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Humanity Will Continue to Live an Inferior Life Than What is Possible Until the Two Halves: All Individuals in Them: That Make It are Absolutely Fundamentally and Jubilantly Equal at Liberty


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Stories Published in The Humanion Section in September-December 2015


Katherine Johnson NASA Mathematician














NASA Image









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 feel grand.” Readmore 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 22, 2015

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: Katy Perry

UNICEF 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.

“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,” said Ms. Perry in a news release 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 major report 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 poverty.

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 diarrhoea.

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 #FightUNfair campaign.

“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, 2015


No to Violence, Racism, Sexism, Masochism, Maso-chauvinism, Discrimination














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). Readmore Posted: December 10, 2015. Photo: UNDP/Tiago Zenero

UN: 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 million.

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 developing world.

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

17 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 humanitarian assistance.


“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 system.

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 for

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 Debebe

“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 stressed.

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 largest ever.

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 Secretary-General stressed.

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 as “chilling.”

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 January.

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 this month.

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 transition.

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 and capacities.

“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 concluded.


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 history today.

“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 for all.”

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 their eyes.

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 unstoppable.”

“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 better world.”

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 Response


Today is a historic day: as tens of thousands of people filled the streets of Paris, politicians finalized a major new global climate agreement.

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 by divesting.

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 the ground.

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 need.

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 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 change.

“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 catastrophic consequences.

“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 energy economy.

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

Readmore about the specifics of the agreement.

Brian Deese, Senior Advisor to the President

Posted: 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 era.

"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 across Europe.

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 migrant communities.

French-Italian Border
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 counseling consultations.

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 this MdM video.

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 the country.

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 refugees.

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 stand-alone facilities.

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.

United Kingdom
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.

You may follow Doctors of the World for the latest information on the migrant and refugee crisis, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or sign up for updates.


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!

Move more
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 guilt!

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 Vavista Life


Posted: December 16, 2015


The Human Rights Day

Eleanor Roosevelt holds and English version poster of the Universal Declaration Human Rights (November 1949). UN Photo

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 social.

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, December 10

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) satellite mission.

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: NASA)


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,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message on the Day, 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 disabilities.”

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 conference 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 school.


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 healthier BMIs.

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 weight-loss.

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 dissipate!

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 Vavista Life

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 responsibly.

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 environment.”

“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, 2015


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 December.

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, healthy planet.

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 away.

“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 view.

“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. Zeid.

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 achieving results."

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 future.


Posted: December 11, 2015


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,” he underscored.

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 deliberate way.”

“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 Mr. Eliasson.

“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 stressed.

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 years ago.

“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 crimes.”


Posted: December 10, 2015


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 lives.

“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,” he said.

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 boundaries.


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 energetically.

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















Finn-Guild at Scandinavian Christmas Market

Finn 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! Readmore

Posted on: December 3, 2015

The Humanion: United It Waits for COP21 to Commit to Act

Commit to 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

This Kollaripics is done using images of the Global Climate Change Marches that have been taking place around the world. Photo Credit:   Order L-R, C-W: Oslo, Johannesburg, Tokyo, Helsinki, Paris, Cairo, 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 diem.

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

International Webinar











Intercontinental 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 laptops, simultaneously. Readmore   Posted on: December 1, 2015

The Profile

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 Spacefacts 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 spacecraft.

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

Photo: UN

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 Televisionfor the Environment (TVE) and supported by the Global 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, 2015


The Profile

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 that luxury.

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 to work.

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 Equality Day.

( 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 Dava Newman:

“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 shoulders.”

(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 Denmark

 Danish flag in space. Copyright ESA/NASA

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 congress.

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 this link:

Iriss Mission Blog

To Connect With Andreas Mogensen


Posted on : November 25, 2015



Skinsuits for Space Demonstration at Kings College, London

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 gravity.

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 places.”
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.”

Readmore on 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 Ulbrich

NASA's 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.

On Oct. 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.

(Editor: Sarah Loff: NASA)

For more NASA

Posted on: November 13, 2015


The Profile

Reinhold Ewald

Copyright ESA/J-L.Atteleyn

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.

Reinhold received 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 department.

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, April–May 1993.

In 1993 Reinhold was appointed assistant to the Director of DLR’s Space Programme. He was responsible for extraterrestrial, spaceflight and microgravity programmes.

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, Germany.

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.

ESA Profile


Posted on: November 30, 2015


German Chancellor Angela Merkel  Welcomes ESA Astronaut Alexander Gerst and ESA Director Thomas Reiter in Her Hometown

German Chancellor 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, Germany.

 26 November: 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.

Alexander was 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.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter on board the ISS from ESOC, 20 July 2006.  Copyright BPA

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, Spain.


Posted on : November 27, 2015


Some of Britain’s Wonderful Parents

Following a 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 to them.

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 : Andover

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 time.

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. 

Donna commented: “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 East.

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 Community Forum.

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.
Trishna commented:

“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 it!”

Kieran Childs : Ayrshire

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 chromosome condition.

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 delayed.

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 the winner.”


Media contact: Sally Bason PMW Communications Ltd. T: 07920 574716

Posted on : November 24, 2015


The Profice

Irina Bokova UNESCO Director-General


Photo: UNESCO/Bob Krasner

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.

As Director-General 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 expression. 

Having graduated 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 Broadband Commission.

Irina Bokova has received state distinctions from countries across the world and is Doctor Honoris causa of leading universities.

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. 


Posted on: November 20, 2015


He Walked 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 back

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


Falling in Love

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

Falling in Love : Neverbridge Stone Roses : Munayem Mayenin, ISBN: 978-1-4477-1626-6. First Published: February 2008







The Lake Eden Eye





The Window of the Heavens Always Open and Calling: All We Have to Do Is: To Choose to Be Open, Listen and Respond




Imagine a Rose-Boat

Imagine a rose floating like a tiny little boat on this ocean of infinity
And raise your soul-sail on this wee-little boat and go seeking out
All along feed on nothing but the light that you gather only light
Fear shall never fathom you nor greed can tempt nor illusion divert
For Love you are by name by deeds you are love's working-map



Only in the transparent pool of knowledge, chiselled out by the sharp incision of wisdom, is seen the true face of what truth is: That what  beauty paints, that what music sings, that what love makes into a magic. And it is life: a momentary magnificence, a-bloom like a bubble's miniscule exposition, against the spread of this awe-inspiring composition of the the Universe. Only through the path of seeking, learning, asking and developing, only through the vehicles and vesicles of knowledge, only through listening to the endless springs flowing beneath, outside, around and beyond our reach, of wisdom, we find the infinite ocean of love which is boundless, eternal, and being infinite, it makes us, shapes us and frees us onto the miracle of infinite liberty: without border, limitation or end. There is nothing better, larger or deeper that humanity can ever be than to simply be and do love. The Humanion


Poets' Letter Magazine Archive Poetry Pearl

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The Humanion Online Daily from the United Kingdom for the World: To Inspire Souls to Seek

At Home in the Universe : One Without Frontier. Editor: Munayem Mayenin

All copyrights @ The Humanion: London: England: United Kingdom: Contact Address: editor at thehumanion dot com

First Published: September 24: 2015