UN observes first anniversary of attack on world bodys compound in Nigeria

The United Nations family in Nigeria paused today to remember their colleagues who were killed a year ago during an attack on the world body’s compound in the capital, Abuja. Thirteen UN staff members, as well as several non-UN staff, died as a result of the suicide bombing on 26 August 2011, while more than 100 others were injured. Hundreds of personnel from 26 different UN agencies and entities had been at the compound when the bomber struck. “Although the devastating attack took the lives of our colleagues and partners and maimed many people, all of whom were in the building in the pursuit of service to humanity, our spirits have not been dampened,” said the UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Daouda Toure. “Their death mobilizes us more than ever before. Their sacrifice will not be in vain,” he added. “We will strive to pursue our work for the people of Nigeria for the continuance of peace and stability of this great nation, and the socio-economic development of all.” Mr. Toure also paid tribute to the resilience and courage of UN staff and officials who have continued undaunted with their development and humanitarian work of helping the people of Nigeria regardless of the constraints. He reaffirmed that the UN system in Nigeria will continue on its mission “to assist in improving the lives of poor people, to conquer hunger, disease and illiteracy, and to encourage respect for each other’s rights and freedoms.” The UN victims served with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), World Health Organization (WHO), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), and UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). read more

Hidat Teklom Expanding civilian protection capacity with flying cameras

Hidat Teklom schedules flights in the DRC and will be involved in schedling unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) this summer. UN Photo Hidat Teklom schedules flights in the DRC and will be involved in schedling unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) this summer. UN Photo ‹ ›Being part of the new advances in peacekeeping is part of why Ms. Teklom joined the United Nations, “I love being involved, not just being an observer, and to work in a multicultural environment.” During her seven years with MONUSCO, Ms. Teklom has had to adapt to changing mandates for the Mission linked to the changing security situation in the country, as well as the waning financial resources forcing the Mission to be more creative on how it operates. “On the aviation side, the fleet has been reduced and reorganized,” she noted. There are also the daily hurdles she faces. “The greatest challenges have to do with last minute changes to the planned flights due to weather or a medical evacuation in a limited air asset. Then there was the national air traffic controllers strike,” said Ms. Teklom, an Eritrean national who herself worked as an air traffic controller before joining the UN. “Being in the UN has changed my perception towards the positive that this is an Organization which is meant to bring peace and stability to countries in crisis,” Ms. Teklom said. “Being in the UN has made me more responsible, accountable and able to accommodate a multicultural community.” Modest about her own abilities, Ms. Teklom describes UN peacekeepers with one adjective, “courageous.” As the Mission’s Air Operations Officer. Ms. Teklom helps plan, coordinate and carrie out the UN’s aviation plans in the country. It is up to her and her team to decide the type of aircraft to be used based on effectiveness and security, and coordinate the flights with key players on the ground and with the crew. “UAVs are flying objects so they are going to share the same airspace,” Ms. Teklom said. “We will need very close coordination with their launch centre to know what area they will be travelling in, flight level, speed, elapsed time, etc. Unlike a manned aircraft, we cannot communicate directly with the pilot.” When the head of UN peacekeeping, Hervé Ladsous, announced in February plans for UAVs to be used in surveillance, he described them as “basically a flying camera”. Approved by the UN Security Council, the UAVs would improve situational awareness in the Kivus and exert some deterrence over armed groups by monitoring their movements during the night. The data would be relayed to the UN Force Commander who could use it to extend the peacekeepers’ capacity to protect civilians in the vast regions. The UAVs will be contracted through a third party. In late February, 25 companies from 11 countries expressed initial interest in the contracts, according to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), and travelled to the DRC to learn the area and UN operations. “There will certainly be a lot of adjustments,” said Ms. Teklom. “Even though the challenges are going to be high, being a part of this new technology is a privilege and an honour,” she stressed. read more

UN health agency urges Governments to end production use of lead paint

“Lead poisoning remains one of the most important environmental health concerns for children globally, and lead paint is a major flashpoint for children’s potential lead poisoning,” said the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Director for Public Health and Environment, Maria Neira.“The good news is that exposure to lead paint can be entirely stopped through a range of measures to restrict the production and use of lead paint.”On the occasion of International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action, WHO chose to highlight the role that Governments play in protecting the health of workers, children and women of reproductive age through the adoption of procedures to eliminate the use of lead decorative paints and the provision information to the public on renovation of homes where lead paint may have already been applied.The Week of Action runs from 20-26 October 2013. This year’s theme – Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future – underscores the importance of avoiding the use of lead paint and using safe alternatives in order to prevent children coming to harm from lead poisoning.Lead paint may be found in the home, on toys, furniture and on other objects. Decaying lead paint on walls, furniture and other interior surfaces creates lead-contaminated dust in the home that young children easily ingest. Mouthing lead-painted toys and other objects also exposes young children to lead. The sweet taste of lead paint means that some children even pick off and swallow small chips of paint.WHO estimates that 143,000 deaths per year result from lead poisoning, with lead paint is a major contributor. Exposure also contributes to 600,000 new cases of children with intellectual disabilities every year, and the vast majority – 99 per cent – of children affected by high exposure to lead live in low- and middle-income countries.Exposure to lead creates health problems for many years into the future. Even in countries that have banned leaded paint decades previously, such paint continues to be a source of exposure until it is finally stripped and replaced. The cost of replacing lead paint means that people living in older, poorly-maintained housing are particularly at risk, and this disproportionately affects economically-deprived communities.“Paints with extremely high levels of lead are still available in most of the developing countries where paint testing has been conducted as part of the efforts of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint,” said David Piper, the Deputy Director of the UN Environment Programme Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (UNEP DTIE) Chemicals Branch.“In most of the countries with lead paint, equivalent paint with no added lead is also available, suggesting that alternatives to lead are readily available to manufacturers.”Worldwide, 30 countries have already phased out the use of lead paint. The Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint, co-led by WHO and UNEP, has set a target of 70 countries by 2015.At high levels of exposure, lead damages the brain and central nervous system to cause coma, convulsions and even death. Children who survive such poisoning are often left with intellectual impairment and behavioural disorders.At lower levels of exposure, lead affects brain development in children, resulting in reduced IQ, behavioural changes such as shortening of attention span and increased antisocial behaviour, and reduced educational attainment. These effects are believed to be irreversible. Adults are at increased risk of kidney disease and raised blood pressure. read more

General Assembly elects 14 members to UN Human Rights Council

Algeria, China, Cuba, France Maldives, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Viet Nam, Russia, and United Kingdom, were elected by secret ballot today at UN Headquarters in New York.Members of the Council serve for a period of three years and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms.The Council, composed of 47 members, is an inter-governmental body within the UN system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them. All of its members are elected by the world body’s General Assembly, and it has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year. It meets at the UN Office at Geneva. The Council’s membership is based on equitable geographical distribution and seats are distributed as follows:13 seats for African States, 13 seats for Asian States, 8 seats for Latin American and Caribbean States, 7 seats for Western European and other States, and 6 seats for Eastern European States. The other members of the Council and the end of their terms are as follows:Argentina (2015), Austria (2014), Benin (2014), Botswana (2014), Brazil (2015), Burkina Faso (2014), Chile (2014), Congo (2014), Costa Rica (2014), Côte d’Ivoire (2015), Czech Republic (2014), Estonia (2015), Ethiopia (2015), Gabon (2015), Germany (2015), India (2014), Indonesia (2014), Ireland (2015), Italy (2014), Japan (2015), Kazakhstan (2015), Kenya (2015), Kuwait (2014), Montenegro (2015), Pakistan (2015), Peru (2014), Philippines (2014), Republic of Korea (2015), Romania (2014), Sierra Leone (2015), United Arab Emirates (2015), United States (2015), and Venezuela (2015). read more

Central African Republic Security Council condemns latest wave of violence

Strongly condemning the latest wave of fighting in the Central African Republic, including Wednesday’s deadly attack in the capital, Bangui, on a church that was sheltering thousands of people, the United Nations Security Council today demanded that all armed groups put aside their weapons and take immediate steps “to end the cycle of violence and retaliation.” In a statement to the press issued this evening, the Council “condemned in the strongest terms” the recent attacks in CAR, including those committed on 28 May on the Church of Notre Dame de Fatima in Bangui in which civilians, including displaced persons and a priest, were killed and others were injured and abducted. Council members further strongly condemned the violence in Bangui earlier this week during which three Muslim youths were killed by suspected anti-Balaka elements on their way to an inter-communal reconciliation football match as well as the destruction yesterday of one of the last mosques in the strife-torn capital. “The [Security Council] demands that all militias and armed groups and elements put aside their arms, cease all forms of violence and destabilizing activities immediately in order to end the cycle of violence and retaliation,” declared the statement. It went to reiterate that the CAR Transitional Authorities have the primary responsibility to protect civilians, and to encourage them to take the necessary measures to prevent further violence in the capital and throughout the country. “The members stressed the urgent and imperative need to end impunity in the CAR and the need for the Transitional Authorities to take immediate and concrete measures to ensure that the perpetrators of these acts are held accountable,” said the statement.Calling for the acceleration of the political and national reconciliation process in order to lay the ground for an end to violence, the Council in its statement called on the Transitional Authorities to demonstrate their commitment to this process and to take concrete steps in this direction, with the support of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSCA), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the African Union.Further, the Council underlined the importance of and reiterate its support for the role played by the African-led peacekeeping force, known as MISCA, French Forces and the European force known as EUFOR RCA, as well as MINUSCA to protect civilians as mandated by its resolutions 2127 (2013) and 2134 (2014) in support of the efforts of the CAR Transitional Authorities. The members of the Council called on UN Member States and regional and international organizations to increase troop, financial, logistical and in-kind contributions to MISCA to enable it to implement fully its mandate and help prepare for the transfer of authority from MISCA to MINUSCA on 15 September 2014. “They further request the Secretary General to take all necessary steps and to accelerate the preparations for a successful and swift transition of authority,” the statement added. Earlier in the day, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) also condemned the attack against innocent civilians sheltering at the church and said such violence endangers some of the last havens for those fleeing rampant violence in the war-battered country. “Churches, monasteries and mosques have till now been safe havens for internally displaced persons across the CAR,” spokesperson Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba told reporters at a briefing in Geneva. At least 17 people were killed and 27 were missing after the attack on Notre Dame de Fatima, which, along with other attacks in the recent upsurge of violence in the country, was strongly condemned yesterday by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The attack is among the worst on any displaced persons site in Bangui since Séléka rebels were ousted from power in January 2014 and inter-community retaliatory violence spiralled, with human rights violations and clashes leaving 2.2 million in need of humanitarian aid. At the time of the attack, Notre Dame de Fatima was hosting 9,000 internally displaced people (IDPs), including many who had been there since December and some 2,050 who moved there only a week earlier to escape from a recent rise in insecurity in nearby neighbourhoods, Ms. Lejeune-Kaba said. She added that in Bangui, 32 out of 43 IDP sites are religious institutions. “UNHCR strongly condemns this attack against innocent civilians. We call again on all sides of the armed conflict to protect civilians, in line with their obligations under international law,” she said. “We also call on all sides of the conflict to allow for the delivery of critical humanitarian assistance and unhindered access to the people in need of protection and aid.” Providing details on the church slaughter, she said that the attackers arrived in pick-up trucks in the early afternoon and threw grenades into the church grounds before opening fire with small arms. The 17 killed during the attack include a priest, and 27 civilians were reportedly abducted by assailants who drove them to an unknown location. Two children and two adults also succumbed to their injuries on Thursday. read more

Closing vast gender gap ending child marriage key priorities Ghanaian President tells

“Most of the world’s poorest people are women,” John Dramani Mahama said. “Currently we create programs and policies to address this imbalance, yet regardless of how successful they may be, they are not permanent solutions. They do not solve the ultimate problem, which is the vast inequality between men and women that so many traditions have inculcated.”He also addressed the plight of children and the work his country is doing to address their needs.“In order to address the issue of child mortality and malnutrition, preparatory work is underway to earmark disbursements for pregnant women and mothers of children under the age of one,” he said.He noted the central role of education in achieving gender parity, emphasizing that it was “the key to change.”“In Ghana, we have made tremendous progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goal target on universal basic education. We instituted the ‘Girl Child Program,’ which encourages parents to send girls to school, and at the primary level we have achieved gender parity between boys and girls,” he said.Turning to the practice of child marriage on the continent, Mr. Mahama highlighted that, in West Africa, two out of five girls are married before they turn 18, face increased maternal mortality rates and “are subject to the sort of poverty that is nearly insurmountable.”“Ghana has launched a campaign, under the auspices of [the UN Children’s Fund] to end child marriage in our nation by focusing not only on getting young girls in school but also on keeping them there their education is complete,” he continued. “This is being achieved through enhanced access to secondary education and beyond without compromising quality.”On UN reform, he emphasized that it was time “for greater inclusivity in the United Nations.”“The world that was in 1945 does not exist now in 2015,” he continued, “so the visionary Organization that was formed to meet the needs of that world must now be reformed to meet the needs of this one.”He also delineated those needs, among them the issues caused by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Boko Haram and Al-Qaida, as well to address the situatio of those killed in the South Sudan conflict and the “thousands dead in Syria, in Pakistan, in Nigeria, in Mexico, Afghanistan and Somalia; thousands more, the majority from African nations, dead in the Mediterranean Sea while attempting to flee poverty, hunger, disease or political strife or persecution.” read more

Ethiopia experiencing worst drought in 30 years due to El Niño conditions

A recent report published by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) noted that the impact of the failed spring rains was compounded by the arrival of the El Niño weather conditions that weakened summer rains, which feed 80 to 85 per cent of the country.“This greatly expanded food insecurity, malnutrition and devastated livelihoods across six affected regions of the country,” OCHA indicated. Meanwhile, the water level of Wabishabelle River, in Somali region, has reportedly been rising since the past week following El Niño-caused heavy rains in the surrounding highlands, and in East and West Imy woredas of Shabelle zone. OCHA recalled that last week, the river broke its banks in East Imy woreda causing communities along the river bank to be engulfed by water. According to the Somali region Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Bureau, 700 households from Diray kebele, East Imy woreda are taking refuge in East Imy town. The Government and partners are monitoring the situation to identify intervention needs. At the same time, local authorities in Mustahil and Kelafo woredas of Shabelle zone, which are administrative divisions affected by recurrent drought, were alerted about the rising river level. OCHA said mass community awareness will be conducted ahead of the floods in order to mitigate their impact. In addition, the National Flood Taskforce is currently preparing flood contingency plans for all at-risk areas in the country. The UN is further highlighting that its humanitarian team in Ethiopia and the Government have held a series of briefings with donor partners – separately and together – to raise the alarm on the on-going El Niño caused drought emergency and to warn about what is coming ahead. “The active and consistent communication with donors is bearing fruit in terms of triggering donor interest and few pledges, although still insignificant in relation to the need,” OCHA stated.“Sweden, Norway, Canada, Switzerland, Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States have or will step-in with contributions in response to the emergency. Others are looking to re-program development budgets for emergency response or activate a crisis modifier,” it added.Given the expected increase in relief food needs following a recent assessment, the Government has also urged donor support to ensure a healthy food pipeline for the coming months. During the 2002 El Niño year, much of the required food aid was reportedly not delivered until late February 2003, leading to a doubling of moderate and severe acute malnutrition rates, which is three times more expensive than prevention. read more

Children under five account for one third of deaths from foodborne diseases

“Until now, estimates of foodborne diseases were vague and imprecise. This concealed the true human costs of contaminated food. This report sets the record straight,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan upon release of the Estimates of the Global Burden of Foodborne Diseases – the most comprehensive report to date on the impact of contaminated food on health and wellbeing.“Knowing which foodborne pathogens are causing the biggest problems in which parts of the world can generate targeted action by the public, governments, and the food industry,” Dr. Chan explained.According to the report, which estimates the burden of foodborne diseases caused by 31 agents – bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins and chemicals – each year, as many as 600 million people, or almost one in 10 worldwide, fall ill after consuming contaminated food. Of these, 420,000 people die, including 125,000 children under the age of five years, accounting for almost a third of all deaths from foodborne diseases, the report said.The WHO report added that diarrhoeal diseases are responsible for more than half of the global burden of foodborne diseases, causing 550 million people to fall ill and 230,000 deaths every year.The health agency also reported that Africa and South-East Asia regions have the highest incidence and highest death rates, including among children under the age of five.“Based on what we know now, it is apparent that the global burden of foodborne diseases is considerable, affecting people all over the world – particularly children under five years of age and people in low-income areas,” said Dr. Kazuaki Miyagishima, Director of WHO’s Department of Food Safety and Zoonoses.Children are at particular risk of foodborne diarrhoeal diseases, with 220 million falling ill and 96,000 dying every year, WHO said, adding that diarrhoea is often caused by eating raw or undercooked meat, eggs, fresh produce and dairy products contaminated by norovirus, Campylobacter, non-typhoidal Salmonella and pathogenic E. coli.Other major contributors to the global burden of foodborne diseases are typhoid fever, hepatitis A, Taenia solium (a tapeworm), and aflatoxin, which is produced by mould on grain that is stored inappropriately.“The risk of foodborne diseases is most severe in low- and middle-income countries, linked to preparing food with unsafe water; poor hygiene and inadequate conditions in food production and storage; lower levels of literacy and education; and insufficient food safety legislation or implementation of such legislation,” the report said.The report’s findings underscore the global threat posed by foodborne diseases and reinforce the need for governments, the food industry and individuals to do more to make food safe and prevent foodborne diseases, WHO said.WHO is working closely with national governments to help set and implement food safety strategies and policies that will in turn have a positive impact on the safety of food in the global marketplace, the agency said.“Food safety is a shared responsibility,” WHO said. read more

Banning Europes dirty fuels West African countries put peoples health first –

According to UNEP, last week, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, and Côte d’Ivoire introduced strict standards that will ensure cleaner, low sulphur diesel fuels, and better emissions standards, thus effectively cutting off Europe’s West African market.Earlier this year, a report by the non-governmental organization Public Eye exposed how European trading companies are exploiting weak regulatory standards in West African countries, thus allowing fuels with sulphur levels that are up to 300 times higher than those permitted in Europe.“West Africa is sending a strong message that it is no longer accepting dirty fuels from Europe,” said Erik Solheim, head of UNEP. “Their decision to set strict new standards for cleaner, safer fuels and advanced vehicle emissions standards shows they are placing the health of their people first.” He hailed the move as an example for other countries, noting that air pollution kills millions annually.“We need to ensure that all countries urgently introduce cleaner fuels and vehicles to help reduce the shocking statistics,” stated Mr. Solheim. In addition to new fuel standards, the group of West African countries has agreed to upgrade their own public and private refineries to meet the same higher standards by 2020. Photo: World Bank/Curt Carnemark UN Environment has been working with countries in West Africa to develop policies and standards that will stop the import of fuels with dangerously high levels of sulphur, as well as to introduce cleaner fuels and vehicles. Reducing such emissions around the world is essential to ensure levels of urban air pollution and climate emissions come down.Combining low-sulphur fuels with advanced vehicle standards can lead to as much as a 90 per cent reduction in harmful emissions.According to Nigeria’s Environment Minister Amina J. Mohamed, “for 20 years, Nigeria has not been able to address the vehicle pollution crisis due to the poor fuels we have been importing. Today we are taking a huge leap forward: limiting sulphur in fuels from 3,000 parts per million to 50 parts per million. This will result in major air quality benefits in our cities and will allow us to set modern vehicle standards.”Today in The Hague, Mr. Mohamed will meet with Lilianne Ploumen, Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation in order to take stock of the progress being made to improve the quality of fuels that have been exported from Dutch ports to countries in West Africa, as The Netherlands produces many of the exported dirty fuels.“The recent report from the NGO Public Eye made abundantly clear that coordinated action is needed to stop the practice of exporting dirty fuels to West Africa. I am very pleased West African governments quickly decided to introduce standards that will help accessing European standard quality fuels. Their people deserve cleaner air, better health, and a cleaner environment. I commend UN Environment for their excellent work,” announced Minister Ploumen.UNEP hosts the Secretariat of the Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles (PCFV), a global public-private partnership that supports a shift to cleaner fuels and vehicles worldwide. When PCFV began its work in 2005, not a single low or middle income country used low sulphur fuels. Today, 23 countries have made that shift. Another 40 are on their way to doing the same.In addition, UNEP is hosting the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, which recently adopted a global strategy for moving the world to clean, low-sulphur fuels and advanced emissions standards. Experts estimate that this measure will save an annual 100,000 premature deaths by 2030. read more

Guatemala bars UN anticorruption investigator from reentering country

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, the UN chief said that CICIG and its Commissioner play “a pivotal role in the fight against impunity in Guatemala.”“The UN Secretariat has serious concerns about this decision, which it is currently reviewing and which does not appear to be consistent with the Agreement on the establishment of CICIG,” Mr. Dujarric spelled out.According to his spokesperson, the Secretary-General has asked Mr. Velasquez to continue at the helm of CICIG from outside Guatemala until there is more clarity on the situation.“The Secretary-General encourages the Government of Guatemala to continue to search for a solution through dialogue in the framework of article 12 of the Agreement establishing CICIG,” the statement concluded.According to news reports, the agency’s mandate – due to expire next year – was revoked days after a long-running dispute between Mr. Velasquez and Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales escalated, which included corruption probes against the President and his family.Mr. Morales reportedly had asked the UN chief to name a replacement for Mr. Velasquez, who is a Colombian citizen. read more

Ferry tragedy takes lives in Tanzania Guterres offers condolences support

The UN chief “is saddened by reports that scores of people have died, many others have been injured and dozens are missing,” his spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, on Friday.“The Secretary-General extends his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims, the Government and people of the United Republic of Tanzania and wishes the injured a speedy recovery,” Mr. Dujarric added.   According to media reports, rescue efforts have resumed after being halted overnight, as hundreds are feared to have drowned.“The United Nations expresses its solidarity with Tanzania during this difficult time and stands ready to support as required,” concluded the statement. read more

TakeYourSeat at the UN Climate Change Conference a way for all people

“This is an opportunity for people from across the globe, regardless of their nationality or circumstances, to be part of the most important discussion of this century; the unprecedented action needed to reach the Paris Agreement targets,” said Sir David Attenborough.“I encourage everyone to take their seats and to add their voice so that the People’s Address truly represents a mix of voices from across the world,” he added.The ‘People’s Seat’ initiative, launched by the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), calls for inputs for the address to be delivered during the opening plenary session of the COP24, by Mr. Attenborough, on 3 December. Everyone and anyone who wants to add their message to voice the urgent need for action, can do so by using the hashtag #TakeYourSeat on Twitter. Michal Kurtyka, Secretary of State of Poland and incoming COP24 President, hailed the initiative, stressing that the conference wants to encourage “openness, listening and the full participation of civil society in global efforts to tackle climate change.”The call for global advocacy comes weeks after the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report showing how urgent and possible it still is to limit global warming to 1.5°C from pre-industrial levels. The report warned that if no action is taken, the world is headed towards a warming of over 3°C.The aim of the COP 24 is to agree on a collective implementation plan for the 2015 Paris Agreement, and raise ambitions to achieve its goals.The People’s Address will also trigger the launch of another initiative to engage global citizens: the ‘ActNow’ Bot via the United Nations’ Facebook Messenger account, recommending everyday actions – like taking public transport and eating less meat – and tracking the number of actions taken to highlight the impact that collective action can make on such a critical issue. read more

Drivers beware Bridge closures ahead

Drivers headed to Brock University this spring and summer may need to find an alternative route to get to campus.Two bridges will be replaced and both will be closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic while work is done.Beaverdams Road Bridge, located east of Highway 406, will be close April 6 and is expected re-open in August.Power Canal Bridge on Marrittville Highway, immediately south of Decew Road, will close in August and remain closed for one year. The bridge is expected to re-open in August 2016.The Region will post signs indicating detour routes that can be used during the closures.For more information, visit the Region online. read more

University set to host CIBC Run for the Cure

The 24th annual Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure will return to Brock Sunday, October 4. More than 800 people are expected to participate in third-annual Niagara portion of the event. Nationally, the Run for the Cure takes place in 66 communities across Canada.The run serves as an important rallying point for those who are dedicated to finding a cure for a disease that affects one in nine Canadian women.“The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure is a powerful example of the determination of hundreds of thousands of Canadians. Progress in breast cancer research means that fewer Canadian women are dying from breast cancer today than in the past, but we won’t stop until there’s a cure, and neither will our thousands of volunteers and supporters — we’re all in this together,” said Lynne Hudson, CEO of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.“The CIBC Run for the Cure gives Canadians a chance to celebrate how far we’ve come and unite in dedication towards the future — a future without breast cancer,” she added.Partnering with Brock has been an important factor in the continued growth and success of the run in the Niagara region.“Holding the run at Brock is a huge success story from all avenues — not only does it help raise awareness amongst the student body, as run organizers, we also gain participants and volunteers from those students. In particular, Athletics and Sport Management have proven to be an excellent resource in providing volunteers, and also team participation,” said the Niagara Run’s Logistics Director Emily Allan-Dakin.Allan-Dakin went on to mention the many logistical advantages and cost benefits of hosting the event at the University.“Logistics-wise, holding the run on campus is not only easy, it is an extremely large cost-saving endeavour — there are no road closures, police presence is not needed, parking is free — all of those things normally cost money.  By saving on our operating costs, we are able to ensure more fundraising dollars go directly back to the cause, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation,” she said.With registration open online until the day of the run, and in-person registration open until the start of the run on Sunday, all involved are hoping to reach this year’s fundraising goal of $250,000.Funds raised will continue to support research that focuses on the prevention of breast cancer. This includes improving detection, enhancing treatment, and providing community support.The CIBC Run for the Cure takes place on Sunday, Oct. 4 in the weather station field at Brock University. Registration begins at 8 a.m. with one- and five-kilometre runs beginning at 10 a.m. For more information, visit www.CIBCRunforthecure.com. read more

Workshop to address stress management

Everyone experiences stress — the body’s natural way of responding to challenges or barriers.Although stress is normal, too much can be detrimental to your health. Long-term stress can lead to ailments such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and anxiety.Learning how to reduce and manage stress will be examined at an employee workshop later this month.Facilitated by Brock’s Employee Assistance Program provider, Morneau Shepell, the complimentary Stress Relaxation Techniques seminar will help faculty and staff better understand stress response, discuss the importance of managing stress for optimal health and will provide an opportunity to practise stress-reducing exercises.The workshop takes place Thursday, April 26 from noon to 1 p.m. in Welch Hall 204.This is the second time this year Brock’s Human Resources Office is offering the workshop. Nearly 30 employees participated in a January session.“Stress relaxation is a popular topic,” said Kathryn Walker, Manager, Health Management and Wellness. “We all deal with stress. The seminar will provide employees with practical tools and examples that will assist them in relaxing and coping with inevitable stress.”Brock employees are invited to register on the Focus on Learning website. read more

Raptors coach Nick Nurse jams on stage with Hamilton band Arkells

Video courtesy of Scott BurnettThe crowd can be heard cheering loudly in one video as Nurse makes his surprise appearance on stage.Nurse had been photographed several times throughout the season – and Toronto’s playoff run – with a guitar flung over his shoulder. Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse took his off-court skills on stage Saturday night.Nurse, who led the Raptors to their first NBA championship in franchise history earlier this month, joined Hamilton rock band Arkells at their Toronto show to perform a song with them on guitar.Fans posted photos and video on social media Saturday night of the rookie NBA head coach, clad in his signature black NN baseball cap, strumming along to a cover of Stevie Wonder’s hit “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” at Budweiser Stage. read more

New NCAA football targeting rule a point of emphasis for Ohio State

Eric Seger / Sports editorSenior safety C.J. Barnett answers questions following Ohio State’s fourth practice of fall camp at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.The NCAA implemented a new targeting rule in March for the 2013 season that will allow officials to eject any player who targets and hits a defenseless player above the shoulders, and the Ohio State football team is preparing for the change.In the Buckeyes’ fourth practice of the season on Wednesday, which Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany attended, freshman safety Chris Worley was flagged for hitting sophomore tight end Nick Vannett as he caught a pass at the goal line during a full team scrimmage. That led senior safety C.J. Barnett to say the officials “don’t even know what they are looking at.”Barnett said it is something the defensive coaches are teaching in the film room as well as on the practice field, but it does not change his mentality.“Play fast, play fast,” Barnett said. “And if you get a penalty you get a penalty, oh well. Next guy up.”Co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers said, from a coaching standpoint, the rule change will affect everyone, not just OSU.“What it does is it makes coaches on defense sure you got two and three (players) deep,” Withers said. “It will affect you at some point in the season. You hope not, but there’s a good possibility.”As the rule is intended to make the game safer, Withers said it is his job to get that message across to the players.“We always talk about it in the secondary room, about how that’s a lot of time where it comes from,” Withers said. “The back end with those bang-bang plays. It’s a rule about safety and, as a coach, you have to teach it as a rule about safety.”Senior safety Christian Bryant said it is a rule he would rather not “speak on,” but as a leader on the team, it is just another thing the veterans are responsible for handing down to the young guys.“All of the older guys in the secondary are just trying to do a good job of leading a lot of young guys in the right direction and showing them the way,” Bryant said.One of those veterans is redshirt junior corner Bradley Roby, who practiced with the second-team defense Wednesday.Roby is waiting a pretrial hearing later this month for a misdemeanor battery charge from an incident at a Bloomington,Ind., bar.Bryant said he thinks the experience will be humbling for his teammate.“I feel like it’s a humbling experience for (Roby), just him stepping down with the twos right now,” Bryant said. “He’s doing a pretty good job of taking that role and understanding what he needs to do and showing the young guys that he doesn’t really have a problem with it.”Barnett agreed, saying Roby knows the price he has to deal with.“Coach Meyer doesn’t tolerate anything,” Barnett said. “He messed up and broke a rule and he’s gotta pay for it.”Replacing Roby at corner is not the only thing the defense is concentrating on during camp. Even though the unit lost seven starters from last year’s 12-0 squad, Barnett said the team will be fine.“I know we lost Johnny (former defensive lineman John Simon) and Hank (former defensive lineman Johnathan Hankins) and all, but it’s Ohio State. One down, next up,” Barnett said. “We’re not really worried about who we lost but more of who’s next.”From the offensive side of the ball, freshman Dontre Wilson was all the buzz again, catching passes both as a wide receiver and from the back field. He outraced members of the defensive secondary easily on numerous occasions, and Bryant called him a “special player right now.”“I feel like he has a lot of attributes that he can bring to the team,” Bryant said. “One of those things is just being elusive.”Wilson was not the only freshman who caught the eyes of the veteran defenders, as both Bryant and Barnett said wide receiver Jalin Marshall also jumped out after he returned a kick off for a touchdown.“He’s one of those guys who’s a strong, fast guy, so he can produce at any position,” Bryant said. read more

Students impress in qualifiers for race against Ohio States Dontre Wilson Devin

Runners relax post-race while Fernando Lovo, football operations coordinator, speaks of the next step in the process, the semifinals to be held April 5. Fastest Student Race took place March 26 at the Woody Hayes Center as part of the preliminary rounds to race against OSU football players at the Spring Game. Credit: Kathleen Martini / Oller reporterThey’ve long been called some of the best fans in the land, but Ohio State students might also have earned the title of some of the fastest in the land.With many current and formers Buckeyes looking on, 41 Ohio State students showed up to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center Wednesday, looking to compete for a chance to race against sophomore running back Dontre Wilson and senior wide receiver Devin Smith at halftime of OSU’s Spring Game April 12.Once the competitors toed the line and went back in their stances, the onlookers were more than impressed.“Believe it or not, some of the times that we have here are even faster than we had when we did this at (the University of) Florida. It’s pretty impressive,” Fernando Lovo, OSU’s football operations coordinator, said following the event. “These kids were unbelievable. It was really impressive.”While Lovo would not reveal the names of the competitors who advanced to the next round — which is set to take place at OSU’s Student Appreciation Day April 5  — he did reveal some of the 40-yard dash times that impressed him.“We had a 4.4 (seconds) — that was our fastest time,” Lovo said. “We also had a 4.51, 4.53, 4.52 and a 4.6, so there were some great times.”After hearing whispers in the locker room, Wilson made his way to the field size up his future competition. While he was also impressed with what he saw on the turf, the sophomore couldn’t find anyone who would beat him.“It’s possible,” Wilson said, who has been clocked at 4.33 seconds in a 40-yard dash since joining the Buckeyes. “But I’m not going to let that happen.”Despite being noticed as one of the faster runners in the competition, Colwyn Headley, a fourth-year in microbiology, agreed with Wilson in his prediction.“Dontre is probably like a world-class sprinter,” Headley said, with a big smile on his face. “I’m just a poser if anything.”John Findley, a second-year in sports management, however, thought he had a real shot at the speedy sophomore.“I’m going to give 110 percent,” Findley said. “Dontre is a really nice guy, but I really want to try to beat him.”Marcus Perry, a second-year in aerospace engineering, echoed Findley’s confidence, saying he too had a legitimate chance beating Wilson in Ohio Stadium.“I was a sprinter in high school, so I have a decent chance,” Perry said. “I just hope I get a decent start. I’m a little bit out of shape, but I’m hoping for the best.”While he was focused on the task at hand, Findley wanted to take the time to appreciate the opportunity coach Urban Meyer had afforded them.“Coach Meyer is an awesome coach,” Findley said. “Every day you don’t get to meet the fastest running back or wide receiver on the Buckeyes or even get to watch a practice on this field. It’s pretty awesome.”The students who are set to run in the next round of races April 5 at OSU’s Student Appreciation Day will be notified privately in the coming days, Lovo said. He did not say whether or not their names would be made public before the next set of races. read more

After bye week Ohio State mens hockey looks for second win at

OSU junior forward Nick Schilkey (7) during a game against Brock on Oct. 3 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Kaley Rentz / Asst. Sports DirectorComing off of its bye week, the Ohio State men’s hockey team (1-7) is looking for consecutive wins for the first time this season after notching win No. 1 its last time out against Mercyhurst on Oct. 31. Standing in its way is Canisius College (2-5, 2-2 Atlantic Hockey Association), currently on a two-game losing streak. After losing the first game in their series against Mercyhurst in close fashion, the Buckeyes came out stronger and hungrier in Game 2, a mentality that senior captain Anthony Greco said he hopes will continue this weekend.“I think we had a good effort that Saturday night,” Greco said. “I think it’s just important to repeat that. We’ve shown up and had a good couple days of practice. It’s just bringing that same attitude.”A round of shotsThe Scarlet and Gray are coming off of a game against Mercyhurst in which they scored a season-high five goals.During that weekend, OSU put up 92 shots on the Lakers over the two games, a trend that coach Steve Rohlik wants to continue.“You can’t score goals unless you put pucks to the net and unless you get traffic at the net,” Rohlik said. “Those are things that we’ve been harping on for a couple of weeks. Our guys understand it and it’s up to them to go out and do it.”Both the Buckeyes and the Golden Griffins are struggling in the goals department this season, as OSU is averaging 2.1 goals per game while Canisius is ranked 56th (out of 60 teams) in the country in goal production with 1.8.The amount of shots that OSU wants to generate this weekend theoretically leads to more lamp-lighting.“We want to get pucks to the net,” Greco said. “That’s the only way that you’re going to score and we need to score goals to win games. We’ve had a couple games now where we’ve only scored one or no goals at all so we need to shoot the puck as much as possible.”The Scarlet and Gray have scored three goals or more three times this season while the Golden Griffins have done it twice, with both of those games resulting in wins.On the defensive end of things, OSU players are relatively pleased. The 3.1 goals per game that OSU is allowing is not great, but it has been keeping the team in games to this point.“We’ve been pretty solid,” junior defenseman Drew Brevig said. “Our whole group has been playing pretty well back there. Our forwards have been helping out and our goalies are playing well.”Bye week benefitsRohlik and his staff are now finally able to say something that they haven’t said in a long time: They are healthy.  Not only does this mean that Rohlik has depth lineup-wise, but it also provides an added level of competition for playing time when the weekend rolls around.“We’ve got everyone available except for (freshman defenseman) Tyler Nanne right now,” Rohlik said. “We haven’t been able to say that a lot. That’s been a good thing. I think that’s translated into competition in practice. Anytime you’ve got to compete in practice, you’re going to make guys better.”The bye week was beneficial on the player side of things too.“It was actually kind of nice,” Greco said. “From my standpoint, I think it was nice to get a little bit of a break. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs already so it was nice to get that win on Saturday and have a break as long as we show up this weekend and bring it again.”A “Golden” history and bon voyageThe Buckeyes and Golden Griffins are meeting for the third straight year.OSU is 3-0-1 all-time against Canisius with the series dating back to Nov. 15, 2013.These are the final home games for OSU until Jan. 15 against No. 12 Michigan.Puck drop between the Buckeyes and the Golden Griffins is set for 7 p.m. on Friday and 4 p.m. on Saturday at the Schottenstein Center. read more