Shipping Industry Joins Fight Against Climate Change

All of us can participate, in our little ways, in the great battle against climate change. As I have written before, we need to take the task upon ourselves now more than ever. And while there are actions we can do just around our home, we also definitely need bigger stakeholders in the battle. As a momentous feat this 2018, the shipping industry is finally joining the fight.

For the first time, brokered by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and effective over 170 member states, global shipping companies have agreed to a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The agreement will require a revolution among ships, which are overwhelmingly fuelled by heavy oils at present. In future, they will have to not only be more energy-efficient, but also make use of cleaner energy, in the form of batteries supplying electricity, solar and wind electricity generation, and perhaps even a return to sail in some cases, or more controversially to nuclear power, as some warships already use.

As of the moment, shipping contributes only 2% of the world’s total carbon emissions, but this is no reason to be complacent, considering the ever-increasing need for transport due to globalization, as well as the ships’ use of carbon-heavy fuels like diesel.

John Maggs, president of the Clean Shipping Coalition and senior policy adviser at the campaigning group Seas at Risk, said: “We have an important agreement and this level of ambition will ultimately require a sector-wide shift to new fuels and propulsion technologies. But what happens next is crucial. The IMO must move swiftly to introduce measures that will cut emissions deeply and quickly in the short term – without these, the goals of the Paris agreement will remain out of reach.”

According to campaigners, to really carry out their goal and meet the objectives of the 2015 Paris agreement, shipping companies need to cut 70% of shipping emissions by 2050. However, that the shipping industry agreed to halve their current usage is already tremendous news.

The entire shipping industry is built on and relies on oceans, so let’s hope shipping companies finally start doing what’s best to protect them.

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Facial Recognition System Traces 3,000 Missing Children

Sometimes, we know how cruel the world can be. It is an inevitable truth to admit that the world is not perfect, that there are many factors that contribute to its dangers. And sometimes, it hurts even more when we see its effects brought upon children, who are somehow quite more vulnerable to the world. And then sometimes, there are amazing folks who in their personal ways counteract these dangers through kindness, like a millionaire opening his own home to foster children displaced by a hurricane, or a ticket agent rescuing teenage girls from human trafficking.

Today, technology is our children’s hero. Through a new facial recognition system, 3,000 missing children have been traced by the authorities.

The [facial recognition system] was employed by the Delhi police department on a trial basis to scan the faces of 45,000 children living in children’s homes . . . During its testing phase between April 6 and April 10, 2,930 kids were recognized as missing children . . . The technology uses a massive database of photographs and profiles to match the facial features of any child to that of a “missing person”.

Efforts are currently ongoing to reunite these children with their families. If city police are given free use of the facial recognition system, it could identify more and more missing children, which is why a children’s rights organization called Bachpan Bachao Andolan is working on a proposal so that the Delhi police department may use the tech free of charge. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) is also campaigning for the use of the technology.

“If such a type of software helps trace missing children and reunite them with their families, nothing can be better than this,” said Yashwant Jain, a member of NCPCR.

Through innovations like this, perhaps we might bring happiness and sincere smiles to the world, one child’s face at a time.

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Qatar’s First Humanitarian Org Celebrates 40 Years

Last March 20, Qatar Red Crescent Society or QRCS held a grand celebration of its 40-year anniversary at the Katara Cultural Village in Doha. Attended by the country’s government officials, business leaders, senior officers and volunteers, and other representatives, it was an important event in the field of development and humanitarian advocacy. But it marked even more important achievements.

Established on March 20, 1978, QRCS “boasts of a track record of achievements, lessons learnt and milestones”, it has said in a statement. “These successes have shaped the arena of charitable and social work in Qatar, and enriched the country’s bright image as a major humanitarian player around the world.”

Committed to its slogan “Saving Lives and Preserving Dignity,” the QRCS—as a member of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)—has helped develop zones afflicted by disasters, conflict, and poverty.

“Being Qatar’s first humanitarian organisation, QRCS became a pioneer in its vision, principles and efforts. Now, it serves as an auxiliary to Qatar in its humanitarian policies both locally and internationally. Also, it has become a role model for many NGOs and humanitarian service providers, which follow its strategies and operations,” the statement adds.

The day’s highlights include a special ceremony to honor the organization’s chief contributors and volunteers, the opening to a public exhibit of QRCS’s timeline and history at the Katara Corniche, a showcase and invitation for volunteering opportunities, and even kid-friendly activities.

However, humanitarian advocacy is not only enacted on the organization level, but some powerful individuals constantly do their share, exemplified by other recent milestones in philantropy such as charity auctions for the homeless and benefit concerts for diverse causes. Perhaps even in our smallness, we could wonder about the small ways we could contribute to the giant mission of relieving the suffering of others.

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Interracial Couple Marry On U.S.-Mexico Border

While human rights activists are seeing progress in countries such as Saudi Arabia, some causes remain stagnant. With little headway on the Trump administration’s hostility towards Mexico, an interracial couple decided to make a statement. Mexican bride Evelia Reyes married San Diego native Brian Houston at the steel border gate dividing both countries.

“It’s a statement that love has no borders,” [said] Houston… “Even though we are divided by a giant fence here, we can still love each other on both sides of the fence.”

Though Reyes has applied for a green card, the process could take over a year. For the ceremony, Border Patrol opened the gates, known as the “Door of Hope” for an hour. Relatives passed through for a mere three minutes to greet and embrace one another before shuttling back onto either side. Border Angels executive director Enrique Morones arranged the ritual.

“While some people want to build walls, we want to open doors,” Morones said.

Opened only for the 6th time sine 2013, the border is a symbol of hard times — but also a reminder than we can overcome them.

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Twitter Backfire Raises Thousands For Girls’ Education In Africa

September alone has seen many successful fundraisers. In a month, a deaf boy raised $15,000 for deaf children in need. Similarly, a group of El Segundo cops raised $5,000 for a student robbed of her college fund. Students at the Craigburn Primary School in South Australia raised a whopping $200,000 to educate girls in Africa — thanks to an unanticipated Twitter backfire.

Senator Bernardi tweeted his frustration about the idea on Wednesday by writing, “This gender morphing is really getting absurd.”

The campaign, known as Do It In A Dress, encourages students of all genders to sport dresses for the sake of awareness. Australian charity OneGirl has been running the project for six years, schooling others on the lack of education for African girls. Despite the backlash, Bernardi, whose tweet prompted a frenzy of donations, stands by his opinion.

“I think, and many parents think, that it’s completely inappropriate for a school to encourage their male teachers and male students to wear drag at a casual clothes day,”

Ru Paul ought to give Bernardi a lesson in empowerment. OneGirl executive Morgan Koegel expressed her surprise over the positive response of benefactors. The tight-knit Australian fundraising community is proof that anyone can do good — no matter what the attire.

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Dad Works As Janitor To Send Kids To College

Parents will do almost anything for their children. They will take an extra shift or, if they’re tech-savvy, defend their kids on social media. Dad-of-five Fred Vautour set the ultimate standard, working 23 years as a graveyard shift janitor at Boston College to send his kids to school.

“I came from a poor family and kind of a broken home and I was kind of on my own,” Fred Vautour explained. “I did my best to be a father and a family man.”

Boston College, which provides benefits for its staff, granted all five of Vautour’s children a place in the school. While Vautour was able to save $700,000 in tuition, his greatest pride was watching each of them graduate.

“I want to be remembered as the grandkids knowing that their grandfather did a lot for my own,” he said. “And my kids are learning from that and they seem to be doing well with their kids, too, so it’s a trickle-down effect.”

Vautour has expressed his gratitude and still works at the university, however bittersweet. The hardworking dad has proved that status isn’t everything. Sometimes, being a good parent is enough.

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Dentist Shoulders Bill For Retired Staff Sergeant

Trips to the dentist may not be everyone’s favorite errand — that is, until excruciating cavities become a problem. Admittedly, probes are no fun, and neither is the price tag they come with. But following Dr. Kenny Wilstead’s good deed for a domestic abuse victim, Dr. David Nguyen decided to shoulder a military vet’s $15,000 bill.

“There was infection in his gum tissue, a lot of cracked teeth everywhere, a lot of crowding, a lot of grinding problems,” described Dr. Nguyen, a dentist at URBN Dental River Oaks in Houston.

Former Staff Sergeant David Tyler Harmon didn’t anticipate a simple toothache to reveal years of decay. To cover the costs, Harmon would’ve had to undergo months of paperwork with the Veterans Administration. Much to his delight, Dr. Nguyen decided to simply waive the charges.

“All veterans are heroes,” said Dr. Nguyen. “They give up so much for this country, and whatever I can do just to help him out a little bit, it’s all worth it to me.”

If that doesn’t put a smile on your face, it might be time for a cleaning!

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Oxford Street To Become Full Pedestrian Zone

The streets of London have been getting some serious makeovers. Select popular boulevards are now energy-harvesting, which are not only high-tech, but also sustainable. To further counter traffic and lower carbon emissions, London mayor Sadiq Kahn is pedestrianizing shopping capital Oxford Street.

“Oxford Street is world famous with millions of visitors every year, and in just over a year the iconic part of the street west of Oxford Circus could be transformed into a traffic-free pedestrian boulevard.”

With over 500,000 visitors daily, Oxford Street is a breeding ground for potential vehicular accidents. (One every week, to be specific) Renovations will also allow easier access to the Elizabeth Line. The project will likely be rewarding — but at a cost of £60 million and years of remodeling.

The western section is due to finish by the end of 2018, with the eastern section between Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road going traffic free by December 2019. The final part, by Marble Arch, will then be turned over to pedestrians after 2020.

Without the hazard of passing vehicles, Oxford Street may be double the hot spot it is today.

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Cult TV Show Helps Raise $400,000 For Museum

Rarely does anyone outdo Bill Gates when it comes to charitable acts — but one can surely try. Popular TV show “Stranger Things” recently set its own record, helping raise $400,000 for the Science Museum of Minnesota. And it was all thanks to a dinosaur hoodie.

Dustin, who is played by Gaten Matarazzo, was seen in the premiere episode of Stranger Things 2 wearing a purple hoodie with a Brontosaurus “Thunder Lizard” logo emblazoned on the front, along with the tagline ‘The Science Museum of Minnesota’.

Selling since the 1980’s, the popular hoodie was so in-demand that fans crashed the museum website for well over a day. Number of hoodies sold? Over 10,000. The proceeds will go to future research, which I’m sure the kids of Stranger Things are all about.

“For us, we’re just relishing this opportunity to be connected to the popular show, especially one that has characters that are interested in science,” [museum public relations officer Kim] Ramsden said.

See, kids? Science is a lot cooler than you think.

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Nature Park Installs Colorblind-less Viewfinders

For decades, technology has paved the way for treating detrimental illnesses such as HIV and leukemia. While some conditions remain without a cure, therapy and devices have made everyday living more bearable. A Tennessee nature park gave back to its colorblind visitors by installing a special viewfinder.

“To realize, through red/green deficiencies and other forms of colorblindness, there potentially are more than 13 million people in our country alone who cannot fully appreciate the beauty our state has to offer, we wanted to do something about that,” [said Kevin Triplett, the commissioner of the state’s Department of Tourist Development.]

The colorblind-less viewfinders alleviate specific color deficiencies, allowing tourists to marvel at the park. In the fall, trees don an incredible concoction of reds and yellows, a first sight for some.

“I’m glad to have seen it. I just wish I had seen this all my life,” [local Jim] Nichols said through tears. “Kinda like what I would imagine the difference between here and heaven.”

Positive responses from colorblind sightseers had the state installing more viewfinders across other parks. And there you have it — never take your senses for granted. Not everyone can enjoy them the way we do.

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