Thursday, October 8, 2015

NASA Announces Winners for 3-D Printed Container Contest

October 08, 2015
RELEASE 15-205

A workshop where tools floated around would be difficult to work in. So, NASA has chosen two winning designs from K-12 students for a 3-D printed container to help astronauts on the International Space Station keep things in order.

Student Ryan Beam holds his Clip Catch, a winning design in the Future Engineers 3-D Space Container Challenge.
Credits: Ryan Beam

The agency, in partnership with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Foundation, which managed the competition, announced the winners of the Future Engineers 3-D Space Container Challenge Thursday. The winning designs focused on making life in space a little more comfortable for astronauts.

“The simplest tasks on Earth can be quite challenging, and even dangerous, in space,” said Niki Werkheiser, NASA’s In-Space Manufacturing project manager. “Being able to 3-D print technical parts, as well as the lifestyle items that we use every day will not only help enable deep space travel, but can make the trip more pleasant for astronauts.”

The 3-D Space Container Challenge asked students to design models of containers that could be used in space. They could range from simple containers that could be used to hold collected rocks on Mars or an astronaut’s food, to advanced containers for experiments that study fruit flies. Students across the United States spent part of their summer using 3-D modeling software to design containers that could be 3-D printed, with the ultimate goal of advancing human space exploration on the International Space Station, Mars and beyond.

Ryan Beam of Scotts Valley, California, designed the winning container in the Teen Group, ages 13-19. Beam’s ClipCatch design will allow astronauts on the space station to clip their fingernails without worrying about the clippings floating away and potentially becoming harmful debris.

Emily Takara from Cupertino, California, designed the winning container from the Junior Group, ages 5-12. Her design is a Flower Tea Cage, which uses the surface tension of liquids in a microgravity environment to allow astronauts to make tea. In space, liquids form spheres and adhere to things they touch.

Student Emily Takara with her winning design, the Flower Tea Cage, in the Future Engineers 3-D Space Container Challenge.
Credits: Emily Takara

The top 10 entries from each age group are:

Teen Group

Ryan Beam, Scotts Valley, California – ClipCatch
Heather Mercieca, Monrovia, California – ECOntainer
Geoffrey Thomas, Westford, Massachusetts – Expandable Container
Rajan Vivek, Scottsdale, Arizona – Hydroponic Plant Box
Reid Barton, Los Gatos, California – InstaTube
N’yoma Diamond, Croton on Hudson, New York – Store-All Container
Treyton Bostick, North Street, Michigan – Grow Plants in Space
Casey Johnson, Bedford, Pennsylvania – Paste Dispenser Tube
Katherine Baney, Rohnert Park, California – Petri Tower
Prasanna Krishnamoorthy, Hockessin, Delaware – Collapsible Container
Junior Group

Sarah Daly, Columbia, Maryland – Fly Feeder 7.0
Emily Takara, Cupertino, California – Flower Tea Cage
William Van Dyke, Kingwood, Texas – Space Terrarium v.4
Vera Zavadskaya, Verona, New Jersey – Aquarius
Yosef ‘Joey’ Granillo, University City, Missouri – Laundroball
Nagasai Sreyash Sola, Ashburn, Virginia – Centrivac Container
Emma Drugge, Norwalk, California – Explorer Puzzle Box
Joseph Quinn, Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin – Secret Container Cup
Ansel Austin, Cupertino, California – Galaxy Box
Ermis Theodoridis, Katy, Texas – EcoBOX
Demonstrating the use of a 3-D printer for on-demand manufacturing technology in space is the first step toward realizing a print-on-demand “machine shop” for future long-duration exploration missions where there is a limited resupply capability. The 3-D Space Container Challenge, which supports NASA’s In-space Manufacturing Initiative, is the second in a series of Future Engineers 3-D Printing challenges for students focused on designing solutions to real-world space exploration problems.

The In-space Manufacturing Initiative falls under NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate and is managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

For more information on NASA challenges, visit:


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Friday, September 4, 2015

Opening remarks by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein at a press conference in the Central African Republic

Bangui, 4 September 2015

Good morning, and thank you for coming.

This is my first visit to the Central African Republic, where the human rights situation, while far better than it was at the height of the conflict in late 2013 and early 2014, is still a cause of intense anxiety for both CAR’s own inhabitants and the United Nations.

At the end of a fairly short visit, I will not attempt to cover all aspects of the human rights situation here, but I would like to focus on certain key areas where I believe there are opportunities that should be seized and a need for urgent attention.

First of all it is important to recognize that there have been several positive developments over the past year and a half. The transitional Government can claim a number of baseline achievements: the most notable among these include the local consultations that were launched in January, which involved people from 16 prefectures in addition to all eight districts of Bangui and displaced people. In May, this process was taken to another level by the Bangui Forum. Involving representatives of a broad cross-section of society, this produced an important set of recommendations which provide a principled and coherent path for CAR to follow as it attempts to establish peace and security, justice and reconciliation – all of which are essential if the country is to make a definitive and durable break with its turbulent, poverty-stricken and at times exceptionally violent past. The Bangui Forum also made a number of key recommendations related to the new Constitution and the forthcoming elections, which were upheld by the National Transitional Council. I welcome the decision of the Constitutional Court on refugees’ right to vote and on the ineligibility of the transitional political leadership to stand for the Presidency.

On the security front, the United Nations mission in CAR, MINUSCA, has now amassed 9,200 troops and 1,580 police, in addition to a sizeable civilian staff. This is the most significant effort by the UN in the history of this country.

The security situation, while very far from ideal, has nevertheless improved. When my predecessor, Navi Pillay, came here in March 2014, UN human rights staff were largely confined to Bangui, with only occasional visits to some other larger towns. International forces were simply too thin on the ground to provide security. We now have nine permanently staffed offices across the country, with a further three due to open up in the coming months.

But, I think almost everyone agrees, the improvements are too gradual and the achievements are extremely tentative and fragile, or in some cases only exist on paper.

The country is still gripped with fear, and its people remain terribly divided after a conflict that tore apart the existing social, cultural, political and economic structures and led to the forced displacement of close to 1million people, in most cases along religious or ethnic lines. More than 800,000 are still displaced, more than half of them now as refugees in neighbouring countries.

One of my first meetings here was with local civil society groups. They were admirably outspoken, as civil society should be. The UN, they all agreed, can and should do better. The Government should also do better. In fact, we all should be doing much better.

I wholeheartedly agree. And here’s why.

While security has undoubtedly improved, it is still extremely poor in some places, particularly those plagued with armed groups, some of which have in effect set themselves up as de facto local authorities, and are able to operate with almost total impunity. They may not be killing people on the scale they have done in the past, but they are still killing people from time to time. They are still looting civilian property and the country’s mineral resources, raiding and killing cattle, and preying on civilian populations in other ways as well. Their impact on the economy has been devastating.

Many people I met this week have lamented the UN’s and Government’s failure so far to rein in the armed groups, and the very halting efforts at disarmament. While some people have been arrested and charged with crimes, for the most part they have been the small fry. The most notorious leaders, with much blood on their hands, are not being arrested, let alone prosecuted, tried and convicted.

While one should not underestimate the difficulty of dealing with a significant number of very violent and battle-hardened men, I believe there needs to be a much more robust approach towards these groups, so that they start to understand that they cannot continue to flout the rule of law whenever, wherever, and however they like. MINUSCA needs to be reinforced with both personnel and material so they can make good on the strong Chapter 7 mandate bestowed on them by the Security Council. The States who have promised, but still not provided, the full complement of UN peacekeeping troops and police, and vital equipment such as attack helicopters, should step up their efforts to do so, as they are sorely needed. The various anti-Balaka and ex-Seleka forces, the LRA, and the myriad other armed groups and splinter groups, need to be shown that their lawless behaviour will no longer be tolerated by the Government and the international forces who are together tasked with bringing sustainable peace to CAR. Disarmament should be an absolute priority.

Notorious criminals and killers must be brought to justice, no matter what group they belong to, both to halt their depredations and to provide deterrence. But for this to happen, both current and future Governments and their international supporters, including my own Office, need to step up their efforts to install a justice system that works. If international forces begin arresting leading members of armed groups, there needs to be a functioning justice system to investigate, prosecute and bring judgement in fair trials, and adequate prisons in which to detain them. Currently, still, in many parts of the country there are no prosecutors or judges at all. In other areas, there is one but not the other. And in areas where there are both, they are often still unable to function because they are intimidated and threatened by the armed groups and other criminals.

As part of the follow-up to the Bangui Forum, we are currently co-hosting an important three-day international seminar on the fight against impunity, which is placing a sharp spotlight on that particularly pressing issue. I will not repeat here the key points I made in my opening speech ( on Wednesday, but I hope that the conclusions of the seminar, which has involved many international experts as well as CAR government and judicial officials and members of civil society will help stimulate a more rapid advance in the area of justice and accountability. One very concrete step in the fight against impunity, the setting up of a Special Criminal Court, involving both national and international judges, is still a long way from actually becoming operational. And, as participants in the International Seminar have recognized, the Special Court by itself will not be enough, as it will only be able to handle the most serious cases. A properly functioning local law enforcement and justice system is indispensible. I will be urging the international community to provide full support to both crucial initiatives.

Justice and security are inextricably linked, and it is clear we all need to do much more to turn around the current vicious circle of violence and impunity.

Some members of the Government whom I’ve met this week have been very frank about the persistent weaknesses of the State, especially in the areas of justice and accountability.

Even here in Bangui, the capital, there are still very major problems. Over the past two days I visited two of the most emblematic and worrying Bangui locations: the over-crowded and surrounded PK 5 Muslim enclave – the last major Muslim presence in the capital – and the Mpoko camp for internally displaced people abutting the main international airport. Mpoko originally contained some 120,000 people, living in deplorable conditions. While the camp’s population has now been reduced to some 11,000 people, they are, for the most part, the most vulnerable, including the sick, elderly and child-headed families. Their future, and the future of PK 5 are inextricably linked, as many of the almost exclusively Christian displaced people in Mpoko come from the 3rd District which includes PK 5 and are afraid to go back to what is now a mostly Muslim enclave, whose inhabitants are equally afraid of them.

For their part, the Muslims in PK 5 are often too afraid to leave the enclave. As a result, they have nowhere to bury their dead, and are deprived of schooling and job opportunities for young and old alike. They have no access to a hospital, and women are forced to give birth at home, and Muslims displaced from other parts of the capital, with no prospect of returning home, have led to a swollen population living in despair of the present and fear of the future.

The Christians displaced to Mpoko, in addition to fearing for their safety, also in most cases have nothing to return to: most of their houses were burned to the ground, and those that were not are occupied by others; their property was stolen; and even their water supply is contaminated by the presence of dead bodies in wells.

Here again, I believe we, the UN, and the Government must do more to find solutions. For the Christians to return home, and for the Muslims to accept them, there must be strenuous efforts to bring about reconciliation, and greatly increased security. In addition, the Christians cannot possibly go back to completely destroyed homes and polluted wells. I call on the Government, civil society and religious leaders, with the assistance of the UN, to redouble their efforts to resolve these issues.

I was therefore alarmed to hear that the Government has told the remaining inhabitants of Mpoko camp they must leave by 15 September. This would be a very dangerous step, as it could inflame the existing tensions among both groups, and would very likely end in violence. I have urged the Government to listen to the pleas of the humanitarian agencies operating in Mpoko, and give them sufficient time to execute an orderly, phased and voluntary emptying of the camp. The Government’s wish to reclaim land abutting the country’s only international airport, not least for security reasons, is understandable, but if it is mishandled it could have a devastating effect -- not just on the affected people, but also on the peace process in general. I was, therefore, pleased to hear from the Prime Minister yesterday that the Government intends to reconsider the draconian deadline for the closure of Mpoko.

Finally, as you are probably aware, I announced yesterday that yet another alleged case of sexual abuse or exploitation by a foreign soldier has emerged. While in this particular case the perpetrator is alleged to be a solder serving with the Sangaris, who operate separately from the UN forces here in CAR, UN soldiers have also been involved in a series of cases of alleged sexual and other forms of abuse. The Secretary-General has made his shame and disgust at these crimes clear, and I would like to add mine. There is no excuse, no mitigating circumstances, nothing at all to justify the acts themselves or the failure to apply punishments that fit the crime.

We simply have to do better. And States must help us. Over the years many proposals have been made to improve the way we deal with this issue that so often bedevils peace-keeping operations, not least ways to deter and prevent these appalling acts against defenceless people we are supposed to be protecting. We preach the importance of combatting impunity, yet – in the case of our own soldiers -- we more often than not totally fail to do so. Unfortunately, the Member States of the United Nations have repeatedly refused to adopt proposed measures to radically reduce the occurrence of sexual abuse by peacekeepers. I believe it is high time to revisit these ideas, and to do so as a matter of urgency. Earlier this morning, I discussed these issues at length with the UN Force Commander and Deputy Police Commander. The new Special Representative of the Secretary-General is going to join us in a few minutes to tell you more about the MINUSCA side of this problem, and I will be happy to elaborate on some of the measures that have been proposed in the past to try to eradicate it, but which have been rejected by the UN Member States or by individual troop-contributing countries.

The conduct of the upcoming elections will be a crucial test of CAR’s progress towards peace and democracy. Yesterday I met with many of the country’s political party leaders and reminded them that they too bear a large responsibility on their shoulders. We are here to help, but we will only achieve peace and respect of human rights if we all respect each other and work together.

Thank you for your time and I hope to return in a more upbeat mood when CAR – and the UN – have turned the corner, and this country starts to see a much brighter future shining on a near horizon.

Source: UN High Commission for Human Rights,
For more information and media requests, please contact:

In Bangui: Rupert Colville (+41 79 506 10 88 / ) or Myriam Dessables (+236 754 36746 /
In Geneva: Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / ) or Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 /

Monday, July 27, 2015


By Counter Current News

A Native American activist was recently arrested and found dead in jail under conditions very similar to those of Sandra Bland in Texas.

Rexdale W. Henry, 53, was recently found dead inside the Neshoba County Jail in Philadelphia, Mississippi, on July 14th. He had been arrested over failure to pay a minor traffic citation.

Local WTOK, reported that corrections officers reported Henry dead around 10 a.m.. But reports and logs reveal that he was seen alive and perfectly fine only half an hour before that.

Reports say that the state crime lab in Jackson are currently conducting an autopsy. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation also says that they are “looking into” Henry’s death.

But that hasn’t satisfied Henry’s fellow activists, friends and family. Just after funeral services were held on July 19th, in Bogue Chitto, Henry’s body was flown to Florida for an independently-funded autopsy paid for by anonymous donors. They hope that this autopsy will get to the bottom of what really happened.

Syracuse University law professors Janis McDonald and Paula Johnson of the school’s Cold Case Justice Initiative comment that, “at a time when the nation is focused on the terrible circumstances of the brutal death of Sandra Bland, it is critical to expose the many ways in which Black Americans, Native Americans and other minorities are being arrested for minor charges and end up dead in jail cells.”

Henry was a member of the Choctaw tribe. He has been well known in the community and by opponents in law enforcement as a lifelong community activist.

He was also a candidate for the Choctaw Tribal Council from Bogue Chitto, only the week before his arrest on July 9th.

Henry’s death occurred one day after that of Sandra Bland, who was found hanging in the Texas, Waller County Jail.

The results of the private autopsy will be made public when it is complete. Stay tuned and help SPREAD THE WORD!

(Article by M. David)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

De polderwolf, helaas geen goed vervolgverhaal.

In maart van dit jaar heb ik een petitie gepromoot via Care2 voor de Nederlandse Polderwolf. Na veel handtekeningen om de Polderwolf te beschermen te hebben ingediend bij de premier werd mij een weinig zeggend briefje toegestuurd door de derde secretaresse van de secretaresse van de premier. Daarin stond dat de Nederlandse regering verplicht is de wolf te beschermen.

Blijkbaar vond de polderwolf dat zelf niet genoeg en hij stak weer de grens over naar Duitsland.

Helaas moest ik vandaag lezen dat hij daar is aangereden door een vrachtwagen en dood is gevonden.

Dat spijt me meer dan ik zelf zou hebben gedacht, terwijl ik dit schrijf staan de tranen in mijn ogen.

De Polderwolf was een paar weken een beroemdheid in ons land. Laten we hopen dat hij als verkenner heeft gefungeerd en andere wolven heeft laten weten dat Nederland zijn wolven niet mishandelt door er op te jagen. Laten we er samen voor zorgen dat wolven in Nederland welkom zijn en blijven.

Alle ondertekenaars nogmaals bedankt voor de steun en moge de Polderwolf gelukkig zijn in de dierenhemel.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

“Not at the cost of human rights” – UN expert warns against more austerity measures for Greece

ADDIS ABABA / GENEVA (15 July 2015) – The United Nations Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights, Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, today urged the European institutions, the International Monetary Fund and the Greek Government to fully assess the impact on human rights of possible new austerity measures to ensure that they do not come as a cost to human rights.

“I am seriously concerned about voices saying that Greece is in a humanitarian crisis, with shortages in medicines and food,” Mr. Bohoslavsky said from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he is currently participating in the Third International Conference on Financing for Development.

“I hope that the deal struck this week in Brussels will avoid a larger crisis in Greece,” the expert said. “However, further adjustment policies should respect the human rights obligations that are binding not only for the Government of Greece, but as well for the creditor countries and lending institutions. There is real legal risk that some of the harsh austerity measures could be incompatible with European and international human rights law.”

“Priority should be to ensure that everybody in Greece has access to core minimum levels of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to health care, food and social security,” he added.

The human rights expert said there is a need to integrate social and distributional aspects in debt sustainability analysis to make fully informed decisions before new austerity measures are adopted.

“A debt service burden that may be sustainable from a narrow financial perspective may not be viable at all if one considers the comprehensive concept of sustainable development, which includes the protection of the environment, human rights and social development,” he noted.

“Greece seems to be already in a situation in which insolvency and illiquidity are indistinguishable. As the International Monetary Fund has noted on Tuesday this week, debt relief in the form of a haircut would have been the better choice to bring Greece’s debt back to sustainability. It would also reduce Greece’s unhealthy dependence on creditor institutions and reflect the principle of co-responsibility in the built-up of the public debt of Greece,” the Independent Expert argued.

Mr. Bohoslavsky stressed that interim financing for banks is now most urgently needed to ensure that the businesses can continue their economic activities. “However, I urge all parties, including the ECB, to be particularly careful when deciding on emergency credits to Greek banks, given the deep and irreversible political and social processes that a banking collapse could trigger in the country and the region,” he underlined.

“This is in particular important if such decisions are made on emergency credits immediately before referenda or parliamentary decisions to accept or refuse a bailout and adjustment programme,” Mr. Bohoslavsky said.

The expert noted that events before and after the referendum have shown that the democratic assertion that put into question austerity policies produced little positive response from official creditors.

“If this people’s democratic pronouncement becomes almost irrelevant, there is obviously a great challenge in Europe on how the democratic dialogue integrates national, regional and financial interests at stake when negotiating debt agreements without compromising human rights,” he stated.

The Independent Expert has been invited by the Government of Greece to undertake an official country visit from 30 November to 7 December 2015. He is also planning to visit Brussels to meet representatives from European institutions, the IMF and main creditor countries.

source:UN Human Rights Council

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

UN human rights experts welcome Greek referendum and call for international solidarity

GENEVA (30 June 2015) – Two United Nations human rights experts today welcomed the holding of a referendum in Greece to decide by democratic process the path to follow to solve the Greek economic crisis without deterioration in the human rights situation.

The UN Independent Experts on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas, and on human rights and international solidarity, Virginia Dandan, stressed that there is much more at stake than debt repayment obligations, echoing a warning* issued earlier this month by the UN Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights, Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky.

“All human rights institutions and mechanisms should welcome the Greek referendum as an eloquent expression of the self-determination of the Greek people in conformity with article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and in pursuance of article 25 ICCPR on public participation. Indeed, a democratic and equitable international order requires participation by all concerned stakeholders in decision-making and respect for due process, which can best be achieved through international solidarity and a human rights approach to the solution of all problems, including financial crises.

It is disappointing that the IMF and the EU have failed to reach a solution that does not require additional retrogressive austerity measures. Some leaders have expressed dissatisfaction with the idea of holding a referendum in Greece. Why? Referenda are in the best traditions of democratic governance.

No one can expect the Prime Minister of Greece to renounce the commitments he made to the people who elected him with a clear mandate to negotiate a fair solution that does not dismantle Greek democracy and lead to further unemployment and social misery. Capitulating to an ultimatum imposing further austerity measures on the Greek population would be incompatible with the democratic trust placed on the Greek Prime Minister by the electorate. By nature, every State has the responsibility to protect the welfare of all persons living under its jurisdiction. This encompasses fiscal and budgetary sovereignty and regulatory space which cannot be trumped by outside actors, whether States, inter-governmental organizations or creditors.

Article 103 of the UN Charter stipulates that the Charter provisions prevail over all other treaties, therefore no treaty or loan agreement can force a country to violate the civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights of its population, nor can a loan agreement negate the sovereignty of a State. Any agreement that would require such a violation of human rights and customary international law is contra bonos mores and hence null and void pursuant to Art. 53 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

A democratic and equitable international order requires a commercial and financial regime that facilitates the realization of all human rights. Inter-governmental organizations must foster and under no conditions hinder the achievement of the plenitude of human rights.

Foreign debt is no excuse to derogate from or violate human rights or to cause retrogression in contravention of articles 2 and 5 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

In 2013, the Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights stated that the policy austerity measures adopted to secure additional financing from the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank had pushed the Greek economy into recession and generally undermined the enjoyment of human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights.

This is the moment for the international community to demonstrate solidarity with the people of Greece, to respect their democratic will as expressed in a referendum, to proactively help them out of this financial crisis, which finds a major cause in the financial meltdown of 2007-08, for which Greece bears no responsibility.

Indeed, democracy means self-determination, and self-determination often calls for referenda – also in Greece.”

(*) Read the statement by the UN Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights (2 June 2015) – “Greek crisis: Human rights should not stop at doors of international institutions, says UN expert”:

Friday, June 19, 2015

Neder-L: UV-departement sê dís wat taalbeleid moet doen

Neder-L: UV-departement sê dís wat taalbeleid moet doen: Aan universiteiten in Zuid-Afrika woedt momenteel een fel debat over de (on)wenselijkheid om al het universitaire onderwijs alleen in het...

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Neder-L: Zwart zijn en Afrikaans spreken

Neder-L: Zwart zijn en Afrikaans spreken: Door Marc van Oostendorp Het apartheidsregime had het allemaal precies afgebakend: de officiële talen van Zuid-Afrika waren Engels en ...

Monday, June 15, 2015

Human Rights of Migrants

Statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein at the Interactive Dialogue on the Human Rights of Migrants at the 29th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, 15 June 2015

Mr President,
Distinguished Colleagues,

I am grateful for the opportunity to share with you my growing alarm at the international community's failure to protect the rights of migrants. As I have repeatedly highlighted at this Council, conflict, persecution, bad governance and severe violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights force millions of people to leave their countries and seek safety and opportunity elsewhere. Too often, they are met with more exploitation, discrimination and violence, coupled with harshly enforced refusals to permit entry.

Whether or not they have visas, these are people, with the same human rights as all of us here today. They have faces: young and old, women and men, and children – accompanied or, in many cases, separated from their parents. They flee atrocities; biting poverty; places with no access to even basic services, and where the rule of law is broken. I am shocked and shamed by the frequent demonization of migrants that we see in many countries whose people benefit from prosperity, peace and ease. I call on all of you to take a stand against this very dangerous trend.

Mr President,

When people are unable to use regular channels to escape oppression, violence and economic despair, they may attempt, in desperation, to find irregular ones. This does not make them criminals. It does not withdraw their right to be treated with dignity. On the contrary, their vulnerability cries out for humanity – an approach that is motivated by respect for their plight, and for their fundamental rights as human beings.

I also oppose in the strongest possible terms the notion that migrants are a burden. On the contrary, as workers, consumers and taxpayers, they contribute to the economic growth of all societies, as many studies have demonstrated. Many years ago, UNHCR distributed a poster showing Albert Einstein’s face, and above it, this text: “A bundle of belongings isn’t the only thing a refugee brings to his new country.” I would like all of us to reflect for a moment on the courage, the endurance, the adaptability and the grit that refugees and migrants deploy. Migration is an essential component of the economic and social life of every modern State, and it has shaped the history of virtually every member of the human family. Few in this room can claim that they, or their ancestors, have not benefited from migration.

And yet throughout the world, many vulnerable migrants must live and work in intensely precarious situations, and are too afraid of the authorities to complain. Often they are denied fundamental rights, including workers' rights, and are the targets of discrimination and abuse. All of us are aware of the lethal crises regarding rescue at sea in Europe and South-East Asia. Our concerns must extend also to those attempting to enter Australia and the United States, and to the abuses of migrants that are so frequent throughout the world – including many countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council – as well as shocking recent violence in South Africa.

Mr President,

The death-toll of migrants in the Mediterranean is a cause for profound alarm. It demonstrates conclusively that militarised deterrence and enforcement policies will fail. If no other option is available, then – just as many Europeans have done, in similar circumstances, in the past – people will brave terrible peril to seek safety for themselves and their children. Driven to take ever more dangerous routes, they may fall into the hands of trafficking networks – with high risk of violence, kidnapping and extortion, and other severe human rights violations.

I commend the EU's recent determination to tackle migration in a more comprehensive manner, and the newly intensified search and rescue effort in the Mediterranean. But I would welcome far bolder steps to integrate the notion that the EU needs, and should welcome, more migration at all skill-levels. As the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants has noted – and we will hear from François Crépeau shortly – it is well within the EU’s means to give refuge, over a number of years, to one million refugees displaced by the conflicts in Syria and elsewhere. This would represent barely 0.2% of the EU's population – compared to Lebanon, which has taken in 26% of its population in refugees. The resources currently deployed for ineffective border control systems could instead be invested in maximizing the benefit of regular migration channels.

States are at liberty to open their borders to migrant labour, or to close them. But when they are unwilling to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers, this may encourage employers to exploit them, especially when they are undocumented. I urge full implementation by all EU States of the rights, including labour rights and human rights, of all migrants and migrant workers.

I also urge leaders to step up to counter the growing bigotry about migrants, which is often suffused with racism and religious hatred and stirred up for political gain. Theirs is a continent haunted by the spectre of the world's most intricately organized, terrifyingly efficient, genocide. Every European leader – indeed, every European – knows that racial and religious prejudice is combustible: it can, and will if not treated properly, burst into firestorms of violence.

Mr President,

There are inescapable similarities between the crises in the Mediterranean and in the seas off South-East Asia. For many years, people have been fleeing persecution in Myanmar and poverty in Bangladesh, notably via trafficking and smuggling rings. This exodus became far more visible last month, when a crackdown on illegal trafficking in Thailand led captains and crew to abandon ships that were filled with passengers. A number of boats were pushed back as they reached the shores of neighbouring countries, and hundreds of people have died at sea. In addition, mass graves were discovered last month in Thailand and Malaysia, containing the bodies of presumed victims of human trafficking and smuggling gangs. Most of these victims are said to have been Rohingya from Myanmar.

In recent years Myanmar has undertaken important and potentially transformative reforms, accelerating economic development and relaxing restrictions on civil and political rights. But these advances have not been matched with progress regarding the acute and institutionalised discrimination against the Rohinyga, or the broader deficit of development in Rakhine State which affects all communities.

Most of the 1.3 million Rohingya are deprived of citizenship. Within Rakhine State, their movement is sharply restricted, with immediate impact on their ability to access services, farmland and employment of almost any kind. My Office has also documented persistent allegations of summary executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, torture and sexual violence of Rohinyga people by security officials.

This pattern of persecution must be considered a driver of the Rohingya exodus. I also fear that it could attract the interest of extremists, as witnessed in recent statements by the Afghan and Pakistan Taliban, with potentially disastrous consequences.

Mr. President,

Australia’s response to migrant arrivals has set a poor benchmark for its regional neighbours. The authorities have also engaged in turn-arounds and push-backs of boats in international waters. Asylum-seekers are incarcerated in centres in Papua New Guinea and Nauru, where they face conditions that the Special Rapporteur on Torture has reported as amounting to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment as defined by CAT. They also violate the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as the Australian Human Rights Commission has justifiably declared. Even recognized refugees in urgent need of protection are not permitted to enter Australia, which has set up relocation arrangements with countries that may be ill-prepared to offer them any durable solution.

Such policies should not be considered a model by any country. Given that most of today's Australians themselves descend from migrants – and given that the country maintains sizeable regular programs for migration and resettlement – I am bewildered by the hostility and contempt for these women, men and children that is so widespread among the country's politicians.

Mr President,

Last year, US President Barack Obama called the situation of unaccompanied children crossing the border between the United States and Mexico a "humanitarian crisis", as their number increased sharply and conditions worsened. Most of them were fleeing uncontrolled violence by criminal gangs in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, as well as deprivation, social exclusion and discrimination.

So far this year, their number has approximately halved. One factor in this decline has been the increasing militarisation of Mexico's southern borders. But this has not been accompanied by improvements in the countries of origin regarding the conditions which push them to migrate. Resolution of this situation needs focused attention to the why of migration, not just the how. Where there is accountability, rule of law, inclusion, respect for people's rights to fundamental services, the opportunity for self-expression and economic improvement, people do not risk their lives, or risk the lives of their children, in seeking to flee.

I also note that the United States maintains the largest immigration detention infrastructure in the world, at a cost of some $2 billion per year. Migrants in detention often suffer inadequate conditions, including lack of health care, violence and overcrowding. Alternatives to detention are urgently needed. In particular, the detention of children based on their migrant status constitutes a violation of the rights of the child; it is never in the best interest of a child to be detained.

Mr President,

The countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council benefit massively from the contributions of migrant workers. Yet we observe pervasive violations of their rights in several countries, including physical abuse; inadequate and arbitrarily withheld wages; inhuman working hours and working conditions; confiscation of passports; and unsafe housing. There is frequently no effective mechanism where abused migrants can seek redress. Their death toll is so high that in Nepal, a source of many migrant workers in GCC countries, it has been proposed that an annex be erected at the Katmandu airport to shelter returning coffins.

I must firmly remind the authorities of the GCC, and employers active in their countries, that they are required under international law to comply with human rights and labour rights standards for migrant workers. Failure to do so is shocking, particularly in countries that rely so extensively on their help. The Kafala sponsorship system, which enables multiple abuses of migrants' human rights and labour rights, should be repealed as a matter of urgency, and private recruitment agencies should be properly regulated.

Mr President,

I am deeply concerned about recent violence in South Africa, in which seven people were killed, hundreds injured and thousands displaced. Xenophobic attacks, including hate speech that incites violence and intolerance, merit public condemnation and prosecution. I trust the authorities will take strong action to avoid repeated incidents of this kind, and that they will uphold the rights of all people in their country.

I am also concerned about plans to expel large numbers of undocumented Haitians from the Dominican Republic. I urge the Dominican authorities to ensure that the human rights of all migrants are fully respected, and that due process is followed, in compliance with human rights obligations. Individuals with a legitimate claim to remain in the Dominican Republic should be protected from deportation.

Mr. President,

The only effective approach to migration must be grounded in the human rights of the people concerned, focusing on root causes – including in countries of origin and transit – and long-term solutions. With so many countries locked in internal conflict, from Syria and Iraq to Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Mali, the task of re-establishing peace, justice and the rule of law is increasingly urgent. I have made numerous appeals for States to use their global influence to pull back from this intensely worrying series of crises.

But conflict is not the only driver of migration. Numerous Eritreans are fleeing their country, with data from last year suggesting more than 5,000 people leave every month. They constitute the second largest number of refugees at the EU's external borders, including large numbers of unaccompanied minors who have survived a very hazardous journey. The international community must recognise their plight and provide them protection, and I encourage your attention to the causes of their flight..

I also encourage this Council to consider convening Special Sessions on migration issues in the future, as the need arises.

It is, moreover, vital that States address, both singly and together, the economic despair that drives so many to risk death to escape the prison of their poverty. The Sustainable Development Goals constitute a life-saving agenda to drive stronger development. They must be funded – and implemented – in good faith by all Governments. Full implementation of recommendations by human rights mechanisms, including the UPR, would also ensure less biting inequality and more respect for human rights. Fundamentally, this task is in your hands.

For more information and media requests, please contact please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / or Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / or Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 /

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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Neder-L: Taalunie licht bezuinigingen toe

Neder-L: Taalunie licht bezuinigingen toe: Het onderstaande bericht van de website Taalunieversum   plaatsen wij met toestemming door . Van 20 t/m 23 mei vond in Olomouc (Tsjechië) ...

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Introducing Inside 360: looking behind the scenes of Mars One’s mission processes

Amersfoort, 27th May 2015 – Mars One is proud to introduce Inside 360; a series of in-depth articles that present an inside look into the details and feasibility of the Mars One mission. The first article can be found on Mars Exchange. Subsequent articles will be added periodically.

Mars One has taken the first crucial steps in the process of establishing the first human settlement on Mars. In order to address the questions and concerns that have been raised, Inside 360 will foremost provide an in-depth explanation of the individual phases of the mission. Mars One is continuously improving their mission plans based on advice from advisers and suppliers, and Inside 360 will offer the rationale behind decisions made. The ongoing series will additionally feature interviews with Mars One team members and external experts about the different aspects of the mission.

“Mars One is still in the early stages of organizing this human mission to Mars,” said Bas Lansdorp, co-founder and CEO of Mars One. “We are looking forward to sharing our developments as well as the studies completed by our suppliers. This way, the aerospace community can share their feedback and we can implement suggestions that improve our mission design.”

Astronaut Selection: Inside 360 will describe the Mars One astronaut selection process and include an interview with Mars One’s Chief Medical Officer, Norbert Kraft, M.D., discussing the selection criteria. Dr. Kraft has researched crew composition for long duration space missions at NASA and has also worked for the Japanese Space Agency and collaborated with the Russian Space Agency.

The second selection round has recently concluded with only 100 candidates remaining. Mars One’s first rounds focused on individual selection. These rounds included finding individuals who fulfilled all requirements, testing their learning ability, and their ability to retrieve and apply knowledge. There was also a strong focus on determining the likelihood of who would be a good team player. The Mars One’s selection will proceed with subsequent rounds that will focus on group selection. This means finding out who has what it takes to not only to learn how to survive on Mars but also to be able to work efficiently in a team.

“The recent carefully structured interviews quickly revealed who might have potential to be a good candidate and therefore have been very useful in narrowing down the pool of candidates,” says Dr. Norbert Kraft. “The subsequent rounds will consist of team and environmental challenges.”

Mission Feasibility: This series will discuss mission details and explain the reasoning behind the current mission design. This section will contain interviews with Mars One ambassadors and advisers including Nobel Prize Laureate Prof. Dr. Gerard ‘t Hooft, former NASA Chief Technologist Mason Peck, as well as other experts.

“The technical challenges are daunting,” says Mason Peck. “That has been true for each step into the cosmos we've taken — sending humans to orbit, exploring the moon and conducting science with robotic spacecraft at the outer planets and beyond. This problem and others like it simply need the attention of creative people committed to settling the solar system. Defeatism, cynicism and mindless conservatism didn't get us to the moon.”

Necessary technology: Inside 360 will provide additional information about the selection for certain technology and engineering solutions. The engineering for this mission will be incredibly challenging and there can be no short-cuts or cutting corners. To be successful, Mars One must work with state of the art integrated systems and hardware that are optimized for the mission. However, there is a strong foundation of established science and engineering upon which Mars One can build on.

“Part of the confusion, and we accept responsibility for this,” said Lansdorp, “is our general assessment that no new technology needs to be developed to undertake the Mars One Mission. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines technology as, “the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area” or “a capability given by the practical application of knowledge”. The intention of our “no new technology” message is to convey the following to the general public: The knowledge exists – There are no fundamental physical processes or phenomena that need to be discovered; there is no requirement to develop exotic materials that do not currently exist; there is no need to develop completely new propulsion technologies to safely transport cargo and humans to Mars. Our message is that the fundamental physical, chemical, electrical, and biological processes and technologies required to undertake this mission are known. We have the ability to design and manufacture the engineered products now – we do not have to wait decades for another generation to develop them before we go.”

Budget Estimate: One of the primary challenges is raising sufficient INVESTMENT funds to initiate the mission and complete the first human landings. The initial estimation for this mission is 6 billion U.S. dollars, which is the cost of all the hardware combined, plus the operational expenditures and margins. Inside 360 will explain how the budget was formed, as well as discuss why this budget is lower than other mission estimates, for example a return mission to Mars.

Mars One is in the process of refining this cost estimate based on data from the suppliers who are destined to work on the initial conceptual designs. “Our $6B estimate is in fact the initial estimate and from the preliminary data we are confident that the final price tag is within reasonable margins,” states Arno Wielders, Co-Founder & CTO of Mars One. “The primary driver of cost for this mission is the development of the final hardware to be used and the launch costs. We are therefore very excited about all the recent developments by private companies in the aerospace industry and NASA in lowering rocket transportation costs and testing techniques like supersonic retro-propulsion, which is needed to bring larger masses to the surface of Mars.”

Inside 360 will not only cover the topics outlined above but will be an ongoing and in-depth series about various aspects of the mission. This series will be available on

About Mars One

Mars One is a not-for-profit foundation that will establish permanent human life on Mars. Human settlement on Mars is possible today with existing technologies. Mars One’s mission plan integrates components that are well tested and readily available from industry leaders worldwide. The first footprint on Mars and lives of the crew thereon will captivate and inspire generations. It is this public interest that will help finance this human mission to Mars.

- See more at:

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Landmark Lawsuit Challenges U.S. Approval of Deep-sea Mineral Mining

For Immediate Release, May 13, 2015

New Ocean Gold Rush Could Hurt Marine Life Before Impacts Are Known

SAN FRANCISCO— The Center for Biological Diversity sued the U.S. government today over its first-ever approval for large-scale deep-sea mining, a destructive project between Hawaii and Mexico that would damage important habitat for whales, sharks and sea turtles and wipe out seafloor ecosystems.

Loggerhead sea turtle
Loggerhead sea turtle photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Damien DuToit. This photo is available for media use.
The lawsuit targets the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for issuing and renewing exploratory permits for the work before completing environmental impact studies required by federal law. This is the first major legal challenge to an emerging global industry that is seeking to extract gold, nickel, copper and other increasingly valuable metals and minerals from the seabed beneath international waters.

“Like mountaintop-removal coal mining, deep-sea mining involves massive cutting machines that will leave behind a barren landscape devoid of life,” said Emily Jeffers, the Center attorney who filed the case in federal district court in Washington DC. “Deep-sea mining should be stopped, and this lawsuit aims to compel the government to look at the environmental risks before it leaps into this new frontier. We need to protect the ocean wildlife and habitat, and the United States should provide leadership for other nations to follow before more projects get underway.”

The lawsuit challenges a pair of exploratory permits that were issued to OMCO Seabed Exploration LLC, a subsidiary of defense contractor Lockheed Martin, to pursue mining work in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, about halfway between Hawaii and Mexico. NOAA issued the first licenses in 1980, but they expired in 2004, and this case challenges their renewal in 2012, which was based on a request from the company.

The deep ocean is believed to contain billions of dollars worth of nickel, copper, cobalt, manganese, zinc, gold and other rare-earth metals and minerals. Extracting those materials has been considered too expensive, difficult and risky for investors, but technological advances and skyrocketing prices for these materials, much of which are used in consumer electronics, have triggered a strong push by the mining industry.

There are now 26 mining permits that have been issued to explore mining, including an active commercial mining operation that has been permitted by Papua New Guinea, the Solwara I project. Most of the permits have been issued through the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for the Clarion-Clipperton Zone which is rich in valuable polymetallic nodules, but the United States asserts claims in the area independent of the multi-nation ISA.

“The rush to strip-mine the deep-ocean floor threatens to damage mysterious underwater ecosystems. If we aren’t careful, this new gold rush could do irreparable harm to the basic building blocks of life,” said Jeffers. “The federal government has a moral duty, as well as a legal one, to understand the full environmental impacts before the mining industry scrapes away our deep-sea resources.”

For more information and to download a copy of the lawsuit, please visit the Center’s Deep-sea Mining webpage and list of FAQs at
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 825,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Neder-L: Aan de algemeen secretaris van de Taalunie, ETC., ...

Neder-L: Aan de algemeen secretaris van de Taalunie, ETC., ...: Door Arie J. Gelderblom (v/h Universiteit Utrecht),  Alice van Kalsbeek (v/h Universiteit van Amsterdam),   Arthur Verbiest   (Escuela ...

Monday, May 11, 2015

Neder-L: Mijmeringen van een niet-moedertaalspreker

Neder-L: Mijmeringen van een niet-moedertaalspreker: Over het leven na de nieuwe maatregelen van de NTU Door Judit Gera Hoogleraar Moderne Nederlandse Letterkunde,  Universiteit Boedapes...

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Slavery is not outdated

It is not my habit to use this blog in order to make money. I want people to read things that attract my attention, because they are interested, not because someone needs money.

But it is time to make an exception. There is an organization in the Philippines dedicated to help people get out of slavery situations. Slavery is very much alive today.
Many people have been trapped in a position of unpaid servitude, by dept traps, tradition or brute force. The voluntary group Visayan Forum, a Walk Free partner organization is active rescuing slaves and it provides safe havens for the freed slaves.

You may think that is a very adventurous and even romantic way of life. Liberating mainly girls and woman from their male oppressors, the stuff books are about. But there is grave danger in the story as well.

When they had freed 27 woman and girls, ready to be sold into domestic and no doubt sexual slavery, from a trafficking organization, they experienced that violence was an option.

The trafficking organization hired a bunch of thugs and attacked the Center of Hope, a safe house run by Visayan Forum. Not afraid of the police they tore down the gate, entered the compound and abducted 16 women and girls. The police came, but too late for those 16.

Now comes the tedious part. Visayan Forum, together with the local authorities want to provide more safety for the women and girls that have been rescued. The police have to be notified in time when something is happening, so the New Hope Center needs a good alarm system. That will cost $2,500.
The gate to the compound has been destroyed by the thugs, $12,000 is needed to get a new, stronger and safer gate. A third line of defense has to be created as well, security grills for windows and doors.

This is to provide security to woman and children who will otherwise lead a life of violence, rape and servitude, as well as to the brave volunteers ready to serve them. If you believe that a law against slavery is enough to stop the practice, stop reading here, that law exists. But reality dictates that people will do anything to make money, even sell and buy other people.
Do a little to help end slavery worldwide and donate to

sources: Valkenburg

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Russian Resupply Ship Experiencing Difficulties; International Space Station, Crew are Fine

The six crew members of the International Space Station (ISS) are safe and continuing regular operations with sufficient supplies as Russian flight controllers plan for another attempt to communicate with a cargo resupply spacecraft bound for the station. The next attempt to link with the spacecraft comes at 8:50 p.m. EDT Tuesday.

The ISS Progress 59 cargo spacecraft launched successfully from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 3:09 a.m. (1:09 p.m. in Kazakhstan) Tuesday on a Soyuz rocket bound for the space station. Right after it separated from the Soyuz booster’s third stage, an unspecified problem prevented Russian flight controllers from determining whether navigational antennas had deployed and whether fuel system manifolds had pressurized as planned.

When flight controllers initially could not confirm deployment of the antennas in the minutes following its launch, they selected the backup rendezvous plan of two days and 34 orbits instead of the planned four-orbit, six-hour rendezvous.

During the spacecraft’s first four Earth orbits, the Russian flight control team made several unsuccessful attempts to confirm the status of the spacecraft’s systems but were unable to receive telemetry from some spacecraft systems. As a result, ISS flight controllers informed the crew a docking attempt to the station has been postponed.

The spacecraft was not carrying any supplies critical for the United States Operating Segment (USOS) of the station. Both the Russian and USOS segments of the station continue to operate normally and are adequately supplied well beyond the next planned resupply flight. The next mission scheduled to deliver cargo to the station is the seventh SpaceX commercial resupply services mission targeted for launch no earlier than June 19. It will carry about 5,000 pounds of science investigations and supplies.

The cargo of Progress 59 includes more than three tons of food, fuel, and supplies for the space station crew, including 1,940 pounds of propellant, 110 pounds of oxygen, 926 pounds of water, and 3,128 pounds of spare parts, supplies and scientific experiment hardware. Among the U.S. supplies on board are spare parts for the station’s environmental control and life support system, backup spacewalk hardware, and crew clothing, all of which are replaceable.

As teams continue to monitor the spacecraft, additional updates and more information about the International Space Station will be available online at:

Sunday, April 26, 2015

President of Liberland Vít Jedlička shall visit Croatia Embassy in Prague and start diplomatic mission

Tomorrow, April 27th 2015 in 09:00 AM, President of Liberland Vít Jedlička shall visit Croatia Embassy in Prague (V Průhledu 9, 162 00 Prague 6). He shall present a diplomatic note, officially announcing formation of the new neighbouring state, the Free Republic of Liberland, to the Republic of Croatia. In the note, the President also announces sincere intent of the Free Republic of Liberland to respect the internatonal law and wish to have friendly relations with all members of the international community.

His visit of the Croatian Embassy is a beginning of political and diplomatic mission, during which Vít Jedlička shall visit Vienna, Zagreb and Belgrade. There he shall meet applicants for Liberland citizenship, diplomats and media, and introduces them to Liberland Constitution and basic principles of the republic.

Liberland’s president Vít Jedlička schedule:

Monday, 27th April
09:00 Meeting at Croatia Embassy in Prague - handover of offical diplomatic note
13:00 Lunch with Austrian bussinessmen and with applicants to Liberland citizenship in Vienna
19:00 Free Market Road Show Zagreb 2015

Tuesday, 28th April
12:00 Lunch with applicants to Liberland citizenship in Zagreb

Wednesday, 29th April
13:00 Lunch with Serbian bussinessmen and applicants to Liberland citizenship in Belgrade
14:30 Free Market Road Show 2015 Belgrade - official invitation
Created: 26.04.2015

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Teen Arrested For Changing Desktop Wallpaper At School

April 25th, 2015 | by FLU5CH

A middle school student from Florida is now facing charges after altering the desktop wallpaper of a school teacher’s computer who he didn’t like.

Domanik Green, a 14 year old 8th grader from Paul R. Smith Middle School was accused of changing the desktop background of a teacher’s computer to two men kissing via an administrator’s password on March 31st, Green also attempted to download some pornographic content onto the desktop but failed due to web filters so he decided to stick with the 2 men kissing.

Green stated that the password was known and remembered between him and his friends so that they could use the computers for video calls, the password was simply the teacher’s last name and has now been changed.

Green is now being charged for “offense against a computer system and unauthorized access.”

Pasco county sheriff, Chris Nocco stated “Even though some might say this is just a teenage prank, who knows what this teenager might have done,” Sheriff Nocco also said “If information comes back to us, and we get evidence [that other kids have done it], they’re going to face the same consequences.” Another thing the department has said is that the content of the picture has nothing to do with the charges but rather changing the picture itself is a part of the felony charges.

Green was given a 3-day suspension shortly before for doing similar activities.

This is not the first time that Green has changed the desktop background, however, the first time was not reported to the police and was simply taken into the hands of the school. The second time was different.

Eileen Foster, the mother of the 8th grader said that she knows what her son did was wrong but blamed it partially on the schools poor security system. Neither does she think that Green should have been arrested for this.

Green noted that he did this with the intentions of annoying his teacher – a teenage joke.

On Wednesday 8th of April, Green was released from Land O’Lakes Detention Centre and was given a 10-day suspension from school.

Police state that Green will most likely be given a pre-trial intervention.

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Middle School students feel molested by school employee, but admin cals it a pat down.

(San Bernardino, California, USA)

By: Anita Wilson-Pringle

On Tuesday, April 7, 2015 something happened to two young girls at a San Bernardino Middle School. They were accused of a crime, which was questionable in itself and is currently under investigation. It is not the crime or infraction that they were accused that is the subject of this article, but what took place in the course of events that day.

Mrs. Shenita Stevenson, Vice-Pricipal

Both students were escorted to the office of Serrano Middle School by the Vice-Principal, Mrs. Shenita Stevenson and the school security guard. Each girl was taken into a room accompanied by Ms. Stevenson and another unknown person (whom the kids assume is another security guard) a tall white male. The girls were then searched. Not just your standard pat-down, which is by all means legal, but they were told to take off clothing.

The first child, Leann, a 13yr old black girl was told to take off her jacket, shirt and t-shirt. Next she was told to pull her bra out and shake her breast, same thing with her pants. Leann refused and was then threatened with arrest if she did not comply. Afraid and under duress she complied. The second child, Vanessa, a 15yr old Hispanic girl, was not only told to unfasten and shake the breasts out, but also to remove her pants. She had leggings on underneath and was told to shake those out as well. I cannot recall in any handbook or school policy where it says it’s ok to strip search a child.

Now granted, both girls were called into the office on suspicion of having marijuana in their bags. Both bags had been left unaccompanied in a classroom with over thirty other students and a teacher. The Vice-Principal, Mrs. Stevenson claims a thorough and complete investigation was performed, She claims incident took place at 10:19am and parents were notified at 10:36am. This brings to question, what sort of thorough investigation was performed in 17 minutes. Two marijuana bottles were taken from Leann’s bag, one was empty and one with a trace amount of weed, approximately 0.285 grams, according to Mrs. Stevenson.

When asked how she came to know the girls were suspected of having weed in their bags, Mrs. Stevenson first said she was notified by a teacher, by phone, from the classroom where the bags were left unattended, then she said she was notified by the teacher via email. Again, Mrs. Stevenson changes her story and now says another student told the teacher. Asked if she spoke with this other child that reported it, she declined to answer but insisted the case was closed…in 17 minutes.

Leann’s parents arrived at the school to pick her up after SHE called them (not the school). Leann’s parents raised the same questions about the thoroughness of said investigation by Mrs. Stevenson and also of the San Bernardino School District Police Officer on the scene, Officer A. Hazen.
Leann’s father asked Officer A. Hazen what they were doing searching 13yr old girls in such a manner and he was met with a very aggressive and disrespectful attitude from the officer, whom stated, “I’m a Police Office and I can search any damn body I please”. To say he, (Leann’s father), was taken aback by this answer, would be an understatement.

After a very terse and unprofessional conversation with the Vice Principal, Mrs. Stevenson, the officer, A.Hazen made multiple attempts to get Leann (a 13yr old minor) to sign documents, such as a Possession form, which stated that she owned the two bottles that were found in her bag, a Statement form, which he wanted her to write out and confess to something she had already told them she didn’t do and had no knowledge of. Officer A. Hazen was advised by both parents that Leann would not be signing anything, as she was a minor, and that they would not be signing as well. Leann was read her rights and arrested. She was ticketed and given a court date.

Upon arriving home, Leann succumbed to the horrific incident that had just taken place at school, a place she once considered a safe refuge. She broke down and cried tears that had never come from her eyes before. Tears of pain, degradation, humiliation and tears of fear. This 13yr old girl felt like the people that were there at the school to protect her, had just violated her. Not with the drug incident but with the violation of the body search. She cried at having had to take her clothing off in front of Mrs. Stevenson and this unknown security guard. She cried because she felt like she had been stripped of her pride and falsely accused. She cried because Mrs. Stevenson did everything in her power to put fear in this child. An utter disrespect by a school Administrator to a child. To put it plainly, Leann said she felt molested and dirty. Why should any child have to be subjected to actions such as the ones taken by Mrs. Stevenson and this unknown security guard? How would they like it if someone stripped and body searched THEIR child?

Leann’s parents refused to accept the story given to them by Vice Principal Stevenson. They proceeded to the San Bernardino School Board for two consecutive days. Upon arrival her mother spoke with several people. Dr. Weisner, in the HR Department, Sandra Rodriguez also in the HR Department, Robin Albriton, Assistant to Dr. Weisner, and San Bernardino School District, Police Chief Joseph Paulino. All of them promised a thorough investigation into why these young girls were searched in such a manner, why there was no real investigation performed at Serrano Middle School by VP Stevenson, and why Officer A. Hazen felt like he could, as he said, :"…search any damn body I want".

The parents also met with Ray Culberson, Director of Youth Services for San Bernardino School District. While sitting in this meeting with Mr. Culberson, who looked like he really did not believe the parents about the extent of the search, picked up the phone and called Serrano Middle School and asked VP Stevenson if it was in fact true that the girls had been told to remove their shirts and pants and shake their breast out. Without hesitation, VP Stevenson confirmed the parent’s complaint, and said it in such a way as to be boastful. At that point, Mr. Culberson informed the parents that there was nothing he could do to assist. He seemed awe struck that VP Stevenson openly admitted to what one can only call, molestation of a minor, by having them remove clothing in such a manner, under the threat of arrest. This was a complete violation.

After having a meeting the next morning at 8am with Serrano Middle School Principal, Mr. Wild, the parents were even more confused about this situation than before, as he claimed to have no knowledge of anything, but promised yet another investigation. The parents arrived back at the San Bernardino School Board and requested to see Superintendent Dale Marsden. Another meeting was scheduled with Deputy Superintendent, Dr. Volkermer, as Marsden was not available…and ANOTHER investigation was promised. Dr. Volkermer proceeded to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors and talk about how they had the right to search the kids with a pat down and how they were well within their rights on school premises to do so, with “reasonable doubt” being their holding card. The parents understood and agreed with this policy as well but what took place with their daughter, Leann and the other young girl, Vanessa was NOT within policy guidelines, or any school district manual, it was a violation of those children’s person, it was molestation. Molestation that was admitted to and confirmed by VP Stevenson of Serrano Middle School. Both girls claimed that this type of strip search had taken place with them several times before, but they were afraid to tell their parents. What exactly has been going on at Seranno, because surely these two kids are not the first?

STRIP SEARCHING kids in school? Is that where the San Bernardino School System has gone? Or rather where they have failed our kids. How many other kids have been searched like this? How many were given the same threat of arrest for non-compliance? How many told their parents, but the parents were afraid to do anything because of their immigration status? According to the two girls, this goes on quite often at Serrano Middle School, and VP Stevenson is almost always present. The funny thing is, it never happens to the white students. It is as if these kinds of searches only take place with the black kids (mostly girls) and hispanics (mostly girls). This is kind of ironic, because when you look at this you will take note that Mrs. Stevenson, the Vice Principal of Serrano Middle school is a black woman. So why does it seem as if only the blacks and hispanics are being targeted? To be sure, some of the readers of this article will say that the race card is being played once again. It seems that way because that is that way. When talking with various other students, it was noted they had all been searched in this manner and all were black and hispanic.

Leann has now been taken out of Serrano Middle School and placed on Independent Study by her parents. They refused to send her back to a school where she is a target of racial profiling and strip search (molestation) by the very same people that were supposed to be there to protect them. According to her parents, she has been doing nothing but crying, she cannot sleep, she has anchored on to her parents like they are a life preserver. She says she is afraid to go back to school for fear of retaliation by Vice Principal Stevenson and others because this strip search issue was not dropped. The mental stress this has caused this 13yr old child and the emotional stress has driven her into a state of severe depression. To the point that the parents will be taking her to counseling over this.

As an adult, if someone made you take your clothes off like that, in front of people you do not even know, under duress, would you too not be outraged, disgusted, shamed and perhaps a lot more. Would you not fight for your rights if you KNEW yours had been trampled on and disregarded? Leann’s parents feel that same way and they refuse to let this continue. There are specific demographic groups of children being targeted by these school employees. Blacks and hispanics, the two obvious choices. They are being labeled gang bangers, drug dealers, pill pushers… not by the police but by their teachers, principals, and school administrators. These accusations will remain on their records for life. They will remain there because no one stood up for them, no one fought for them and no one cared.

Well this writer cares, this writer will stand up for them, and this writer will fight for them – because this writer is Leann’s mother.
Re-published with written permission of the author.


** This is the first in a series of articles, delving into the San Bernardino schools in search of more of the same. Just because they tell you then can, does not mean its legal.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Joint Statement on Mediterranean Crossings

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for International Migration and Development Peter Sutherland, and Director-General of the International Organization for Migration William Lacy Swing
A tragedy of epic proportions is unfolding in the Mediterranean. We, the undersigned*, strongly urge European leaders to put human life, rights, and dignity first today when agreeing upon a common response to the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean.

The European Union is founded on the fundamental principles of humanity, solidarity and respect for human rights. We urge EU Member States to demonstrate moral and political leadership in adopting a holistic and forward-looking action plan centred upon these values.

The European Union response needs to go beyond the present minimalist approach in the 10 Point Plan on Migration, announced by the EU on Monday, which focuses primarily on stemming the arrival of migrants and refugees on its shores. As a paramount principle, the safety, protection needs, and human rights of all migrants and refugees should be at the forefront of the EU response. EU leaders must look beyond the present situation and work closely with transit and origin countries both to alleviate the immediate plight of migrants and refugees and address in a more comprehensive way the many factors that drive them to resort to such desperate journeys by sea. Enforcement alone will not solve the issue of irregular migration, but could increase the risks and abuse faced by migrants and refugees.

We would therefore encourage bold, collective action to expand the range of measures under consideration to include:

Setting in place a State-led, robust, proactive, and well-resourced search-and-rescue operation, urgently and without delay, with a capacity similar to Mare Nostrum and a clear mission to save lives.
Creating sufficient channels for safe and regular migration, including for low-skilled migrant workers and individuals in need of family reunification, and access to protection where needed, as safe alternatives to resorting to smugglers.
Making a firm commitment to receive significantly higher numbers of refugees through EU-wide resettlement, in addition to current quotas, and on a scale which will make a real impact, combined with other legal means for refugees to reach safety.
Bolstering arrangements to support those countries receiving the most arrivals (Italy, Malta, and Greece) and to distribute responsibility more equitably across the European Union for saving lives and protecting all those in need.
Combatting racist and xenophobic rhetoric vilifying migrants and refugees.
António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Peter Sutherland, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for International Migration and Development
William L. Swing, Director-General of the International Organization for Migration

Media Contacts

Adrian Edwards, UNHCR Spokesman, +41 79 557 9120
William Spindler, UNHCR Senior Comms Officer, +41 79 217 30 11

Philippe Leclerc, UNHCR Paris Representative, +33 1 44 43 48 50

Andrej Mahecic, UNHCR UK Spokesperson, +44 78 802 30 985

Brian Hansford, UNHCR US Spokesperson, +1 202 999 8253

Carlotta Sami, UNHCR Southern Europe Spokesperson, +39 335 679 4746

Joel Millman, +41 79 103 8720

Rupert Colville, +41 22 917 9767

Senior Advisor to SRSG Sutherland
Gregory Maniatis +1 917 609 8777

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Press Release: A New State Has Been Declared - Liberland

Press Release: A New State Has Been Declared - Liberland

In accordance with international law, a group of Czech citizens, gathered in a Preparatory Committee, decided to declare a new state, Free Republic of Liberland, in the territory defined by the coordinates below.

Its total area of about 7 square kilometres makes Liberland the third smallest sovereign state, after the Vatican and Monaco. Liberland is located along the Danube River between Croatia and the Republic of Serbia. The territory is not claimed by either of these two states. It was a no man's land - terra nullius – as defined by international conventions.

On 13 April 2015 the Preparatory Committee declared the new state on the spot and raised a flag to claim the land. The Committee also elected the President of the Republic, who was also commissioned to send diplomatic notes not only to the two neighbouring states, but also to the United Nations and later to other countries, in order to inform them about the establishment of the new state of Liberland.

The objective of the founders of the new state is to build a country where honest people can prosper without being oppressed by governments making their lives unpleasant through the burden of unnecessary restrictions and taxes. One of the reasons for founding Liberland is the ever expanding influence of interest groups on the functioning of existing states and the consequent worsening of living conditions of people. The founders are inspired by countries such as Monaco, Liechtenstein or Hong Kong.

Liberland is led by its President Vit Jedlicka, who was elected by the Preparatory Committee. Free Republic of Liberland intends to accept applications for citizenship. Further details are available on the official website of the state .

State Location: 45°46'N 18°52'E

Contact Information:
Vit Jedlicka - President of Free Republic of Liberland
Phone: +420 608 131 130

Monday, April 13, 2015

Duitse schrijver Günter Grass (87) overleden

De Duitse schrijver Günter Grass is vandaag overleden. Dat heeft zijn uitgever bekendgemaakt. In 1999 ontving hij de Nobelprijs voor de Literatuur. Grass is 87 jaar oud geworden.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Slavery at sea.

The 100 day chase of an illegal fishing ship and the circumstances of those on board

Imagine this... working long hours on a vessel, being forced to perform illegal activities, hardly having your own personal space, bad food, being in debt and no end in sight.
And still one well known captain has accused another captain of holding his crew as slaves. Allegedly he is forcing the crew of his flagless vessel to fish in forbidden waters on fish they are not allowed to catch. He is also forcing his crew to work impossible hours, and, again allegedly, his crew members are mostly slaves, forced to work for no pay by dept traps.
But in this modern day and age slavery and piracy do not exist anymore. Surely the law has taken control of the far reaches of seas and oceans and has regulated even the fishing industry.
Well, not according to a report the International Labour Office issued in 2013, under the name; Caught at sea: forced labour and trafficking in fisheries, - Geneva: ILO, 2013.

Two centuries after the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, at least 20.9 million people continue to work under coercion, largely in the informal and illegal economy (ILO global estimates 2012). About 90 percent of today’s forced labour is extracted by private agents, primarily in labour intensive industries such as fishing, manufacturing, agriculture and food processing, domestic work and construction.

But the ILO not only writes reports. Two very important legal directives have been issued, so-called conventions. Two are interesting in the context of this article; the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29) and the Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No. 188). Sadly the two directives have not been adopted, not by countries with a fishing industry and, in fact, not by any country.

Also according to the ILO, the fishing industry knows severe cases of forced labour and human trafficking. But what makes people agree to work under such terrible circumstances, you will ask.

Mostly unemployed migrant workers are targeted by special “employment agents” and “agencies”; the workers are told they have to pay a fee for the agent to find work for them. When they do not have the money to pay the fee, the trap slams shut! A second offer is made; the agent agrees to look for a job, but they will have to pay a percentage of their future income in stead of the fee. The agent then goes on to ask for an address.

OK, very smart; ask an address of a migrant worker, most likely illegal in Indonesia, some African country or a country in South or Central America. You can almost see the falling gate of the trap can’t you?
When the worker says he does not have an address, the agent will ask him if he needs a place to stay, some money to send to his family, some new clothes.

In most of the countries I mentioned before, members of the illegal community live together. Huddled up in rooms too small for one person with five or six men is no fun at all. Living with two families in a small 4x4 cabin made of corrugated iron sheeting, with a leaking roof and only about 7 hours of light per day, if at all is not much fun either. But that is how migrant workers live, in 2015!

Besides there is the pressure of all migrant workers who lose their job, or who did not have a job to begin with; how to provide for the family who stayed in the home country expecting some money from the brother or sister, husband, father or mother who is supposed to be working in the ‘rich’ country across the border or at the other end of the world?

It is not so difficult to entrap a desperate man that way. He will do anything for his family, so paying rent for a room with a kitchen and a bath all by himself, while he is waiting for “his” agent to find him a job does not seem a bad deal at all. The agent may borrow him some more money to buy food and clothes and to spend in the weekend.

But after a few weeks, a month or longer the agent comes back and lets the victim know that he has a job. It is a good job, with good wages and free board. There is only one problem; it is on a fishing vessel, out at sea.
The fact that the migrant worker is not a sailor (or a tractor operator in agriculture, a tailor in the clothing industry, you name it) does not seem to be a problem; he will learn the trade on the job.

All the little bits of “service” have to be paid for of course. The now newly employed migrant worker has to pay for housing, the borrowed money and the interest, the on the job training etcetera and so on. And there is the slave, working long hours for little or no pay, working to pay off his dept! A dept he will never be able to pay off, not if he sends money to his family at home. On board of a ship there really is no escape, the only way off is to jump overboard, and that does happen!

This kind of slavery can be found in many places and many workers, male and female, are caught in the financial trap of artificial depts. To their employer or to the employment agency, it does not matter how or by whom the trick is played, he is earning a lot of money over the back of some ill informed individual.

We do not have to look too far, with at least 20.9 million people worldwide continue to work under coercion, largely in the informal and illegal economy. Look around you, in the workshops of factories, in the kitchens of families, in bedrooms and, yes also on board of fishing vessels and freighters worldwide.

If needs be, a famous captain, like Paul Watson, can make waves. Hisorganisation Sea Shepherd and her ships the BOB BARKER and the SAM SIMON have been following an illegal fishing boat for more than 100 days now. The BOB BARKER and the SAM SIMON are both on the tail of the world's most notorious tooth fish poacher to prevent them from changing the name and flag of the THUNDER in port.
A pursuit that has covered over 10,000 nautical miles, across three oceans, the Southern, the Indian and now the South Atlantic, from Antarctica to the Equator. It is the longest pursuit of a poaching vessel in maritime history.
One week ago, Nigeria officially struck the flag of the THUNDER. The ship is now unregistered and without a flag. That means the THUNDER is officially a pirate vessel!

Sea Shepherd has called on the Navies of the world to intervene and board this un-flagged poaching vessel to investigate allegations of human trafficking. Sea Shepherd has reason to believe that many members of the THUNDER's Indonesian crew are not onboard under their own free will and that they are prisoners, slaves under the control of the Captain and officers.

And of course there is the illegal cargo. If fish is found on board of the ship by any authorities, it will be confiscated and investigated. Illegal catches may be well paid when they reach a port and can be sold, but not if the vessel is stopped like the KUNLUN.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society applauds the Royal Thailand Customs Investigation and Suppression Bureau for taking action against the poaching vessel KUNLUN. Thailand has acted and the captain of the KUNLUN has been arrested and the ship is detained.

Captain Jose Alberto Zavaleta Salas, a citizen of Peru reported the cargo as 182 ton of grouper, valued at about 15 million baht. (462 226.22 US$) However, experts have confirmed that the ship had in fact offloaded 182 ton of Antarctic tooth fish, valued at about 179mn baht (5 485 089.91 US$)

Mr. Salas has been charged for falsely reporting goods to customs. This has been confirmed by Royal Thai Customs Investigation and Suppression Bureau (ISB) team leader Charoen Chamniklang.
Mr. Salas also faces charges for falsely reporting the ship’s flag and registration by switching from the name KUNLUN under the flag of Equatorial Guinea to the name TASHAN under the flag of Indonesia.
The handler that received the fish, South Services Co Ltd, has also been charged for its role in illegally importing the fish into Thailand.

Will the poachers avoid prosecution? The possibility is that they will, considering that the money behind these illegal fishing operations rivals that of illegal drugs and guns.
But as the drama in Phuket plays out, the high-seas chase continues in the South Atlantic some 1,000 miles south of the Equator as both the Thunder and the Bob Barker continue to head north.
Yes, piracy does exist and can be as profitable as famous movies make believe the original piracy was. And yes, slavery does exist in this world. Not only on board of fishing boats like the THUNDER and the KUNLUN, but in factories, sweatshops, workshops, kitchens, bedrooms and other places, worldwide.
Slavery must also be fought and stopped on a worldwide scale, not only official organizations like the ILO, or by NGO’s like Sea Shepherd, but by you and me. Freedom includes the freedom to supply labor to whom I want, to whom you want, without force or coercion.

Today, 06th of April 2015, at approximately 1539 AEDT, at location 0˚ 20’ North 05˚ 24' East inside the Exclusive Economic Zone of Sao Tome, the poaching vessel, Thunder, issued a distress signal. The Captain of the Thunder radio the Sea Shepherd ship, Bob Barker, reporting that the vessel was sinking.
The Sea Shepherd ship, Bob Barker, immediately answered the distress call.
35 crewmembers from the Thunder have abandoned the ship and are in life rafts.
Sea Shepherd confirms that the Thunder appears to be taking on water.
The Bob Barker is currently coordinating a search and rescue operation.
Captain Peter Hammarstedt of the Bob Barker said, “We have received a distress call from the Thunder. It appears as though the ship and crew are in a serious situation. The Captain of the Thunder has radioed us and said their ship is sinking. We have launched our small boat and are doing everything we can to assist."
Captain Peter Hammaerstedt has reported that the unflagged toothfish poaching vessel THUNDER has sunk.
The ship went down in 4000 metres of water in the position of 00 Degrees 19'North & 005 Degrees 25' East. This is 19 nautical miles North of the Equator and 115 miles from Sao Tome.

Sources: Caught at sea: forced labour and trafficking in fisheries, - Geneva: ILO, 2013.
Captain Paul Watson;
Photograph: "Neptune Navy - MY Sam Simon-Hobart 2012" by Dexcel at English Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -