KD Smart Chair Offers $300 Off Wheelchairs for Cyber Monday

MIAMI, FL—(Marketwired – Nov 30, 2014) – KD Smart Chair is excited to announce that their customers will receive $300 off the original price of $2295 on Cyber Monday. This means customers will have the opportunity to purchase the wheelchair for only $1995.00. This offer is for one day only and expires at midnight on December 1, 2014. The innovative lightweight and foldable KD Smart Chair is designed to be the most convenient electric wheelchair on the market today. It features larger rear and front wheels that allow for a smooth ride through tough outdoor terrain and has a tight turning radius of 29.5 inches. It weighs only 50 pounds and folds in seconds. The convenient size makes it easy to travel by car, bus, train and cruise ship.

Cyber Monday is a key bargain–hunting day for the holiday season. It follows the famous Black Friday and is promoted by online retailers who offer a variety of exceptional bargains. Deals are exclusive and only available on Cyber Monday. Consumers are encouraged to take advantage of the great deals by shopping online in the comfort of their own home. KD Smart Chair is thrilled to be participating in Cyber Monday and offering their wheelchair at a discounted price.

Roland Reznik, Vice President of KD Smart Chair, states, “We are very excited to offer the KD Smart Chair at a discounted price on Cyber Monday. Get $300 off when you use coupon code: cybermonday14. We are proud to make our wheelchair more affordable to everyone by also offering quick and easy financing options as well as free shipping when consumers.”

KD Smart Chair also offers affordable loan options at low monthly payments. Application process is quick and easy. It is 100% confidential, does not require application fees, no collateral is necessary, affordable monthly payments and an immediate decision is provided. The KD Smart Chair is available to purchase online for the low price of $1995.00 on December 1, 2014 only when you use coupon code: cybermonday14. Consumers are encouraged to visit the KD Smart Chair website kdsmartchair.com for further details and to take advantage of this Cyber Monday offer.

About KD Smart Chair

KD Smart Chair is an FDA cleared mobility device and was designed to be the most convenient electric wheelchair on the market today. It can be easily folded in seconds and transported in the car, SUV or truck and airplane. KD Smart Chair is built for durability, safety and reliability for people with mobility issues. It is made of strong aluminum alloy, which gives the chair a total weight of only 50 pounds.

Image Available: http://www2.marketwire.com/mw/frame_mw?attachid=2728842

Embedded Video Available: http://www2.marketwire.com/mw/frame_mw?attachid=2728843

When Social Unrest Vents Itself on Migrants

By Silvia Giannelli
ROME, Nov 30 2014 (IPS)

“It’s like putting explosive, gasoline and matches all in one shed. These are things that should be stored in separated places.”

Giuseppe Giorgioli, an inhabitant of the Tor Sapienza district of Rome and a member of the Tor Sapienza Committee, was explaining the mid-November outburst in the district against a reception centre for asylum seekers and refugees, in which dozens of paper bombs were thrown.

The Tor Sapienza district, situated in the east side of the Italian capital, is home to almost 13 thousands citizens and, according to Giorgioli, is treated as a “second class quarter” by the Rome administration because of its relatively small dimensions.Episodes like the attack on a reception centre for asylum seekers and refugees “are being worsened by a growing poverty that now affects 13 million people in Italy, with 42 percent of young people unemployed” – Monsignor Giancarlo Perego

“For the last 10 to 15 years there has been a progressive phenomenon of disruption-parking in our suburb. This is how we ended up hosting four reception centres for migrants and two gypsy camps, while other districts in the city have none,” Giorgioli complained.

The residents’ uprising followed an alleged attempt of rape by a Romanian citizen against a local resident and a series of attempted robberies in apartments in the neighbourhood.

The Tor Sapienza Committee had organised a demonstration to ask the Rome Town Council to act against the urban decay the neighbourhood is suffering but once the march was over, a group of people – about one hundred according to witnesses – gathered in front of the building where the ‘Il Sorriso’ cooperative manages different services, including a reception centre for asylum seekers and refugees and three structures hosting foreign unaccompanied minors.

“When I arrived in the centre the following morning, I found huge pieces of asphalt, broken glass and people – both adults and minors – suffering from panic attacks,” recalls Alessia Armini of Italy’s System of Protection for Asylum Seekers and Refugees (SPRAR), who is coordinator of the cooperative. “Let’s not forget the kind of vulnerable guests we have in such centres,” she adds.

While no one denies the critical conditions suffered by many suburbs in Rome, with cuts in transport services, council houses not having been refurbished for decades and inefficient garbage collection among others, the explanations for such a violent outburst vary widely.

“People are not racists, they are exasperated. Rome is just the tip of the iceberg, but this is about the whole country,” Paolo Grimoldi, MP for right-wing Northern League party, told IPS. “When you receive 150 thousand migrants – we say illegal, the government says refugees – in one year who are given a house, money and are taken care of by the State, this inevitably destabilises our social fabric.”

However, according to Monsignor Giancarlo Perego who runs Migrantes, the foundation of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) for migrants, the numbers tell a different story: “Migrants are abandoning our country because it no longer represents an economic opportunity for many of them,” he told IPS.

“The reasons must be found in a management of the suburbs that looked at the interests of building speculators rather than guaranteeing common assets such as meeting places that are necessary to build a feeling of safety within a territory.”

In addition, the economic crisis also plays an important role also in this context. “Episodes [like the Tor Sapienza] incident are being worsened by a growing poverty that now affects 13 million people in Italy, with 42 percent of young people unemployed,” said Perego.

“But such a difficult situation does not exempt us from the need of building relationships, delivering correct information and managing the places where people live in order to encourage encounters and not social clashes.”

For their part, the citizens of Tor Sapienza firmly reject any accusation of racism. “We welcome everybody and we’ve been welcoming everybody for twenty years,” Giorgioli told IPS.

“You don’t become racist in four days. But there are rules that need to be respected and services that the town council needs to provide. If such services are not provided, unfortunately someone with less patience begins to see red.”

In the days that followed the attack on the reception centre, both local and national politicians visited the neighbourhood, provoking strong criticism – and not only from angry citizens – that they were using the situation for instrumental reasons.

“I think that any form of manipulation, whether from left or right, is a serious aspect to be avoided. Politicians must govern a city, not pour in new reasons for social clashes,” Perego said.

Meanwhile, the violent episode in Tor Sapienza and signs of social unrest in other Italian neighbourhoods that have sparked debate and drawn attention to the migrant issue are not to be underestimated.

“In these suburbs, the level of social distress is extremely high, but all that hate, taking a symbol and pouring everything out on it … it’s frightening,” said Armini. “We heard people [outside the centre] screaming ‘let’s burn them all, let’s make soap out of them’. This issue brought out the worst in people.”

While condemning the recent violence, Giorgioli of the Tor Sapienza Committee is not sure that such situations will not be repeated

“I have reasons to fear that the same people who have already shown that they are capable of violent actions will repeat them if there are no signs of change. They could feel disrespected, as if the institutions were making a fool of them.”

(Edited by Phil Harris)

KD Smart Chair Makes Wheelchairs Affordable With Financing

MIAMI, FL—(Marketwired – Nov 28, 2014) –  Consumers can now take advantage of owning a lightweight foldable electric wheelchair with KD Smart Chair's newly launched financing program. The company designed the most convenient electric wheelchair on the market today. It is built for reliability, safety and durability. Weighing only 50 pounds, this innovative light weight wheelchair is also capable of maneuvering in small areas and has a tight turning radius of 29.5 inches.

KD Smart Chair offers affordable loan options for electric wheelchair financing at low monthly payments by partnering with American Health Care Lending, which is a premier financing company in the health care industry that has serviced more than 300,000 applicants. They take pride in offering loans that have a quick and easy application process, 100% confidential, does not require application fees, no collateral is necessary, affordable monthly payments and an immediate decision is provided.

Roland Reznik Vice President of KD Smart Chair says “With our new financing program, we are making it affordable for all consumers to own our electric wheelchairs. Qualified customers can apply with no down payment and receive approval within seconds.”

“The company after a year of development is excited to introduce our innovative products, especially our KD Smart Chair which is the lightest electric wheelchair in the market. The Smart Chair also has advanced battery technology and is foldable unlike other electric wheelchairs that have been in the market for the past decade. It was time for a company to bring new innovation in this industry and we are proud to be one of the young companies to offer this to our consumers looking for convenient mobility nationwide along with our newly launched financing program,” says Mr. Reznik.

Once approved, for the loan through American Health Care Lending, the funds will be deposited into the purchaser's bank account quickly. Anyone can purchase a KD Smart Chair and are welcome to apply for financing. The holidays are just right around the corner. This is a great opportunity to purchase this innovative wheelchair as a holiday gift for a loved one or a friend.

Apply today for a quick and easy loan with American Health Care Lending. Applying is easy and it only takes just few minutes to go through the application process and receive a decision within seconds.

About KD Smart Chair

KD Smart Chair is an FDA cleared mobility device and was designed to be the most convenient electric wheelchair on the market today. It can be easily folded in seconds and transported in the car, SUV or truck and airplane. KD Smart Chair is built for durability, safety and reliability for people with mobility issues. It is made of strong aluminum alloy, which gives the chair a total weight of only 50 pounds. To learn more about the financing program for qualified individuals, please go to: http://kdsmartchair.com/pages/electric–wheelchair–financing

Image Available: http://www2.marketwire.com/mw/frame_mw?attachid=2728685

First Image Download Over New Gigabit Laser Connection in Space

HERNDON, VA—(Marketwired – Nov 28, 2014) – The first ever gigabit transmission via laser of imagery between the radar sensor on Sentinel–1A and Alphasat satellites, the latter built by Airbus Defence and Space, has taken place successfully. This advanced communication system based on the Laser Communication Terminal (LCT) technology is a main part of the European Space Agency's (ESA) European Data Relay System (EDRS), also referred to as the SpaceDataHighway. It enables secure, high data rate communication between Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites or aerial platforms and Geostationary (GEO) satellites. The LCT technology has been developed by the Airbus Defence and Space subsidiary Tesat–Spacecom with the support of the German Aerospace Centre DLR.

ESA is currently demonstrating the long distance laser link with real content from the Sentinel–1 Earth observation satellite in LEO orbit via Alphasat communications satellite in GEO orbit to the ground. During the demonstration, data transfer reached 0.6 Gigabits per second of possible 1.8 Gigabits per second over 45,000km between sophisticated Laser Communication Terminals. The demonstration follows on successful LCT operation between two LEO satellites since 2008. With such high bandwidths possible, the SpaceDataHighway will significantly improve data latency and system reactivity, making truly global near–real–time communication services available for the first time.

The SpaceDataHighway is realised within a Private Public Partnership between ESA and Airbus Defence and Space (www.esa.int/eo; www.esa.int/telecom). As the prime contractor, Airbus Defence and Space builds, owns, operates and co–finances the system infrastructure both on the ground and in space. The technology used by the Laser Communication Terminal has been developed in Germany and supported by the German Aerospace Center DLR based on funding by the Ministry of Economics.

“This is a major step in the proof of the concept. Once operational, the EDRS – SpaceDataHighway will move boundaries of space–based data communication significantly,” said Evert Dudok, Head of the Communications, Intelligence and Security (CIS) Business Line at Airbus Defence and Space. “Besides Copernicus, the SpaceDataHighway will also serve many commercial and military applications that require such unparalleled near–real–time, high bandwidth communication services,” said Mr Dudok. 

Thomas Müller, Head of the Electronics Business Line at Airbus Defence and Space, said: “Our laser communication technology will revolutionize earth observation and satellite communication. We are the first company which masters this new technology to open up an entirely new spectrum of communication.”

A part of the available SpaceDataHighway capacity will be used for data communication on ESA's Earth observation project, Copernicus. The system will therefore enable faster, more efficient transfer of large near–real–time data of the Earth. This capability is also key for security organisations or emergency response organisations. The remaining bandwidth will be commercially available, and is expected to be used for diverse applications. These include Open Ocean Surveillance (OOS) where the SpaceDataHighway will provide much–needed, low latency downlink capabilities, supporting maritime border control and providing support for counter–measures against i.e. piracy and drug smuggling. The system can also provide beyond line of sight control for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and be used to control and re–configure satellites in orbit.

The radar payload of the Sentinel 1 satellite and the Alphasat satellite have been built by Airbus Defence and Space. The first operational SpaceDataHighway LCT payload has been integrated on the EUTELSAT 9B satellite, also built by Airbus Defence and Space, to be launched in 2015. A second dedicated spacecraft will follow in 2016, providing an increased field of coverage and system redundancy. Further extension of the SpaceDataHighway infrastructure with additional geostationary data relay capacities for enhanced global coverage and system capacity is currently under preparation.

Please find more information: http://www.edrs–spacedatahighway.comwww.tesat.de

About Airbus Defence and Space (www.airbusdefenceandspace.com)

Airbus Defence and Space is a division of Airbus Group formed by combining the business activities of Cassidian, Astrium and Airbus Military. The new division is Europe's number one defence and space enterprise, the second largest space business worldwide and among the top ten global defence enterprises. It employs some 40,000 employees generating revenues of approximately EUR 14 billion per year.

Image Available: http://www2.marketwire.com/mw/frame_mw?attachid=2728676

Elections Offer Little Solace to Sri Lanka’s Poor

Sri Lanka is gripped by election fever, but the impoverished majority fears that the presidential race will not ease their financial hardships. Credit: Amantha Perera/IPS

Sri Lanka is gripped by election fever, but the impoverished majority fears that the presidential race will not ease their financial hardships. Credit: Amantha Perera/IPS

By Amantha Perera
COLOMBO, Nov 28 2014 (IPS)

Priyantha Wakvitta is used to seeing his adopted city, Colombo, transform into a landscape of bright sparkling lights and window dressing towards the end of the year.

This year, he says, he is having a double dose of visual stimulation, with publicity materials for the January Presidential Election competing with Christmas décor at every turn.

Though the presidential race could shape up to be a close one, there is no competition over which event will take Colombo by storm: political propaganda is drowning out the festive mood on every street corner.

“[Politicians] are spending millions just to get their faces all over the city, while I am struggling to keep my family fed and my children in school.” — Priyantha Wakvitta, a 50-year-old bread seller in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo
Four days after the elections were announced on Nov. 21, at least 1,800 cutouts of the incumbent president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, had been deployed within the limits of the Colombo Municipality, according to national election monitors with the Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE).

Head of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), Rajapaksa has enjoyed massive support around the country for his role in decimating the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, thus bringing an end to nearly three decades of civil war in 2009.

But as the post-war years revealed themselves as a time of hardship of a very different nature – economic rather than political – his popularity has waned.

His main challenger in the presidential race, Maithripala Sirisena, was until recently the general secretary of Rajapaksa’s own political party, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).

Last week Sirisena stepped out of government and into the role of Rajapaksa’s contender as the common opposition candidate.

The election is turning out to be a keen contest; already there have been eight defections from the ruling coalition’s United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), while the powerful nationalist party, the Jathika Hela Urumaya, once the government’s staunch ally, has declared its opposition to the Rajapaksas.

The poster campaign around the capital city and throughout the country is a bid to win hearts and minds, but the beaming cutouts of politicians have left people like Wakvitta at best annoyed, at worst disgusted.

“They are spending millions just to get their faces all over the city, while I am struggling to keep my family fed and my children in school,” said the 50-year-old father of two, originally from the southern district of Galle, but self employed in the capital for the last decade.

Wakvitta is an enterprising man. He runs his own small bakery in a Colombo suburb and makes a living by distributing bread to households. He used to make a profit of around 30,000 rupees, or roughly 250 dollars, a month. But that figure has been going down steadily over the last year.

He tried to branch out to a small vegetable business earlier this year, but burnt his hands and lost his 100,000-rupee investment, the equivalent of about 700 dollars, no small sum in a country where the average annual income is about 550,000 rupees or 4,100 dollars.

“People don’t have money, they are finding it hard to make ends meet,” Wakvitta said.

Though Sri Lanka has maintained an impressive economic growth rate of 7.5 percent and the Rajapaksa government has a string of high-profile infrastructure projects under its belt, including a new seaport and airport, low-income earners say they are struggling to survive.

The national poverty rate is 6.7 percent but most rural areas report higher figures. In Wakvitta’s native Galle District it is 9.9 percent, in the south-central district of Moneragala it is 20.8 percent and in Rathnapura, capital of the southwestern Sabaragamuwa Province, it is 10.4 percent, according to government data.

The problems the poor face are multi-faceted; while wages have remained static, basic commodities have quietly increased in price. Most significant among them has been the upward trend in the cost of rice, a dietary staple here.

Fueled by an 11-month drought that has caused a loss of almost a third of the planted area, the 2014 rice harvest is expected to be at least 20 percent less than last year’s four million metric tons, and a six-year low.

Rice prices have risen 33 percent according to the World Food Programme (WFP), and vegetable and fish prices have also shown periodic upward movement primarily due to inclement weather.

Token gestures or sound economic policies?

Cognizant of the hardships faced by the Sri Lankan masses, political parties across the spectrum frequently use the election run-up to promise the earth to the average voter – from subsidies to assistance packages – pledging to make life easier for those who form the majority of the electorate.

But Ajith Dissanayake, who is from the southern Galle District and makes a living from paddy cultivation, says that token gestures will not do.

“Election handouts will not work, there needs to be some kind of concerted plan to help the poor,” he told IPS.

In the northern regions of the country, where the population is still trying to shake off the residual nightmare of nearly 30 years of civil war, the situation is even worse.

The conflict ended in May 2009, and since then the government has injected over three billion dollars into the reconstruction effort in the Northern Province, largely for major infrastructure projects.

But the region is mired in abject poverty. The Mullaithivu District, which witnessed the last bloody battles in the protracted conflict between the Sri Lankan armed forces and the LTTE over five years ago, is the poorest in the nation, with a poverty ratio of 28.3 percent.

The adjoining Kilinochchi District has a recorded poverty headcount of 12.7 percent.

“It is very difficult, it is like we are fighting another conflict: this time with poverty,” said Thiyagarasa Chandirakumar, a 38-year-old disabled father of two from Oddusuddan, a small village located deep inside Mullaithivu.

He told IPS that despite new electrification programmes, many in his village are still waiting for the supply to light up their homes.

“Most of us don’t have the money to get new connections, we don’t even have money sometimes to take a bus,” explained Chandirakumar, who is confined to a wheelchair due to a wartime injury.

Both Wakvitta and Chandirakumar have simple requests from the candidates standing for the highest office in the country: “Make sure our lives are better off than they were before,” Wakvitta said.

That request, however, is unlikely to be realised any time soon. News of the snap election, coupled with the surprise announcement this past week of a common opposition candidate, has thrown the country into a period of uncertainly, at least in the short term.

Two days after elections were announced, the Colombo Stock Market took a nose-dive, with the All Share Price Index falling by 2.3 percent on Monday, Nov. 24 – the worst slide since August 2013.

Analysts say that investors are likely to hold off for the time being, with long-term policy measures also taking a back seat to what promises to be a fierce contest.

“Investors – whether local or foreign – like certainty,” Anushka Wijesinha, an economist with the national think-tank the Institute for Policy Studies, told IPS.

“Policy and political certainty have been established fairly well over the last few years and any disruption to this would no doubt be viewed negatively by investors. So, the recent political developments will be watched closely,” he added.

Wijesinha also said that elections should be more about long term policies than about handouts aimed at wining votes.

“This calls for a shift from the heavy focus on subsidies, welfare payments, and other generous transfers for rural populations – which may help alleviate poverty in the short term – to improving skills, productivity and access to new economic opportunities, which help raise living standards on a more sustained basis,” he said.

Despite the end of the war ushering in renewed hopes of development, income disparities have stubbornly persisted. According to government data, the country’s richest 20 percent still enjoy close to half of the nation’s income, while the poorest 20 percent only share five percent of national wealth among them.

For those like Wakvitta and Chandirakumar, the future looks bleak, with or without elections. Both know for sure that in the short term nothing much will change for the better.

“Hopefully whoever becomes the next president will take the bold steps needed to help people like me,” Wakvitta said as he sped away on his motorbike, looking for his next customer.

Edited by Kanya D’Almeida

Led by INTERPOL, U.N. Tracks Environmental Criminals

A carpenter organises a load of mahogany, precious wood seized by the authorities in Cuba's Ciénaga de Zapata wetlands. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

A carpenter organises a load of mahogany, precious wood seized by the authorities in Cuba’s Ciénaga de Zapata wetlands. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Nov 28 2014 (IPS)

A coalition of international organisations, led by INTERPOL and backed by the United Nations, is pursuing a growing new brand of criminals – primarily accused of serious environmental crimes – who have mostly escaped the long arm of the law.

Described as a worldwide operation, it is the first of its kind targeting individuals wanted for a wide range of crimes, including logging, poaching and trafficking in animals declared endangered species.

Widespread poaching, particularly in central Africa, has resulted in the loss of at least 60 percent of elephants in that region during the last decade.

Last week, INTERPOL, the world’s largest international police organisation, released photographs of nine fugitives charged with these crimes – and who are on the run.

The individuals targeted include, among others, Feisal Mohamed Ali, alleged to be the leader of an ivory smuggling ring in Kenya, according to the U.N. Daily News.

The international coalition is seeking help from the public for information that could help track down the nine suspects whose cases have been singled out for the initial phase of the investigations.

Rob Parry-Jones, manager of international policy at World Wildlife Fund (WWF), told IPS, “It sends a strong message that environmental crime is not merely an animal being illegally shot here or a tree illegally felled there. Environmental crime is highly organised crime and can have devastating impacts.”

He said INTERPOL’s response is something that WWF has wanted for some time. “It is also something that enforcement agencies have wanted for some time.”

The political platform and enabling environment for INTERPOL and other institutions to undertake the necessary research, and to be in a position to release such findings, is a welcome advance from a few years back when WWF and TRAFFIC first started their campaign to raise the political profile of wildlife crime, Parry-Jones said.

TRAFFIC (Trade Records Analysis of Flora and Fauna in Commerce) is a wildlife trade monitoring network supported by WWF.

Code-named INFRA-Terra (International Fugitive Round Up and Arrest), the global operation is supported by the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) – which is a collaborative effort of the Secretariat of the 1975 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), along with INTERPOL, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Bank and the World Customs Organisation.

In a press statement last week, Ben Janse van Rensburg, chief of enforcement support for CITES, said, “This first operation represents a big step forward against wildlife criminal networks.”

He said countries are increasingly treating wildlife crime as a serious offence, and “we will leave no stone unturned to locate and arrest these criminals to ensure they are brought to justice.”

Nathalie Frey, deputy political director at Greenpeace International, told IPS her organisation strongly supports the INTERPOL initiative to strengthen law enforcement against environmental crimes.

“Whilst INTERPOL has been looking more closely into environmental crimes for a number of years, this is the first time we have seen them reach out to the public appealing for further information and leads,” she said.

By giving environmental criminals a name and a face, she said, “it shows that law enforcement agencies are finally starting to take crimes such as illegal logging and fishing as seriously as murder or theft.”

WWF’s Parry-Jones told IPS that addressing environmental crimes effectively across international borders requires legal frameworks that can talk with each other.

Dual criminality where crimes of this scale are recognised in countries’ legal frameworks as serious crimes — a penalty of four-plus year’s imprisonment — brings the crimes within the scope of the U.N. Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC), enabling international law enforcement cooperation and mutual legal assistance, he said.

The nature of the crimes illustrates the links with other forms of transnational crime, including people trafficking and arms smuggling, and reinforces the argument over the past few years, both by WWF and TRAFFIC, that environmental crime is a cross-sectoral issue and a serious crime, he added.

Greenpeace’s Frey told IPS environmental crime is “big business”, and at an estimated 70-213 billion dollars per year, the earnings are almost on a par with other criminal activities such as drugs and arms trafficking. That estimate includes logging, poaching and trafficking of a wide range of animals, illegal fisheries, illegal mining and dumping of toxic waste.

Behind these perpetrators, she pointed out, are large networks of criminal activities, with corruption often permeating the whole supply chain of valuable commodities such as timber or fish.

Illegal logging, for example, is rife in many timber-producing countries, and is one of the main culprits for wiping out vast areas of forest that are often home to endangered species.

“Consumer markets are still awash with illegal wood despite regulations to ban the trade,” Frey said.

This, she said, is reflected in the staggering figures released by INTERPOL that illegal logging accounts for 50-90 percent of forestry in key tropical producer countries.

“Whilst we strongly welcome INTERPOL’s initiative to track down offenders and crack down on corruption it is very important that CITES [the U.N. convention to regulate international trade in endangered species] takes much greater action to encourage its parties to step up enforcement and controls,” Frey said.

She singled out the example of Afrormosia, a valuable tropical hardwood found in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

This species is under threat and has been listed as requiring special trade regulation under CITES, yet a blind eye continues to be turned to many cases of illegal trade.

Industrial loggers have a free pass to harvest Afrormosia in the country, despite illegal logging estimated to be almost 90 percent, she said.

CITES is supposed to verify legality, yet hundreds of CITES permits were unaccounted for. Traceability in the country is also non-existent, Frey added.

By allowing the continued trade of species that have been illegally harvested, CITES fails to protect species from extinction, and its lack of controls and weaknesses only serve to fuel environmental crimes, she declared.

According to the U.N. Daily News, wildlife crime has become a serious threat to the security, political stability, economy, natural resources and cultural heritage of many countries.

The extent of the response required to effectively address the threat is often beyond the sole remit of environmental or wildlife law enforcement agencies, or even of one country or region alone, it said.

Last June, the joint U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP)-INTERPOL Environmental Crime Crisis report, pointed to an increased awareness of, and response to, the growing global threat.

It called for concerted action aimed at strengthening action against the organised criminal networks profiting from the trade.

According to the report, one terrorist group operating in East Africa is estimated to make between 38 and 56 million dollars per year from the illegal trade in charcoal.

“Wildlife and forest crime also play a serious role in threat finance to organized crime and non-State armed groups, including terrorist organizations,” it said.

Ivory provides income to militia groups in the DRC and the Central African Republic. And it also provides funds to gangs operating in Sudan, Chad and Niger.

Last week, Uganda complained the loss of about 3,000 pounds of ivory from the vaults of its state-run wildlife protection agency.

Edited by Kitty Stapp

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@aol.com

Indigenous Community Beats Drought and Malnutrition in Honduras

The brand-new kitchen that Estanisla Reyes and her husband built working 15 days from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM. The new ecological stoves cook the food with which the Tolupan indigenous community of Pueblo Nuevo, in northern Honduras, put an end to child malnutrition in just two years. Credit: Thelma Mejía/IPS

The brand-new kitchen that Estanisla Reyes and her husband built working 15 days from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM. The new ecological stoves cook the food with which the Tolupan indigenous community of Pueblo Nuevo, in northern Honduras, put an end to child malnutrition in just two years. Credit: Thelma Mejía/IPS

By Thelma Mejía
PUEBLO NUEVO, Honduras , Nov 27 2014 (IPS)

In the heart of the Pijol mountains in the northern Honduran province of Yoro, the Tolupan indigenous community of Pueblo Nuevo has a lot to celebrate: famine is no longer a problem for them, and their youngest children were rescued from the grip of child malnutrition.

The Tolupan indigenous people in Pueblo Nuevo are no longer suffering from the drought that hit much of the country this year, severely affecting the production of staple crops like beans and maize, as a result of climate change and the global El Niño weather phenomenon.

For the last two years, the Tolupan of Pueblo Nuevo have had food reserves that they store in a community warehouse. The “black Junes” are a thing of the past, the villagers told this IPS reporter who spent a day with them.

“From June to August, things were always really hard, we didn’t have enough food, we had to eat roots. It was a time of subsistence, we always said: black June is on its way,” said the leader of the tribe, 27-year-old Tomás Cruz, a schoolteacher.“And how could we not be malnourished if we weren’t living well, if we didn’t work the land the way we should have? Our houses full of mud and garbage – that hurt our health, but now we understand. My little girl is healthy now, say the doctors, who used to scold us for not taking good care of them but who now congratulate us.” — Estanisla Reyes

“But today we can smile and say: black June is gone. Now we have food for our children, who had serious malnutrition problems here because there wasn’t enough food,” he added.

The transformation was brought about with the help of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS), with funding from Canada. The programme employs proven technologies such as improved crop varieties and low-cost irrigation and drainage systems to bolster food security and nutrition in critical areas.

An assessment by the SPFS identified serious malnutrition problems in 73 of Honduras’ 298 municipalities.

Pueblo Nuevo and six other Tolupan communities in the municipality of Victoria in Yoro were among the villages with severe nutritional and food security problems.

In the seven tribes, as the Tolupan refer to their settlements, 217 cases of malnutrition were detected among children under five. The other six communities are El Comunal, San Juancito, Piedra Blanca, Guanchías, El Portillo and Buenos Aires.

But Pueblo Nuevo was the model community, because in two years it managed to eliminate malnutrition among its children. Pueblo Nuevo, home to 750 people, is a new settlement created after Hurricane Mitch devastated the country in 1998, claiming 20,000 lives and causing severe damage to infrastructure and the economy.

According to official figures, one out of four children under five in Honduras suffers from chronic malnutrition, equivalent to 240,000 of the over 800,000 children under five in this country of 8.4 million people.

The population of the country is 90 percent mestizo or mixed-race, two percent white, three percent Garifuna and six percent indigenous, according to official statistics.

Becoming a model community

César Alfaro, the SPFS-FAO expert working in the area, told IPS that Pueblo Nuevo’s experience was a success because the tribe understood that they had to change their way of life, implementing good practices in cropping, hygiene and food security.

The villagers, for their part, said Alfaro’s support was key to the community’s transformation.

“When we got here [to Pueblo Nuevo] nobody wanted to come,” Alfaro said. “The teachers said they couldn’t hold a celebration because there was manure everywhere. The indigenous villagers lived in chaos, they slept with the livestock in the middle of all the filth.”

But Pueblo Nuevo is now a clean village, the locals have improved their wattle- and-daub huts, the walls are shiny and white, they divided their living spaces with the animals on one side and the kitchen with ecological stoves on the other, and they even have separate bedrooms.

Located 200 km from the capital, Tegucigalpa, the village is an example of teamwork. Each indigenous hut now has a family garden, a chicken coop, and clean water, purified at a treatment plant run by the community.

The malnourished children were put on good diets, under close medical supervision, and their parents now have basic knowledge and awareness about food, nutrition and the environment, which they are proud to talk about.

One of the mothers, Estanisla Reyes, 37, told IPS that her five-year-old daughter Angeline Nicole, the youngest of her three children, had malnutrition problems in the past.

“And how could we not be malnourished if we weren’t living well, if we didn’t work the land the way we should have? Our houses full of mud and garbage – that hurt our health, but now we understand. My little girl is healthy now, say the doctors, who used to scold us for not taking good care of them but who now congratulate us,” she said, smiling.

She and her husband built the walls of their new kitchen, which forms part of the house, unlike their old kitchen, working 12 hours a day for 15 days. “My husband made the mix, and I brought the water, and polished the walls – many families worked like that,” she said proudly.

Another mother, Adela Maradiaga, said “our lives changed. I came in as a volunteer because I’m from another tribe. I was surprised when I found out that my daughter was also malnourished. Then the Pueblo Nuevo tribe accepted me, and with the food we grow in our garden, our children are nourished and we are too.” She added that her children no longer have stomach troubles or a cough.

In Pueblo Nuevo they are also proud that they don’t have to hire themselves out to work, or sell their livestock to ranchers or merchants in the area to eat. “We used to pawn our things, but now we sell them maize, beans, fruit and avocados,” said Narciso “Chicho” Garay.

The tribe no longer uses the slash-and-burn technique to clear the land, and they now use organic fertiliser and recycle their garbage. They have a community savings fund where they deposit part of their earnings, which has made it possible to have clean drinking water and provisions.

They managed to improve the yield per hectare of beans from 600 to 1,800 kg, and of maize from 900 to 3,000 kg, and now they know that a family of six needs 2,400 to 2,800 kg of maize a year, for example.

Sandro Martínez, the mayor of Victoria, is one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the changes in Pueblo Nuevo, because he was born and grew up near the Tolupan indigenous people and did not hesitate to ask FAO to bring its food security programme to the native villages.

“A famine in those villages in 2010 prompted me to look for help, and we found it. It wasn’t easy to start working with the Tolupan community; the success lies in respecting their way of government represented by the leader of the tribe, as well as their cosmovision. Now they say they’re rich because they no longer have to work for a boss,” he told IPS.

There are seven indigenous groups in Honduras: the Lenca, Pech, Tolupan, Chorti, Tawahka and Misquito, besides the Garífunas, who are the descendants of slaves intermixed with native populations. The Tolupan number 18,000 divided into 31 tribes, governed by a chief who leads a council that makes the decisions.

Edited by Estrella Gutiérrez/Translated by Stephanie Wildes

Triple Board Certified Aesthetic Plastic Surgeon Dr. Raffi Hovsepian of Beverly Hills Named One of the “Most Popular Plastic Surgeons At Hollywood” on Ealuxe.com

LOS ANGELES, CA—(Marketwired – Nov 26, 2014) – Internationally accredited celebrity, aesthetic, plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Raffi Hovsepian of Beverly Hills has recently received the title of one of the “Most Popular Plastic Surgeons At Hollywood” by Ealuxe online magazine! The website details his education and training as one of the leading cosmetic surgeons in the United States, backing this with his certifications by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, American Board of Surgery and the European Board of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery.

This latest accolade follows hot on the heels of Dr. Raffi Hovsepian's 7th consecutive Patient's Choice Award by Vitals.com, which he was honored with in early November 2014. The Patient's Choice Award is only given to an elite few drawn from the top 3% of the nation's 870,000 active physicians.

“Thank you for this recognition,” Dr. Hovsepian remarked. “I love what I do and believe that passion is what has driven me to do my best. I encourage everyone to find what makes you happy and pursue it with every fibre of your being.”

Dr. Hovsepian has previously been awarded the title of America's Top Plastic Surgeon 4 consecutive times between 2011 – 2014 by the Consumer's Research Council of America.

Follow Dr. Raffi Hovsepian on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

For more information or to interview Dr. Raffi Hovsepian, contact Eileen Koch of EKC, a full service Branding, Marketing and PR firm at 310.441.1000 or email Eileen@EKCPR.com. Visit www.EKCPR.com.

Image Available: http://www2.marketwire.com/mw/frame_mw?attachid=2728328

Dr. Suzanne Levine Releases Guide to Proper Foot Care

NEW YORK, NY—(Marketwired – Nov 26, 2014) – Award–winning celebrity podiatrist Dr. Suzanne Levine today announced a new book release, My Feet Are Killing Me. This book is the latest for Dr. Levine, who has published eight books addressing podiatric conditions and treatments. Dr. Levine is the inventor of multiple techniques and products to help patients walk through life beautifully and pain free.

In My Feet Are Killing Me, Dr. Levine presents a comprehensive guide to proper foot care, including the following:

  • Home remedies and the latest medical techniques.
  • Lasers to cure fungal nails, erase spider veins, and decrease scarring.
  • Infrared devices to alleviate pain and speed healing.
  • Botox to eliminate excess sweating.
  • Pictures of celebrities and their suffering feet.
  • Sample exercises and illustrations to strengthen your feet.

Using this guide, patients can learn more about foot conditions and treatments, as well as discovering effective home remedies and exercises they can perform to strengthen their feet and avoid injury.

“At the Institute Beauté, we are committed to pampering our patients with the most innovative and effective foot procedures,” said Dr. Suzanne Levine, owner of the Institute Beauté and celebrity podiatrist. “With this book, our goal is to provide patients with the knowledge to help them take control of their feet, so they no longer have to suffer from foot pain.”

To learn more about Dr. Levine and the Institute Beauté, visit InstituteBeaute.com and MyFeetAreKillingMe.com.

About Dr. Suzanne Levine

Dr. Suzanne Levine is a board–certified podiatric surgeon based in New York City. She has been named one of America's top podiatrists by the Consumers' Research Council of America and is among the most internationally acclaimed podiatrists. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Levine has written multiple books and revolutionized podiatric surgery at her Park Avenue practice. She is a frequent guest in magazines, newspapers, and television, appearing on shows such as Today, The View, Oprah, 20/20, The Dr. Oz Show, and The Doctors.

Image Available: http://www2.marketwire.com/mw/frame_mw?attachid=2728165