% in November

Citizens buy vegetables in a supermarket in Chongqing, southwest China, Dec. 9, 2011. China's consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation, rose 4.2 percent year-on-year in November, further weakening from 5.5 percent in October mainly due to falling food prices, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday. The inflation rate in November was a 13-month low since October last year.

China's consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation, rose 4.2 percent year-on-year in November, further weakening from 5.5 percent in October mainly due to falling food prices, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Friday.
The inflation rate in November was a 13-month low since October last year, according to the NBS data.
On a monthly basis, the cost of living dipped 0.2 percent in November,said the NBS in a statement at its website.
Taking the first 11 months together, the CPI rose 5.5 percent year-on-year in January-November, well above the government's full-year inflation control target of 4 percent.
Food prices, which account for nearly one third of the basket of goods in the nation's CPI calculation, went up 8.8 percent in November from a year earlier but dipped 0.8 percent month-on-month, according to the NBS.
Prior to the NBS announcement, many economists expected the November CPI to rise by between 4.2 percent to 4.4 percent year-on-year.
China's CPI hit a 37-month high of 6.5 percent in July this year.
China's Producer Price Index (PPI), a major measure of inflation at the wholesale level, rose 2.7 percent in November year-on-year, indicating subsiding inflationary pressure for December.
China's inflation controlled: former statistics official

With the central government's resolute efforts, the trend of surging prices this year has been controlled, said Yao Jingyuan, the former chief economist with the National Bureau of Statistics.
This round of inflation is not yet so serious in its time span, said Yao at the annual session of the China Real Estate Chamber of Commerce, which was held on Thursday in Shenzhen, in Guangdong province.
With fast economic growth, China's inflation has been comparatively low, and the galloping inflation that once appeared in 1988 and 1994 did not occur again, he said.
October's consumer price index (CPI) growth of 5.5 percent marked the slowest surge since an index of 5.5 percent in May, softening from 6.1 percent in September, 6.2 percent in August, 6.5 percent in July and 6.4 percent in June. Inflation concerns have been eased as the CPI has declined for the third consecutive month.
Even though its severity has been limited, this round of inflation has shown the features of structural inflation with surging food and housing prices, which directly affects the living standards of low-income residents, Yao said.
"It is significant for next year's economy that inflation has been controlled, but we still have many deep-seated issues, and we should maintain the current policies," he added.
China to lower RRR for first time in three years
The People's Bank of China, the country's central bank, said on Wednesday that it will lower banks' reserve requirement ratio (RRR) by 50 basis points for the first time in three years in order to replenish liquidity in the country's banking system as inflation eases.
The latest cut, effective on Dec. 5, drops the RRR to 21 percent for large commercial banks and 17.5 percent for mid- and small-sized banks. An estimated 396 billion yuan (62.38 billion U.S. dollars) in capital will be released into the market.

Iran displays purported US drone

Iran has lodged a formal complaint over the entrance of a US drone "deep" into its eastern airspace last week, and aired footage of what it said was the high-tech US aircraft.
The Iranian foreign ministry summoned Swiss ambassador Livia Leu Agosti and said the incident suggested Washington had upped its "provocative and covert actions" against Iran, the state television website reported on Thursday.
The Swiss embassy handles US interests in the absence of Iran-US diplomatic ties.
Iran "strongly protests the violation of an RQ-170 spy aircraft deep into its airspace," the report said, adding that Tehran asked for "an urgent response and compensation from the US government".
It did not elaborate.
Iranian media said late on Sunday that an RQ-170 unmanned aerial vehicle was shot down after making an incursion slightly into Iranian airspace. But no precise indication has been given by Iranian officials on where it crashed.
US media said the drone crashed in eastern Iran probably due to malfunction.
The RQ-170 Sentinel is a high-altitude stealth reconnaissance drone made by Lockheed Martin, whose existence was exposed in 2009 by specialised reviews and later confirmed by the US Air Force in 2010.
On Thursday, Iran's foreign ministry said in a written complaint passed on to the Swiss ambassador that it holds "the US government fully responsible for this action, which is against all known international laws and regulations".
Drone captured
Iran's state television aired more than two minutes of footage of what it said was the captured drone on Thursday, showing what appeared to be an RQ-170 Sentinel in good shape and with little visible damage.
The footage showed a cream-coloured aircraft being examined by two commanders of the elite Revolutionary Guard, who are in charge of the country's air defences.
The chief of the aerospace division of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards, General Ami Ali Hajizadeh, said Iranian forces brought down the surveillance aircraft with an electronic ambush, causing minimum damage to the drone.
"It was downed through a joint operation by the Guards and Iran's regular army,'' he told state television.
He said Iranian experts were "well aware of what priceless technological information" could be gathered from the aircraft, without elaborating.
US media have reported fears in the United States that Iran could access and make use of highly-advanced technology found in the drone.
But a US official, who declined to be named, said on Wednesday that the United States had doubts "the Iranians have the expertise" to exploit the technology found in the wrecked vehicle.
The crash came at a time of heightened political tension over Iran's disputed nuclear programme, which Iran says is for peaceful purposes.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Bhutan's Moving Gold: How water is powering the country

                          The greenest country on Earth
Bhutan is the last of the Himalayan kingdoms. The small country is situated in the nooks and crannies of the highest mountain range on earth.
It's a special place that didn't have paved roads until the 1960s, was off-limits to foreign tourists until the 1970's, and didn't have television until 1999, the last country in the world to get service.
The altitude and scenery are enough to take your breath away.
In this country the environment is cherished. The kingdom lists environmental protection as one of the four pillars of happiness, a state of mind the country takes so seriously that "gross national happiness" is considered more important than gross domestic product.
Still, Bhutan is modernizing and looking at how to use its resources responsibly. Water is one of its most abundant resources.
                          Bhutan holds a royal wedding
"Some people tell me that it's the 'moving gold,' " Sherup Tenzing, the executive engineer for Druk Green Power Corporation in Chhukha, said. "Since the river patterns in Bhutan are naturally designed in such a way that it can produce huge amount of energy -- that is also clean energy."
Bhutan is tapping into that clean energy on a massive scale. Hydropower is the sole source of electricity in the country and experts say the country is only using about 5 percent of its potential right now.
"After 2020 we have a target of accomplishing 15 additional power plants and 3 are already under construction and they have achieved good progress," Tenzin said.
Bhutan's very first hydropower plant was set up in Chhukha, about a two-hour drive from the capital Thimphu.
The dam that harnesses the water is a spectacle in and of itself. It is beautifully painted with Buddhist deities, including the water goddess. Even in the belly of the plant, the most utilitarian space has a wall covered with a colorfully painted mural depicting the life of Buddha. The mural adds beauty to what would normally be quite drab and dank.
In Bhutan hydroelectricity has become big business; actually, the biggest business.
The clean energy created in this small country (it's about the size of Switzerland with a population less than that of San Francisco) is being sold to one of Bhutan's power-starved and highly populated neighbors: India.
"More than 60 percent of our GDP comes from hydro-power," Bhutan's Prime Minister Jigme Thinley told CNN. He says the clean energy business is a perfect fit for the country.
"Bhutan is ecologically a very fragile region, being located in the vulnerable Himalayas. And in fact, even with respect to hydropower, we are engaging in its realization only because it is ecologically friendly, these are all run-of-the river schemes with minimum or no damage to the ecology," the prime minister said.
Not everyone is convinced. Government adviser Dasho Paljor J. Dorji worries too many dams may harm the creatures that live in the water.
"It's a shame that so much of our rivers are being tapped. The aim is good. [But] it happens so quickly. I thought that, perhaps, we might be able to leave some of our rivers, still pristine with its natural beauty instead of damming them all," Dorji said.
Still, Dorji is well aware of all the benefits from an energy source that doesn't pollute the air.
Eighty percent of the country now has electricity and the goal is to have the entire nation electrified by 2013, all of it provided by hydropower.
The clean energy has changed many lives in Bhutan.
Farmer Zangmo, who uses only one name that is typical in the country, got electricity for the first time in 2000.
"Earlier, when electricity wasn't there, we faced a lot of problems. We had to depend on firewood for everything. Everything was dark, back then," Zangmo said.
Electricity has helped increase the family income too. Earlier, after backbreaking work harvesting rice in the fields, the family would have to spend their days beating the husks off the rice.
Now Zangmo flicks a switch and the electrical machine does the de-husking, making work more efficient and faster.
She says she doesn't know how the electricity is made but she is thankful for it.
In fact, many of the people benefiting from hydropower have no idea that the pristine water in their rivers is generating the lights in their homes and businesses.
When we told Zangmo that running water was helping create the electricity in her home her eye opened wide and she said: "We didn't know that water could produce electricity. It is unbelievable."

Car or internet? Toss-up for young adults

Given a choice between internet access or keys to a car, which would you choose?
According to new research, it’s more of a toss-up for young adults. That not only marks a generational divide between lifestyle choices for Generation X and Gen-Y, but could have a knock-on effect for how future cars are developed, the study author says.
When posed with the dilemma of choosing between access to your car and access to the internet, 46% of all 18-to-24-year-old drivers in the U.S. surveyed said they would choose the internet and give up their cars.

That’s according to a study by Gartner research to be released early next year.
“Back in the 50s and 60s, everyone was keen on getting their driver’s license as it was liberating,” said study author Thilo Koslowski, lead automotive analyst for Gartner, in a phone interview with CNN. “Today, it’s not the case. The freedom now lies in accessing data online and people are just meeting up on social media sites like Facebook instead.”
Gartner’s research, which has been ongoing for a decade, shows a different paradigm forging among Generation Y. Young consumers now are only paying attention to new technology which benefits them in their daily lives. The trend was first seen in Japan and it’s now filtering across to the U.S., Koslowski said.
Moreover, as automakers in the world’s largest market try to woo younger customers, this research suggests that the automotive industry should take more cues from smartphone developers.
“The phone does so much more than just make calls. It’s a way to stay connected now. In the same way, the car will need to be much more than just be a form of transport. While we’ll always need a car to get from one point to another, we’re seeing a change in its function.”
Some reasons for the shift: teenagers are spending more time text messaging rather than traveling to visit friends. And time spent texting limits time spent in the car, according to a recent New York Times article.
With fewer 16-year-olds obtaining their driver’s license, as statistics from the U.S. Transportation Department suggest, teenagers today are forcing a change in the direction of the automaker industry.
There are signs carmakers are making their vehicles more in-tune with smartphone generation. Drivers can remotely control the air conditioning system and check the car battery using their smart phone in theNissan Leaf electric car.
Toyota’s new futuristic concept car also has smartphone sensibilities. The Toyota Fun-Vii allows the driver to download information from their phones and display it onto the body of the car.
Or even better, there could be Google cars on the roads driving themselves – giving teens even more time to text and use their phones.
Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter also points to another auto trend on the horizon: Renting cars out for short term use, known as “peer-to-peer car sharing,” Koslowski says. In Gartner’s research, some 60% of the 18-to-24-year-old that were surveyed said they were more likely to use this service than those in the older age brackets.
“Mobility’s now differently defined. Younger consumers want to use cars without ownership so monthly car subscriptions could be the way forward,” he says. “By 2016, most consumers in mature markets will consider in-vehicle web access a key criterion in their automobile purchases.”
However automakers will also have to take into account the wealth of statistics pointing to a high number of car accidents caused by distracted driving where texting while driving falls under this category. According to the latest data on cell phones and distracted driving in the U.S., more than 5,400 people died in crashes that were reported to involve a distracted driver in 2009. Among those killed or injured in these crashes, nearly 1,000 deaths included cell phone use as the major distraction.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Conflict, theology and history make Muslims more religious than others, experts say

Every religion has its true believers and its doubters, its pious and its pragmatists, but new evidence suggests that Muslims tend to be more committed to their faith than other believers.

Muslims are much more likely than Christians and Hindus to say that their own faith is the only true path to paradise, according to a recent global survey, and they are more inclined to say their religion is an important part of their daily lives.
Muslims also have a much greater tendency to say their religion motivates them to do good works, said the survey, released over the summer by Ipsos-Mori, a British research company that polls around the world.
Islam is the world's second-largest religion - behind Christianity and ahead of Hinduism, the third largest. With some 1.5 billion followers and rising, Islam's influence may be growing even faster than its numbers as the Arab Spring topples long-reigning secular rulers and opens the way to religiously inspired political parties.
The case against TLC's ''All-American Muslim''
But while there's no doubt about the importance of Islam, experts have different theories about why Muslims appear to be more religious than members of other global faiths - and contrasting views on whether to fear the depth of Muslims' commitment to their faith.
One explanation lies in current affairs, says Azyumardi Azra, an expert on Islam in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim majority country.
Many Muslims increasingly define themselves in contrast with what they see as the Christian West, says Azra, the director of the graduate school at the State Islamic University in Jakarta.
"When they confront the West that they perceive or misperceive as morally in decline, many Muslims feel that Islam is the best way of life. Islam for them is the only salvation," he says.
The case for TLC's ''All-American Muslim''
That feeling has become stronger since the September 11 attacks, as many Muslims believe there is a "growing conflict between Islam and the so-called West," he says.
"Unfortunately this growing attachment to Islam among Muslims in general has been used and abused by literal-minded Muslims and the jihadists for their own purposes," he says.
But other experts say that deep religious commitment doesn't necessarily lead to violence.
"Being more religious doesn't necessarily mean that they will become suicide bombers," says Ed Husain, a former radical Islamist who is now a Middle East expert at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
In fact, Husain argues that religious upbringing "could be an antidote" to radicalism.
American Muslim women who cover explain their choice
The people most likely to become Islamist radicals, he says, are those who were raised without a religious education and came to Islam later, as "born-agains."
Muslims raised with a grounding in their religion are better able to resist the distortions of Islam peddled by recruiters to radical causes, some experts like Husain argue, making them less likely to turn to violence.
But he agrees that Muslims are strongly attached to their faith, and says the reason lies in the religion itself.
"Muslims have this mindset that we alone possess the final truth," Husain says.
Muslims believe "Jews and Christians went before us and Mohammed was the last prophet," says Husain, whose book "The Islamist" chronicles his experiences with radicals. "Our prophet aimed to nullify the message of the previous prophets."
The depth of the Muslim commitment to Islam is not only a matter of theology and current events, but of education and history, as well, other experts say.
"Where religion is linked into the state institutions, where religion is deeply ingrained from childhood, you are getting this feeling that 'My way is the only way,'" says Fiyaz Mughal, the director of Faith Matters, a conflict-resolution organization in London.
The Ipsos-Mori survey results included two countries with a strong link between religion and the state: Legally Muslim Saudi Arabia, which calls itself the guardian of Islam's two holiest sites, Mecca and Medina; and Indonesia, home of the world's largest Muslim population.
The third majority Muslim country in the study is Turkey, which has a very different relationship with religion. It was founded after World War I as a legally secular country. But despite generations of trying to separate mosque and state, Turkey is now governed by an Islam-inspired party, the AKP.
Turkey's experience shows how difficult it can be to untangle government and religion in Muslim majority countries and helps explain the Muslim commitment to their religion, says Azyumardi Azra, the Indonesia expert.
He notes that there has been no "Enlightenment" in Islam as there was in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, weakening the link between church and state in many Christian countries.
"Muslim communities have never experienced intense secularization that took place in Europe and the West in general," says Azra. "So Islam is still adhered to very strongly."
But it's not only the link between mosque and state in many Muslim majority countries that ties followers to their faith, says professor Akbar Ahmed, a former Pakistani diplomat who has written a book about Islam around the world.
Like Christians who wear "What Would Jesus Do?" bracelets, many Muslims feel a deep personal connection to the founder of their faith, the prophet Muhammad, he says.
Muhammad isn't simply a historical figure to them, but rather a personal inspiration to hundreds of millions of people around the world today.
"When a Muslim is fasting or is asked to give charity or behave in a certain way, he is constantly reminded of the example set by the prophet many centuries ago," argues Ahmed, the author of "Journey Into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization."
His book is based on interviews with Muslims around the world, and one thing he found wherever he traveled was admiration for Muhammad.
"One of the questions was, 'Who is your role model?' From Morocco to Indonesia, it was the prophet, the prophet, the prophet," says Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington.
But while Ahmed sees similar patterns across the Islamic world, Ed Husain, the former radical, said it was important to understand its diversity, as well.
"There is no monolithic religiosity - Muslims in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia are following different versions of Islam," says Husain. "All we're seeing (in the survey) is an adherence to a faith."
Political scientist Farid Senzai, director of research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding in Washington, raised questions about the survey's findings.
"Look at the countries that are surveyed - Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Turkey," he says. "There are about 300 million Muslims in those three countries, (who make up) about 20% of Muslims globally."
Islam is "incredibly important" in Saudi Arabia, he says.
"But in Tunisia or Morocco you could have had a different result. It would have been nice if they had picked a few more Arab countries and had a bit more diversity," says Senzai.
The pollster, Ipsos-Mori, does monthly surveys in 24 countries, three of which are majority Muslim – Turkey, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. The other countries range from India to the United States, and Mexico to South Korea, and are the same each month, regardless of the subject the pollsters are investigating.
In the survey released in July, about six in 10 Muslims in the survey said their religion was the only way to salvation, while only a quarter of Hindus and two out of 10 Christians made that claim about their own faiths.
More than nine out of 10 Muslims said their faith was important in their lives, while the figure was 86% for Hindus and 66% for Christians.
Ipsos-Mori surveyed 18,473 adults via an online panel in April and released the findings in July. Results were weighted to make the results as representative as possible, but the pollster cautioned that because the survey was conducted online, it was harder to get representative results in poorer countries where internet access is not widespread.
CNN polling director Keating Holland also warns that in an "opt-in" survey, where respondents actively choose to participate, results tend to come from "people who are confident in their opinions and express them openly... not good for intensely private matters like faith or income or sex."
Online surveys in countries that are not entirely free are also open to the possibility that pollsters get "the approved response" in those nations, "where the people who are most likely to be willing to talk about such matters are the ones who hold, or at least verbalize, opinions that won't get them in trouble if they are expressed," Holland says.
That may have been an issue in Saudi Arabia, where respondents were given the choice of not answering questions on religion due to their potential sensitivity in the kingdom. The Saudi sample was the smallest, with 354 participants, meaning "findings for Saudi Arabia must be treated with caution," Ipsos-Mori said.
About 1,000 people participated in most countries, but sample sizes were smaller in the three majority Muslim countries and in eight other countries.
The survey participants did not reflect the true percentage of Christians and Muslims in the world. Christians were over-represented – as were people who said they had no religion – and Muslims were under-represented.
Nearly half the respondents identified themselves as Christian. Eleven percent were Muslim, 4% were Buddhist, 3% were Hindu and 3% were "other." A quarter said they had no religion and 6% refused to say.
Fiyaz Mughal, the interfaith expert, argues that even though the countries surveyed might not be representative of the entire Muslim world, the findings about Muslims rang broadly true. Muslims in different countries were committed to their faith for different reasons, he says.
"Saudi Arabia is an institutionally religious state. Indonesia has religion tied into its culture," says Mughal.
But Muslim immigrants to Europe also show strong ties to their religion, either as a defense mechanism in the face of a perceived threat, or because of an effort to cling to identity, he contends.
He detects a link between insular communities and commitment to faith regardless of what religion is involved. It is prevalent in Muslim Saudi Arabia, but he has seen it among Israeli Jews as well, he says.
"The Israeli Jewish perspective is that (the dispute with the Palestinians) is a conflict of land and religion which are integrally linked," Mughal says.
"What does play a role in that scenario is a sense of isolationism and seclusion in Israeli Jewish religious communities, a growing trend to say, 'Our way is the only way,'" he says.
Religious leaders of all faiths need to combat those kinds of attitudes because of the greater diversity people encounter in the world today, he argues.
They have a responsibility to teach their congregations "that if they are following a religion, it is not as brutal or exclusive as possible," Mughal says. "Things are changing. The world is a different place from what it was even 20 years ago."
Politicians, too, "need to take these issues quite seriously," he says.
"In the Middle East there are countries - the Saudi Arabias - where you need to be saying that diversity, while it may not be a part of the country, is something they have to deal with when moving in a globalized area," he says.
But Senzai, the political scientist, says that it's also important for the West to take the Muslim world on its own terms.
"Many Muslims want religion to play a role in politics," he says. "To assume that everyone around the world wants to be like the West - that they want liberal secular democracy - is an absurd idea."