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Amnesty International Concerned With The Detention Of Palestinian Circus Performer

Help Amnesty International Change Repressive Abortion Law In El Salvador

On December 14th last year, Mohammed Faisal Abu Sakha left his parents house to go to work at the Palestinian Circus School, however he never reached his destination. Mohammad was stopped at a checkpoint by Israeli soldiers who took him to a detention centre where he has been held ever since. He is now believed to be held in a prison in Northern Israel despite never having been charged with a crime. His family has not been allowed to visit him and he has been given a six month detention order by the Israeli military which essentially means they can hold Mohammed indefinitely without charge.

It is understood that the order to detain Mohammed was reviewed by a military judge on January 5th however no decision was made. On the day of the review an Al-Jazeera report quoted a spokesperson for the Israeli military as saying that the reason for detaining Mohammed was that he posed a danger to the region’s security. No further information was provided because according to the Israeli military the case details are confidential. The Israeli military routinely detains people and denies them the right to defend themselves or challenge the legality of the detention because the authorities refuse to provide any evidence against the detainee either to the person being detained or their lawyers.

Dedicated to the circus

The Palestinian Circus School has said that Mohammed poses no security risk and his only crime is to make children happy. Mohammed started his studies at the school back in 2007. The Israeli military arrested him when he was 17 and held him for one month, accusing him of throwing stones at a military jeep when he was aged between 12 and 14. Upon his release he told his school mates that the military judge said he would never go back to the circus. He eventually became a circus performer in 2011 and trained children in a variety of acts. Mohammed’s specialty is teaching children with learning disabilities.

About Administrative detention

Administrative detention was meant to be used only in exceptional circumstances when the people detained were believed to pose and imminent threat. The measure has been used for years now by the Israeli military as a method of avoiding the criminal justice system and detaining individuals who should never have been arrested. The use of administrative detention has expanded dramatically since October 2015. As many as 580 Palestinians were being held by the end of 2015. Amnesty International believes that some of those people being held by the state of Israel are prisoners of conscience and are being detained purely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and association.

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WWF Applauds Paris Climate Deal But Says More Must Be Done

WWF Applauds Paris Climate Deal But Says More Must Be Done

At the end of last year, something truly incredible happened. As many as 190 countries agreed to a ground breaking deal to act against climate change.  The countries of the world decided that it was important that global temperature rises should be kept to well below 2°C and in fact it is important that the temperature rise should be below 1.5°C.  Currently when we add up all the commitments made by individual countries to reduce emissions, we are still not quite at the target but there are plenty of reasons why we should celebrate the agreement.

  • The countries that signed the agreement have promised to fight against climate change by limiting greenhouse gas emissions. This means that fossil fuels will start to be phased out as the world migrates to renewable energy and protects its forests.
  • Over time the countries that participate will have to strengthen their promises and this means doing so in advance of 2020 when the agreement comes in to effect. In fact it is critical they do so if we are to keep the rise in temperature below 2°C.
  • The agreement means that developing countries that are vulnerable to climate change will get the support they need.

So what now?

Make no mistake COP21 was a huge step in the fight to protect our planet from being ravaged by climate change. Now we have finished with negotiating a deal, WWF says it is time for action by all governments that participated in the deal. In many ways the UK is leading the way with its world leading Climate Change Act which made it the first country to commit to phasing out coal power. Whilst all of that is good news there is still much more to be done.

WWF hopes to see that there is real certainty that the UK and the rest of the world is heading towards a future that is based on renewable energy. It is possible that by 2050 the world will be able to derive 100 per cent of its energy requirements from renewable sources but in order to so we will need ambitious policy from our governments to get us there.

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Amnesty International Urges EU Member States To Ban The Trade Of Instruments Of Torture

Help Amnesty International Change Repressive Abortion Law In El Salvador

Electric shock batons, neck shackles, leg irons and thumb screws are instruments of torture you would think have been left in the dustbin of history, however that has not been the case and they are still being used today in military barracks, torture chambers and police stations all over the world. Currently the only world region to have specific laws which regulate the trade in equipment which can be used for torture is the European Union (EU). However the laws are not completely full proof and there are some loopholes which allow companies to advertise devices that have been devised for torture to known human rights abusers outside the EU. Amnesty International is calling for the law to be tightened so the EU is not complicit in equipping countries and organisations which torture people.

Advertised in the UK

There are plenty of items such as spiked batons that are totally banned in the European Union because it is obvious what their intended use is, however companies that are based outside of the EU still have the ability to market torture equipment within the EU. In the UK there have been a number of international arms fairs where equipment that is illegal because its primary use is for torture is still being advertised. Despite the government promising to crack down on such nefarious practices, no company till date has been prosecuted for selling equipment used for torture at UK arms fairs. Companies from the EU also have the right to trade in such equipment so long as the merchandise does not physically enter the region. Oliver Sprague of Amnesty International says the organisation is keen to see the end of the UK playing any sort of role in this dirty business.

A step forward

At present there is a great opportunity to close the loopholes once and for all as the EU undertakes a review of the law that prohibits the trade of items used in either the death penalty or for torture. So far as many as 30,000 people have signed Amnesty International’s petition urging the EU to fix the law that enables companies and people to profit from torture. In October last year the law was amended by a huge majority of 630 for and 30 against and received support from all the main political groups. What is now needed is for individual EU members to do that same and ensure they also pass laws to which will mean that the EU is never complicit in the sale of torture items.

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Push Yourself With The 2016 Rob Roy Challenge

Rob Roy

It’s a brand new year and if you are seeking a new challenge and need some motivation to get fit then there is no better way to subscribe for a fitness and stamina test in the wilderness of Scotland. There are some major benefits such as the spectacular scenery which you will get to enjoy along the way. There are plenty of route options when you sign up for the Martin Currie Rob Roy Challenge which is the ideal way to take a fitness test as well as see some of the finest countryside in Scotland whilst also raising funds for a very worthy cause.

Mercy Ships

This year the leading charity partner for the Martin Currie Rob Roy Challenge is Mercy Ships. The event itself is the most successful fund raising event in Scotland and is now 11 years old. Mercy Ships is an international aid agency that runs the largest civilian hospital ship in the world called the Africa Mercy. The ship offers free healthcare to people who live in developing countries.

Battling the Scottish wilderness

For the last eleven years the challenge has given the opportunity to 5,500 individuals to do battle with the Scottish wilderness by undertaking a hike, run or cycle along a route that has raised nearly £3million for a wide variety of charities since the event was first held. There are a variety of entry options which can be undertaken either as a group of individually. These include

  • Schiehallion’s Shadow -16 mile walk and a 56 mile cycle
  • Big Red -16 mile walk and a 35 mile cycle
  • MacGregor’s Leap -16 mile walk and a 15 mile cycle
  • Rob Roy Ramble – 16 mile walk

Last year Jason Wyatt participated in the 2015 Rob Roy Challenge as part of a ten person team that came from car maker Renault. Looking back on the experience and challenge of training and participating with his colleagues Mr. Wyatt said:

 “The 2015 Rob Roy Challenge was promoted by our HR Department at Renault as an ideal opportunity to form a team, raise fitness and much needed funds for deserving charities.  We assembled a team of ten mixed ability runners and cyclists, and training began in earnest in January last year. We quickly found how our shared goal of completing the Rob Roy Challenge as a group forged stronger friendships between colleagues.

“Unsurprisingly competitiveness came in to play and we spurred each other on in both training and fund raising!  In the end we crossed the finish line as one group in perfect blue skies and sunshine knowing we had raised almost £8,000 for the Rob Roy charities including Mercy Ships. It was a fantastic event and an experience we’d strongly recommend to both corporate groups and individuals looking for a challenge.

“We were never in doubt of the excellent work Mercy Ships carries out, but the more we learnt about what they did, the clearer it was that their mission is of super human scale. Reading the often heart-rending stories of the patients they treat meant we were not just raising money, we were literally doing our bit to put the smile back on people’s faces. We were all very proud to take part in the Rob Roy Challenge and raise money for this extraordinary charity.”

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Greenpeace Extremely Disappointed By The Vote To Allow Fracking In UK’s Protected Areas

Greenpeace Extremely Disappointed By The Vote To Allow Fracking In UK’s Protected Areas

Greenpeace says it is very bad news that UK MP’s have voted to allow fracking to take place under British national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. The vote was contentious and did face opposition however those in favour won by a margin of 37 votes. This means if just 5 per cent of MP’s had decided against the motion things could have been very different.

Protected areas will be polluted

What the vote essentially means is that previously protected areas such as national parks, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), World Heritage Sites and Groundwater Protection Zones could end up becoming surrounded by drilling rigs as companies seek to extract gas from underneath by drilling horizontally.

There should be more protection not less

Some of the areas at risk include the Bowland Forest, the South Downs, the Peak District and the North Yorkshire Moors. Fracking poses a number of risks that have been well documented but there are extremely good reasons why previously protected areas deserve more protection not less. In many cases they are the homes of endangered wildlife or consist of an ecosystem that is extremely fragile. When people visit these areas they don’t expect to hear noise from compressors or see lots of heavy goods vehicles driving by. The activity takes place 24 hours a day 7 days a week and will make industrial scale noise.

Fracking incompatible with fighting against climate change

The result of the vote is even more surprising given the fact it comes not long after a historic climate agreement was reached in Paris. The agreement was celebrated globally and is seen as a clear signal that the fossil fuel era is going to come to an end sooner rather later. If the UK holds up its end of the climate agreement then the idea of supporting fracking in the UK is completely incompatible.

End of the fossil fuel era

Greenpeace is shocked that the conservative government wants to introduce fracking in the UK instead of focusing on safe, cheap and clean energy. It is incredibly distressing that the government is prepared to water down existing regulation that currently protects some of the most ecologically important areas in the country. There is however some hope because there is a ground swell of anti fracking support which is growing stronger than ever. There are hundreds of groups across the UK working to oppose the vote.

It is important to maintain the fight

Whilst the vote is indeed a blow, it is increasingly obvious that the fossil fuel industry days are numbered. We cannot be quite sure how many years we will continue to depend on fossil fuels, however it is critical that people stay determined and groups such as Greenpeace maintain the pressure.

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Help WWF Advocate For Marine Protected Areas In The Southern Ocean

WWF Applauds Paris Climate Deal But Says More Must Be Done

WWF is supporting scientists working in the polar region who are studying Adélie penguins in East Antarctica. The object of the exercise is to identify the areas of the Southern Ocean which act as important feeding grounds for the species. The researchers also hope to predict how the species might adapt to climate change. The results of the study will be used as evidence to support the case for a large scale Marine Protected Area of the coast of East Antarctica.

Data suggests some important trends

So far the study has collected three years of tracking data and Dr. Yan Ropert-Coudert who heads up the research project says there are some important trends that are emerging.  Female Adélie penguins were tagged with GPS tracking devices whilst they were incubating their eggs. The following results were found. During the 2013/2014 austral summer, the breeding effort suffered from catastrophic failure with none of the chicks surviving from as many as 30,000 breeding pairs. There were a couple of factors responsible:


  • During the beginning of the breeding season, the sea ice extent was unusually high.
  • There were multiple days of rain which is extremely rare in what is one of the driest places on Earth (Antarctica is officially classified as a polar desert)


When penguins first hatch, their feathers are not yet waterproof so the unusual rainfall led them to die from hypothermia. The high extent of the sea ice meant that adult penguins were forced to travel much further to forage in the open sea. In some cases the distance was as much as 453 km. In previous seasons penguins were able to feed closer to shore and travelled just 335 km.

WWF making an important contribution

WWF is making an important contribution to conservation efforts whilst Dr. Ropert-Coudert and his team are enabling us to gain a better understanding of penguins and their habitat. WWF will continue to advocate for a network of Marine Protected Areas around the Southern Ocean to ensure that Adélie penguins in East Antarctica have their homes protected.

How can you help?

You can help WWF secure the future for this wonderful species. All you need to do is make a small donation to WWF’s ‘Ends of the Earth’ campaign and this will help the organisation ensure these amazing wild places are protected for both the Adelie penguin and other species that live there.

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Greenpeace Optimistic A Climate Change Agreement Will Be Reached

Greenpeace Extremely Disappointed By The Vote To Allow Fracking In UK’s Protected Areas

The most important meeting to address climate change COP21 is finally taking place. Leaders from all over the world converged in Pairs where they have the opportunity to come together and devise a plan that will help us mitigate the worst effects of climate change. If you turned your televisions on at the end of November you would most certainly have heard news reporters mention COP21. The reason for that is hundreds of thousands of people all over the world have demonstrated to leaders and the media that we cannot afford to ignore the climate any more.

Important consequences

What is happening in Paris will have important ramifications for the Arctic, our oceans and forests. All species and humans the world over will feel the consequences. This is not the first time world leaders have had the opportunity to take firm action for our planet and its people. For many communities all over the world, the consequences of climate change are a daily reality and not some far off nightmare. Our failure to act has already led to lives being lost.

The message hopefully has been received

It is with those people that are already been suffering from the effects of climate change that many of us including Greenpeace marched in the hopes that a solid agreement would be reached. Something extraordinary happened at the end of November; the largest ever climate change march ever took place. As many as 720,000 people participated from 175 countries and it is hoped that world leaders received the message loud and clear. The time for doing nothing has finished, the world is watching and a deal is a necessary.

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Help Save The Children And UNICEF By Purchasing A Soft Toy From IKEA

Help Save The Children And UNICEF By Purchasing A Soft Toy From IKEA

Furniture retailer IKEA is conducting its annual Soft Toys for Education Campaign until 19th December from which proceeds from the sale of soft toys will go towards helping fund educational projects all over the world run by Save the Children or UNICEF. Thousands of people entered a competition to have the once in a lifetime opportunity to have their doodles recreated as a limited edition toy which will be sold globally. Ten winners were picked one of whom was Olivia Wildman from Essex who drew a fluffy skunk called Stinky. Stinky joins a wide selection of other toys including a scary dinosaur and tiger amongst others.

More than 80 toys to choose from

The campaign IKEA is running is very simple, for every soft toy, and other children’s item such as books, card games or dressing up clothes sold up to 19th December 2015, the company will donate €1 to support educational programmes operated by UNICEF and Save the Children around the world. There are over 80 toys to choose from and prices start from as low as £1 which means it couldn’t be any easier to help out a child this winter.

The money raised does a lot of good

This year the campaign is hoping to raise €700,000 in the UK and Ireland to add to a combined €77 million that has been raised since the campaign began in 2003. The money raised so far has benefited over 11 million children through 99 projects in 46 different countries. €100,000 is enough to enable Save the Children to provide 35 schools in the Philippines for kids with disabilities gain access to quality and accessible education. With the same amount of money, UNICEF would be able to construct four fully equipped pre-schools in Madagascar which have access to clean water and toilet facilities.

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Join Greenpeace In Its March For Strong Climate Change Action

Greenpeace Extremely Disappointed By The Vote To Allow Fracking In UK’s Protected Areas

World leaders will be gathering in Paris this December for COP 21 which is a UN sponsored conference to address climate change. As political leaders begin to negotiate how best to deal with climate change, ordinary people will also be gathering around the world to make their voices are heard on this important issue. You can join Greenpeace on Sunday the 29th November in London for a march to express your views.

Show David Cameron we care

The conference will see leaders from nearly 200 countries come together to hopefully produce a significant agreement to tackle climate change. While not everyone can make it to Paris, demonstrations will be taking place all over the world, including in the UK. Greenpeace will be showing its solidarity with other organisations and individuals across the UK to express to Prime Minister David Cameron that we all want strong action on climate change.

Many organisations joining the march

The idea is to ensure that when Mr. Cameron does sit down to negotiate in Paris he has the image of thousands of people marching through London’s streets for the climate. Greenpeace will be participating in the People’s March for Climate Justice and Jobs in London along with a variety of organisations and is inviting your to come along too.

Save the polar bear

Regardless of whether this is your first demonstration or 100th, this is an opportunity to come together with fellow supporters of Greenpeace and take a stand for strong and effective climate change action. Greenpeace will be taking part in the main event with the ‘March of the Polar Bears’ which will include a carnival filled with puppets music and paw prints. The polar bear is the symbol of climate change and a species we would all love to protect.

This year is important

In 2014 hundreds of thousands of people took part in marches across major cities as part of the People’s Climate March. This year there is added significance because the demonstration takes place on the eve of crucial climate change talks so Greenpeace needs as many people as possible to come together and tell political leaders we care.

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Greenpeace Says UK Can Completely Depend On Renewable Energy By 2030

Greenpeace Extremely Disappointed By The Vote To Allow Fracking In UK’s Protected Areas

The question often asked is whether the UK has the ability to run on renewable energy and how long it would take to achieve that goal. Greenpeace is often asked those questions and has now gone a long way towards answering them.

No need for nuclear energy

The NGO has just released an new independent report from energy systems analysts Demand Energy Equality which suggests that by the year 2030 the UK will have the ability to mainly use clean renewable power. This means it will be possible to keep the lights on without the need for new nuclear power plants. The research was commissioned by Greenpeace and makes use of 11 years of real weather data for the first time to model electricity demand and supply from renewable energy on an hour by hour basis.

New technology makes the goal achievable

Whilst the plan maybe ambitious, it is achievable. The model proposed is viable on an economic basis if the government decides it will support a major expansion of onshore and offshore wind and solar farms. The plan also envisages the introduction of new technology such as ‘smart fridges’ which will use less energy during peak hours. There will be better technology with regards to storage of electricity, electric cars, tidal power and in general energy efficiency.

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