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Archive for May, 2009

May 30 2009

Fine-tuned teaching medium policy to launch

The fine-tuning of the medium of instruction (MOI) for secondary schools has been finalised and the new arrangements will take effect September 2010, starting from Secondary One and progressing each year to a higher level of the junior secondary forms. Please click here for details. [Source: Information Services Department, HKSAR]

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May 29 2009

Headlines From Trade Observatory

  1. Trade and Hard Times
  2. PREVIEW-U.S. aims to mend rich-poor climate split in Paris
  3. Report blames Europe and U.S. for food crisis
  4. NGOs Cry Foul over Rich-Country ‘Land Grab’ in Developing World
  5. U.S. appeals in anti-dumping compliance case at WTO
  6. Europe and U.S. bear special responsibility for food crisis, new report finds

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May 29 2009

World Health Organization appoints Nancy Goodman Brinker as Goodwill Ambassador for cancer control

26 MAY 2009 | GENEVA – World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan has appointed Ambassador Nancy Goodman Brinker, Founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, a breast cancer foundation, as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer Control.


As Goodwill Ambassador, Ambassador Brinker is expected to raise awareness about cancer as a global public health problem. She will also advocate for strengthening global action for cancer prevention and control in the context of the Global Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases endorsed by the World Health Assembly in May 2008. Her messages will emphasize the need for low- and middle income countries to strengthen comprehensive and evidence-based cancer control policies and programmes. 


“I am very pleased to appoint Ambassador Nancy Brinker as a Goodwill Ambassador for WHO,” said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan. “I look forward to Ambassador Brinker’s help in raising global awareness of the need for comprehensive cancer control policies. The disease burden has shifted from wealthier to less affluent countries, and her advocacy will help in building awareness in low- and middle-income countries.


Ambassador Brinker served as United States Ambassador to Hungary from 2001 to 2003 and as U.S. Chief of Protocol from 2007 to 2009.  During her career as a businesswoman, consultant, health care advocate and philanthropist, she has received many awards.   Ambassador Brinker has served on various boards, including Harvard University’s School of Public Health and was appointed by President Reagan to serve on the National Cancer Advisory Board at the National Cancer Institute. With former First Lady Laura Bush, Ambassador Brinker helped launch the U.S.-Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research in the areas of awareness-building, grassroots advocacy support, research, training, community outreach, and women’s empowerment.


On her appointment as WHO Goodwill Ambassador, Ambassador Brinker said: “I would like to thank the WHO for this great honor and opportunity. If we raise awareness about the global burden of cancer, its socioeconomic and psychological consequences on cancer patients and their families and the necessary actions for its control, we will be able to advance the global agenda in the fight against cancer. I will work diligently to effectively disseminate these messages to the world.”


For more information contact:


WHO Department of Communications, Geneva

Thomas Abraham, Mobile: + 41 79 5163136; E-mail: abrahamt@who.int
Fadéla Chaib, Mobile: +41 79 475 55 56; E-mail: chaibf@who.int
Gaya Gamhewage, Mobile: + 41 79 475 5563, E-mail: gamhewageg@who.int;
Media inquiries, Telephone: +41 22 791 2222, E-mail: mediainquiries@who.int.


All press releases, fact sheets and other WHO media material may be found at www.who.int

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May 29 2009

International health organizations urge more funding for yellow fever vaccine stockpile

WHO, UNICEF, agree vaccination campaigns in trouble, appeal for further funding


26 MAY 2009 | GENEVA/PARIS/NEW YORK – The International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Yellow Fever Vaccine Provision is warning that the global emergency stockpile of yellow fever vaccine for the world’s most vulnerable populations in Africa is under threat.


The current stockpile is scheduled to run out in 2010 and there is no funding to cover campaigns once the stockpile is depleted. Most children and adults in 5 of the 12 most vulnerable countries in Africa are now protected from contracting yellow fever thanks to recent vaccination campaigns.


But without further funding millions of people will still be at risk of the disease, according to public health experts.


“We have to finish the job we started or the good work that has been done will be lost,” said Dr Edward Hoekstra, UNICEF Senior Health Specialist, speaking from New York. “If the stockpile of yellow fever vaccine is allowed to run out, countries that have not yet been reached by immunization campaigns will be unfairly burdened with the disease.”


Dr William Perea, WHO coordinator for the Epidemic Readiness and Intervention said the yellow fever initiative is feeling the effects of the global financial crisis.


“As we look beyond 2009, we already see serious funding constraints. Although yellow fever vaccine production has tripled since 2001, the roll out of the programme is limited by insufficient supply of vaccine for 2009,” said Dr Perea.


The five countries that have completed vaccination campaigns so far are Togo, Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Cameroon, which received funding from the International Finance Facility for Immunization (IFFIm), through the GAVI Alliance. There have been no outbreaks in those countries since the vaccination campaigns were completed.


Dr Hoekstra said there is a need to further roll out the programme to protect the remaining 150 million children and adults still at risk for the disease in the region, adding that close cooperation among all partners has been effective in supporting national governments to successfully implement the vaccination campaigns.


“If we do not sustain this programme, yellow fever outbreaks will continue to affect populations who can least afford it,” said Dr Fenella Avokey of the WHO African Regional Office. “This is something we had hoped to resolve by 2015.” 


Yellow fever is caused by a virus transmitted by mosquitoes.  The disease is endemic in forest areas and people are at greatest risk at the end of the rainy season. According to WHO, an estimated 206,000 cases and 52,000 deaths occur every year.


The recent campaigns in Burkina Faso and Cameroon benefited more than 95 per cent of the vulnerable populations targeted. Burkina Faso vaccinated 7.6 million people in 33 districts and Cameroon completed a vaccination campaign for 7.5 million people in 62 districts.  Seven other African countries where the threat of yellow fever is highest include Benin, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Liberia, Guinea, Ghana, and Cote d’Ivoire.


Members of the ICG, which include the World Health Organization (WHO), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), met on 12-13 May to assess recent yellow fever vaccination campaigns and discuss future actions.


For further information, please contact:


Christian Moen, UNICEF Media NY, +1 212 326 7516, cmoen@unicef.org

Aphaluck Bhatiasevi, WHO Media Officer, Geneva, +41 79 484 2997, bhatiaseviap@who.int


All press releases, fact sheets and other WHO media material may be found at www.who.int

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May 29 2009

The Art of the First Fleet

The Natural History Museum of London website features an online collection of some of the artworks that were created by members of the First Fleet, the group of nine ships that set sail from Portsmouth to establish a colony in New South Wales, Australia.  The artworks are considered to be “outstanding drawings of aboriginal people, the environment and wildlife found on arrival as well as of the early foundation of the colony.”  Bird lovers out there will find this collection quite a treat, as there are a slew of drawings of birds.  Mammal lovers will get to see drawings that are some of the only know record of species that have become extinct since 1788. The drawings are divided up into four different topics, “Natural History”, “Ethnography”, “Topography”, and “History”, and can be accessed by their links on the homepage. Each topic can be viewed as a “list” or “gallery”, with the gallery view providing thumbnails and the title, and the list providing the title and the name of the artist.  Once visitors have chosen a drawing to view, they can click on it to see the dimensions and date of the drawings, as well as an enlarged image of the drawing. If you are interested
in more details, such as the donor of the drawing or where it’s held at the Museum, you should click on “show notes”.  The “interactive enlargement” link below the image allows visitors to zoom and pan within the image. Please click here to enjoy.

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May 29 2009

Arabic Script: Mightier than the Sword

The British Museum has a fascinating online exhibit of Islamic art that showcases how Arabic writing is often used in art for its decorative qualities.  The importance of Arabic was such that it was learned in
conjunction with local languages, and Arabic writing often displaced local scripts.  The pieces in this exhibit range from the 7th century A.D. to modern times. Each of the 35 images in the online collection is accompanied by a very informative description, as well as a zoom function, that can be accessed by clicking on the “Larger Image” link. You should not miss image six, which is a double page of the Qur’an from the 14th century that has a very light, airy quality, and is executed in gold and colored inks.
Image seven, a modern piece of calligraphy, is by the artist Osman Waqialla, and has smaller script inside of a larger letter that is stunning from a distance, and in detail. Please click here to access.

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May 29 2009

Women’s History Month

More than half a dozen government cultural agencies, including the Library of Congress, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum have contributed to this website celebrating Women’s History Month.  The theme for 2009 is “Women’s commitment to the environment”, but this website also has information on influential women in all areas.  You can read more about the current theme by clicking on the link “Women Taking the Lead to Save our Planet” on the far right side of the page, near the top.  Once there, click on the big square logo to learn more about this year’s theme, and its honorees. Back on the homepage, you can link to “Exhibits &
Collections”, using the menu on the far left side of the page.  Some of the categories to view are “First-Person Accounts”, “Politics”, and “Women and War”. In the link to “Audio/Video”, also located in the menu on the far left side of the page, you will find a variety of authors discussing their books, as well as other podcasts, webcasts, and readings from the annual National Book Festival.

Moving on, in the “For Teachers” link, in the left side menu, you will find lesson plans, student activities and research aids, all incorporating primary sources from Library of Congress, National Archives, National Gallery of Art, and the National Park Service. Please click here to access.

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May 29 2009

New Europe

Started in 1993, New Europe is a weekly publication that covers 49 countries, with a particular focus on institutions in the European Union (EU). Their site offers access to the contents of their print publication,
along with additional information on their outreach activities that involve higher education, media groups, and think tanks. You may wish to start by looking through the “EU Update” area on the left-hand side of the page. Here you will find news stories and investigative reporting that looks into the governmental organization and politics surrounding the European Union. Further down the page, you can look through sections such as “Business Update”, “Regional News”, and the individual country news area, which covers nations from Albania to Uzbekistan. Please click here to explore.

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May 29 2009


Created by the European Union, the EuroparlTV site is designed to bring information about their activities to a wide audience. The video clips, interviews, and other materials are divided into four sections: “Your Parliament”, “Your Voice”, “Young Europe”, and “Parliament Live”. Visitors should also take a look at the “Discovering the European Parliament” area, which contains short films that cover the history of the European Parliament, and how the Parliament works on a day-to-day basis. Moving along, the “Latest Videos’ area contains weekly updates, information on electoral campaigns, and debates on healthcare. The
site is rounded out by a topical listing of videos that range from agriculture to women’s rights.  The site is available in all of the national languages of the European Union.  Please click here to access.

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May 29 2009

Environmental Issues From Global Issues

  1. Trade-Us: Green Groups Say E-Waste Bill Is Too Lax
  2. India: Cheapest Car Rides on Govt Subsidies
  3. Politics-Us: Lobbyist Ranks Swell with Advent of Climate Bill
  4. U.S.: Green Groups Hail Plan to Slash Transport Emissions
  5. Trade-Russia: ‘‘Africa Should Shake off Mineral Dependency’’
  6. Malawi: Separating the ‘‘Ultra-Poor’’ from the Poor – Why?
  7. Zimbabwe/South Africa: Protecting Migrant Farmworker Rights
  8. Europe: Help the Economy, Hurt the Environment

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