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September, 2015


Germany Changes Asylum Laws To Cope With The Massive Influx Of Migrants

World Affairs

Open Eyes Opinion {source: DEgov}



“Not all the problems in Germany to solve”




September 30,2015

The refugee crisis “will change our policy seriously and again set new priorities,” Chancellor Merkel said at an award ceremony at the chancellery. Merkel stressed that above all, the causes of flight must be combated.

For Chancellor Angela Merkel the award of the prize winners of was “Youth in Science” event in order to contact with the subject flight and asylum to the young people: “Today is a great deal to global developments, such as climate change, resource scarcity and population growth That is,. more and more countries are also facing the same challenges. We are learning slowly but surely, to think globally. ”

For Germany, the Chancellor sees a main task in fighting the causes of flight: “Because we can not solve all the problems in Germany, but we have to work even more intensively on the spot in the crisis areas and make more money available.”

The number of refugees worldwide is at the moment higher than ever since the Second World War. “Every age has its own challenges,” Merkel said.

September “record month”

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière has expressed about the increasing number of refugees in Germany: “We had in the last four days 8,000, 9,000, 10,000 every day”. September become a “record month,” said de Maizière, after the Cabinet had approved a package of laws on amendments to the asylum law (September 29).

However, reliable figures can be known only after the end of the month the minister because there are currently uncertainties in determining the order. The background is that a significant proportion of the refugees are withdrawing the registration or go despite registration to other places, this would lead to double reporting, de Maiziere said.

The Federal Cabinet on Tuesday (29 September) adopted numerous changes in asylum law in order to cope with the refugee situation in Germany. The legislative package provides, inter alia, to speed up asylum procedures and to return rejected asylum seekers faster.

Implement EU law nationally

To bring the soaring numbers under control, hit de Maizière ago in an interview with RBB Info Radio (September 30th) to introduce similar testing as in the existing airport procedures.

“We have to implement two EU directives, a so-called Reception Conditions Directive and the Asylum Procedures Directive.” In one of those directives, the National States would be authorized to land border procedures. “We know that from the airport procedures, because you can hold someone at the airport, consider whether the application for asylum and return manifestly unfounded”, de Maizière said.

Ministry of Education invested in integration

Even Federal Education Minister Johanna Wanka is committed to tackling the refugee crisis: with targeted measures the integration of refugees is to be taken forward.

For this purpose in the next few years around 130 million euros will be additionally invested Wanka said at a press conference (30 September). Central investment objectives are: the acquisition of the German language, the recognition of skills and capacities as well as the integration into training and work.


[photo credits: “A line of Syrian refugees crossing the border of Hungary and Austria on their way to Germany. Hungary, Central Europe, 6 September 2015” by Mstyslav Chernov – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons –,_Central_Europe,_6_September_2015.jpg#/media/File:A_line_of_Syrian_refugees_crossing_the_border_of_Hungary_and_Austria_on_their_way_to_Germany._Hungary,_Central_Europe,_6_September_2015.jpg]



Tourism Australia And Brazil’s TV Network Globo To Produce Episodes Of “Totalmente Demais”

World Travel – Tourism

Open Eyes Opinion (source: Tourism Australia}


Australia to star in new TV drama aimed at capturing Brazilian’s growing desire for Australian holidays





Tourism Australia has teamed up with Brazil’s leading TV network Globo to produce Australian episodes of its new TV drama – Totalmente Demais – helping to further boost Brazilian’s growing desire for holidaying in Australia.

The visit, which is being conducted in partnership with Destination New South Wales and Tourism and Events Queensland, will see four episodes of the Brazilian telenovela (TV drama) filmed against a backdrop of some of the most iconic attractions of Sydney and The Whitsundays.

Tourism Australia Managing Director John O’Sullivan said Brazil was a fast growing emerging tourism market for Australia and the show will help to further boost the attractiveness of Australia as a travel destination.

“Australia is a destination that is now being discovered by Brazilians – we have seen Brazilian visitor arrivals and spend quadruple in the past 10 years and what’s more the market is also one of the top three luxury markets for Australia behind the USA and China,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

“Globo TV is a market leader in Brazil and famous for its telenovela productions. At any single moment of the day, close to 22 million Brazilians are tuning in one of these shows. Their reach and impact is huge.

“We expect that having spectacular images of Australia broadcast on screens across Brazil to millions of viewers will help to further boost the attractiveness of Australia, which Brazilians already consider as one of the ‘hottest’ destinations in the world to visit right now.

“What’s more the broadcast visit will bring to the fore key elements of our latest global marketing push to highlight Australia’s world class food and wine together with our renewed focus on the country’s aquatic and coastal experiences,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events, Stuart Ayres, said, “Sydney is Australia’s most popular destination for visitors from Brazil and showcasing the harbour city’s iconic landscape and attractions to millions of TV viewers will provide Brazilians with even more incentive to visit NSW. Brazil is the State’s largest South American visitor market and the number of visitors to NSW in the past financial year grew by 25%, a trend we want to see continue.”

Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) Chief Executive Leanne Coddington said Queensland was an aspirational destination for Brazilian travellers who love our lifestyle and beach culture.

“TEQ has stepped up its focus in the Americas in recent years to maximise opportunities out of the emerging South American market,” Ms Coddington said.

“We’re excited about the growth and future potential of the market and are delighted to be working with Tourism Australia to showcase Queensland’s destinations and visitor experiences via Globo’s visit.”

The episodes of Totalmente Demais, which translates to ‘Totally Awesome’, being filmed in Australia will star Juliana Paes, named as one of the 100 Most Sexy personalities in the world by USA magazine People, who plays the role of Carolina and award winning actor Fábio Assunção, who plays the role of Arthur.

Together they are caught in a plot of a dramatic love triangle in the fashion magazine industry filmed on locations such as Whitehaven Beach, Hamilton Island and Bait Reef in the Whitsundays, the Great Barrier Reef, as well as The Rocks, Bondi Beach, Quay Restaurant, Hotel InterContinental, Opera Bar and Sydney Opera House.

“I always heard so much about how wonderful Australia is. Now I understand. The people are so kind and the country has great energy, with a lot of good vibes,” said Juliana Paes.

Fábio Assunção said they cast and Brazilian crew members had been made to feel very welcome. “Australia has a one of a kind type of energy. I always wanted to get to know the country and the combination of Australian and Brazilian crews proved to be a great idea,” he said.

The show’s general director, Luiz Henrique Rios, said filming had been incredible. “It’s a country with beautiful views where we can take very nice shots. Also, the people here are very lovely and so polite. They’re organized and always helpful,” he said.

In the past year, the number of Brazilians that visited Australia grew 19 percent to 46,400 and spend grew 11 percent to $322 million.

“Brazil is about luxury experiences, fashion, fun and vibrancy, and by tapping into Brazil’s popular culture we have a fantastic opportunity to showcase Australia to huge audiences and, importantly, to attract more high spending Brazilians to Australia,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

“In the past, we have found high profile broadcast visits to be an extremely effective way of reaching consumers and showcasing amazing Australian content. The added advantage of this visit is that accompanying the cast and crew are five of Brazil’s top newspapers and mags, who will be writing travel features about Australia based on the experiences filmed for the show.”

The five publications accompanying the Globo broadcast visit include: CARAS Magazine, QUEM Magazine, Fohla, O Estado, and Marie Claire Brazil.


[photo credits-featured image: “Elabana Falls”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons –]




Nordic Council Stresses The Necessity To Maintain Contact And Dialogue Across Borders

World Affairs

Open Eyes Opinion {source: Norden}

Nordic Council

“We need a policy on foreign affairs, security and defence!”





Barents Parliamentary Conference: Phia Andersson spells out the challenges posed by the current security situation in Europe.

“Geo-political relations may be frosty at the moment but we have to maintain contact and dialogue across borders,” Phia Andersson told the Barents Parliamentary Conference.

Phia Andersson, a member of the Nordic Council Presidium, took to the podium at the 7th Barents Parliamentary Conference in Helsinki on Wednesday.

Her speech included a summary of the changes to the work done by the Nordic Council.

“The Nordic Council used to focus primarily on co-operation in the Nordic Region, which ruled out topics like foreign affairs, defence and security policy. But nowadays talking about these issues is, quite simply, a necessity,” she said.

“Unfortunately, the security situation in Europe and in our own part of the continent has deteriorated since the last conference in Norway two years ago.”

Dialogue with Russia

Problems related to co-operation with Russia were also brought up at the Barents conference.

“The trend is moving in the wrong direction. The Nordic Council has postponed or cancelled meetings and activities involving Russian parliamentarians,” Andersson pointed out.

“It is a difficult situation and some joint events have been cancelled but the Nordic Council would like to stress that it has not turned its back on dialogue with politicians from Russia.”

Kai Alajoki, the President of the Nordic Youth Council, and Giedre Purvaneckiene, the President of the Baltic Assembly also addressed the conference.


[photo credits-featured image: “2 norwegian Leopard tanks in the snow”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –]




The Monetary Authority Of Singapore – Results Of The First Singapore Savings Bond Issue

World Affairs – Finance

Open Eyes Opinion {source: SGgov}


The Monetary Authority of Singapore

Application results of the first Singapore Savings Bond issue Singapore, 28 September 2015




The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced today that it has accepted $413,161,000 in applications from 19,505 individuals for the first Singapore Savings Bond issue. All applicants will receive their application amount in full, subject to the limit of $50,000 per individual

The Savings Bonds will be deposited into applicants’ Central Depository (CDP) Securities accounts on 1 October 2015.

Successful applications

Successful applicants of the first Savings Bond issue will receive a letter from CDP within three to five business days informing them of the amount of Savings Bonds they have received. They can also check their Savings Bonds holdings through the CDP internet service ( or by calling the CDP hotline at 6535-75112 from the evening of 1 October. The Savings Bonds will pay interest every six months on the first business day of the month, with the first interest payment to be made on 1 April 2016.

The interest payments will be automatically credited into the bank account that is linked to the CDP Securities account under the Direct Crediting Service (DCS) arrangement.

Applying for the second Savings Bond issue

The next Savings Bond issue will be announced on 1 October 2015 and issued on 2 November 2015. MAS will publish on the Savings Bonds website (, the interest pay-out schedule and the amount on offer for the second Savings Bond, after 4.30pm on 1 October 2015. This information will also be carried in local newspapers the following day.

Applications for this issue will open at 6.00pm on 1 October 2015 and close at 9.00pm on 27 October 2015.

CDP Securities account and DCS activation

Investors are reminded that they must have an Individual CDP Securities account with DCS activated, to facilitate the crediting of Savings Bond interest payments into their bank accounts. Investors who already have Individual CDP Securities accounts should check that DCS has been activated before applying for Savings Bonds.

Investors without CDP Monetary Authority of Singapore accounts, and who wish to apply for the second Savings Bond issue, are advised to open their CDP accounts early as the process takes approximately two weeks. They can obtain more information through the CDP hotline and the CDP website. Alternatively, they can apply in person at CDP’s service counter or through a securities broker.

Savings Bonds website and hotline

For more information, please visit the Savings Bonds website at or call the Savings Bonds hotline at 6221-3682 3 .

{1 Individuals’ applications in excess of the $50,000 issue limit were not accepted. The amounts arising from such excess applications will be refunded to their bank accounts by the end of 29 September 2015. 2 The CDP hotline operating hours are: Mondays to Fridays (8.30am to 5.00pm), Saturdays (9.00am to 12.30pm), excluding Public Holidays}


[photo credits: “Merlion statue, Merlion Park, Singapore – 20110723” by ペウゲオト. – Own work.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –,_Merlion_Park,_Singapore_-_20110723.jpg#/media/File:Merlion_statue,_Merlion_Park,_Singapore_-_20110723.jpg]






Dubai – Ranked Second Best City Globally For Expats Starting A Business

World Trade

Open Eyes Opinion {source: WAM}


HSBC survey: UAE among top 10 countries globally for expats; Dubai ranked second best city globally for expats looking to start a business



DUBAI, 29th September 2015 — Despite the volatility in the global economy and insecurity in job markets, the UAE’s diverse business landscape and its position as a hub in the Middle East means that it continues to be an attractive destination for expats from across the world. According to HSBC ‘s Expat Explorer 2015 survey, the country has been singled out for the opportunities it offers people looking to build their careers or for those seeking to start their own businesses, with Dubai being chosen as the second best city globally for expat entrepreneurs.

Now in its eighth year, the survey examined the responses of 21,950 expats from across the world, and 2,000 in the UAE, to assess their views towards life in their host countries. Although the high costs of living and raising children were cited as concerns by those in the UAE, career progression opportunities, high salaries, generous benefits packages, and a greater quality of life meant that the country was ranked the ninth best place globally to set up a home.

HSBC ‘s research shows that expat entrepreneurs are being drawn to the world’s financial hubs, with a vast majority saying that Singapore (87%), Dubai (86%), Hong Kong and London (both 85%) are good places to start a business, far outpacing the global average of 56%. These cities provide the ideal foundations for ambitious entrepreneurial expats due to the good business conditions, world-class infrastructure, and work/life balance they offer.

A high level of confidence in the local economy is another reason that makes these cities attractive, with 56% of expats in Dubai citing this sentiment, while over two thirds (68%) say that the Emirate also offers political stability. These attitudes appear to be well founded as the UAE ranks 22nd globally out of 189 countries in The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index, scoring well in areas such as paying taxes, trading across borders, dealing with construction permits and registering property.

“Given these supportive conditions, it’s not surprising that Dubai attracts twice as many expats looking to start their own businesses (9%) compared to the global average (4%). This is a ringing endorsement of the government’s diversification efforts and its investment in setting up the infrastructure needed to nurture entrepreneurs,” said Khalid Elgibali, Head of Retail Banking & Wealth Management, UAE and MENA, HSBC Bank Middle East Limited .

Despite global employment growth stalling at 1.4 percent according to the International Labour Organisation, [2] the UAE remains a bright spot as expats continue to flock to the country due to the better job prospects and higher salaries on offer. Over half (53%) say that the country is a good place to advance a career – compared to the global average of 41% – while a large number also believe it is a good place to acquire new skills (47%).

In addition to the opportunities for career progression, the UAE is ranked highly for wage growth. According to the survey, expats say that on average they earn US$124,000 per annum, which is nearly 20% above than the global average (US$104,000 per annum).

Expats here also enjoy generous benefits packages from employers, with the Middle East leading the way globally in this regard. In addition to financial assistance such as annual airfare allowances, more than half (55%) of the expats here say that they receive accommodation support, compared to the global average of 33%. This is helpful as the cost of living is an area of concern with almost eight out of ten (79%) stating that their accommodation is more expensive, and 60% highlighting that they spend more on bills, than in their home countries.

“We recognise that high cost of living presents challenges for expats. While there certainly are aspects that are out of people’s controls, we see that nearly two thirds (65%) say that they have more disposable income since they moved to the country, which means that these expenses can be managed through better financial planning.

“On the whole, the UAE continues to be a popular choice for expats as three in five (60%) feel their overall quality of life is better here. This validation from expats shows that the country is one of the best destinations globally for those looking to move abroad to make a better life for themselves and their families,” Elgibali added. WAM/MMYS


[photo credits: Dubai Marina – George Stewart – own work]



National Institutes Of Health – Links Brain Connectivity To Measures Of Personal Success

World Affairs – Health

Open Eyes Opinion {source: NIH}

Human Brain


Our brain’s secrets to success?

Unique support system promotes cortex growth, connectivity linked to prowess





Discoveries about how the human brain contributes to our success — both as a species and as individuals — are among the first fruit of projects funded under the National Institutes of Health BRAIN Initiative program as well as the Human Connectome Project. One study may help to explain the mystery of how our primate brain’s outer mantle, or cortex, was able to expand as much as 1000-fold through evolution, compared to other mammals. The other reveals that the more successful we tend to be — score higher on commonly considered positive personal qualities, such as education and income levels and life satisfaction — the more key parts of our brain tend to talk with each other when we’re not doing anything in particular.

A team of BRAIN Initiative-supported scientists, led by Arnold Kriegstein of University of California, San Francisco, reported in Cell, Sept. 24, 2015, on what may be the secret to the human cortex’s exponential growth. Another team led by Stephen Smith of University of Oxford, UK, and David Van Essen, Washington University, St. Louis, explains findings linking brain connectivity to measures of personal success Sept. 28, 2015 in the journal Nature Neuroscience. The studies were funded, in part, by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and other NIH components.

Illustration of a human brain

Smarts, life satisfaction, income and education levels – and other measures of success – were correlated with increased connectivity between certain areas of the brain while at rest. These parts of the brain (yellow, red, brown) talked with each other more while higher-scoring participants weren’t doing anything in particular. Picture shows composite data from functional magnetic resonance imaging scans. Source: Stephen M. Smith, D.Phil., University of Oxford, David Van Essen, Ph.D., Washington University.

Kriegstein and colleagues found that the human cortex harbors a unique support system for neuron-producing factories during early brain development — in outlying cellular neighborhoods that barely exist in lower animals.

The researchers discovered the molecular underpinnings of this unique group of stem cells that churn out thousands of neurons and support cells where their mouse counterparts produce only 10-100.

They also discovered that the secret to this prolific output seems to lie in these cells’ ability to carry with them their own self-renewing “ niches,” –support systems that enabled them to thrive in far flung circuit suburbs. The results add to s deeper understanding of the human brain’s parts list and enhance scientists’ ability to perform disease-in-a-dish experiments relevant to uniquely human disorders like autism and schizophrenia, which are difficult to model in rodents.

Smith’s group mined Human Connectome Project data on 461 individuals to find out whether any patterns of brain connectivity are associated with specific sets of correlated demographics and behavior. In addition to images of their resting state structural and functional brain connections, the Project collected data on 280 such subject measures, including psychological factors such as IQ, language performance, rule-breaking behavior and anger.

A set of such measures statistically related to each other emerged as strongly correlated with connectivity between certain brain structures prone to talking with each other during the brain’s default mode, or resting state. This set was mostly composed of positive personal qualities, such as high performance on memory and thinking tasks, life satisfaction, years of education, and income.

The set turned out to have a more than three-fold stronger correlation with increased brain connectivity than any of 99 other sets of measures examined. The brain regions associated with the set, which may be related to general intelligence, have been linked to higher-level human thinking – e.g., memory, imagination, sociability, value-guided decision-making and reasoning.

“It may be expected that these aspects of cognitive function would have an influence on life in a complex society,” note Smith and colleagues.

“It is great to see data from large investments like the Human Connectome Project and the BRAIN Initiative result in such interesting science so quickly,” said Greg Farber, Ph.D., director of NIMH’s Office of Technology Development and Coordination. “Both efforts seem very well positioned to continue to provide the research community with new tools and results to enhance our understanding of the brain.”

Grants: U01-MH105989, U54MH091657, RO1-NS075998, RR09079/EB015894, F30-MH097312

BRAIN: Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies

For more information see: Particular Brain Connections Linked to Positive Human Traits

The mission of the NIMH is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery and cure. For more information, visit the

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit


[photo credits-featured image: By Patric Hagmann [CC BY 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons]



Dubai Hosts Mayo Clinic And Cleveland Clinic Conference

World Affairs

Open Eyes Opinion {source: WAM}


Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic to hold 5th Cardiovascular Disease Conference in Dubai





DUBAI, 28th September 2015 — Dubai is hosting the 5th Annual Case Based Approach to Controversies in Cardiovascular Disease Conference, organised by Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic in cooperation with Emirates Cardiac Society between 8 -10 October 2015.

Our Buildings

The conference is being organised under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance, and President of Dubai Health Authority, and is supported by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum Award for Medical Sciences, The conference is accredited for 14 Continuous Medical Education hours from UAE University and will take place at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Academic Medical Center in Dubai Healthcare City.

Organisers say the conference will offer timely updates on significant advances in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease, and all topics will be presented in a “real world” case-based format, which encourages participation and debate among the faculty and attendees. Course directors and speakers come from Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic in the USA, and will be joined by prominent physicians in the cardiovascular field from the UAE.

Wael Jaber, M.D., course director and staff cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic’s Heart & Vascular Institute, said, “We are proud that the conference will be held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the patron and supporter of continuing medical education in the UAE. This comes in line with His Highness keenness on enhancing the skills of physicians and developing their professional performance which are essential factors to continuously upgrade health care services provided by healthcare organisations to the UAE population, following the latest scientific developments and technologies.”

“It’s a privilege to return to the UAE for this important conference on cardiovascular diseases, the number one cause of death globally,” said Joseph F. Maalouf, M.D., course director and cardiologist at Mayo Clinic. “We’re excited to collaborate with our peers at Cleveland Clinic to share expertise and new approaches to advance cardiovascular care.”

Walid Saliba, M.D., course director of the conference and cardiologist in Cleveland Clinic, USA, said, “The conference will comprise valuable and up-to-date topics in the cardiovascular field that are relevant to the medical disciplines being addressed in the region. Our team of speakers aims to share our knowledge and the recent updates with the conviction that this will allow healthcare professionals to take better care of their patients. We’re proud to bring our expertise to the Middle East region, and specifically to the United Arab Emirates, in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic.”

The three-day conference will host up to 300 attendees and is open to all health care professionals from the region who are involved in the management of patients with cardiovascular disease, including cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, internists, residents, fellows, physician assistants, nurses and other allied health professionals involved in the care of cardiovascular patients. The conference is also open for medical students with an interest in cardiothoracic surgery and cardiology.

Sessions will focus on cardiovascular diseases, electrophysiology, coronary artery disease, valvular disease, heart failure, and lipid management. Physicians will discuss real male and female patient cases from different age groups and different conditions. One satellite symposium will be dedicated to preventive cardiology and emerging therapies for dyslipidemia; and another one will focus on new developments for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation. Several sessions will focus on women and young pregnant women with heart problems and chest pain.

One of the speakers will also give an update on a case about a patient with heart failure that was discussed during last year’s conference.

The speakers will assess the benefits and limitations of the current standard of care for the treatment of heart failure, and will discuss the wider applicability and potential impact of emerging percutaneous valve technology on the treatment of aortic stenosis and mitral regurgitation. They will also analyze the impact of gender differences in the management of cardiovascular diseases; review ventricular tachycardia storm, occurrence, management, and outcomes; summarise the current recommendations for the use of old and new anticoagulants and antiplatelet agents in atrial fibrillation; and develop a general understanding of who to refer for transcutaneous aortic valve replacement (TAVR).

Alongside the conference, there will be an exhibit, providing attendees exposure to the most cutting-edge technologies, resources and treatment solutions in the field of cardiovascular medicine. WAM/MMYS


[photo credits-featured image: “Dubai Healthcare City from Dubai Creek on 31 May 2007” by Imre Solt – Dubai Construction Update Part 4 Page 13 at Post 244. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –]



Environmental Leaders Receive Awards At The Sustainable Development Goals Summit

World Affairs – Environment

Open Eyes Opinion {source: UNEP}




Five Inspirational Environmental Leaders Receive Champions of the Earth Award at Close of Sustainable Development Goals Summit





New York, 27 September 2015 – Five inspirational environmental leaders from the worlds of government, business, research and grassroots activism on Sunday received the UN’s highest environmental accolade, the Champions of the Earth Award, at a ceremony marking the close of the Sustainable Development Goals summit.

The annual prize is awarded to outstanding leaders from government, civil society and the private sector whose actions have had a positive impact on the environment.

This year’s awards, presided over by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Goodwill Ambassadors, actor Ian Somerhalder and model Gisele Bündchen, as well as actress Nikki Reed, were focused on supporting the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals.

The awards do so by illustrating – through the examples of the laureates – that the transition to low-carbon, resource-efficient, inclusive and sustainable economic models is not just possible, but already in progress.

The full list of winners is as follows:


  • H.E. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, for outstanding leadership on the frontline of climate change.


  • National Geographic Society, for over a century of life-changing science, exploration and storytelling.


  • Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, for challenging business norms to show that sustainable, equitable and environmentally-conscious business is smart business.
  • Natura (Brazilian Cosmetics Firm), for unparalleled commitment to trailblazing sustainable business models.


  • The Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit (South Africa), for outstanding courage in fighting the illegal wildlife trade at community level.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, “This weekend, we witnessed a historic moment. 193 nations committed to a sustainable path forward for the entire planet and its peoples through the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals. This is a major achievement, but the hard work now begins in earnest.

“With 17 goals that integrate all aspects of our economies, societies and the environment, the challenge is formidable. Each of this year’s five UN Champions of the Earth demonstrates that this challenge can, and I believe will be met to help usher in an equitable and sustainable future for all.”

Full details of the winner’s achievements, as well as additional quotes, can be found at the following links:

H.E. Sheikh Hasina

National Geographic Society

Paul Polman


The Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit

About Champions of the Earth

The annual Champions of the Earth prize is awarded to outstanding leaders from government, civil society and the private sector whose actions have had a positive impact on the environment. Since being founded eleven years ago, the awards have recognized 72 laureates-ranging from leaders of nations to grassroots activists-in the categories of policy, science, business and civil society.


[photo credits-featured image: “Dendroaspis polylepis by Bill Love” by Bill Love/Blue Chameleon Ventures – Bill Love / Blue Chameleon Ventures / Reptile & Amphibian Photo Gallery (Dendroaspis polylepis). Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons –]




New Zealand Updates Its’ Rules On Being Stripped Of NZ Citizenship

World Affairs

Open Eyes Opinion {source: NZgov}

New Zealand



Being stripped of NZ citizenship




In rare circumstances, the Minister of Internal Affairs can take someone’s New Zealand citizenship off them.

They will no longer be able to use an NZ passport and may not be allowed to live here.

When you can have citizenship taken off you

It depends on how you gained your NZ citizenship.

If you’re a citizen by grant

The Minister can deprive you of your NZ citizenship if:

  • you were granted your citizenship because of:
    • fraud
    • false representation
    • information you deliberately concealed when you applied for citizenship
    • a mistake, or
  • you got citizenship of another country and acted against the interests of NZ.

Before your citizenship is taken off you:

  • the Citizenship Office will ask for your side of the story
  • you’ll be served a Notice by the Minister.

If you think there isn’t a good enough reason to take your citizenship away, you can apply to the High Court for a hearing within 28 days of receiving your Notice. A judge will make a decision on your behalf.

If you’re a citizen by descent

Your citizenship can be taken off you if you were registered as a citizen by descent because of:

  • fraud
  • false representation
  • information you deliberately concealed when you applied for citizenship, or
  • an administration error.

You’ll be sent a letter to let you know what happened and why.

If you’re a citizen by birth

The Minister can deprive you of your NZ citizenship if:

  • you got citizenship of another country, and
  • acted against the interests of NZ.

Once your citizenship has been taken off you


  • can’t use your NZ passport anymore
  • may not be allowed to keep living here.

You’ll need to talk to Immigration NZ if you want to continue to live in NZ.

Immigration NZ



[photo credits: “Tokoeka” by Glen Fergus – Own work, Stewart Island, New Zealand. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Commons –]




The European Bank For Reconstruction And Development Secures A Stake In Global Ports

World Trade

Open Eyes Opinion {source: EBRD}




EBRD acquires a stake in Turkish port operator Global Ports



By Olga Rosca

A vote of confidence in a strong player taking up new markets

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is investing in a minority stake of the Turkish port operator Global Ports Holding (GPH) in a move to boost the company’s operations.

Cruisers - EBRD acquires a stake in Turkish port operator Global Ports

One of the largest port-operating companies and the largest cruise port operator in the world, GPH (or Global Liman Isletmeleri AS, as it is formally known in Turkey) has eight ports in five countries in the Mediterranean and Asia Pacific region. It is an arm of Global Yatirim Holding AS (Global Investment Holdings) which operates in the infrastructure, real estate, energy and financial services sectors in Turkey.

The proceeds of the Bank’s investment will be used to finance the company’s future investments in ports in countries where the EBRD invests. Global Ports’ expansion abroad will promote integration among ports and create network synergies, as well as helping to further consolidate the company’s position in the international market.As a shareholder, the EBRD will nominate a member for the board of Global Ports and will help further advance the company’s corporate governance, making it more competitive both in Turkey and abroad.

Sue Barrett, EBRD Director for Transport, said: “We are pleased to provide an important funding boost to Global Ports as it seeks to expand and broaden its horizons along the Mediterranean before a landmark listing.”An international listing is planned for 2016-18 and is expected to deepen capital market development in the Turkish port and infrastructure sectors, paving the way for other infrastructure companies in the country to list their shares.Mehmet Kutman, Chairman of Global Ports, said: “I am honoured to follow the footsteps of the founder of GPH, Gregory M. Kiez, by welcoming the EBRD as our partner, which will support our expansion plan, especially in the cruise port arena where our company is the leading operator worldwide.”Supporting infrastructure companies as they explore new ways of financing growth is an important part of the EBRD’s strategy in Turkey.
[photo credits-featured image: “Port of Istanbul, Turkey 001” by Moonik – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –,_Turkey_001.jpg#/media/File:Port_of_Istanbul,_Turkey_001.jpg]




The Australian Government Helps Agribusinesses Get A Leg Up In International Markets

World Trade

Open Eyes Opinion {source: AUgov}



Australian ​Exports set to soar with lift from grants





Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, today announced a $5.3 million boost to export access for small agribusinesses under the Coalition Government’s Package Assisting Small Exporters programme.

The grants, which will fund 31 projects across a variety of commodities, delivers on a key Coalition election commitment to support small exporters through its $15 million four year programme.
“Access to premium overseas markets is an important element of driving profits back through the farmgate for our nation’s farmers—assisting Australia’s smaller exporters in particular demonstrates the Coalition’s commitment to looking after all of our producers,” Minister Joyce said.
“We’re backing the kangaroo industry to make the most of export opportunities, working with the dairy industry to develop a stronger food safety culture and setting up an advisory service for small exporters in Victoria.
“There’s funding for a residue testing program for the seafood sector, biosecurity management for the growing cherry industry and a whole raft of innovations for grain growers to leverage our enviable international reputation for safe, reliable, high quality produce.
“These grants also exploit new technologies, with a mobile app for kangaroo products, online systems making it easier and quicker for table grape and citrus growers to get export accreditation and one-stop-shop databases helping grain growers negotiating prices.
“Tea Tree oil growers will be one step closer to exporting to the massive European Union market and egg producers will be able to set-up a national Salmonella monitoring program that could open up markets for this export industry.
“There’s also a study into innovative packaging for green leafy vegetables that could not only improve the shelf life of vegetables but may broaden markets for a host of horticultural products.
“These grants give export industries a leg up to international markets. They will help agribusinesses, and their regional communities, grow.
“This targeted support comes on the back of historic trade agreements the government has signed with China, Japan and Korea and recent access for mangos and lychees to the United States of America.”
Under the programme, a total of $5.3 million (GST inclusive) has been committed so far to small exporters of fish, meat, egg, dairy, grains and horticulture.
This is in addition to the $1.3 million already provided in rebates to assist small exporters with export registration charges.
Further information on the Package Assisting Small Exporters can be found at the Department of Agriculture’s website:​.
[photo credits: “Dairy NSW” by Cgoodwin – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons –]


US And China Advance New Tourism Agreement For Year 2016

World Travel – Tourism

Open Eyes Opinion {source: NTTO}





WASHINGTON –  U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker joined President Obama and President Xi for the conclusion of a week of productive discussions between the two countries. The two leaders announced the U.S.-China Tourism Year for 2016, a new initiative that celebrates the recent reciprocal extension of visa validity and supports increased travel and tourism exports. Partnering under the framework of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), the two sides will work together to expand and shape U.S.-China travel and tourism, and strengthen the bond between our two peoples.

FACT SHEET: U.S.-China Tourism Year

International Travel to the United States

Travel and tourism is the United States’ largest export services industry, generating a $75 billion trade surplus for the U.S. economy in 2014. International travel to the United States generated $220.8 billion in 2014, supporting 1.1 million jobs.

China is an important contributor to revenues generated by international travel to the United States:

  • China was the number two country for visitor spending to and within the United States in 2014 with an estimated $23.8 billion spent on travel and tourism.
  • China accounted for 2.9 percent of total international arrivals in the United States in 2014, with an estimated 2.2 million travelers (a 21 percent increase over 2013).
  • National parks are a significant attraction for Chinese visitors to the United States, with 40% saying they had been to a national park when visiting.[i]

China represents a significant growth market: According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, China is the world’s largest tourism market, representing more than 100 million outbound travelers in 2014, and Global Chinese overseas travel expenditures in 2013 were a record $129 billion.

U.S. – China Tourism Year

Throughout the year, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA), in collaboration with Brand USA and other partners, will design and execute a year of events and activities that will promote and further open travel between the United States and China, expand market access, and advance initiatives to ensure a quality visitor experience for increasing numbers of travelers to and from both nations.

The U.S. – China Tourism Year provides a platform for the United States and China to continue to improve and upgrade systems to accommodate anticipated travel flows by:

  • Continuing progress on visa processing: About 2.5 million visas have been processed for Chinese citizens since the announcement of validity extension in November 2014, a 52.6 percent increase over the same period in the previous year and a substantial growth in first-time applicants.
  • Improving the border entry experience: The United States will continue to make progress toward a “Best in Class” arrivals experience for international visitors and will develop and make more readily available Chinese language materials and website pages.

Increased travel and tourism also requires dynamic, modern aviation systems, capable of supporting increased passenger and cargo traffic. Both governments will continue efforts to develop aviation policies, institutions and services to ensure the system adapts to meet the needs for both immediate and long-term growth.

Additionally, recognizing the important role that natural landscapes play in attracting visitors and promoting conservation, the Chinese Government and the U.S. National Park Service will partner to share lessons learned and best practices in the designation, development and management of a Chinese national park system through a Statement of Cooperation. U.S. and Chinese land and water governance agencies also will work to further their partnerships around sister parks, sister fish and wildlife reserves, and cooperation on forestry management.



[photo credits: “Bison near a hot spring in Yellowstone” by Daniel Mayer – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons –]