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LPSC 2016 to feature Ceres, Mars, Pluto science results

March 17, 2016 Comments
Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 2016 to feature Ceres, Mars, Pluto science results
Artist concept of Curiosity rover - a part of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission (MSL).
[Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech] 
Washington, DC: Researchers from NASA and other institutions will present science results from the agency’s Mars missions, New Horizons flyby of Pluto, and Dawn mission observations of the dwarf planet Ceres during the 47th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, which runs from March 21 to 25 near Houston.

In July 2015, New Horizons became the first spacecraft to fly past Pluto, observing a wide range of surface expressions and geology that raise fundamental questions about how small planets can have active processes billions of years after they formed.

Results from the first year of Dawn’s exploration of Ceres mission will be presented, including new insights about the dwarf planet’s surface and composition.  

The science presentations at the conference will also include what researchers have learned from recent investigation by Curiosity rover of an active Martian sand dune and diverse findings from other NASA missions to Mars.

Angelina Jolie visits Syrian refugee shelters in Lebanon

March 17, 2016 Comments
Angelina Jolie visits Syrian refugee shelters in Lebanon, calls for leadership to address crisis
UNHCR special envoy Angelina Jolie meets Syrian refugees in Lebanon, calls for leadership to address crisis.
[PHOTO: © L. Knott/UNHCR] 
Beirut, Lebanon: UNHCR special envoy Angelina Jolie visited Lebanon and met with refugee families on the 5th anniversary of the war in Syria.

The special envoy visited Kholoud, a 38-year-old Syrian refugee and mother of four who lives in a tented settlement in the Bekaa. Khouloud was left paralysed three years ago by a sniper.

“The number of refugees is now higher than the last time we had a World War. We are at an exceptionally difficult moment internationally, when the consequences of the refugee crisis seem to be outstripping our will and capacity and even our courage to respond to it,” Jolie said.

While there are recent glimmers of hope with increased humanitarian access in Syria, the cessation of hostilities, renewed peace talks and promises of better funding, the 5th anniversary of Syria's war comes amid a backdrop of increasingly managed borders by neighbouring countries, creaking under the strain of hosting so many refugees.

“We should never forget that for all the focus on the refugee situation in Europe at this time, the greatest pressure is still being felt in the Middle East and North Africa, as it has for each of the last five years,” Jolie asserted.

The special envoy also visited Beirut where she met a group of women living in poor conditions; a damp collective shelter, that left them and their families exposed to sickness. 

She urged, “My plea today is that we need governments around the world to show leadership: to analyse the situation and understand exactly what their country can do, how many refugees they can assist and how, in which particular communities and to what timeframe; to explain this to their citizens and address fears - based not on emotion but on a measured assessment of what can and must be done to share the responsibility and get on top of this situation”

European states which once welcomed Syrians are now bringing down the shutters in the wake of increasing numbers of refugees seeking safety there. Several countries have imposed entry and border restrictions, leading to a build-up of tens of thousands of refugees in Greece, while the European Union is in discussions with Turkey on an agreement that could potentially see asylum-seekers sent back to Turkey.

“Every Syrian refugee I have spoken to on this visit, without exception, talked of their desire to return home when the war is over and it is safe for them to do so – not with resignation, but with the light in their eyes of people dreaming of being reunited with the country that they love,” the special envoy added.

Five years on, Syria's conflict has spawned 4.8 million refugees in neighbouring countries, hundreds of thousands in Europe, and 6.6 million people displaced inside Syria against a pre-war population of over 20 million. -UNifeed

Asia growth vital for the world, says IMF chief Lagarde

March 14, 2016 Comments
Asia's growth and prosperity vital for the world, says Christine Lagarde
IMF managing director Christine Lagarde (L) gives her closing remarks with Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley (R) as they participate in the conference on 'Advancing Asia: Investing for the Future' in New Delhi.
[PHOTO: Stephen Jaffe/IMF/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
New Delhi: Here's the full text of IMF managing director Christine Lagarde's closing remarks at the end of the conference on 'Advancing Asia'.

“I would like to express my profound appreciation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and to the people of India for their warm hospitality. My thanks go also to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and his dedicated team at the Ministry of Finance for the organization of this Advancing Asia conference, where I had the opportunity to meet finance ministers, central bank governors, and private sector representatives from throughout the region.

“At the conference, we took stock of Asia’s strong economic performance and its ongoing policy challenges -- monetary, fiscal and structural -- in the face of an increasingly uncertain global economic environment. Our discussions included how to maintain and enhance the region’s high growth record while boosting jobs, reducing inequality, accelerating infrastructure and human capital development. We also exchanged views on managing capital flows, financial inclusion, demographic issues, women’s empowerment and climate change.

“Innovation and technology are some of the other major paths to unleashing Asia's full potential. We saw these attributes reflected in the creative submissions that we received from young people all over Asia for the conference's youth video contest. We also celebrated the agreement to establish a new South Asia Regional Training and Technical Assistance Center (SARTTAC), which will serve Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka--and will be the first IMF-supported center to combine both technical assistance and training.

“Advancing Asia” is the continuation of an important conversation in the region that I look forward to sustaining as we look toward the IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings to be held in Indonesia in 2018.

“The IMF deeply appreciates the opportunity to listen to the views and advice of all our Asian member countries, and we will build this into our work as part of our ongoing partnership with the region. As was recognised at our conference, Asia’s growth and prosperity is vitally important not only for the region, but for the world.”