Every day, Covid-19 reaches a new and heartbreaking milestone in our lives. On the day I am writing this article, March 25th, the figures show that more than 426,000 cases of coronavirus and 19,000 deaths have been registered. This is a new virus, which is keeping us confined to our homes and refocusing our relationships on a national and international level, including among ourselves as individuals.
Every loss of a human being is a tragedy, and it obliges us to work hard to stop the spread of the virus and keep ourselves safe. There is no doubt that each and every country is fighting against this virus, although they do it in different ways, and encouraging the rest of the world to do the same, undoubtedly with a great deal of effort, because this is a task they have in common.
On the other hand, moments of crisis as serious as the one we are experiencing now present an opportunity to make use of technology, appreciate life, have faith and beliefs, be united and appreciate each other. Those who are battling coronavirus on the front line are neither recruits nor armed forces personnel; they are our doctors, nurses, pharmacists, teachers, carers, shop assistants, public service workers, owners of small businesses and employees… These people are risking their health and their lives for us, with true patriotism and dedication. We should value them and – above all – analyse whether we are investing enough in scientific research and, without any doubt, support them, as we are doing.
Our way of life is changing after being comfortable for a long time. Until now it was normal to touch things and breathe the air in an enclosed space with others; now we have to keep our distance… what we are facing today is a common enemy. It is a shared threat, that doesn’t distinguish between one person and another. That’s why this is the time to start promoting more constructive patterns in our cultural and political discourse.
The time for change is clearly maturing, to refocus politics, to make new and substantial investment in public assets, especially health and public services, to empower women, encourage scientific researchers and promote more values of tolerance and peace in our cultures. This virus, bad and damaging as it is, is going to force us to reconsider who we are and what we value, and it will also ‘help’ us to rediscover the best version of ourselves in order to achieve a more peaceful and stable world; in a way, it is driving the change, because it has already shown us the flaws in our medical attention systems, our research and academic systems, our systems of government, our security systems and our human relationships. We should rethink the use of technology to serve us in the most efficient way and facilitate our lives using virtual reality, augmented reality, telemedicine, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence.
An opportunity for tolerance and peace
I invite all of us to appreciate and support medicine, science, scientific research and human values, to encourage people to contribute to the economy and society and, fundamentally, to join forces to fight against this common enemy with faith, solidarity, tolerance, wisdom and human values. This is the right moment for there to be more defenders of tolerance and builders of peace.
By Ahmed Bin Mohamed Aljarwan in SUR in English
Note: The writer is president of the Global Council for Tolerance and Peace, an NGO based in Geneva, with its own International Parliament consisting of MPs from associated countries.
In the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Albert A. van Daalen Group follows the advice of WHO representatives. Our offices remains operational and will work “remote” up to and including 31 May, in order to guarantee the continuity of our services.
The health and safety of our staff and clients is most important. Within the imposed restrictions with which we show solidarity, we make every effort to continue our services as optimal as possible. We hereby inform you that – until further notice – we strongly prefer electronic and telephone communication as well as virtual meetings only. Face-to-face meetings that would take place for and on behalf of the Albert A. van Daalen Group in this period have been postponed. If you need to send documents in hard copy by post, we kindly ask that you inform us timely in advance (prior to dispatch). We thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation.
In the meantime, please take also the time to focus on yourself and your family’s health and well-being.
We have confidence that we will get through this challenge, but it will take time. We’re wishing you all the best – stay safe!
Joaquin Phoenix used his Best Actor win at the 2020 Oscars to continue his awards-season trend of putting sociopolitical issues in the spotlight. In a sprawling acceptance speech, he touched on social inequality, the cruelty of the food industry toward animals, systemic inequality, and even cancel culture. He closed out by quoting his late brother, River Phoenix.
Hi. What’s up? Hi. God, I’m full of so much gratitude right now and I do not feel elevated above any of my fellow nominees or anyone in this room, because we share the same love, the love of film, and this form of expression has given me the most extraordinary life. I don’t know what I’d be without it.
But I think the greatest gift that it has given me, and many of us in this room, is the opportunity to use our voice for the voiceless. I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the distressing issues that we are facing collectively, and I think at times we feel or are made to feel that we champion different causes. But for me, I see commonality.
I think whether we’re talking about gender inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we’re talking about the fight against injustice — against the belief that one nation, one race, one gender or one species has the right to dominate, control, and use and exploit another with impunity.
I think that we’ve become very disconnected from the natural world and many of us, what we’re guilty of is an egocentric worldview — the belief that we’re the center of the universe. We go into the natural world and we plunder it for its resources. We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow, and when she gives birth, we steal her baby. Even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable. And then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal.
And I think we fear the idea of personal change because we think that we have to sacrifice something to give something up but human beings, at our best, are so inventive and creative and ingenious, and I think that when we use love and compassion as our guiding principles, we can create, develop, and implement systems of change that are beneficial to all sentient beings and to the environment.
Now, I have been — I’ve been a scoundrel in my life. I’ve been selfish, I’ve been cruel at times, hard to work with. And I’m grateful [to] so many of you in this room [who] have given me a second chance and I think that’s when we’re at our best, when we support each other, not when we cancel each other out for past mistakes, but when we help each other to grow, when we educate each other, when we guide each other toward redemption. That is the best of humanity.
I just — I want to — when he was 17, my brother wrote this lyric. He said, “Run to the rescue with love and peace will follow.” Thank you.
From ‘over-tourism’ to ‘flight-shaming’, the impact of global travel and tourism is being measured against its benefits.
As the planet becomes ever more crowded, and increasingly affected by a changing climate, the concept of sustainability needs to evolve from being a buzz become into a way of life. Many sectors of the world’s economy are changing the way they do business.
This trend towards sustainability is encompassing travel too. Responsible tourism looks to reduce or offset carbon emissions, minimize waste and pollution, respect local cultures and share the economic benefits or travel with local communities.
Tourism can be a powerhouse for positive change and development, bringing greater wealth to local communities. I recall my visit last year to the Dominican Republic. Anmar, one of the restaurant staff at our resort, was chatty and happy to engage with the visiting journalists. Working in the hospitality sector meant long hours and sometimes dealing with demanding guests, but the rewards were worth it, he told us. The hotel provided housing; supported the local school; and he earned enough that he could help his wider family and save a little too.
The Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with the Republic of Haiti – one Caribbean island yet two very different nations. The Dominican Republic has focused on creating a stable, investment-friendly economy which has wholeheartedly embraced tourism. The World Travel & Tourism Council suggests that foreign visitors contribute up to 17.2 per cent to the economy, which is one of the biggest and fastest growing in the Caribbean. Yet it’s neighbor Haiti, where political instability, corruption and devastating natural disasters have made tourism difficult, is said to be one of the poorest nations in the western hemisphere.
However, the benefits of tourism that I saw in the Dominican Republic are being increasingly challenged. The opportunities created for education, employment, development and wealth creation by the travel industry are being somewhat over-shadowed by the negative impact of increasing numbers of visitors.
Cities and communities are complaining or ‘about tourism’, where quality of life is being eroded by the sheer volume of visitors. Sadly it’s not hard to find examples of over-tourism. Just think of Venice, where cruise liners inundate the city with day-trippers, causing congestion, higher prices for locals and erosion of the fragile infrastructure.
Environmentalists are also highlighting the negative impact of holiday makers. Thinking back to the Dominican Republic, I remember how it was impossible to escape the problem of rubbish and litter. It’s the most visited country in the Caribbean, and despite having a waste collection infrastructure, I saw disturbing amounts of waste, including plastic, dumped by the sides of the roads. Being an island, some of this rubbish would inevitably find its way into the Caribbean sea.
We don’t need to be an activist to know that things need to change. Natural habitat and biodiversity is being lost, the oceans contaminated, local communities diminished by globalization and cultural sights damaged.
Yet there are plenty of reasons to be positive. We can all be part of sustainable and responsible tourism. Whether you consider yourself a fly-and-flop tourist or an adventurous traveler, we can all be more aware of our travel choices and how our holidays and business travel impact the environment, local communities, culture and heritage.
Even the smallest gesture can make a big difference over time. Thanks to better awareness of the problem of plastics in our oceans, we are more conscious of the waste we create. Many hotels are reducing refuse and working to eradicate the use of single-use plastics and increasing recycling. Yet I still see plastic bottles or water out by my bedside. This is no longer acceptable. I favor properties, like many in Mallorca, that offer filtered water in reusable glass bottles. The same is true with plastic straws – refuse them.
As for those little bottles of shampoo and conditioner in the hotel bathroom, well their days are numbered. Much as I like those cute, chic branded amenities, they are an environmental no-no. I see more and more hotels using refillable containers. Some are really creative, providing locally-made ceramic dispensers.
The cruise line industry is one of the fastest growing parts of the travel industry yet it is controversial when it comes to its impact on the environment. Incidents of alleged dumping or heavy fuel oil, rubbish and untreated effluent into the oceans is the ugly side of the sector. Thankfully new cruise vessels are designed to be significantly more environmentally responsible. Not only do modern ships emit less sulfur when burning fuel, but they are designed to maximize the recycling or waste and have the technology to treat dirty water onboard. When booking your next cruise, take a moment to consider the environmental track record or your chosen cruise line and look out for the new generation of cruise ships.
Increasingly when I travel, I see hotels, resorts and smaller hospitality businesses are working towards ‘pay it forward’; supporting social, environmental and cultural projects in their local communities.
Often this can mean more than just a financial contribution, but also the opportunity for staff and guests to be personally involved with local projects, from wildlife conservation to restoration of historical sights. It can also make a fascinating and rewarding focus for a holiday.
As a visitor we can also spend in the community, by using local guides, shopping at genuine markets and choosing authentic travel experiences like eating with a local family.
Until a year or two ago, few of us could have imagined the notion of ‘flight shame’. It’s said to have originated in Sweden where ‘Flygskam’ means the stigma associated with flying due to the associated emissions of greenhouse gases.
Now, I promised myself I wasn’t going to get into the complexities of climate change in this article, but whatever our views are about the causes of climate change and whether humans can mitigate it, we have to accept that advanced countries are moving towards being low carbon economies. That means that over the coming decades, many nations will strive to reduce emissions or greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane.
As such, we are all becoming aware of our ‘carbon footprint’, a term that has come to mean our personal contribution to the atmosphere or carbon-containing greenhouse gasses.
One of the single biggest contributors to our personal carbon footprint can be the flights we take for work or pleasure. Despite this, the reality right now is that only fossil fuels are energy dense enough to get a plane full of passengers off the ground and then cruising through the air at hundreds or kilometers an hour. Until an alternative fuel or technology has been developed, our options are to reduce the number of flights we take, and also to offset the carbon emissions through investing in projects that capture carbon or reduce its release elsewhere.
For example, many of the major airlines are not only investing in more fuel-efficient aircraft, but also in projects to offset the carbon dioxide released by their aviation fuel. As passengers we can invest in certified organizations that support projects as various as planting trees, promoting clean energy like wind power and providing clean burning stoves to people in the developing world.
This is a compelling alternative to simply boasting on Facebook for the flight we didn’t take or shame someone who did fly. It’s worth remembering the very positive impact of travel and tourism.
After all, it’s not just people like Anmar in the Dominican Republic that benefit from trips abroad. We all do. Travel allow us to maintain close contact with friends and family, meet new people, share unique and unforgettable travel experiences, get to know new and different cultures and support a global economy – the benefits of which are not only on distance shores but here in Southern Spain too.
To lose all that because we can’t fly anymore would be a great shame too.
The announcement came as nearly 8,000 cases have been reported worldwide, almost all of them in mainland China.
The World Health Organization declared on Thursday that the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak was a global health emergency, acknowledging that the disease now represents a risk beyond China, where it emerged last month.
The decision reversed the organization’s decision just a week ago to hold off such a declaration.
Since then, W.H.O. officials said, thousands of new cases in China and clear human-to-human transmission in several other countries — now including the United States — warranted a reconsideration of that decision by the agency’s expert committee.
The W.H.O.’s declaration — officially called a “public health emergency of international concern” — does not have the force of law. But it serves notice to all United Nations member states that the world’s top health advisory body thinks the situation is grave.
Governments then make their own decisions about whether to close their borders, cancel flights, screen people arriving at airports or take other protective measures.
Declaring emergencies also adds urgency to any W.H.O. appeal for money. Thus far, that is hardly relevant: The countries most affected — China, Japan, Germany, South Korea, the United States and Vietnam — can afford to wage their own battles against the virus.
Luxury brands fear sales hit as Chinese shoppers stay home
The coronavirus outbreak in China is threatening the luxury goods industry with a significant sales hit after a decade of relentless growth fueled by Chinese shoppers.
The industry’s most important clientele, Chinese consumers are quarantining themselves at home and canceling trips abroad, where they often splurge on Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Cartier and other high-end brands. In Paris, luxury boutique staff are reporting a sharp drop in Chinese shoppers.
From The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal
Vor 75 Jahren, am 27. Januar 1945, war das Vernichtungslager Auschwitz II im damals von Deutschland besetzten Polen von der Roten Armee befreit worden. Eine Million der insgesamt sechs Millionen von den Nazis ermordeten Juden starben dort.
Salmen Gradowski hat inmitten der Vernichtungsmaschinerie von Auschwitz ein einzigartiges literarisches Salmen Gradowski hat inmitten der Vernichtungsmaschinerie von Auschwitz ein einzigartiges literarisches Zeugnis und Dokument verfasst. Es bezeugt das unvorstellbare Grauen von Auschwitz – zwischen Verzweiflung und Hoffnung. und Dokument verfasst. Es bezeugt das unvorstellbare Grauen von Auschwitz – zwischen Verzweiflung und Hoffnung.