Stories Published in The Humanion Section in
Katherine Johnson NASA
Dr Helen Sharman First Briton in Space
Cosmonaut: British Astronaut, Soyuz TM-12 :
“Yuri Gagarin was given the international crown
for inspiration. Wherever he went, crowds of
people thronged the streets to catch a glimpse
of the person who embodied the abilities of
fellow humans, the bravery of exploration, and
the desire to discover what is new.
"On my last night in space, reflecting on my
time, I realised that being away from Earth
reinforced what my Russian friends had told me
on the ground – what’s important is personal
relationships and what people can do together.
Space is grand and being part of it makes people
Photo: Taken from ESA website
Valentina Tereshkova First Woman in Space
Valentina Tereshkova was born in Maslennikovo,
near Yaroslavl, in Russia on 6 March 1937. She
was the first woman to go to space at the age of
26 on the Vostok 6 rocket. Her mission lasted
just under three days (two days, 23 hours, and
12 minutes). Image: ESA
Good to be Home!
ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen, Soyuz
spacecraft commander Gennady Padalka and Kazakh cosmonaut
Aidyn Aimbetov landed 12 September 2015 at 00:51 GMT (02:51
CEST) in the steppe of Kazakhstan, marking the end of their
missions to the International Space Station. Andreas became
Denmark’s first astronaut when he left our planet on 2
September on his 10-day iriss mission. The trio undocked
from the orbiting complex on 11 September at 21:29 GMT
(23:29 CEST) in an older Soyuz spacecraft, leaving the new
vessel they arrived in for the Station crew. ESA used the
mission to test new technologies and conduct a series of
scientific experiments. Released 12/09/2015 4:37 am.
Copyright ESA–Stephane Corvaja, 2015. Posted on: November
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador
Katy Perry Calls for Action on Climate Change in a
Special Weather Report
Droughts, floods, heatwaves and other severe weather
conditions are putting children at an increased risk
of disease and malnutrition, as well as destroying
their families’ homes and livelihoods. The worst
part about this is that some of the youngest and
most vulnerable citizens of our world are bearing
the most unfair burden of climate change:
Goodwill Ambassador Katy Perry reads a unique
weather report to draw attention to the devastating
effects of climate change on the world’s children.
Video capture UNICEF
7 December 2015 – In an
exclusive recording launched today as world leaders gather in
Paris, France, for the high-level segment of the United Nations
climate change conference (COP21), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
Goodwill Ambassador and global pop star Katy Perry read a unique
weather report to draw attention to the devastating effects of
the phenomenon on the world’s children.
heatwaves and other severe weather conditions are putting
children at an increased risk of disease and malnutrition, as
well as destroying their families’ homes and livelihoods. The
worst part about this is that some of the youngest and most
vulnerable citizens of our world are bearing the most unfair
burden of climate change,” said Ms. Perry in a
issued by UNICEF.
In her weather report,
Ms. Perry highlighted the extreme weather patterns that are
emerging across the world and forcing millions of children and
families to flee their homes.
According to a
launched by UNICEF in November, over half a billion children
live in areas with extremely high flood occurrence and 160
million live in high drought severity areas.
The report also
revealed that of the 530 million children in flood-prone zones,
some 300 million are in countries where more than half the
population lives in poverty, surviving on less than $3.10 a day;
and of those living in high drought severity areas, 50 million
are in countries where more than half the population lives in
UNICEF stressed that
climate change means more droughts, floods, heatwaves and other
severe weather conditions, which can cause death and
devastation, and can also contribute to the increased spread of
major killers of children, such as malnutrition, malaria and
Further, the climatic
activities can create a vicious circle. For example, a child
deprived of adequate water and sanitation before a crisis will
be more affected by a flood, drought, or severe storm, less
likely to recover quickly, and at even greater risk when faced
with a subsequent crisis.
In the exclusive
weather report, Ms. Perry called on viewers to share their story
on how they are helping reduce climate change as part of the
“Let’s encourage our
world leaders to take this issue seriously. […]Together we can
help change the forecast for millions of children,” said Ms.
Perry, who was appointed as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2013
with a special focus on engaging young people to improve the
lives of the world’s most vulnerable children and adolescents.
Posted: December 8,
No to Violence, Racism, Sexism, Masochism, Maso-chauvinism,
Daughters, mothers, grandmothers, midwives,
ministers, academics, activists, domestic workers and a diverse
range of women take part in the Black Women's March against Racism
and Violence in Brasilia, Brazil (18 November 2015).
Posted: December 10, 2015. Photo: UNDP/Tiago Zenero
Global Forced Displacement for 2015 on Track to Break All
Records, Topping 60 Millions
18 December 2015 – Forced displacement this year is likely exceed all
previous records, for the first time topping 60 million, meaning that one out of
every 122 persons on Earth has been forced to flee their home, the United
Nations refugee agency warned today.
“Never has there been a greater need for tolerance, compassion and solidarity
with people who have lost everything,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees António
Guterres saidof the agency’s new report, based on projections from the first
half of 2015.
“Forced displacement is now profoundly affecting our times. It touches the lives
of millions of our fellow human beings – both those forced to flee and those who
provide them with shelter and protection.”
The Mid-Year Trends 2015 report form the High Commissioner’s Office (OHCHR),
looking at worldwide displacement from conflict and persecution from January to
June, shows markers firmly in the red in each of the three major categories –
refugees, asylum-seekers, and internally displaced persons (IDPs).
The global refugee total, which a year ago was 19.5 million, had as of mid-2015
passed the 20 million threshold (20.2 million) for the first time since 1992,
while asylum applications were up 78 per cent (993,600) over the same period in
2014, and the number IDPs jumped by around two million to an estimated 34
The report shows worsening indicators in several key areas. Voluntary return
rates – a measure of how many refugees can safely go back home and a barometer
of the global state of conflict – are at their lowest in over three decades – an
estimated 84,000 compared to 107,000 in the same period a year ago.
In effect, if you become a refugee today your chances of going home are lower
than at any time in more than 30 years.
New refugee numbers are also up sharply: some 839,000 people in just six months,
equivalent to an average rate of almost 4,600 forced to flee their countries
every day. Syria’s war remains the single biggest generator of both new refugees
and continuing mass internal displacement. But even excluding Syria, the
underlying trend remains one of rising displacement globally.
The report stressed that with more refugees being stuck in exile, pressures on
hots countries are growing too – something which unmanaged can increase
resentment and abet politicization of refugees. But despite this, the first half
of 2015 was also marked by extraordinary generosity.
On an absolute basis, and counting refugees who fall under UNHCR's mandate,
Turkey is the world’s biggest host country with 1.84 million refugees as of 30
June, while Lebanon hosts more refugees compared to population size than any
other – 209 refugees per 1,000. Ethiopia pays most in relation to its economy
with 469 refugees for every dollar of gross domestic product.
Overall, the lion’s share of hosting refugees continues to be carried by
countries immediately bordering zones of conflict, many of them in the
Europe’s influx of people arriving by boat via the Mediterranean is only partly
reflected in the report, mainly since arrivals escalated in the second half of
2015. Still, in the first six months, Germany was the world's biggest recipient
of new asylum claims – 159,000, close to the entire total for all of 2014.
The second largest recipient was Russia with 100,000 claims, mainly people
fleeing the conflict in Ukraine.
Posted: December 19, 2015
After ‘Year of Breakthrough and Horror,
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Assesses 2015 Urging
Greater Collaborative Action to Tackle Crises in 2016
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses
journalists at his end-of-year press conference. UN Photo/Amanda
Voisard. Copyrights to all images in this feature: UN
Sustainable Development Goals
16 December 2015 – As 2015 draws to a close, the
United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon summed up the “pivotal
year” in which the Organization marked its 70th anniversary by
highlighting landmark steps taken to advance sustainable
development, climate action, conflict resolution and provision of
“The Paris Agreement on climate change is a sign
of hope in troubled times. It is a triumph for multilateralism that
shows the United Nations delivering results the world desperately
needs,” said Mr. Ban in his opening remarks to reporters at his
year-end press conference summarizing the activities of the UN
Despite the ups and downs, from peace processes to climate talks, we
cannot afford to let up. Too much is stake. Millions of people
depend on us to keep pressing ahead.
He also lauded French President François Hollande and Foreign
Minister Laurent Fabius, who served as the President of the UN
climate change conference, held in the French capital and widely
known as COP21, for showing “inspiring leadership” and for refusing
to be deterred by the terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November.
“The Paris Agreement surpassed expectations. World leaders
recognized that we could and must do better than settling for the
lowest common denominator. So they reached higher. The Paris
Agreement gives us ‘Plan A’ for the planet – A for ambition,” said
Mr. Ban, highlighting the coherence seen during the UN climate
change conference (COP21) this year.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (second left),
UNFCCC's Christiana Figueres (left), French Foreign Minister Laurent
Fabius and President of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris
(COP21), and President François Hollande of France (right),
celebrate historic adoption of Paris Agreement. UN Photo/Mark Garten
After nine years of pushing hard for the agreement, the
Secretary-General stressed that he will “press world leaders to
translate promise into practice” by implementing it.
Turning to other milestones in 2015, the UN chief highlighted
spotlighted the recently adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable
Development and its “crystallized” 17 Goals which stand as an
“overarching guide” to end poverty and build peaceful societies.
The Sustainable Development Goals is projected onto the façades of
the UN Secretariat and General Assembly buildings which brings to
life each of the 17 goals, to raise awareness about the 2030 Agenda
He also highlighted the significance of the Addis
Ababa Action Agenda adopted in July which provides a blueprint for
financing for development.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (centre) greets Ethiopian Prime
Minister Hailemariam Desalegn at the opening of the FFD3 conference
in Addis Ababa. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
The UN chief stressed that investing in development early will avert
crises down the road, for which the Sendai Framework on Disaster
Risk Reduction, agreed in March, points the way toward resilience.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the Third World Conference
on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan. UN Photo/Eskinder
“Taken together, these plans and pacts have set the stage for a
future that leaves no one behind,” emphasized the Secretary-General.
At the same time, Mr. Ban reviewed the situation of “epic flows” of
refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in 2015 and added
that in the New Year “the world needs to aim for a new global
compact on human mobility.”
“Demonizing and scapegoating people based on their religion,
ethnicity or country of origin has no place in the 21st century,” he
Mother and children waiting with other refugees to enter Vinojug
reception centre at Gevgelija, in the former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia, at the border with Greece. Photo: UNHCR/Mark Henley
He also noted that the UN has appealed for $20 billion to meet next
year’s humanitarian needs, which is five times the level of one
decade ago. And while donors have been “exceedingly generous,” 2016
will likely begin with a funding gap of more than $10 billion – the
Speaking about the World Humanitarian Summit to be held in May 2016
in Istanbul, Turkey, Mr. Ban said that conference will be critical
moment to address systemic funding problems, and agree on concrete
steps to better prepare for and respond to crises.
“The world must invest more political energy in preventing and
ending conflict, and in addressing violations of human rights – our
best early warning signs of greater trouble to follow,” said the
Secretary-General, adding that the efforts made this week to resolve
conflict through diplomacy are “front and centre.”
Regarding the Libyan peace talks, Mr. Ban said that parties are
close to a “desperately needed agreement” that would help the
country move beyond prolonged crisis.
As for Yemen, he noted the UN-sponsored peace talks that began
yesterday in Switzerland to achieve a lasting ceasefire and
resumption of political transition to end the bloodshed and ease the
plight of civilians, who have borne the brunt of the conflict.
UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien, on visit to Yemen,
talks with an elderly man who said his home was burnt to the ground
during fighting. Photo: OCHA
Mr. Ban noted that the international community has actively
re-engaged in pushing for a political settlement in Syria, and added
that the International Syria Support Group will meet in New York on
Friday, followed by a meeting of the Security Council. “Syria is an
open sore on the Middle East and the wider world. We are pressing
for a nationwide cease-fire and for the start of negotiations in
January on a political transition – and we must not relent,” the
On extremism and terrorism, Mr. Ban said that it is crucial to
counter threats posed by Da’esh (also known as Islamic State of Iraq
and the Levant, or ISIL), Boko Haram, al-Shabab and other terrorist
groups. “Next month, I will present to the Member States of the
United Nations a plan of action on preventing violent extremism.
Many of today’s conflicts – and often, unfortunately, the response
to them – have provided a breeding ground for the spread of
terrorism and violent extremism,” he announced.
The UN chief also expressed alarm at the escalating violence in
Burundi and termed the events that took place in the past few days
Warning that the country is on the brink of a civil war that risks
engulfing the entire region, Mr. Ban announced that Special Adviser
Jamal Benomar will visit the region immediately to speak to the
African Union, the countries in the region and the Government of
Burundi. “An inclusive political dialogue is needed urgently. We
must do all we can to prevent mass violence and act decisively
should it erupt,” he added.
Turning to South Sudan, the Secretary-General said the UN
peacekeeping operation there continues to shelter more than 185,000
civilians, a major advance in human protection efforts, however, he
added that this is not a permanent solution, as many more remain
internally displaced and under threat of violence, and urged parties
to establish the transitional institutions before the end of
In Pathai, a settlement in Jonglei State, South Sudan, persons
displaced by conflict await registration for food distribution.
Photo: UNICEF/Jacob Zocherman
Despite the “daunting” situations, Mr. Ban said that political
progress and smooth transfers of power over the past year, including
in Sri Lanka and Nigeria is encouraging. He also reported that the
transition in the Central African Republic is moving forward,
following the constitutional referendum held last week and
presidential and legislative elections to be conducted at the end of
Highlighting other progresses made, Mr. Ban said he was encouraged
by the progress in the negotiations on Cyprus, and in Colombia where
longest-running conflict in Americas in ending closer to the end.
Additionally, Mr. Ban reported that Government and Army of Myanmar
are cooperating with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to ensure a stable
Summarizing the year, Mr. Ban said that 2015 has
brought “breakthrough and horror”, and added that the UN will
continue to strengthen itself, including through wide-ranging
assessments of peace operations, peacebuilding and our future role
“Despite the ups and downs, from peace processes to climate talks,
we cannot afford to let up. Too much is stake. Millions of people
depend on us to keep pressing ahead. I did not lose faith during the
years of ups and downs of climate negotiations. I continue to
believe in the United Nations – and in our staff, many of whom have
made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Mr. Ban.
Taking heart in the cooperation witnessed in Paris for COP21, Mr.
Ban said that he will “continue to have faith in the ability of the
world’s people to come together for the common good. With that
spirit, we can make 2016 a year of accomplishment and truly build a
life of dignity for we the peoples,” the Secretary-General
Posted: December 17, 2015
COP21: 'Monumental Triumph' in Paris as
World Adopts New Climate Change Agreement: Ban Ki-moon
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right), French
Foreign Minister and COP21 President, Laurent Fabius (centre), and
French President Franois Hollande (left) at the UN climate change
conference in Paris. 12 December 2015. Photo Credit: UNFCCC
12 December 2015 – Following the adoption of the
new Paris Agreement on climate change, United Nations
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said government representatives made
“The Paris Agreement is a monumental triumph for people and our
planet,” said Mr. Ban in a tweet, immediately following its
adoption. “It sets the stage for progress in ending poverty,
strengthening peace and ensuring a life of dignity and opportunity
Gaveling the Agreement with a green hammer, the French Foreign
Minister and President of COP21 Laurent Fabius announced the
historic news—a moment greeted with loud applause and cheers, as the
room stood up. Many delegates hugged, while others had tears in
For the first time today, 195 Parties to the UN Framework Convention
on Climate Change (UNFCCC)—pledged to curb emissions, strengthen
resilience and joined to take common climate action. This followed
two weeks of tireless negotiations at the United Nations climate
change conference (COP21).
“In the face of an unprecedented challenge, you have demonstrated
unprecedented leadership,” the UN chief said taking the COP21 stage
just minutes later. “You have worked collaboratively to achieve
something that no one nation could achieve alone. This is a
resounding success for multilateralism.”
Recalling that he made climate change one of the defining priorities
of his tenure as Secretary-General, Mr. Ban said that most of all,
he has listened to people – the young, the poor and the vulnerable,
including indigenous peoples, from every corner of the globe.
“They seek protection from the perils of a warming planet, and the
opportunity to live in a safer, more bountiful world,” he
underlined. “They have demanded that world leaders act to safeguard
their well-being and that of generations to come.”
Turning to the agreement itself, the Secretary-General said
negotiators reached “solid results on all key points,” with an
agreement that demonstrates solidarity and “is ambitious, flexible,
credible and durable.”
“All countries have agreed to hold global temperature rise to well
below 2 degrees Celsius. And recognizing the risk of grave
consequences, you have further agreed to pursue efforts to limit
temperature increase to 1.5 degrees,” he announced.
In addition, a review mechanism has been established whereby every
five years, beginning in 2018, Parties will regularly review what is
needed in line with science.
“Governments have agreed to binding, robust, transparent rules of
the road to ensure that all countries do what they have agreed
across a range of issues,” Mr. Ban added.
Meanwhile, highlighting the role of the private sector, the UN chief
said business leaders came to Paris in unprecedented numbers and
that “powerful” climate solutions are already available while many
more are to come.
“With these elements in place, markets now have the clear signal
they need to unleash the full force of human ingenuity and scale up
investments that will generate low-emissions, resilient growth,” he
said, adding that “what was once unthinkable has now become
“When historians look back on this day, they will say that global
cooperation to secure a future safe from climate change took a
dramatic new turn here in Paris,” Mr. Ban stated. “Today, we can
look into the eyes of our children and grandchildren, and we can
finally say, tell them that we have joined hands to bequeath a more
habitable world to them and to future generations.”
Ending his remarks, the UN chief said that all Parties should be
proud of the Paris Agreement and that “the work starts tomorrow.”
“For today, congratulations again on a job well done,” he concluded.
“Let us work together, with renewed commitment, to make this a
Addressing the hundreds of delegates, Christiana Figueres, the
Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, said “we did it in Paris.”
“We have made history together. It is an agreement of conviction. It
is an agreement of solidarity with the most vulnerable. It is an
agreement of long-term vision, for we have to turn this agreement
into an engine of safe growth,” she exclaimed.
Several other top UN officials joined the Secretary-General in
welcoming the new Agreement. This included the President of the UN
General Assembly, Mr. Mogens Lykketoft.
“Today's agreement signals nothing less than a renaissance for
humankind as we collectively embrace the global challenge of climate
change and endeavor to transition to a more sustainable way of
living that respects the needs of people and our planet,” Mr.
Lykketoft said in a statement.
Echoing this message, the President of the UN Economic and Social
Council (ECOSOC), Oh Joon, said the world has reached a key
milestone in collective action for sustainable development.
“Bold action against climate change will contribute to poverty
reduction. The United Nations Economic and Social Council will take
part in follow-up efforts,” he added.
Earlier today, at a meeting of the Committee of Paris [Comité de
Paris]—the body which is overseeing the negotiations at COP21—the UN
chief spoke alongside the President of France, François Hollande as
well Minister Fabius.
“The end is in sight. Let us now finish the job. The whole world is
watching. Billions of people are relying on your wisdom,” the
Secretary-General had told delegates.
In an emotional address during which he held back tears, Laurent
Fabius said the agreement “will serve meaningful causes, food safety
and security, public health, the fight against poverty and for
essential rights, and therefore peace.”
“People worldwide, our citizens, our children, wouldn't understand
if we didn't adopt it and wouldn't forgive us,” he insisted.
“It is rare to be given the opportunity to change the world,” said
President François Hollande, wrapping up the meeting. “You have the
opportunity to do that.”
Some Response to the Paris Climate Deal
Today is a historic day: as tens of thousands of people filled the
streets of Paris, politicians finalized a major new global climate
The deal in Paris includes an agreement to limit global warming to
below 2 degrees Celsius, with an aim of 1.5 degrees, and achieve
climate 'neutrality' that will require phasing out fossil fuels soon
after mid-century. That’s not what we hoped for, but it’s still a
deal that sends a signal that it’s time to keep fossil fuels in the
ground, and for investors to cut their ties with coal, oil and gas
This deal represents important progress -- but progress alone is not
our goal. Our goal is a just and livable planet.
If followed to the letter, the agreement leaves far too many people
exposed to the violence of rising seas, stronger storms and deeper
drought. It leaves too many loopholes to avoid serious action --
despite the heroic efforts from leaders of vulnerable nations and
communities who fought for a deal in line with science.
But the coal, oil and gas corporations of the world should take
little comfort. That 2 degree pledge would require keeping 80% of
the world’s remaining fossil fuels underground, a 1.5 degree target
even more -- and countries are required to come back to the table
every 5 years to increase their ambition in reaching those goals.
Paris isn’t the end of the story, but a conclusion of a particular
chapter. Now, it’s up to us to strengthen these promises, make sure
they are kept, and then accelerate the transition away from fossil
fuels and towards 100% renewable energy.
As world leaders in Paris were finalizing the text of the deal,
thousands of people returned to the streets of Paris to demonstrate
their commitment to continue the fight:
They were joined by hundreds of solidarity actions around the world,
all echoing the same message: it’s up to us to keep fossil fuels in
Standing together, flowers in hand, we formed red lines in the
street -- because lines have to be drawn in this fight for justice,
and it’s up to all of us to stand on the side of those on the front
lines of this crisis.
More lines are being drawn everywhere against the true villain of
the last two weeks: the fossil fuel industry, which has done
everything possible to weaken even this late, late deal.
Without pressure from ordinary people, world leaders would have
gladly ignored this problem entirely. It’s pressure from people that
will close the gap between what was signed today and the action we
This begins the next chapter. Please watch this space for the
announcement of something big in the coming days!
If you are reading this, you’ve been part of the work that got us
all to this point, and for that, we say thank you. 2015 was a
historic year for us -- because we worked together to build a more
powerful and hopeful climate movement.
With gratitude, and as always, hope,
May and the whole 350.org team
Hillary Clinton's Response to Paris Climate Deal
Hillary Clinton released the below statement
following the conclusion of an international climate agreement at
the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on
Climate Change. The agreement solidifies greenhouse gas pollution
reduction targets from more than 180 countries accounting for more
than 90 percent of global emissions; establishes transparency
provisions to measure global progress and hold countries
accountable; and mobilizes financial support and private-sector
investment to help developing countries adapt to the impacts of
climate change and achieve sustainable economic growth.
“I applaud President Obama, Secretary Kerry and our negotiating team
for helping deliver a new, ambitious international climate agreement
in Paris. This is an historic step forward in meeting one of the
greatest challenges of the 21st century—the global crisis of climate
“The Paris agreement is testament to America’s ability to lead the
world in building a clean energy future where no one is left out or
left behind. And it was made possible in part by every person,
business owner, and community in the United States and around the
world that stepped up to prove we don’t have to choose between
growing our economy and protecting our kids’ health and future—we
can do both.
“But we will only succeed if we redouble our efforts going forward
to drive innovation, increase investment, and reap the benefits of
the good-paying jobs that will come from transitioning to a clean
energy economy. The next decade of action is critical—because if we
do not press forward with driving clean energy growth and cutting
carbon pollution across the economy, we will not be able to avoid
“We cannot afford to be slowed by the climate skeptics or deterred
by the defeatists who doubt America’s ability to meet this
challenge. That’s why as President, I will make combating climate
change a top priority from day one, and secure America’s future as
the clean energy superpower of the 21st century."
Response from The White House
So why is this such a big deal? The Paris Agreement establishes a
long-term, durable framework to reduce global greenhouse gas
emissions. Here's what that means:
First, for the first time ever, all countries committed to putting
forward ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions.
Second, countries will now be required to report their progress
toward those targets using a rigorous and standardized review
process. That kind of transparency is vital to keeping every country
moving toward carbon reduction.
Third, it provides strong assurance to developing countries,
particularly the most vulnerable, that they will be supported as
they build towards clean, climate resilience.
It’s truly a historic achievement. It is the culmination of nations,
businesses, cities, and citizens combining forces to achieve
something together. And it sends a powerful signal to the world --
businesses and countries alike -- that we’re moving to a clean
Today, as the President said, we have demonstrated “that the world
has both the will and the ability to take on this challenge.”
So be sure to watch the President's remarks and read more about the
specifics of the agreement.
Thanks, and stay tuned for more from the frontlines of the fight
against climate change. We're nowhere near done yet.
President Barack Obama's Response
watch the President's remarks
about the specifics of the agreement.
Deese, Senior Advisor to the President
December 14, 2015
The United Kingdom Green Party
Reacting to the release of the draft agreement of
the Paris climate talks, Natalie Bennett, Green Party Leader, said:
"The Global climate deal is an important step towards delivering a
just transition to a sustainable future and sends a resounding
message that the fossil fuel era is in its final throes.
"What matters now is whether governments, who have assembled in
Paris for two weeks of sometimes gruelling negotiations, put their
words into action at home. That means concrete policies to urgently
deliver the fossil fuel free future that the climate movement has
been demanding for many years.
"The move to limit temperatures rise to 1.5C is
welcome and offers those most vulnerable to catastrophic climate
change the promise of a better future.
"It is now down to world leaders to return home and deliver on the
promise of Paris."
Also speaking from Paris, Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton
Pavilion, said:"Thanks to the efforts of a worldwide climate
movement this agreement is a step towards the end of the fossil fuel
"The inclusion of the 1.5 degree target is a welcome recognition of
what's needed to protect those most at risk from climate change.
"To make this meaningful we now desperately need a clear plan for
100% renewables by 2050, action to keep fossil fuels in the ground
from this point forwards, and to redouble efforts to force the
system change that will deliver climate justice for all."
Posted: December 13, 2015
MdM's Guide to The Migrant and Refugee Crisis
Image © Guillaume Pinon
Europe is currently experiencing the
largest mass migration of people since the Second World War. Yet, an
organized, unilateral response to the migrant crisis is noticeably lacking.
The majority of migrants and refugees are arriving from Syria, fleeing the
civil war that has ravaged the country since 2011. Thousands more have
arrived from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Eritrea. The International
Organization for Migration (IOM) has estimated that more than
750,000 people have entered Europe’s borders in 2015 so far.
The recent attacks in Paris have renewed calls by some
governments and political parties to tighten borders, or to reject migrants
and refugees altogether. In Poland, the newly elected government has
recently refused to accept more migrants and is calling for revisions to
migrant and refugee policies in the wake of the Paris attacks, all while
rejecting migrant quotas established by the EU. In the Czech Republic,
finance minister Andrej Babis called for
the closing of the EU’s external Schengen borders. In short, migrants
and refugees have become increasingly vulnerable due to rising xenophobia in
various EU member states.
Médecins du Monde (MdM)/Doctors of the World has been
caring for Syrian migrants and refugees since the early days of the
conflict. In addition, our teams in Greece have been working tirelessly on
the front lines of this latest humanitarian crisis. But our work, like the
migrants and refugees themselves, crosses many borders.
Below is an update on MdM’s work to-date to aid migrants
and refugees – from the Middle East, throughout the Mediterranean, and
In Belgium, MdM established an intake site staffed by doctors, nurses,
psychologists and interpreters within walking distance of the main migrant
and refugee registration area. For the last two months, the Belgian
government has been unable to process more than 250 asylum applications per
day. As a result, as many as 1,000 families slept outside each night without
access to water, food, or shelter. Coupled with media pressure, a coalition
of civil society organizations – including MdM – successfully persuaded the
Belgian government to provide nightly shelters.
However, the health and social service needs of the
migrants and refugees remained largely unmet. In response, MdM set up an
office for civil society actors to provide services during the day. The
space is open to everyone, including undocumented migrants and refugees, and
MdM staff (including a doctor, two nurses, a psychologist and an
interpreter) see approximately 40 patients per day.
One of our MdM assessment teams has been meeting with refugees and migrants
in Dimitrovgrad, on the Bulgarian border with Macedonia. They have found
that as many as 400 people per day walk to Bulgaria from Afghanistan via
Iran and Turkey, thinking the route is the safest and cheapest. However,
many encounter difficulty crossing the Iranian desert, and the Bulgarian and
Turkish police forces can be violent. For example, there have been
reports of Bulgarian police exploiting, beating and opening fire on
those trying to cross the border from Turkey.
MdM is providing care to migrants and refugees at Croatia’s Bapska
border-crossing with Serbia. By the end of September, 90,000 people had
crossed into Croatia. Our team has been treating migrants and refugees with
a variety of conditions resulting from their journeys, such as pneumonia,
injuries, respiratory infections and dehydration. Chaos also erupted on the
Slovenian-Croatian border on October 17 when several buses carrying migrants
and refugees were held and temporarily prevented from crossing into Croatia.
France – Calais
The number of migrants and refugees in the Calais camp has climbed from
3,000 to 6,500 in the last few months. In response, MdM has increased the
team from 7 to 10 staff members, who report that people are arriving with
increasingly complex traumas – both physical and psychological in nature.
Between October 19 – 23, MdM provided 338 medical
consultations, 126 nursing consultations and 51 physiotherapy sessions, in
addition to providing psychological support to those who have experienced
violence during their time at the camp.
On October 26, MdM, Secours Catholique (Caritas) and
other NGOs appealed to the French court to implement emergency measures to
protect the fundamental human rights of the migrants and refugees in the
camp. In response to the complaint, the court
ordered the Lille government (whose administration Calais is under) to
organize trash collection, to create 10 additional water points and to
install 50 new bathrooms. Although a victory for MdM and NGO Secours
Catholique, there has been little progress on creating substantial housing
for the migrants and refugees in the camp.
In addition, tensions in the camp remain high and MdM is
continuing to collect statements from the migrants and refugees as to the
violence they have experienced at the hands of local police or between
One of our MdM mobile units was active in the city of Vintimille on the
French-Italian border, conducting as many as 654 consultations per visit.
However, on September 30, the residents of the border camp were forcibly
removed by the local police and the border was closed.
It is estimated that
1.5 million refugees and migrants will arrive in Germany between October
and December 2015. As of November 1, The Asylum Seekers Benefits Act was
amended to make it quicker and easier to deport rejected asylum seekers,
putting thousands at risk of deportation in the coming months.
In late October, police began controlling the influx of
migrants and refugees at the German-Austrian border (Simbach, Germany –
Braunau, Austria). They allow people to cross the border only when
sufficient space opens in the camp at Simbach on the German side. There is
also a number of people attempting to cross the border from Salzburg
(Austria) into Freilassing (Germany).
In Munich, MdM is continuing to provide basic medical
care and social counselling at the central bus station, treating
approximately 50 people per day. The team also assists people with obtaining
prescriptions for medicine and referrals for future treatment.
In Greece, our MdM teams continue to see a huge influx of migrants and
refugees on the Greek Islands.
In Lesbos, the team has been carrying out medical
consultations for migrants and refugees arriving from Turkey. During the
last two weeks of October, 49,000 people arrived on the island and MdM
provided 2,355 consultations. On average, our team performs 150 – 400 daily
consultations – effectively reaching 10% of the migrant and refugee
population in Lesbos.
6,867 migrants and refugees arrived during the same
period in Chios, where the MdM team provided 1,193 medical and social
MdM has also been active in the transit area of Idomeni
on the Greek border with Macedonia, where the number of arrivals has
increased to as many as 7,000 – 10,000 per day. Up to 23 MdM doctors,
nurses, pharmacists and logisticians provide medical attention to as many as
400 people per day in Idomeni, reaching around 4% of refugees and migrants
who are in transit.
In Athens and the surrounding areas, our team runs
several clinics and mobile programs that deliver primary medical care and
medication to over 3,000 migrants and refugees. Our 6th clinic is set to
open this month.
For more on the migrant and refugee crisis in Greece, see
In three months alone, our MdM team in Iraq has provided 25,122
consultations in the Chamisku and Dawodia camps. We have also provided
mental health counseling for 644 people and nutritional screening for 1,693
children. There is a proliferation of respiratory tract, urinary tract, and
skin infections in the camps.
The Mediterranean Sea is
the most dangerous route for migrants and refugees trying to
reach Europe. Approximately 23,000 migrants and refugees have lost their
lives on this route since 2000 – and since the beginning of 2015, more than
3,000 people have died in the Mediterranean. A partnership has been created
between SOS Méditerranée and MdM to provide medical care and psychological
support for those rescued at sea.
In May 2015, our team in Jordan launched a mobile clinic in the rural area
of Ramtha focusing on Syrian refugees and vulnerable Jordanians. In just 90
days, the team has carried out 28,496 primary healthcare consultations,
including 2,666 sexual and reproductive health consultations and 1,619
mental health consultations.
At 1.17 million, refugees in Lebanon comprise over 25% of the total
population. From April to June of this year, MdM conducted 26,345
consultations for women and children. These included 4,906 sexual and
reproductive health consultations.
In the wake of the Paris attacks, Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov called
a Security Council meeting on November 14. There have been reports that
government officials in Macedonia have begun clearing land at the
Greek-Macedonian border in order to
erect a wire fence to restrict the flow of migrants and refugees into
Although we have limited access to Macedonia, MdM is
planning to launch a response that will provide direct medical care, and
hygiene and winter kits to the migrants and refugees, as well as supporting
national health facilities that provide care to migrants and refugees.
Earlier this fall, Amsterdam’s city council asked MdM to assist at three
different emergency shelter locations housing approximately 1,500 migrants.
MdM is also working with the Dutch Red Cross in two emergency centers: Ter
Apel and Heumensoord. In Ter Apel, the reception centre holds 500 people
waiting to apply for asylum. In Heumensoord, a tented camp, there are
currently 2,200 migrants and refugees, though our team estimates the camp
will soon reach 3,000.
Serbia is one of
the most important transit countries for migrants and refugees traveling
through Europe. Our team estimates that roughly 50,000 people arrive in
Serbia every week. As a result, MdM is preparing to launch an emergency
response in the country. The assessment team has also documented accounts of
discrimination and violence against the migrants and refugees in Serbia.
An estimated 6,000 refugees and migrants, mostly from Syria, arrived in
Spain between January and September of 2015. Most enter at the port towns of
Ceuta and Melilla and plan to continue on to Germany. On the Moroccan
border, police are making it increasingly difficult for Sub-Saharan African
migrants and refugees to cross the border to Spain, making them particularly
vulnerable to exploitation by local trafficking networks. Our MdM team in
Spain is coordinating with local and regional authorities and other NGOs
toto launch an emergency response.
Since September, over 50,000 people have asked for asylum in Sweden and
28,000 unaccompanied minors have been identified. In addition, there has
been a sharp rise in discrimination and violence against migrants and
refugees in recent months. As a result, many are instead traveling to
Finland and Norway. However, the MdM mobile team is operating 5 days a week
and is focused on providing care at the recently opened shelters.
In Switzerland, the number of migrants in the country has increased by 15%
since June, taxing the public resources of this small nation. Our team has
been helping to fill the gaps by providing medical care to the migrants and
In Syria, MdM is active in Aleppo, Idlib and Der’a. From April to June of
this year, our team treated 116,997 patients in 25 MdM supported health
facilities. They provided an additional 35,026 consultations in 9 MdM
In a 3-month period, the MdM team in Turkey treated 6,144 patients in the
Syrian border town of Reyhanli. MdM also cared for a total of 7,283 Iraqi
refugees in clinics in Diyarbakir, Batman and Sirnak.
In the UK, our London-based clinic provides medical care, information and
support to vulnerable migrants and refugees on their arrival to the UK. Many
of the newly-arrived are coming from the camp in Calais, France, where we
were the first medical organization on the ground.
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Posted: December 19, 2015
Happy Healthy Life and Celebrating Christmas
According to Dr Sally Norton
Leading a happy, healthy life – and that includes staying an ideal weight,
or losing weight if you need to …. diet free! - means that the last thing
you want to be doing is counting the calories in your Christmas dinner (not
much pleasure in that).
So to help you, I’ve put together five great tips that will let you approach
the festive period in a healthy, guilt-free way - so there’s no need to jump
on the 'New Year Fad Diet' bandwagon in 2015!
Christmas is one day, not a month!
It's all too tempting to flip over the
calendar to December and immediately take it as the green light to start
scoffing mince pies (or even earlier, with Christmas confectionery in shops
as early as September!). By restricting your indulgent treats to a few days
over Christmas they will feel more special and you won't have to feel guilty
about that slice of Christmas cake!
Clever snacking Instead of filling the house with tins of sugar-laden
confectionery, why not stock up on nuts to crack, bowls of satsumas and
dates. Equally as festive but with much healthier nutrition!
We know it's tempting to curl up on the sofa and veg out in front
of a marathon of festive flicks, but make sure you include one 40 minute
active period each day. It could be a big walk with all the family before
you sit down for lunch, or an excuse to escape a full house and make the
most of the empty local swimming pool for a few laps and a bit of peace and
quiet! Not only will you be balancing out your calories in/out to keep your
weight in check, you'll also be able to indulge a little more without the
Gifts that love you back
Why not ask Father Christmas for gifts that are
going to nurture your healthy habits? Consider a Fitbit Flex health tracker
(they act as a pedometer, sleep monitor and health tracker, then sync to
your phone/computer so you can chart your progress). Or perhaps you could do
with a new cycle helmet, swimsuit or yoga mat to kickstart your new fitness
plans? Or maybe a spa voucher so you can invest in a little 'me time' in the
New Year to start 2016 in a stress-free state.
Banish the bottle! A sure-fire way to pile on the pounds - without a mince
pie passing your lips - is to over-do it at the drinks cabinet over
Christmas. Did you know a large glass of red (250ml) has the same calories
as a slice of sponge cake - around 195kcal! A few hours at a drinks party
could be the equivalent of demolishing half a cake! Instead, try to stick to
only drinking alcohol over a few special days and don't over do it!
Alternate your alcohol drinks with water to space your drinks out and opt
for clear spirits (vodka, gin etc) with slimline mixers over calorie-laden
cream liqueurs, wines or beer
So in a festive nutshell, allowing yourself a little of what you fancy - and
keeping your main indulgences for a few days only - will let you enjoy that
seasonal fare and still feel good about yourself. And feeling good about
yourself means you’re less likely to overindulge, and more likely to stick
to sensible limits. Which all adds up to a nut-cracking Christmas time!
Dr Sally Norton is a
Weight Loss Surgeon and Founder of
Posted: December 16, 2015
The Human Rights Day
Eleanor Roosevelt holds and English
version poster of the Universal Declaration Human Rights (November 1949). UN
9 December 2015 – Every
year, the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly hears from
dozens of experts on human rights-related issues. The experts are appointed
by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back, in
an unpaid capacity, on specific human rights themes. The work of the
experts, 54 of whom presented their latest findings over the past two
months, covers all human rights – civil, cultural, economic, political, and
These rights are the
focus of this year’s Human Rights Day, which marks the launch of a year-long
campaign to celebrate the 50th anniversary of two of the oldest
international human rights treaties – the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights. These two documents, along with the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights, form the ‘International Bill of Human Rights,’ which
together set out the civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights
which are the birth right of all human beings.
Human Rights Day is
observed every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day on which, in
1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights. In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting
all States and interested organizations to observe 10 December of each year
as Human Rights Day.
This year's Human Rights
Day is devoted to the launch of a year-long campaign for the 50th
anniversary of the two International Covenants on Human Rights: the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which were adopted by
the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966.
The two Covenants, together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
form the International Bill of Human Rights, setting out the civil,
political, cultural, economic, and social rights that are the birth right of
all human beings.
"Our Rights. Our
Freedoms. Always." aims to promote and raise awareness of the two Covenants
on their 50th anniversary. The year-long campaign revolves around the theme
of rights and freedoms -- freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom
from want, and freedom from fear -- which underpin the International Bill of
Human Rights are as relevant today as they were when the Covenants were
adopted 50 years ago. For more this year's theme and the year-long campaign,
see the website of the UN Human Rights office.
Logo and promotional material
Please, mark, mind and read more on Human Rights on Human Rights Day,
Posted: December 10, 2015
Human Ingenuity: NASA' Armstrong Flight Research
Center’s F-15D Eagle Follows OLYMPEX Science Mission
Image Credit: NASA/Ken Ulbrich
NASA Armstrong Flight Research
Center’s F-15D Eagle #897, flown by pilot Troy Asher with videographer Lori
Losey in the back seat, serves as a chase vehicle for NASA's DC-8 flying
laboratory on the
Olympic Mountain Experiment (OLYMPEX)
science mission, Nov. 10, 2015. The OLYMPEX team of NASA and university
scientists are taking to the field from Nov. 10 to Dec. 21, studying wet
winter weather near Seattle, Washington to verify rain and snowfall
observations made by the
Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM)
Armstrong Flight Research Center
currently flies an
F-15D Eagle aircraft
for research support and pilot proficiency. NASA research support aircraft
are commonly called chase planes and fill the role of escort aircraft during
research missions. Chase pilots are in constant radio contact with research
pilots and serve as an "extra set of eyes" to help maintain total flight
safety during specific tests and maneuvers. They monitor certain events for
the research pilot and are an important safety feature on all research
missions. Chase aircraft also are used as camera platforms for research
missions that must be photographed or videotaped. Aeronautical engineers use
this pictorial coverage (photos, motion pictures, and videotape) extensively
to monitor and verify various aspects of research projects. The F-15D is
also used by Armstrong research pilots for routine flight training required
by all NASA pilots.
( Editor: Sarah Loff:
Posted: December 9, 2015
On International Day of Persons with
Disabilities, UN Urges Inclusion, Access for People of All Abilities
Members of the disabled community play a
game of football in Kayunga District, Uganda. Photo: UNICEF/Rebecca Vassie
3 December 2015 – The United Nations
is marking this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities today with
the theme “inclusion matters” to raise awareness and mobilize support for some
one billion people living with disabilities who remain one of the most
marginalized groups in the world.
“Building a sustainable, inclusive
world for all requires the full engagement of people of all abilities,”
Ban Ki-moon said in his
message on the
which has been celebrated on 3 December since 1992.
Mr. Ban noted that earlier this
year, the UN
Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction
recognized the key role people with disabilities can play in promoting a more
universally accessible approach in disaster preparedness and response.
And next year, he said, the
UN Conference on
Housing and Sustainable Urban Development
(HABITAT III) will discuss a new urban development agenda to make cities
inclusive, accessible and sustainable.
“As we look ahead, we need to
strengthen development policies and practices to ensure that accessibility is
part of inclusive and sustainable development,” the UN chief said. “This
requires improving our knowledge of the challenges facing all persons with
Among the commemorative events
around the world, at UN headquarters, the Day will be celebrated with an event
featuring panel discussions on such themes as ‘Accessible New Urban Agenda and
inclusion of persons with disabilities’ and ‘Invisible disabilities.’
In Paris, the UN Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization is hosting a
at its Paris headquarters entitled ‘Inclusion matters: access and empowerment
for people of all abilities.’
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova
said in her
message for the Day: “An
inclusive society is one that defends the rights and dignity of every citizen,
that empowers every woman and man to participate fully in every aspect of
social, political, economic and cultural life.”
“We have seen progress across the
world, but persons with disabilities remain one of the most marginalized groups
today,” Ms. Bokova said.
Participating in the conference is
Lenin Moreno, UN Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility, and the event is
expected to include panel discussions, a screening of short films showcasing the
courage and determination of people with disabilities in overcoming the
obstacles they face, and a jazz concert.
UNESCO said the estimated one
billion people living with disabilities worldwide face many barriers to
inclusion in key aspects of society. Eighty per cent of them live in developing
countries. One in three out-of-school children has a disability and fewer than
two per cent of children with disabilities in developing countries are in
Posted: December 4, 2015
The Importance of Being Optimistic According to Dr Sally Norton
When you find yourself thinking those negative thoughts
about yourself, your circumstances, or even about
others, STOP! Instead, force yourself to think of three
positive things instead – there will always be
something. If you persevere with looking for the good,
instead of the bad, it will become a habit. It’s well
worth the effort – the benefits of being more optimistic
are now being recognised in numerous studies
Many people see positivity as a genetic trait –
something they are either born with, or not. In the same
way that we might talk about our eye colour or height,
many of us will describe ourselves as naturally
optimistic or pessimistic. However, your brain can
change! In the same way that we can train our brains to
appreciate healthy food, we can train ourselves to have
a more positive outlook on life
Improved heart health
According to a new study from the University of
Illinois, having a positive outlook on life could
provide you with better heart health. The study of more
than 5,100 adults, found that those people who were most
optimistic, were twice as likely to be in ideal
cardiovascular health, compared with their pessimistic
counterparts, with significantly better blood sugar and
cholesterol levels. Not only this, but the optimists
were also more likely to be physically active and have
More likely to succeed
You might think that succeeding would lead you to
feeling happier, but in actual fact, it works the other
way round. Studies show that positivity and a happier
outlook will increase your chances of success. For
example, did you know that ¾ of our success at work is
linked to our optimism and how well we manage and deal
with stress, rather than our IQ? And being positive
could help you to achieve better results in smaller
tasks – in fact, studies have shown that people who are
encouraged to think positively before a maths test
actually did better than others!
Better chances of ditching the junk food
Struggling to lose that last half a stone? As I have
said many times, one of the reasons I believe that diets
ultimately fail, is that we usually start them in a
negative frame of mind – because we feel bad about the
way we look or feel. What’s more, for the majority of us
who have been on repeated diets, it is difficult not to
feel that this latest diet will end in the same way as
all the others – with all of the weight and more, going
back on. A negative frame of mind, science shows, means
we are less likely to succeed at our endeavours.
I believe that a major factor in helping us to lose
weight is to develop that positive frame of mind BEFORE
you start your small and sustainable steps towards
We all know that when we’re feeling negative, we
instinctively turn to sugary and fatty foods that will
give our bodies a quick burst of energy and feel-good
hormones. However, this is swiftly followed by a crash
in our blood sugar levels – leaving us feeling even
worse than before. These junk foods also do little to
help us lose any weight, adding to those negative
feelings that left us reaching for the junk food in the
first place! So instead, try focusing on the positives –
think about how hard you’ve worked so far, and how good
you’ll feel when you finally reach your goal weight, and
you’ll find those negative yearnings for junk food soon
More likely to stick with your fitness goals
Thinking about fitness in a negative way will make you
more likely to bail at the first opportunity. Studies
show that a positive frame of mind helps people to stick
with their fitness regimes as well as their healthy
eating goals. Once you get exercising, that positivity
is helped even more by the endorphins or feel-good
hormones that exercise releases. If you find that the
thought of heading to the gym leaves you feeling
miserable (I don’t blame you!), then ditch the gym! Try
finding different ways you could keep fit – fitness
classes, swimming, or brisk walks in the fresh air.
There’s something out there for everyone, and when
you’ve found an activity that you really enjoy, those
positive feelings will make you more likely to stick
with it for the long-haul.
Dr Sally Norton is a
Weight Loss Surgeon and Founder of
Posted on: December 3, 2015
This Year's Nobel Peace Prize is
Something 'Fairminededly' New
Minted in Fairmined Gold for
the first time: Image credit: Erik Five Gunnerud
Oslo, 3 December 2015
The winners of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize will be presented with
a medal that is made out of Fairmined certified gold for the first
time in the award’s history.
The Norwegian Mint, which produces the medal, has teamed up with the
Alliance for Responsible Mining in a bid to highlight the problems
faced by artisanal and small-scale gold miners in some of the
poorest parts of the world.
The prize, featuring the head of Alfred Nobel, was struck at the
Norway Mint in Kongsberg, Norway, ahead of the ceremony on December
10th when it will be presented to the Tunisian National Dialogue
Quartet, the mediators credited with saving a country on the brink
of civil war in the wake of the Arab Spring.
Gold mining is a vital source of income for many communities in
Latin America, Africa and Asia. Around 90 per cent of the world’s
gold miners work in artisanal and small-scale mines and often face
difficult conditions, working with simple tools and regularly using
damaging amounts of mercury, a substance which is dangerous for the
workers and presents an environmental hazard if not handled
The Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) is working to transform
artisanal and small-scale mining into a social and environmentally
responsible activity by supporting miners in reaching Fairmined
Certification. To be Fairmined certified the miners must meet strict
requirements for responsible practices to, deliver social
development and ensure environmental protection.
The jewellery industry has already come quite far with their
initiatives to promote responsible supply chains, but the coin
industry has some catching up to do. The partners involved in the
Nobel initiative hope that they can help open more eyes to the
problems faced by gold miners around the world.
“Having the Nobel Peace Prize made in Fairmined gold is an important
achievement for the miners as it shows that their dedication to
responsible mining is recognised internationally,” said Kenneth
Porter from the Alliance for Responsible Mining said. “It also shows
the world that you can get traceable gold from artisanal and
small-scale mining and make a positive impact in the communities.”
The gold used in the medal comes from the Fairmined certified Íquira
Cooperative in Colombia and has been supplied to the Mint by
Fairmined refiner S&P Trading - Gold by Gold.
“This initiative with Fairmined is not only about the Peace Prize
medal or our own business,” said Ole Bjorn Fausa, the CEO of the
coin producer Samlerhuset, which owns the Mint of Norway. “It is
about increasing the focus on these issues within the whole coin
industry, so that more companies start using gold from certified
small-scale mines. This way we can gradually improve the working
conditions for the miners, while at the same time safeguarding the
“Tens of millions of people are affected, directly and indirectly.
It is therefore very important that the players who use gold in
their products should be aware of the challenges which exist and are
willing to act to improve the situation,” says Kjell Wessel, CEO of
the Norwegian Mint.
“We have realised that, by virtue of our position, we have an
opportunity to be involved in, influence and improve the lives of
vulnerable people. This feels very right to us. Each company and
each player today has a social responsibility, and we consider this
to be part of ours.”
About the Alliance for Responsible Mining
The Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) is a non-profit
organisation globally recognised as a leader and pioneer of
responsible artisanal and small-scale mining. ARM works to transform
artisanal and small-scale mining into a socially and environmentally
responsible activity that improves the quality of life of artisanal
miners, their families and communities. Fairmined is a standard and
assurance label, developed by ARM, that certifies gold from
empowered responsible mining organisations. It is backed by a
rigorous third party certification and audit system that ensures
that small entrepreneurial mining organisations meet world leading
requirements for responsible practices. Fairmined transforms mining
into an active force for good, ensuring social development and
environmental protection, providing everyone with a source of gold
they can be proud of. Through the Fairmined Standard and ARM’s
technical support on the ground, miners are able to produce
Fairmined certified metals and gain access to responsible supply
chains. There are currently 10 Fairmined certified mining
organizations in Bolivia, Colombia, Peru and Mongolia and over 90
businesses worldwide that use Fairmined gold.
Posted on: December 4,
Fundamental Freedoms ‘Inalienable and
Inherent – Now and Always: UN on Human Rights Day
10 December 2015 – Marking
this year’s Human Rights Day amid extraordinary global challenges,
the United Nations is calling on the world to recognize and
guarantee fundamental freedoms – long recognized “as the birthright
of all people” – freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom of
speech and freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
“In a year that marks the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, we
can draw inspiration from the history of the modern human rights
movement, which emerged from the Second World War,” said Mr. Ban in
a message to mark Human Rights Day, celebrated annually on 10
Mr. Ban hailed the four basic freedoms identified by former United
States President Franklin D. Roosevelt – freedom of expression,
freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear, and
stressed that today's extraordinary challenges can be seen and
addressed “through the lens of [those] four freedoms.”
The Secretary-General highlighted the condition of millions of
people, who are denied freedom of expression and are living under
threat and urged to defend, preserve and expand democratic practices
and space for civil society for lasting stability.
Mr. Ban also noted that across the globe, terrorists have “hijacked
religion, betraying its spirit by killing in its name,” or targeting
minorities and exploring fears for political gain, thereby denying
people their freedom of worship.
“In response, we must promote respect for diversity based on the
fundamental equality of all people and the right to freedom of
religion,” stressed the Secretary-General.
Speaking about freedom from want, UN chief said much of humankind is
plagued by deprivation and called on world leaders to implement the
2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with the aim of ending
poverty and enabling all people to live in dignity on a peaceful,
Mr. Ban also said that millions of refugees and internally displaced
persons are a tragic product of the failure to fulfil the freedom
from fear, adding that not since the Second World War have so many
people been forced to flee their homes.
“They run from war, violence and injustice across continents and
oceans, often risking their lives. In response, we must not close
but open doors and guarantee the right of all to seek asylum,
without any discrimination. Migrants seeking an escape from poverty
and hopelessness should also enjoy their fundamental human rights,”
said the Secretary-General.
Lastly, reaffirming UN’s commitment to protecting human rights as
the foundation of the Organization’s work, Mr. Ban highlighted the
features of the Human Rights Up Front initiative, which aims to
prevent and respond to large-scale violations.
Echoing those sentiments, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid
Ra’ad Al Hussein added that “freedom is the ideal that underpins
what we now recognize as international human rights law, the norms
and regulations that protect and guarantee our rights.”
In a video message, Mr. Zeid noted that Human Rights Day 2015 marks
the launch of a year-long campaign to celebrate the 50th anniversary
of two of the oldest international human rights treaties – the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
“These two documents, along with the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, form the ‘International Bill of Human Rights,’ which
together set out the civil, cultural, economic, political and social
rights which are the birth right of all human beings,” said Mr. Zeid.
He also stressed that freedoms set out in these documents are
universal, applicable to everyone, everywhere and noted that
traditional practices, cultural norms, cannot justify taking them
“The world has changed since the UN General Assembly adopted the Two
Covenants in 1966.
The Covenants, together with the other human rights treaties, have
played an important role in securing better respect and recognition
during the past five, at times turbulent, decades,” added Mr. Zeid.
At the same time, the UN rights chief noted that the drafters of the
Covenants could have had little idea of issues such as digital
privacy, counter-terrorism measures and climate change, but respect
for freedom continues to be the foundation for peace, security and
development for all.
Lastly, echoing the theme of this year’s Day, he urged everyone to
join the celebration of freedom, to help “spread the message the
world over that our rights, our freedoms are inalienable and
inherent – now, and always.”
Speaking later in the day at a flower laying ceremony at Four
Freedoms Park in New York, Mr. Zeid paid respects to President
Roosevelt (FDR) and his wife Eleanor, recalling their significant
contribution to human rights.
“In the months and years after FDR’s death, States shaped the United
Nations, and wrote binding laws and agreed to be governed by them,
so that they would form a web of protection from the threats of
violence and deprivation,” said Mr. Zeid.
He also noted the growing turmoil across the globe, particularly in
the Middle East and parts of Africa, where the region faces massive
emergencies, are also generating an exodus of suffering amongst
people who are not free of fear or of want.
Mr. Zeid added that new “nightmarish” violent groups are seeking to
exterminate all those who dissent from their harsh and narrow world
“When humanity ceases to protect human rights, the system built to
ward off chaos and violence begins to crumble; the chain of human
security is broken; and selfishness, violence and conflict are
unleashed in more and more ways in more and more places,” said Mr.
Lastly, he stressed that it is imperative to translate FDR’s call
for freedom from want into a reality, the absence of which was
defined by the Secretary-General as ‘the silent crises – grinding
poverty, hunger, inequality, discrimination and other threats to
people’s lives and dignity.’
“Such extreme inequalities are unjust, divisive and socially
corrosive. They breed economic instability, social unrest and can –
and do –lead to conflict. This suffering is not inevitable: it is a
product of the choices we make,” said Mr. Zeid urging all Member
States to successfully implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable
Development to save and improve millions of lives.
Later in the day, the Secretary-General addressed an award ceremony
organized by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
called the Momentum for Change awards.
“Today, as never before, we see momentum for change coming from
every sector of society,” he said. “The 16 award winners this year
are focusing on some of the most important elements of climate
action. From solar-powered solutions for households in sub-Saharan
Africa, to communications tools that help rural farmers and Pacific
Island nations better predict and adapt to climate change, they are
Mr. Ban added that these initiatives were launched by individuals
who were inspired to turn the challenges posed by climate change
into opportunities for new ways of building a more sustainable
Posted: December 11,
UN Marks First International Day to
Commemorate Victims of Genocide; the ‘Crime of Crimes’
A Muslim grieving over his
son’s grave in Vitez, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Only two cases have
been recognized as genocide by international courts: Rwanda (1994)
and Srebrenica (Bosnia & Herzegovina, 1995). UN Photo/John Isaac
9 December 2015 – The
United Nations today marked the first International Day of
Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide
and of the Prevention of this Crime to remember the victims of the
“crime of crimes” and to call for action against the rise of
hostility, xenophobia and intolerance across the world.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message on the Day that
there is a need to pay more attention to the warning signs, and be
prepared to take immediate action to address them.
“After all, genocide does not just happen; it unfolds over time,”
Mr. Ban said. “It is not part of the accidental ‘fallout’ of
conflict; most often, it is systematic, planned, with precise
targets, and it can also take place outside of conflict situations,”
The UN chief warned there is a dangerous “us versus them” dynamic
that “is often being exploited to justify the exclusion of
communities based on different forms of identity such as religion,
ethnicity or ‘other,’ and to deny assistance, restrict human rights
and perpetrate atrocious acts of violence.”
“On this new international observance, let us recognize the need to
work together more concertedly to protect individuals from gross
human rights violations and uphold our common humanity,” he said.
At UN Headquarters in New York, the world body marked its first-ever
commemoration of the International Day, designated as 9 December by
the UN General Assembly, with a performance by the UN symphony
orchestra and a minute of silence in honour of all those people
around the world who have perished through the crime of genocide.
UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, who
chaired the event, said the day has two important elements: “It is
about the past, and also about the future.”
“This day represents both memory and action – memory as a step
towards action,” he said.
Noting that “most of us are unable to even begin to imagine the
extreme pain, the suffering and the trauma caused by the violence
associated with genocide and other atrocity crimes,” he recalled a
visit he made to Iraq in November, when he spent time with members
of the Yezidi community and other minority groups.
“I was deeply moved by the stories they shared of the horrors they
have been through – killings, rape, torture, forced displacement and
the destruction of their communities – simply because of the beliefs
that they hold, simply because of who they are,” he said. “It is
difficult to grasp that human beings can be so cruel, and in such a
“Unfortunately, this is just one of too many examples around the
world today,” Mr. Dieng warned.
Picking up that thread in his remarks, Deputy Secretary-General Jan
Eliasson noted that this has been a year of “agonizing suffering in
Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Mali and
places too numerous to mention.” He said that individuals and
communities have been targeted because of their religious or ethnic
identity in many cases, “in other words simply because of who they
are, who they are born into.”
Mr. Eliasson went on to underscore that intolerance, discrimination
and xenophobia are on the rise and that the ‘us versus them’ dynamic
is taking hold, fed by systematic fear-mongering from terrorists and
violent extremists. “It is also important that democratic societies
do not fall in the trap of such provocations to divide us as human
beings. The social fabric in many of our societies is fraying.
Polarization and division are growing. This is how the seeds of
uncontrollable violence are sown,” he added.
Against this background, he said the first International Day is an
opportunity for the UN to come together to raise awareness of the
Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
and also an opportunity to reflect on the Convention’s role in
combating and preventing the crime of genocide, and to commemorate
and honour the millions of victims of genocide.
“In doing this, we must ask ourselves how we give meaning to a
promise we have made but several times we have failed to keep: the
promise of ‘never again.’ Every time we repeat that phrase after a
genocide, we in fact, admit a monumental and shameful failure,” said
“We owe a solemn and serious such pledge to those who have lost
their lives to this, the most atrocious of crimes. We owe it to
their families. We owe it to the survivors and the communities who
carry the lasting physical and emotional scars from genocide,” he
Opening the event, Mogens Lykketoft, President of the UN General
Assembly, said in choosing 9 December to commemorate victims of this
“crime of crimes”, the Assembly has chosen also to honour those who
worked tirelessly for the Convention, adopted on this day exactly 67
“We, Member States, must therefore focus on and invest in early
prevention and in building inclusive and cohesive societies,” Mr.
Lykketoft said. “We must establish national and regional measures
and mechanisms for the prevention of genocide and other atrocity
Posted: December 10,
Today, I, too, am Parisian: Ban Ki-moon
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Pays
Tribute to the Victims of the Terrorist Attacks in Paris on 13
November. December 2015. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
6 December 2015 – On the margins of the United Nations climate
change conference (COP21) today, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
paid tribute to the one hundred and thirty victims of the attacks
which shook Paris almost one month ago.
Alongside the mayor of the city, Anne Hidalgo, Mr. Ban placed a
bouquet of flowers in front of the Bataclan concert hall, and bowed
his head. Tens of bystanders applauded the gesture, chanting “merci
merci, Monsieur Ban Ki-moon.”
Next, the UN chief visited the “La Bonne Bière” restaurant, the
first to be hit on 13 November and where five people lost their
“Today, I, too, am Parisian,” said the Secretary-General sitting
inside the café, with Mayor Hidalgo and other top UN officials. “I
am very moved. To the families and loved ones of the five people who
were killed here, and to all the victims of the barbaric attacks on
13 November, I present my sincere condolences.”
Drinking a coffee, he said Paris is a symbol of culture and of the
“art of living,” and noted that the reopening of the café ten days
ago is also symbol of resistance to terror.
“In this regard, the Government of France's decision to maintain the
UN climate change conference shows its determination to uphold the
values of the United Nations: liberty, peace, equality and justice,”
Earlier today Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon continued his work
related to the UN climate change conference (COP21), meeting with
African environmental ministers. He reiterated his belief that
“Africa has an enormous stake in the conference's success.”
“Your personal engagement and ownership are essential to securing
the ambitious agreement that Africa's people and the entire world
need,” he told them. “Already, your leadership has helped make 2015
a year of opportunity.”
Meanwhile, this morning on the banks of the Seine, Mr. Ban visited
the Tara, a scientific exploration research vessel which travels the
world sampling water and collecting plankton, one of the planet's
major oxygen producers.
“For 10 years, Tara has sailed the oceans, monitoring the marine the
changes in the ocean, particularly degradation of marine
environment. They have been measuring and providing data to our
scientific community to that we can better address climate change,”
Mr. Ban told reporters.
On the Tara, the UN chief also spoke with a dozen children, who have
family members working on the vessel.
“It is important that we must preserve our oceans healthy so that we
can have a healthy and prosperous planet. Our planet is 70 per cent
oceans. It is the basis of our life,” Mr. Ban stressed.
The Tara has been in Paris since November at the invitation of Mayor
Hidalgo to raise awareness about COP21, and will remain on the
Parisian banks through 18 December.
As the second and last week of the United Nations conference begins
tomorrow, the UN chief also highlighted today that he is “optimistic
and confident” that the world will have a universal and ambitious
agreement, while urging Member States to look beyond their national
Posted: December 7, 2015
UNICEF Youth Climate Advocates Act Now
for Tomorrow in Paris
UNICEF youth climate advocates
attend the UN climate change conference in Paris, France. 2 December
2015. Photo: UNICEF France/Zumstein
3 December 2015 – A
digital mapping project called ‘Act now for tomorrow,’ which was
recently launched by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), is
helping young people around the world identify climate issues in
their communities and find ways to address them.
“The global climate map is engaging 500 young people from 65
countries,” Zayn Abaakil, a UNICEF child engagement coordinator,
told the UN News Centre in one of the conference halls of the UN
climate change conference (COP21) where dozens of innovative climate
projects are being showcased over the next two weeks.
The idea behind the project, she said, is for young people to show
the link between climate issues and the impacts they see every day,
which are affecting their health and access to education.
The UN agency recently reported that more than half a billion
children live in areas with extremely high flood occurrences, while
160 million are in high drought severity zones.
“They see all the contributions from other young people,” explained
Ms. Abaakil, and “they understand that the issue is a global one,
that they are all connected around the same problem, but also learn
from each other, look at the best practices that have been done from
different places, and connect.”
Seven UNICEF youth ambassadors have travelled from all corners of
the globe to attend COP21, display their findings, and exchange
stories – this time in person. One of them is Andozile Simwinga, a
driven18-year old Zambian student who said the impacts of climate
change on his country are affecting his self-esteem.
“Things, they don’t actually move the way they’re supposed to move
and young people are not happy the way they should be,” he said
Despite talking about an issue that clearly causes him distress, Mr.
Simwinga couldn’t hide the enthusiasm he feels being in Paris and
contributing to this global event.
“[The effect of climate change] has really made me feel low – I go
out of my house every day and I look at the environment. People have
cut down trees, there’s deforestation everywhere. I want to do
environmental studies but what am I going to address? What am I
going to talk about? What am I going to tell […] my children and
also the future generations? We had trees here; we had different
types of animals. So it really has affected my self-esteem.”
Meanwhile, 22-year-old old Bellinda Raymond traveled from Malaysia
to attend the Youth Conference prior to heading to the UN climate
conference. She described herself as an active citizen, someone who
engages with members of her indigenous community, especially ahead
of major weather events that have the potential to destroy homes and
vital surroundings. She said her grandparents weren’t affected by
climate change in the ways she is today.
“As an indigenous person, we depend on the forest and rivers for our
daily life – and we also have our traditional system, also related
to the climate. The weather is now unpredictable and we need to
adapt to the environment that’s changing,” Ms. Raymond said.
Asked what the worse effect of climate change has been on her
community, she answered floods.
“Because last time, when the rain came, it was still okay for us,
but now just two hours of rain [and] it’s already flooding and has
caused a lot of damage; people cannot go to work, and it’s difficult
to access the outside.”
As youth ambassadors celebrated ‘Young and Future Generations Day’
at COP21 on Thursday, government delegations continued to negotiate
a new climate agreement which the world’s people hope will be
ambitious enough to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees
Celsius, and prevent further degradation of the planet.
Posted: December 4, 2015
Scandinavian Christmas Market
Guild Celebrated its 50th Year This
Year: Photo: Finn Guild
It was a windy
November weekend when Finn-Guild set
up camp at the Albion Street
Scandinavian Christmas Market...
There were banners and flyers, and
our Christmas Draw, and lovely
people came flocking in. Everyone
had a great time talking with
everyone about the Northern Lights
and how they are maybe switched on
at the same time as the Oxford
Street lights, and how the Finnish
language survives years of
expatriate life, and many other
things that Christmas and Finland
have power to inspire.
The market was a great way to get
into the season's spirit, and there
was a winner of the competition. The
Christmas hamper is now on its way
to one lucky Caroline Derry!
December 3, 2015
The Humanion: United It Waits for COP21 to
Commit to Act
Act: to think rationally, look logically,
analyse scientifically, argue with mathematics,
debate, discus and discourse with courage ,
imagination and vision and, having accepted
science, chose to act and act judiciously,
equitably and with commitment and determination
so that the gap between words and actions remain
no longer. There is none and cannot be any such
thing as national interest or group interest or
regional interest; there is one, and only
interest: the interest and common good of the
Earth, of the World, of the entire Humane Race.
And at such a juncture, FAILURE IS NOT AN
OPTION. For The World, the Humanity is watching
you. December 2, 2015. The Humanion
Kollaripics is done using images of the Global
Climate Change Marches that have been taking
place around the world. Photo Credit:
350.org Order L-R, C-W: Oslo,
Johannesburg, Tokyo, Helsinki, Paris, Cairo,
350.org Logo and Warsaw (Repeated)
The World Gathers at
COP21 Climate Summit in Paris: It is Time to
Respond to the Call of Principle COP:
Cease the day: Carpe
As world leaders gather
and begin the proceedings of the Climate Change
in Paris the humanion, which they are part of
and represent, places its most high hope
and most desperate plea: act, think, discuss,
debate, argue, reason as physicists, as
mathematicians, as neurologists, as scientists
and choose to respond to the call of principle
(COP) and make the choice to be courageous so to
choose to cease the opportunity to do something
astonishing. Cease the day: Carpe diem.
The Humanion: December 1, 2015
Image: The UN
Webinar : 12 schools and 400 3-8 grade students from the
United States and the United Kingdom joined an interactive
webinar with two team members from SpaceIL HQ in Tel Aviv!
Our very own Adam Michaels and Noa Eshet, gave an
out-of-this-world, fascinating online lesson about the first
Israeli spacecraft to the Moon from our office in Tel Aviv,
using Nearpod technology. The advanced digital platform has
enabled hundreds of students from Hochberg Prep school to
watch Adam and Noa on a central screen in class, while
receiving the educational materials to their personal
Posted on: December 1, 2015
Valentina Tereshkova The First Woman in Space
Valentina Tereshkova: Copyright ESA :
Valentina Tereshkova was born in Maslennikovo, near
Yaroslavl, in Russia on 6 March 1937. She was the first
woman to go to space at the age of 26 on the Vostok 6
rocket. Her mission lasted just under three days (two days,
23 hours, and 12 minutes).
Valentina Tereshkova was born in
Maslennikovo, near Yaroslavl, in Russia on 6 March 1937. Her
father was a tractor driver and her mother worked in a
textile factory. Interested in parachuting from a young age,
Tereshkova began skydiving at a local flying club, making
her first jump at the age of 22 in May 1959. At the time of
her selection as a cosmonaut, she was working as a textile
worker in a local factory.
After the first human spaceflight by Yuri Gagarin, the
selection of female cosmonaut trainees was authorised by the
Soviet government, with the aim of ensuring the first woman
in space was a Soviet citizen.
On 16 February 1962, out of more than 400 applicants, five
women were selected to join the cosmonaut corps: Tatyana
Kuznetsova, Irina Solovyova, Zhanna Yorkina, Valentina
Ponomaryova and Valentina Tereshkova. The group spent
several months in training, which included weightless
flights, isolation tests, centrifuge tests, 120 parachute
jumps and pilot training in jet aircraft.
Valentina Tereshkova : Copyright
Valentina was the first woman to go to space at the age
of 26 on the Vostok 6 rocket. Her mission lasted just under
three days (two days, 23 hours, and 12 minutes).
Four candidates passed the final
examinations in November 1962, after which they were
commissioned as lieutenants in the Soviet air force (meaning
Tereshkova also became the first civilian to fly in space,
since technically these were only honorary ranks).
Originally a joint mission was planned that would see two
women launched on solo Vostok flights on consecutive days in
March or April 1963. Tereshkova, Solovyova and Ponomaryova
were the leading candidates. It was intended that Tereshkova
would be launched first in Vostok 5, with Ponomaryova
following her in Vostok 6.
However, this plan was changed in March 1963: Vostok 5 would
carry a male cosmonaut, Valeri Bykovsky, flying the mission
with a woman in Vostok 6 in June. The Russian space
authorities nominated Tereshkova to make the joint flight.
After watching the launch of Vostok 5 at Baikonur Cosmodrome
on 14 June, Tereshkova completed preparations for her own
flight. On the morning of 16 June, Tereshkova and her backup
Solovyova both dressed in spacesuits and were taken to the
launch pad by bus. After completing checks of communication
and life support systems, she was sealed inside her
After a two-hour countdown, Vostok 6 lifted off without
fault and, within hours, she was in communication with
Bykovsky in Vostok 5, marking the second time that two
manned spacecraft were in space at the same time. With the
radio call sign ‘Chaika’ (‘seagull’), Tereshkova had become
the first woman in space. She was 26.
Tereshkova’s televised image was broadcast throughout the
Soviet Union and she spoke to Khrushchev by radio. She
maintained a flight log and performed various tests to
collect data on her body’s reaction to spaceflight. Her
photographs of Earth and the horizon were later used to
identify aerosol layers within the atmosphere.
Her mission lasted just under three days (two days, 23
hours, and 12 minutes). With a single flight, she had logged
more flight time than the all the US Mercury astronauts who
had flown to that date combined. Both Tereshkova and
Bykovsky were record-holders. Bykovsky had spent nearly five
days in orbit and even today he retains the record for
having spent the longest period of time in space alone.
Posted on: December 2, 2015
The Winners of the United Nations COP21
Youth Climate Video Competition
Saraswati Upadhaya from Nepal and Charles
Batte from Uganda have just won the 2015 Global Youth Video
Competition. This first edition was launched by
Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE), UNFCCC
secretariat, in partnership with
the Environment (TVE) and supported by the
Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme, which is
run by the United Nations Environment Programme. The
competition aimed to spotlight climate action videos by a
number of young people, in the hope of prompting other young
people, as well as political officials, to be just as
active. Young people between the ages of 18 and 30, and from
60 different countries, were called upon to participate.
The winners, Saraswati
Upadhaya from Nepal and Charles Batte from Uganda, will
travel to the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in
December 2015 and work with the communications team of the
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
in covering highlights of the meeting.
UNFCCC Executive Secretary
Christiana Figueres said she wanted “to congratulate the
winners and thank all the young people who sent in videos
showcasing all the rich and fascinating ways in which they
are taking concrete action in their communities. I am sure
this, our first video competition on youth solutions to
climate change, will contribute to growing world-wide
momentum for change that is assisting to build confidence
before Paris and will sweep us along before the inking of a
new agreement into a climate safe century.”
The video “Small Efforts for
Big Change” by Saraswati Upadhaya shows the vulnerability of
regions in Nepal that need to deal with the impacts of
climate change such as diminishing water supplies, and how
local communities deal with the problem. The young activist
also highlights her efforts to communicate her knowledge of
climate change to children at local schools.
Posted on: December 1,
Katherine Johnson The Mind of a Mathematician
Image Credit: NASA
“I counted everything. I counted the
steps to the road, the steps up to church, the number of
dishes and silverware I washed … anything that could be
counted, I did.” So said Katherine Johnson, recipient of the
2015 National Medal of Freedom.
Born in 1918 in the little town of White Sulfur Springs,
West Virginia, Johnson was a research mathematician, who by
her own admission, was simply fascinated by numbers.
Fascinated by numbers and smart to boot, for by the time she
was 10 years old, she was a high school freshman--a truly
amazing feat in an era when school for African-Americans
normally stopped at eighth grade for those could indulge in
Her father, Joshua, was determined that
his bright little girl would have a chance to meet her
potential. He drove his family 120 miles to Institute, West
Virginia, where she could continue her education through
high school. Johnson's academic performance proved her
father's decision was the right one: Katherine skipped
though grades to graduate from high school at 14, from
college at 18.
In 1953, after years as a teacher and
later as a stay-at-home mom, she began working for NASA's
predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for
Aeronautics, or NACA. The NACA had taken the unusual step of
hiring women for the tedious and precise work of measuring
and calculating the results of wind tunnel tests in 1935. In
a time before the electronic computers we know today, these
women had the job title of “computer.” During World War II,
the NACA expanded this effort to include African-American
women. The NACA was so pleased with the results that, unlike
many organizations, they kept the women computers at work
after the war. By 1953 the growing demands of early space
research meant there were openings for African-American
computers at Langley Research Center’s Guidance and
Navigation Department – and Katherine Johnson found the
perfect place to put her extraordinary mathematical skills
As a computer, she calculated the
trajectory for Alan Shepard, the first American in space.
Even after NASA began using electronic computers, John Glenn
requested that she personally recheck the calculations made
by the new electronic computers before his flight aboard
Friendship 7 – the mission on which he became the first
American to orbit the Earth. She continued to work at NASA
until 1986 combining her math talent with electronic
computer skills. Her calculations proved as critical to the
success of the Apollo Moon landing program and the start of
the Space Shuttle program, as they did to those first steps
on the country's journey into space.
From honorary doctorates to the 1967 NASA Lunar Orbiter
Spacecraft and Operations team award (for pioneering work in
the field of navigation problems supporting the five
spacecraft that orbited and mapped the moon in preparation
for the Apollo program) Katherine Johnson has led a life
positively littered with honors. But on Tuesday, November
24, 2015, she will receive the nation's highest civilian
award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, from President
Barack H. Obama.
Not bad, for a little girl from West Virginia, who
coincidentally (or maybe not) was born on August 26: Women's
( Editor: Yvette Smith: NASA)
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden's
Statement About Katherine Johnson's Receiving The
Presidential Medal of Freedom
The following is a statement from NASA
Administrator Charles Bolden about former NASA mathematician
and physicist Katherine Johnson being awarded the
Presidential Medal of Freedom Tuesday:
“Katherine Johnson once remarked that even though she grew
up in the height of segregation, she didn’t think much about
it because ‘I didn’t have time for that… don’t have a
feeling of inferiority. Never had. I’m as good as anybody,
but no better.’
“The truth in fact, is that Katherine is indeed better.
She’s one of the greatest minds ever to grace our agency or
our country, and because of the trail she blazed, young
Americans like my granddaughters can pursue their own dreams
without a feeling of inferiority.
“Katherine’s legacy is a big part of the reason that my
fellow astronauts and I were able to get to space; it’s also
a big part of the reason that today there is space for women
and African-Americans in the leadership of our nation,
including the White House.
“The entire NASA family is both proud of and grateful to
Katherine Johnson, a true American pioneer who helped our
space program advance to new heights, while advancing
humanity’s march of progress ever forward.”
The following is a statement from NASA Deputy Administrator
“The reach of Katherine Johnson’s leadership and impact
extends from classrooms across America all the way to the
moon. Katherine once remarked that while many of her
colleagues refrained from asking questions or taking tasks
further than merely ‘what they were told to do,’ she chose
instead to ask questions because she ‘wanted to know why.’
“For Katherine, finding the ‘why’ meant enrolling in high
school at the age of 10; calculating the trajectory of Alan
Shepard’s trip to space and the Apollo 11’s mission to the
moon; and providing the foundation that will someday allow
NASA to send our astronauts to Mars. She literally wrote the
textbook on rocket science.
“We are all so fortunate that Katherine insisted on asking
questions, and insisted on relentlessly pursing the answers.
We are fortunate that when faced with the adversity of
racial and gender barriers, she found the courage to say
‘tell them I’m coming.’ We are also fortunate that Katherine
has chosen to take a leading role in encouraging young
people to pursue education in the STEM disciplines of
science, technology, engineering, and math.
“Katherine was born on National Equality Day. Few Americans
have embodied the true spirit of equity as profoundly or
impacted the cause of human exploration so extensively. At
NASA, we are proud to stand on Katherine Johnson’s
(Lauren Worley Headquarters, Washington 202-358-1600
( Editor: Gina Anderson: NASA)
Posted on : November 26, 2015
The Association of Space Explorers With
Members from 37 Countries Having the Latest Member from
Danish flag in space. Copyright
Following his mission to the
International Space Station, ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen
has joined ranks of the Association of Space Explorers. Just
10 days after landing he attended the Association’s congress
in Sweden in September, becoming the first Danish member.
The Association is the only professional organisation of
spacefarers. It now has almost 400 members from, with his
membership, 37 countries. They are united in sharing with
audiences all over the world the global perspective they
have gained of our planet from their space travel.
The latest congress saw iconic participants such as Alexei
Leonov, the first spacewalker, and Bruce McCandless, the
first to float freely in space.
The ESA Astronaut Corps was well represented, with the class
of 2009 astronauts fascinating their audiences with stories
and experiences from space. Samantha Cristoforetti told how
she was “Inspired by Space” – the motto of this year’s
Luca Parmitano held his audience spellbound by recounting
how he had to find his way blindly back to the airlock as
water leaked into his helmet during a spacewalk.
All the astronauts at the congress met thousands of
schoolchildren and students in Stockholm and southern Sweden
during lectures held on two mornings.
“It is an honour, of course, to be the latest member of the
Association of Space Explorers,” said Andreas.
“I hope many children we met will now want to follow
Samantha, Luca and myself to the stars by studying science,
technology, engineering and mathematics.”
Find out more about the Association of Space Explorers via
Iriss Mission Blog
To Connect With
Posted on : November 25, 2015
Skinsuits for Space Demonstration at Kings College,
Skinsuit Kings College . Released
10/01/2014 2:22 pm
Students from Kings College London, UK, wearing the 'Skinsuit' as subjects
for a functional evaluation study. Floating in space,
astronauts’ bodies adapt to weightlessness in ways that are
not always wanted. Bone and muscle waste away as they have
less work to do without gravity. The Skinsuit is a
tailor-made overall with a bi-directional weave specially
designed to counteract the lack of gravity by squeezing the
body from the shoulders to the feet with a similar force to
that felt on Earth. Copyright Kings College London,
Centre for Human Aerospace Physiological Sciences.
The Space Medicine Office of ESA’s
European Astronaut Centre is managing a project that could
help astronauts overcome back problems in space, simply by
wearing a high-tech tight-fitting ‘skinsuit’.
Floating in space, astronauts’ bodies adapt to
weightlessness in ways that are not always wanted. Bone and
muscle waste away as they have less work to do without
Astronauts have been known to grow by up to 7 cm as their
spines lengthen in weightlessness. Many astronauts suffer
from backache during their missions as a result. Back on
Earth they need to take care as they exercise their bodies
into shape, because after the mission an astronaut has four
times more chance of suffering a slipped disc than usual.
The Skinsuit is a tailor-made overall with a bi-directional
weave specially designed to counteract the lack of gravity
by squeezing the body from the shoulders to the feet with a
similar force to that felt on Earth. Current prototypes are
made of spandex although new materials are being examined.
“Getting the suit to fit correctly was challenging,”
explains Simon Evetts, Medical Projects and Technology Unit
team lead at the European Astronaut Centre. “We needed to
create a suit that is both tight-fitting but comfortable to
wear, while creating the right amount of force in the right
Measuring Skinsuit force
ESA’s Space Medicine Office is working with the universities
of Kings College and University College in London, England,
and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, to test
prototypes. ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen will be the first
to wear the suit in space during his mission in 2015, where
he will evaluate it from a functional perspective.
The Skinsuit has potential for use on Earth as well as for
astronauts. “If the technology is effective in space, it
could help the elderly and many people with lower-back
problems on Earth,” says Simon.
“Additionally, Skinsuit technology could improve the support
garments currently used for conditions like cerebral palsy.”
European Astronauts Centre
Posted on: November 22, 2015
Some of the Minds Working at ESA for Missions Possible
Photo Credit :
ESA/J. Mai - CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO
They have a passion for space and are
some of the best engineers anywhere, conducting flight
operations for exploration, technology and Earth missions
worth billions of euros. Above all, ESA’s flight directors
and spacecraft operations managers are team leaders, working
to motivate people and manage complex systems on the cutting
edge of exploration.
This photo, taken 2 November, shows 25 of
the 40 spacecraft operations managers and flight directors
assigned to missions this year. Those not present were away
on duty travel, working off site or overseeing live
operations or simulation training.
At the moment, ESA’s control centre in
Darmstadt, Germany, is seeing a historically intense pace of
flight operations. There are four training campaigns in
progress for Galileo-11/12, LISA Pathfinder, Sentinel-3A and
ExoMars to prepare teams for upcoming launches, while flight
operations for 15 satellites plus three more controlled from
ESA’s Redu Centre in Belgium continue.
The launch and operation of any ESA
mission requires a multidisciplinary ‘team of teams’ working
across the agency and supported by industry and academia.
However, it is the spacecraft operations manager, the
ubiquitous SOM, who is immediately responsible for
day-to-day flight activities, planning and execution, and
for solving the myriad problems that inevitably arise when
complex satellites voyage into space.
An SOM is assigned to each current and
upcoming ESA mission, and his/her first task is to build the
Flight Control Team, comprising spacecraft engineers and
technicians who specialise in each of the mission’s
technical areas, including attitude and orbit control, power
and thermal and onboard computer systems.
The Flight Control Teams are supported by
experts working in areas such as flight dynamics, software
and ground tracking stations.
Teams are multidisciplinary and
multicultural, and provide oversight for their missions 24
hours per day, 365 days per year.
In the photo
Back row, from left: Marcus Kirsch
(Xmm Newton), Hervé Côme (Galileo), Kim Nergaard (Meteron),
David Evans (OPS-SAT), Bruno Sousa (Cluster), Juan Piñeiro
(Aeolus), Richard Southworth (Integral), Isabel Rojo (Seosat),
Daniel Mesples (Sentinel-5P), Paolo Ferri (Head of Mission
Operations), Franco Marchese (Sentinel-2), Tiago Loureiro (ExoMars/Rover
2018), Ignacio Tanco (Solar Orbiter), Christoph Steiger (GOCE),
Paul Steele (Meteron), Peter Schmitz (ExoMars/TGO 2016),
Elia Maestroni (Cryosat).
Between the rows: Adam Williams
(Venus Express), Sylvain Lodiot (Rosetta)
Front row: Micha Schmidt (Euclid),
Frank Diekmann (Swarm), Andrea Accomazzo (Head of Solar &
Planetary Missions, JUICE), Pier P Emanuelli (Head of EO
Missions), José Morales (Sentinel-3), David Milligan (Gaia)
Absent: Andreas Rudolph (astronomy
& fundamental physics division head), Benoit Demelenne (Probas),
Danilo Liberatore (Galileo), Elsa Montagnon (BepiColombo),
Etienne Tilmans (Probas), Ian Harrison (LISA Pathfinder),
Ian Shurmer (Sentinel-1), Liviu Stefanov (Galileo), Michael
Schmidt (Head of Studies & Special Projects), Michel Denis
(Mars Express), Nic Mardle (EarthCARE, BioMass), Richard
Lumb (Galileo), Sandro Matussi (Galileo), Steve Foley
(MSG-4), Nigel Head (MSG-4)
Posted on: November 18, 2015
Human Ingenuity: NASA's
Prandtl-D Research Aircraft
Image Credit: NASA/Ken
Armstrong Flight Research Center engineers are working on an
increasingly complex aircraft called the
Preliminary Research Aerodynamic Design to Lower Drag, or
Prandtl-D. Resembling a boomerang, the aircraft features
a new method for determining the shape of the wing with a
twist that could lead to an 11-percent reduction in fuel
consumption. In this photograph,
the Prandtl-D No. 2, which had a 12.5-foot wingspan,
lands following a flight test.
28, 2015, the
25-foot remotely piloted Prandtl-D No. 3, which has a
25-foot wingspan, gracefully glided following a bungee-like
launch during a one minute, 33 second flight. Continued
success of the Prandtl-D aircraft could validate future
aircraft designs using the same wing loading, resulting in
an 11-percent fuel savings. Another 30 percent fuel savings
could be achieved if future designers use the controls
benefits of this new wing design to eliminate the use of
aircraft tails, thus flying more like birds.
Sarah Loff: NASA)
November 13, 2015
Reinhold was born 18
December 1956 in Mönchengladbach, Germany, Reinhold
Ewald is married and has three children. He enjoys
reading and spending time with his family and performs
with an amateur theatre group. He also plays football
and holds a black belt in karate.
Reinhold received a Bachelor of Science degree in
Physics from the University of Cologne in 1977 and has a
Master of Science in Experimental Physics in 1983. He
graduated in 1986 with a PhD in Physics and a minor
degree in human physiology.
Reinhold is a member of the Deutsche Physikalische
Gesellschaft (German Physics Society) and the
Association of Space Explorers. He is a Full Member of
the International Academy of Astronautics.
Russia’s Order of Friendship in 1992 and Russia’s Medal
for Personal Courage in 1997, awarded by President
Yeltsin of the Russian Federation. In 2011 he received
the Russian medal for Achievements in Spaceflight. He
was awarded the German Federal Cross of Merit (First
Class) in 1997.
From 1983 to 1987 Reinhold was a research scientist with
the University of Cologne on a German academic research
federation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) project to
assemble and use a 3 m-diameter radio telescope at the
Gornergrat Observatory at an altitude of 3100 m near
Zermatt, Switzerland. His research topic was the
structure and dynamics of interstellar molecular clouds,
which are thought to be the birthplace of new stars.
In 1987 Reinhold joined the DLR German Aerospace Center.
He managed several projects in extraterrestrial science,
including the SOFIA airborne stratospheric observatory,
and various experiments launched on sounding rockets
from the Esrange facility in Sweden. He then became the
coordinator for spaceflight in DLR’s planning
In 1990 he joined the German national astronaut team and
took up training for the German–Russian Mir ’92 mission
at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City,
Russia. As backup astronaut for Mir ’92, launched 17
March 1992, he served as Crew Interface Coordinator at
the Russian mission control centre, TsUP, in Korolev,
providing communications between the crew in orbit and
the project management and scientists on the ground.
After the mission, he returned to Germany as the Deputy
Head of DLR’s Astronaut Office and supported the
Spacelab-D2 mission on the Space Shuttle mission STS-55,
In 1993 Reinhold was appointed assistant to the Director
of DLR’s Space Programme. He was responsible for
extraterrestrial, spaceflight and microgravity
In 1995 he returned to Star City, Russia, to train for
the second German–Russian mission, Mir ’97.
From 1998 to 2002 Reinhold lectured part-time on
spaceflight operations at the Technical University of
Munich. Since then he has also lectured at the
International Space University in Strasbourg, France,
where he is a member of the faculty, and at the
Technical University of Aachen, Germany.
In February 1999 he joined ESA’s European Astronaut
Corps at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne,
Reinhold was the Crew Operations Manager for two Soyuz
missions with ESA astronauts to the International Space
Station in 2002. As ESA’s Operations Manager from his
duty station in ESTEC, the Netherlands, he directed the
two nationally sponsored missions in 2003 and 2004.
In 2005 he was appointed Head of the International Space
Station Mission Integration and Operations Division in
the ESA Directorate of Operations and Infrastructure
with a permanent duty station at the Columbus Control
Centre near Munich, Germany, From July to December 2006,
as ESA’s Operations Manager, he supervised preparation
and flight operations for the first long-duration
mission of an ESA astronaut on the International Space
Station. The Astrolab mission with ESA astronaut Thomas
Reiter was a precursor to Columbus operations.
Reinhold led the ESA operations management team during
the STS-122/1E mission, which delivered Europe’s
Columbus laboratory module to the Station in February
2008. When Columbus operations began in 2008 and until
March 2011 Reinhold was ESA’s lead person at the
Columbus Control Centre and interacted with the
Industrial Operations Team and their representatives in
Mission Integration, Executive Planning and Mission
Operations services to assure adherence of operations to
ESA’s Space Station programme. As head of ESA’s
International Space Station Mission Integration and
Operations Division, he oversaw day-to-day Columbus
operations handled by the group’s Mission Directors.
Mir ’97 was the second German–Russian mission on
Russia’s Mir space station, from 10 February to 2 March
1997. Reinhold was a research cosmonaut on the Russian
Soyuz TM-25 spacecraft and spent 18 days on Mir. He
performed experiments in biomedical and material
sciences and carried out operational tests to prepare
for missions to the International Space Station. He
returned in Soyuz TM-24.
After serving as Advisor to the Head of Director
General’s Cabinet at ESA’s headquarters in Paris
(2011–14), Reinhold now promotes the scientific
achievements of the ESA research programme on the
International Space Station, working at the European
Astronaut Centre. in Cologne. On 1 September 2015 he was
appointed as Professor for Astronautics and Space
Stations at the Institute of Spaceflight System at
University of Stuttgart on secondment from ESA.
November 30, 2015
Angela Merkel Welcomes ESA Astronaut Alexander
Gerst and ESA Director Thomas Reiter in Her Hometown
Angela Merkel with ESA's Alexander Gerst and Thomas
Reiter : Copyright City of Stralsund / Ch. Rödel. ESA
astronaut Alexander Gerst and Thomas Reiter, ESA
Director for Human Spaceflight and Operations, offer
German Chancellor Angela Merkel a view from orbit of
Germany, in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Stralsund,
German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst and ESA Director
Thomas Reiter joined German Chancellor Angela Merkel
recently in her home region of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern,
in the very northeast of Germany.
invited last Friday by Mrs Merkel, a physicist by
training, to present the highlights of his Blue Dot
mission in space to curious secondary-school students.
Some 1200 students, local officials, regional media and
Mrs Merkel in the city of Stralsund were captivated by
Alexander’s space adventures.
Afterwards, the extensive scientific, societal and
economic benefits of human spaceflight were debated by a
panel consisting of Mrs Merkel, who is a Member of
Parliament (MdB) for that region, Thomas Reiter, ESA
Director for Human Spaceflight and Operations, Alexander
Gerst and Volker Schmid, a DLR German Aerospace Center
expert on International Space Station science.
Angela Merkel speaks with ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter on
board the ISS from ESOC, 20 July 2006. Copyright
Recommended by Mrs
Merkel, the nearby university town of Greifswald later
received Alexander and Volker Schmid in front of 500
students, university professors, entrepreneurs, local
officials and media.
They focused on the technical challenges of flying
humans in space and the fascinating scientific work
performed on the Station by Alexander, including the
close links between ESA astronauts in orbit and
scientists on the ground.
In addition to being a Hanseatic city with long-standing
business and intellectual links across Europe,
Greifswald is known for its high-level plasma research,
marine biology and medical studies, with links to a
number of ESA missions.
The invitation by Chancellor Merkel is a confirmation of
ESA’s key role in helping its Member States to inspire
younger generations and decision-makers on the
importance of a ‘United Space in Europe’. Events and
debates supporting this goal were also highlighted
during the visits of Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the
Netherlands and Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano to
ESA’s ESTEC technical heart in Noordwijk, the
Netherlands, and of Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy
to the Agency’s ESAC space astronomy centre near Madrid,
Posted on :
November 27, 2015
Some of Britain’s Wonderful
nationwide search, the winners of the Britain’s ACE
Parents competition have been named. Over the last year,
ACE Gentle has been searching the length and breadth of
the country to find Britain’s ACE Parents and is now
delighted to announce the four overall winners.
ACE, one of the leading stain removers and detergent
boosters on the market, has been asking people to
nominate mums and dads that have gone out of their way
to do amazing things for their children.
Local finalists were chosen all over the country but
only four could be crowned as the overall winners.
Kieran Childs from Ayrshire, Ila and Ramesh Gangotra
from Berkshire, Donna Jackson from Andover and Hilary
Minter from Yorkshire, were taken by surprise when their
family members told them they had been named as one of
Britain’s ACE Parents.
ACE Gentle liaised with the family members of the four
winners to arrange for them to have an ‘ACE’ day. From
overnight stays in five star hotels and spa treatments
to the chance to watch Celtic FC play, Kieran, Ila and
Ramesh, Donna and Hillary all received prizes tailored
Kevin Day, from Robinson Young, UK distributor for ACE,
commented: “There are so many fantastic mums and dads
all over the country who probably don’t realise that
some of the things they do mean so much to their
children. Therefore, we wanted to find parents who
deserve to be recognised for the extra support and
sacrifices they have given. Congratulations to our
Britain’s ACE Parents winners, they certainly encompass
what it means to be a mum or dad.”
Donna Jackson :
Donna Jackson from Andover was chosen as a Britain’s ACE
Parent winner for the amazing way she takes care of her
daughter Frankie, who has Down Syndrome, whilst also
supporting other parents, fundraising and working full
Donna was initially nominated by her friend, Vivien
Tarrant, because of the way she treats her daughter like
any other baby girl making sure that Frankie has the
world at her feet. Vivien mentioned how Donna writes a
regular blog, ‘Frankie Says Relax about T21’, has so far
raised £3,700 for Action for Children’s Acorn Centre in
Andover and offers support and advice to other parents
of children with Down Syndrome.
ACE Gentle worked
with Donna’s husband, Scott, to arrange for him to
surprise her with the news that she had been chosen as a
Britain’s ACE Parent. With Donna being 35 weeks pregnant
and the family about to move house, Scott announced that
ACE had arranged for him and Donna to enjoy dinner and
spend the night at Lainston Country House, a five star
hotel in Winchester, enabling Donna to receive some
well-earned relaxation time.
“I’m a little gobsmacked and overwhelmed, but I’m
probably like any other parent and just do what is best
for my child. I wouldn’t change anything about Frankie,
she’s awesome! I would like to say a big thank you to my
husband Scott, who is my rock and such a great father,
and also to ACE Gentle for choosing me as the winner.”
Hilary Minter : Yorkshire
Hilary Minter has been named as a Britain’s ACE Parent
winner due to her devotion to not only her own children
and grandchildren, but also to other families throughout
her career as a midwife and counsellor.
Having recently retired, Hilary spent her working life
devoted to the caring role of mother, whether that was
to her own or someone else’s children. She was nominated
by her husband, Mike, who describes her as caring,
empathic, generous and fun loving.
Having initially trained as a Norland Nanny, Hilary
worked in France caring for three children before
returning to England and training as a midwife helping
to deliver hundreds of babies.
When her own children were 7 and 3 years old, her first
husband died suddenly. Due to her own experience of
bereavement, Hilary began counselling parents whose
babies tragically died at birth as part of her midwife
responsibilities. She then went on to train as a
counsellor and had a variety of roles such as working
with terminally ill patients and their families,
including their children, at three hospices in the North
Hilary is now a carer for her mum and is actively
involved in the lives of her own children, grandchildren
and step children.
ACE Gentle liaised with Hilary’s husband, Mike, to
arrange for him to surprise her with the news that she
had been chosen as a Britain’s ACE Parent. Mike
announced that ACE had organized for them both to enjoy
a spa treatment, dinner and the night at the Feversham
Arms, a luxury hotel in York, so that Hilary could spend
some time on herself for a change.
Hilary commented:“I am totally shocked and overwhelmed
by Mike’s nomination. I consider myself like any other
mum, only wanting the best for my children and those in
my care. I want to say a massive thank you to my husband
Mike who is very supportive and has been such a great
father and step father, and also to ACE Gentle for
choosing me as a winner.”
Ila and Ramesh
Gangotra : Berkshire
Ila and Ramesh
Gangotra from Maidenhead have been named as a Britain’s
ACE Parents winner for the continued support they give
their three daughters, two of whom have been diagnosed
with chronic, life-changing conditions.
Ila and Ramesh were nominated for the competition by
their daughter Trishna as they have been extremely
supportive to her and her twin sister since both girls
were diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
In her nomination Trishna remarked how her parents had
helped her with her charity work and had become heavily
involved themselves. Her dad, Ramesh, has attended
events and helped with fundraising and her mum, Ila, is
part of the Asian MS Support Group committee. This is in
addition to Ila’s other voluntary work with the Hindu
Society of Maidenhead and the Windsor and Maidenhead
ACE Gentle asked Trishna what would make her parents
have an ‘ACE day’ and subsequently arrange for them to
spend the night at Cliveden House in Taplow. Ila and
Ramesh have visited the gardens at Cliveden House to
celebrate many family occasions and even calm their
daughters’ nerves before exams, but have never been able
to stay at the house.
“Our parents make us believe that anything is possible
and have always encouraged us to follow our dreams, even
more so after our diagnoses, even if it may be more
challenging. As well as supporting me and my sisters
they work six days a week running their shop, Thames
Valley Sports, in Maidenhead. I don't know how they do
Kieran Childs :
Kieran Childs has been named as a Britain’s ACE Parent
winner after he gave up his career in the British army
to care full-time for his daughter who has a rare
Kieran’s daughter’s condition is called Cri Du Chat,
which affects around one in 50,000 new born babies. As a
result of the illness, his daughter, Kayla aged 2, has
to endure regular hospital stays and her development is
Kieran was nominated by his partner, Lizzy Hughes, who
said that following his daughter’s birth, Kieran stayed
with her for the three weeks that she was in Yorkhill
Children’s Hospital. Lizzy went on to say that Kieran
continues to help Kayla do the best she can each day and
gave up his British army career so he could be there to
help every step of the way.
As a big Celtic FC fan, ACE Gentle want to give Kieran
an ‘ACE day’ so arranged for him to attend the Celtiv V
Ajax champions league match, and for him and Lizzy to
spend the night at Blythswood Square, a five star luxury
hotel in Glasgow.
Kieran commented: “I am overwhelmed by this kind
nomination, but I am no different to any other parent. I
just want to do what is best for my daughter and that
means giving her the best possible life. I would like to
say a massive thank you to ACE Gentle for choosing me as
Media contact: Sally
Bason PMW Communications Ltd. T: 07920 574716
Posted on :
November 24, 2015
Irina Bokova UNESCO
Irina Bokova, born
on 12 July 1952 in Sofia (Bulgaria) has been the
Director-General of UNESCO since 15 November 2009, and
was successfully reelected for a second term in 2013.
She is the first woman and the first Eastern European to
lead the Organization.
of UNESCO, Irina Bokova is actively engaged in
international efforts to advance gender equality,
quality education for all, and combat terrorist
financing by preventing the illicit traffic of cultural
goods. A leading champion in the fight against racism
and anti-Semitism, Bokova has spearheaded UNESCO’s
activities on Holocaust remembrance and awareness and is
the first Director-General of the Organization to
appoint a Special Envoy for Holocaust Education.
She is a leading
advocate for ensuring quality education for all and has
championed gender equality, making this her own personal
priority for the Organization. Other fields of action
include enabling scientific cooperation for sustainable
development, such as early warning systems for tsunamis
or trans-boundary water management agreements and global
advocacy for the safety of journalists and freedom of
from Moscow State Institute of International Relations,
and studied at the University of Maryland (Washington)
and the John F. Kennedy School of Government (Harvard
University), Irina Bokova joined the United Nations
Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of
Bulgaria in 1977. In charge of political and legal
affairs at the Permanent Mission of Bulgaria to the
United Nations in New York, she was also member of the
Bulgarian Delegation at the United Nations conferences
on the equality of women in Copenhagen (1980), Nairobi
(1985) and Beijing (1995). As Member of Parliament
(1990-1991 and 2001-2005), she advocated for Bulgaria’s
membership in EU and NATO and participated in the
drafting of Bulgaria’s new Constitution.
Irina Bokova was
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Coordinator of
Bulgaria-European Union relations and Ambassador of
Bulgaria to France, Monaco and UNESCO and Personal
Representative of the President of the Republic of
Bulgaria to the “Organisation Internationale de la
Francophonie” (OIF). As Secretary of State for European
integration and as Foreign Minister, Irina Bokova has
always advocated for European integration. She is a
founding member and Chairman of the European Policy
Forum, an NGO created to promote European identity and
encourage dialogue to overcome divisions in Europe. This
is an example of her work to endorse the values of
dialogue, diversity, human dignity and human rights.
Irina Bokova is Executive Secretary of the Steering
Committee of the UN Secretary-General’s Global Education
First Initiative (GEFI) and co-Vice-Chair of the
Irina Bokova has
received state distinctions from countries across the
world and is Doctor Honoris causa of leading
In addition to her
mother tongue, she speaks English, French, Spanish and
Russian. She is married with two grown children who live
and work in the United States.
November 20, 2015
up the Snowy Mountain Path
He walked up the snowy mountain path
Like a Sherpa of Himalaya
His eyes fixed at the high-bound horizon
Where glistened unknown lights in misty clouds
He walked up the snowy mountain path
Like he had nothing left behind
His legs heavy of weights but no burden slowed him
His heart fixed in altitude’s temperament
He walked up the snowy mountain path
He sang all the way up till he vanished
Alone he walked with loneliness-stick in his hand
He looked left and right and up the sky
He walked up the snowy mountain path
Searching along the way of once upon a time spring
Once upon a time summer flashed in his eyes
He carried the sounds of springs flowing over pebbles on his
He walked up the snowy mountain path
He sang all the way he sang all the way
Leaving a trail of foot prints along the way
He sang all the way he sang all the way
I Give You: Neverbridge Stone
Roses : Munayem Mayenin, ISBN: 978-1-4477-1626-6. First
Published: February 2008
Let us ignite the granite of love
And cut through our cynic heart
That only looks towards the oasis of greed
Let us talk about falling in love
Luxurious silk feeling lures us into the web
Where the spider waits us with the kiss
Even when falling in love we calculate
The composition of our grains of gains
We therefore forecast our harvest before we fall
Let us talk about falling in love
And take a look at the metaphor
That lurks behind the longing phrase
Falling in love when people say
What exactly are they saying?
That our senses are holding us
As though we are megalithic mad
And eager just to be edge bound ready
To jump out and fall foul of our cage
When they say falling in love
Are people saying love is a ditch
And you are down right to the bottom of it?
Or that it is the space out and beyond the world
Where we fall deep in space
As in riding onto cloud nine’s space craft?
Or probably they mean breaking out of one’s
Comfort zone onto something unfathomably shapeless
Therefore compounding a nothingness where we fall
Let us talk about falling in love
May be people are saying only love
Uproots us from the hard rock of our base
We finally become insane and natural
So that we decide to break the cocoon
Where we were enabling an eerie asphyxia
And tasting the sun and teasing the air we
Fly out falling downhill into a sense of liberty
Of finally being in touch touching another soul
Where there are no needles of need to bother us
To calculate or care but be it: the miracle
Falling in love is the longest of humanity we are
Love : Neverbridge Stone Roses : Munayem Mayenin, ISBN:
978-1-4477-1626-6. First Published: February 2008