Global Goals

Press Freedom Day



July 9, 2020

American Express, Discover, Mastercard and Visa to Power Global Expansion of Simple, Consistent Digital Checkout Experience.

American Express, Discover, Mastercard, Visa

New York, NY; Riverwoods, ILL; Purchase, NY; San Francisco, CA | July 08, 2020 — E-commerce has reached new heights worldwide. As more consumers are going online to make secure, touch-free purchases across various merchants and platforms. Now, it’s more important than ever that the online checkout experience is seamless and consistent across all types of digital channels and cards.

Today, American Express, Discover, Mastercard, and Visa announced they are beginning technical preparations for global expansion of the Click to Pay online checkout in additional geographies. That includes Australia, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom, with others to follow.

Click to Pay aims to make the online checkout secure and straightforward for consumers across the web and mobile sites, mobile apps, and connected devices by replacing time-consuming key entry of personal account numbers and information. The advanced digital checkout solution mirrors the consistent, interoperable checkout experience in physical stores - with one terminal to accept all card payments. Consistent with the goal of interoperability, the vision for the future is that Click to Pay will provide consumers a streamlined experience across any digital checkout environment or network.

American Express, Discover, Mastercard, and Visa announced the universal digital checkout solution in the United States in October 2019. Since then, more than 10,000 merchants have been enabling their customers with the option to click to pay including Cinemark, Crate & Barrel, Expedia, Fresh Direct, Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts, Joseph A. Bank, the marketplace division of Rakuten U.S., Saks Fifth Avenue and, among others.

For merchants, this checkout solution can help reduce friction during the process of selling goods and services. Merchants can now access a single virtual terminal for multiple card brands, meaning a more straightforward and smoother overall digital checkout experience for consumers.

“Right now, more than ever, demand for fresh food and grocery delivery is at an all-time high, with many new customers trying FreshDirect for the first time,” said Tammy Berentson, chief marketing officer, FreshDirect. “For these new customers, as well as for our loyal following, Click to Pay offers confidence that their transactions will be simple, efficient, and secure.”

Source: Mastercard

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July 5, 2020

Reebok: The new Vector Logo and Wordmark reflect the intersection of fitness and fashion.


Reebok recently announced that it is unifying its logo and wordmark under one brand, leveraging its most recognizable and distinguished assets - the Vector logo and “drop-R” wordmark.

Reebok said it is fully integrating the wordmark and logo across all Reebok sport and lifestyle products, including footwear and apparel. This evolution shines a spotlight on Reebok’s heritage and connects its rich legacy to its exciting future.

“At Reebok, our mission is to be the best fitness brand in the world. We live at the intersection of fitness and fashion, and our product is a reflection of that connection,” said Matt O’Toole, Reebok President. “As we continue to differentiate ourselves, we’re blurring the lines between our entire portfolio of performance and lifestyle products even more to give our brand one unified presence and voice.”

“Under a unified banner, all of our products and experiences will tell a single story that is clear and consistent,” said Karen Reuther, VP of Creative Direction. “The Vector was created as a logo version of the iconic Reebok side stripes and cross-check design that dates back over fifty years. It is compelling, dynamic, and powerfully linked to some of our most significant cultural moments.”

The Vector logo was first introduced in 1992 and has been used in various forms since, most recently on Reebok heritage and lifestyle products. The new Vector logo is an updated, subtle modern evolution of the original.

Source: Reebok

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The 209th Session of the UNESCO Executive Board opens in Paris.


Photo: UNESCO Headquarters Paris. The 209th Session of the UNESCO Executive Board. Image provided by & copyright © UNESCO/Christelle ALIX.


Photo: UNESCO Headquarters Paris. The 209th Session of the UNESCO Executive Board. Image provided by & copyright © UNESCO/C.Bailleul.

Paris, France | July 4, 2020 — “We must respond to the urgency of the pandemic and afterward. Firstly, by continuing our functional reorganization, not only to gain flexibility and reactivity, but also precision and specificity,” said Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General, at the opening of the 209th session of the UNESCO Executive Board.

She spoke extensively about UNESCO’s response to the COVID-19 crisis in the Member States. The answer to the health crisis has prioritized mobilization of cooperation and resources, advocacy and awareness-raising campaigns, provision of policy and technical support, and the generation of data and analyses, she said.

UNESCO is supporting states in establishing fair, inclusive, and equitable education systems, preserving biodiversity, making science a powerful lever of international cooperation, helping culture in the service of innovation and social cohesion, and combating discrimination and exclusion.

“In general, the initiatives to increase transversality in the crisis have allowed for better coordination of resources and actions, from which we should draw lessons. I believe that we can also be pleased with our new administration and management sector, which has enabled us to manage this crisis coherently and flexibly,” said Audrey Azoulay. The Strategic Transformation, as initiated two years ago, established this new sector as a first step to boost the Organization’s efficiency.

Azoulay also highlighted that it is essential to have the experience gained from the crisis guide the Organization’s future actions. UNESCO is currently reflecting on its programs and developing a new strategy to take the Organization to the eve of 2030.

Source: UNESCO

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July 1, 2020



Oscars 2020

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Photo: America Ferrera arrives on the red carpet of The 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, CA, on Sunday, February 9, 2020. Image provided by & Copyright © Nick Argo / A.M.P.A.S. [File Photo]

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Photo: Penélope Cruz arrives on the red carpet of The 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, CA, on Sunday, February 9, 2020. Image provided by & Copyright © Nick Argo / A.M.P.A.S. [File Photo]

LOS ANGELES, CA - The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is extending invitations to join the organization to 819 artists and executives who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to theatrical motion pictures. The 2020 class is 45% women, 36% underrepresented ethnic/racial communities, and 49% international from 68 countries. There are 75 Oscar nominees, including 15 winners, and five recipients of Scientific and Technical Awards.

• Those who accept the invitations will be the only additions to the Academy’s membership in 2020.

“The Academy is delighted to welcome these distinguished fellow travelers in the motion picture arts and sciences. We have always embraced extraordinary talent that reflects the wide variety of our global film community, and never more so than now,” said Academy President David Rubin.

In 2016, the Academy set specific inclusion goals as part of its initiative to double the number of women and underrepresented ethnic/racial communities by 2020. Through dedicated and intentional work by the Board of Governors and members on the branch executive committees, the Academy has surpassed both these goals.

The Academy recently announced the next phase of its equity and inclusion initiative, Academy Aperture 2025, which will further the organization’s ongoing efforts to advance inclusion in the entertainment industry and increase representation within its membership and the greater film community. The initial phase of Academy Aperture 2025 outlined specific goals for the Oscars and Academy governance, association, and workplace culture.

“We take great pride in the strides we have made in exceeding our initial inclusion goals set back in 2016, but acknowledge the road ahead is a long one. We are committed to staying the course. We look forward to fostering an Academy that reflects the world around us in our membership, our programs, our new Museum, and our awards,” said Academy C.E.O. Dawn Hudson.

The 2020 invitees include:

• Actors

• Directors

Source: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

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June 29, 2020

Insider Tips from a Top Model, Tiana Pongs

Book Cover

Photo: The cover of the book “Keep Smiling” written by a top model, Tiana Pongs.

BERLIN, June 29, 2020 — For many girls, a modeling career is a dream, and usually remains so since it is lucrative. As an international model and actress, Tiana Pongs has been one of Germany’s leading advertising faces for many years. Tiana knows the modeling industry inside out. Her guide “Keep Smiling” (Ebozon Verlag) explains, step by step, how to start, what the everyday life looks like, and how emerging models can successfully establish themselves on the international market.

How do I get a professional agency? How do I find photographers and clients, and how do I deal with them? How do photoshoots work? Tiana Pongs provides first-hand information about general conditions and the dos and don’ts at work. She also talks about fees and tax advisors, travels information, and practical beauty and nutrition tips. She also provides a current and verified list of agencies from around the world.

Tiana Pongs does not leave out the profession’s pitfalls and the unsightly sides of model life - offensive offers, always “on stay,” controlling the body, homesickness. Those who know and remain prepared can learn a lot in the multifaceted fashion business - and earn good money. An inspiring guide with helpful insider knowledge!

Tiana Pongs, born in Mönchengladbach in 1979, started a successful international career as a model in 2001. After graduating from high school, she worked in Milan, Paris, Cape Town and New York. With over 1,000 advertising productions, she was one of the leading faces in Germany. She graced various international covers, product packaging, TV, and advertising campaigns. Tiana Pongs currently lives in Düsseldorf with her son and commutes between Germany and the USA. She works as an actress and is the official ambassador for the children’s aid organization World Vision Germany.

BUCH CONTACT, a German Public Relations agency, is promoting her book “Keep Smiling.”


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June 28, 2020

TomTom Traffic Index: Global Traffic Congestion Up as Bengaluru takes Crown of ‘World’s Most Traffic Congested City’

Traffic Index


Amsterdam, The Netherlands — Location technology specialist TomTom recently released the TomTom Traffic Index results, a report detailing the traffic situation in 416 cities in 57 countries. Bengaluru takes the top spot this year with drivers in the southern Indian city expecting to spend an average of 71% extra travel time stuck in traffic. Next in the global rankings are Philippine capital, Manila (71%); Bogota in Colombia (68%); last year’s most congested city, Mumbai (65%); and Pune (59%), also in India; making up the top five most congested cities in the world.

Greater Moscow takes the lead in Europe (59%) with Istanbul (55%) coming a close second. Kyiv (53%), Bucharest (52%), and Saint Petersburg (49%) make up the rest of the top five. Paris (39%), Rome (38%), and London (38%) ranked in at 14th, 15th, and 17th, respectively.

In the US, the top five most congested cities are Los Angeles (42%), New York (37%), San Francisco (36%), San Jose (33%), and Seattle (31%).

Congestion up, globally: At what cost?

Traffic congestion has increased globally during the last decade. The 239 cities (57%) TomTom included in the new Traffic Index report had increased congestion levels between 2018 and 2019, with only 63 towns showing measurable decreases. Despite being an indicator of a strong economy, this global increase in Congestion costs economies billions.

Ralf-Peter Schäfer, TomTom’s VP of Traffic Information, said: “Globally, there’s a long road to travel until we bring congestion levels under control. In time, the rise of autonomous vehicles and car-sharing services will alleviate Congestion, but planners and policymakers can’t afford to sit and wait. They need to use all the tools available to analyze traffic levels and impacts so that they can make critical infrastructure decisions. And drivers have a role to play too. Small changes in driving behaviors can make a substantial difference.”

Analyzing real-time incidents and Congestion to predict traffic before it happens, TomTom’s Real-Time Traffic makes TomTom navigation software more accurate with enhanced route calculations and correct Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA). According to TomTom, it is a market leader, with its traffic technology in millions of cars on the road. Further, its Traffic Analysis knows the way ahead, saving time, fuel, and stress for drivers, fleet and logistics providers, on-demand services (ride-hailing, food delivery), and traffic management services.

The location technology specialist’s work on the future of driving - from high definition maps for autonomous vehicles to efficient electric vehicle routing and charging - means that carmakers, technology companies, road authorities, and governments already have the tools to make the roads less congested.

How do you beat traffic congestion?

Next time you are heading into traffic, consider these helpful tips from TomTom:

  1. Plan before you go: Taking a few moments before heading out the door to inform yourself on the road conditions on the way to your destination will help you consider your alternatives and decide on the best course of action.

  2. Trust technology to help you. It may be uncomfortable to take the road less traveled simply because your navigation app. suggests it’s the fastest one. Often, if you cannot see that a path is indeed congested, it is hard to believe it. Dare to take the alternative route offered by up-to-date navigation because it is basing its recommendation on real-time traffic conditions on the direction you are taking.

  3. Change your driving habits. Most often, traffic will peak at certain times of the day, depending on location.

  4. Consider alternatives. Does your trip have to be made by car? If your planned activity is time-sensitive and cannot change your departure times, consider ride-sharing, public transport, or non-motorized options such as cycling or scooters.

  5. Work with your city. Ultimately, improving mobility in our cities is a collaborative effort. Together, city authorities, vehicle manufacturers, traffic signal system providers, parking facilities, traffic information providers, shared mobility providers, startups and, most importantly, the public, are experimenting and transforming cities worldwide. Inform yourself of the initiatives taking place in your urban area and how you can benefit from them.

Ranking of the most congested cities Globally (Overall daily congestion level - extra travel time - population over 800,000):

  1. Bengaluru, India 71%
  2. Manila, Philippines 71%
  3. Bogota, Colombia 68%
  4. Mumbai, India 65%
  5. Pune, India 59%
  6. Moscow, Russia 59%
  7. Lima, Peru 57%
  8. New Delhi, India 56%
  9. Istanbul, Turkey 55%
  10. Jakarta, Indonesia 53%

Ranking of the most congested cities in Europe (Overall daily congestion level - extra travel time - population over 800,000):

  1. Moscow, Russia 59%
  2. Istanbul, Turkey 55%
  3. Kyiv, Ukraine 53%
  4. Bucharest, Romania 52%
  5. Saint Petersburg, Russia 49%
  6. Dublin, Ireland 48%
  7. Odesa, Ukraine 47%
  8. Novosibirsk, Russia 45%
  9. Samara, Russia 44%
  10. Kharkiv, Ukraine 43%

Ranking of the most congested cities in the United States of America (Overall daily congestion level - extra travel time - population over 800,000):

  1. Los Angeles, USA 42%
  2. New York, USA 37%
  3. San Francisco, USA 36%
  4. San Jose, USA 33%
  5. Seattle, USA 31%
  6. Miami, USA 31%
  7. Washington, USA 29%
  8. Chicago, USA 28%
  9. Honolulu, USA 28%
  10. Austin, USA 27%

Ranking of the most congested cities in South America (Overall daily congestion level - extra travel time - population over 800,000):

  1. Bogota, Colombia 68%
  2. Lima, Peru 57%
  3. Recife, Brazil 50%
  4. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil 46%
  5. Sao Paolo, Brazil 45%
  6. Santiago, Chile 44%
  7. Salvador, Brazil 43%
  8. Fortaleza, Brazil 37%
  9. Belo Horizonte, Brazil 35%
  10. Porto Alegre, Brazil 35%

Ranking of the most congested cities in Asia (Overall daily congestion level - extra travel time - population over 800,000):

  1. Bengaluru, India 71%
  2. Manila, Philippines 71%
  3. Mumbai, India 65%
  4. Pune, India 59%
  5. New Delhi, India 56%
  6. Jakarta, Indonesia 53%
  7. Bangkok, Thailand 53%
  8. Tel Aviv, Israel 46%
  9. Tokyo, Japan 42%
  10. Chongqing, China 41%

Ranking of the most congested cities in Africa (Overall daily congestion level - extra travel time - all population sizes):

  1. Cairo, Egypt 40%
  2. Cape Town, S. Africa 32%
  3. Johannesburg, S. Africa 30%
  4. Pretoria, S. Africa 25%
  5. East London, S. Africa 22%
  6. Durban, S. Africa 19%
  7. Bloemfontein, S. Africa 13%

Ranking of the most congested cities in Australia and Oceania (Overall daily congestion level - extra travel time - all population sizes):

  1. Sydney, Australia 33%
  2. Auckland, New Zealand 31%
  3. Melbourne, Australia 30%
  4. Wellington, New Zealand 28%
  5. Hamilton, New Zealand 25%
  6. Brisbane, Australia 25%
  7. Adelaide, Australia 24%
  8. Gold Coast, Australia 24%
  9. Hobart, Australia 23%
  10. Christchurch, New Zealand 21%

Headquartered in Amsterdam with offices in 30 countries, TomTom is a leading independent location technology specialist. It shapes mobility with maps, navigation software, real-time traffic information, and services.

Source: TomTom


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June 26, 2020

International Monetary Fund significantly downgrades global growth in its latest update to the World Economic Outlook forecast.

IMF Report

Photo: IMF Chief Economist, Gita Gopinath, poses before providing the World Economic Outlook update during the COVID-19 Pandemic at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. on June 24, 2020. IMF Photo/Cory Hancock.

Washington, D.C. | June 25, 2020 — The International Monetary Fund is downgrading global growth significantly in its latest update to the World Economic Outlook forecast. The COVID-19 Pandemic sets the world economy back by $12 trillion in lost potential, the Fund’s chief economist Gita Gopinath said Wednesday in Washington, DC.

The effects of COVID-19 make IMF shift its forecast down to -4.9 percent this year overall, before a predicted return to growth in 2021. That’s a sharp -1.9 dip from its last forecast in April, said Gopinath.

“This is an unprecedented crisis, and this is indeed the worst recession since the Great Depression,” Gopinath added.

She warned that the forecast is the first time since the IMF began measuring that every region in the world is shrinking.

“It was already the worst recession since the Great Depression in April when we had projected growth for 2020 to be at minus three percent. But now at minus four-point nine percent, that is even more strongly true. And no country has been spared. Emerging markets, developing economies, advanced economies have all been very badly hit during this crisis,” said the Indian economist.

There is a higher-than-normal amount of uncertainty surrounding the forecast, the IMF says in the update.

“These projections imply a committed cumulative loss to the global economy over two years of over twelve trillion dollars from this crisis. The downgrade from April reflects worse than anticipated outcomes in the first half of this year, an expectation of more persistent social distancing into the second half of this year and damage to supply potential,” she explained.

Although there are some positive signs that the crisis may be ‘bottoming out,’ she said that countries need to remain vigilant.

“We’re not out of the woods. The health crisis is not over. And so we could see a potential second wave. We’ve assumed in our baseline number that there could be an increase in the number of infections. However, we are not going to see the kind of stringent lockdowns needed in the first half of this year,” said Gopinath.

The IMF has already provided emergency financial assistance to more than 70 countries since the Pandemic hit, totaling over $250 billion of its total firepower of $1 trillion in assets.

There is evidence that efforts have had a positive impact on blunting the impact on global growth, the quarterly report cited.

But countries will need to be prepared to adjust and take on reforms to deal with increased debt levels in the future, the IMF says.

“Indeed, when the recovery is stronger, we are in a better place with the health crisis better able to manage it than countries will have to undertake medium-term fiscal management. And when a while, through a combination of expenditure and revenue measures and now, countries should make sure that they are following best practices and putting proper safeguards in place using, you know, making sure there are proper fiscal accounting and fiscal transparency. But as of now, the need of the hour is for this kind of policy support,” Gopinath ended.

Source: International Monetary Fund

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June 25, 2020

IBM unveils free digital learning platform 'SkillsBuild Reignite' to reach more job seekers & provide new resources to business owners in India.

Announces a ten-week SkillsBuild Innovation Camp for students, providing hands-on project experience and enhanced learning for increased employability.

IBM, India

BANGALORE, India, June 25, 2020 — To address the current skills gap in the country, IBM is unveiling ‘SkillsBuild Reignite’ to provide job seekers and entrepreneurs with free online coursework and mentoring support, designed to help them reinvent their careers and businesses.

According to the India Skill Report (2019), only 45.6% of the youth graduating from educational institutions are employable. It reflects the massive shortage of skilled workforce in the country. Job seekers, business owners, entrepreneurs, and any individual with learning aspirations can now tap into a host of industry-relevant content, including Artificial intelligence, Cloud, Data analytics, and security to reskill and upskill themselves, at no cost.

In November 2019, IBM India, in partnership with Directorate General of Training (DGT), Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Government of India, and its implementation partners, made the SkillsBuild online learning platform available to Indian students. Digital classrooms on this platform are made available from the Industrial Training Institutes, ITI, and technical education ecosystem in India.

Currently, the platform has benefited 14,135 learners who have completed 40,000 courses and 77,000 hours of e-learning. SkillsBuild is one of India’s Top 10 online learning platforms by the National Skills Network.

SkillsBuild Reignite will include more coursework and personalized coaching for entrepreneurs seeking advice to help establish or restart their small businesses as they focus on recovering from the COVID 19 pandemic. Courses include financial management, business strategy, digital strategy, legal support, and more.

Working with NGOs such as Edunet and Unnati Foundation amongst other new IBM partners will play a key role in addressing local needs. For example, entrepreneurs looking to create detailed plans to relaunch their business can work with mentors to refine market research and learn about tapping into economic development assistance or improving digital marketing.

Dr. Mahendra Nath Pandey, Union Minister of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, said, “We mark a significant milestone in supporting Centre’s efforts in accelerating the Indian economy’s revival from the adverse effects of COVID. The Ministry has been working relentlessly to strengthen the skilling ecosystem and leverage the rise in demand for new-age skills by expanding industry cross-collaboration and creating learning pathways through digital learning platforms.

IBM’s expertise in providing multifaceted digital skill training in Cloud Computing and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will strengthen our efforts in the recovery of local workforces, communities, and economies by supporting job seekers, entrepreneurs, and small businesses.”

“There is a need to shift the needle and focus on new technologies and changing skill requirements to bridge the skill gap. We must align the workforce to industry needs and technology shifts. The SkillsBuild Reignite platform helps equip job seekers with digital, professional skills and relevant training to re-enter the workforce. This platform provides career reinvention opportunities and innovative ways of working and individualized support for relaunching business strategies,” said Sandip Patel, General Manager, IBM India/South Asia.

IBM also announced the SkillsBuild Innovation camp today. The ten-week camp is open to learners interested in gaining hands-on project experience to enhance learning and build their network to increase employability. Participants in the field will get an opportunity to work as part of a diverse team on real-world challenges and learn new skills along the way. With the aid of expert facilitators, students will be guided through the design thinking process and learn strategic methods to craft their problem statement, ideate creatively, solve complex problems and tell compelling stories. The camp concludes with a pitch to stakeholders and potential employers or investors.

Source: IBM

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June 23, 2020

Class of 1940's Benjamin Ferencz, aged 100, is City College of New York's "Virtual Salute" speaker, June 30.

City College of New York

City College of New York

City College of New York

Photo: Benjamin Ferencz, Class of 1940, is CCNY’s 2020 Virtual Salute keynote speaker.

NEW YORK, June 22, 2020 — Centenarian Benjamin B. Ferencz, a distinguished 1940 alumnus and the last surviving prosecutor from the post-WWII Nuremberg trials, is the keynote speaker at The City College of New York’s first-ever “Virtual Salute” on June 30. Mr. Ferencz, who turned 100 on March 11, will receive the honorary degree Doctor of Laws from his alma mater. He’s believed to be the oldest honorary degree recipient from City College.

Other speakers during CCNY’s 50-minute virtual salute, include:

Also, New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodriguez will offer greetings.

A physically active man who does 100 pushups daily, Mr. Ferencz is still an advocate for human rights and the rule of law. In his address to CCNY’s latest graduates, he will share some of his remarkable experiences in the 80 years since his graduation from CCNY in 1940. “Experiences, which I hope will be inspirational and will guide the Class of 2020 during difficult times now and in the future,” he said.

Mr. Ferencz, whose family came to the United States from Romania when he was 10-months-old, attended Harvard Law School after CCNY. He earned his law degree in 1943 and fought in World War II.

At the end of the war, the young lawyer got recruited for the Nuremberg war crimes trials in Nuremberg, Germany. Once the International Military Tribunal’s prosecution of German Field Marshal, Herman Goering, and his associates concluded, the United States tried a broad cross-section of Nazi offenders.

He said of the experience: “Nuremberg taught me that creating a world of tolerance and compassion would be a long and arduous task. And I also learned that if we did not devote ourselves to developing effective world law, the same cruel mentality that made the Holocaust possible might one day destroy the entire human race.”

The City College of New York (CCNY) is a public college of the City University of New York (CUNY) system in New York City. Founded in 1847, City College was the first free public institution of higher education in the United States.

Source: City College of New York. Office of Institutional Advancement and Communications.

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June 14, 2020

U.S. Postal Service Celebrates the Great Outdoors With New Forever Stamps — Ready, Set, Go

US Postal Service


WASHINGTON, June 13, 2020 — The U.S. Postal Service celebrates the many ways we appreciate the natural world with the release today of the new Enjoy the Great Outdoors stamps.

John M. Barger, U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors, and David Vela, Deputy Director, National Park Service, released these Forever stamps during a virtual ceremony.

“The American people have been blessed with an amazing country ‘from sea to shining sea,’ a vast nation with a Great Outdoors of national parks and splendid monuments. This Great Outdoors is also accessible to all Americans to explore and enjoy millions of acres of parks, beaches, rivers, lakes, deserts, snow-topped mountains, and every landscape you can imagine,” said Barger.

“I encourage all Americans to order these magnificent Enjoy the Great Outdoors stamps. Let these miniature works of art inspire you to explore our great land as you mail messages of friendship and love to the people you cherish in your life. These beautifully designed Forever stamps serve as a reminder of all the glory and majesty in our great land and America’s Great Outdoors.”

“This wonderful collection of stamps takes us on a journey to the Great Outdoors and the endless opportunities for recreation and inspiration available in the natural world, including in national parks in every state,” said Vela, exercising the authority of the National Park Service director.

The stamp art depicts five scenes of various outdoor activities — building a sandcastle, hiking, cross-country skiing, canoeing, and biking. In these hand-sketched and painted designs, artist Gregory Manchess uses light and shadow to evoke a sense of wonder for these remarkable landscapes.

The abundance of natural resources in the United States provides endless opportunities for appreciating nature. National and state parks, nature preserves, tranquil lakes, sandy beaches, and much more offer landscapes for many outdoor activities. Whether you prefer an adrenaline-fueled bike ride, a picturesque hike, or a scenic paddle, there is something for everyone outside.

Nature is vast and remarkable. By experiencing our world, we come to understand both our role and how we can each take care of our shared lands. Take a hike, ski a slope, build a sandcastle, and enjoy all that the great outdoors has to offer.

Source: U.S. Postal Service

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June 12, 2020

World Photography Organisation announces Sony World Photography Awards 2020 Open Competition Category Winners and Shortlist.

Sony World Photography Awards

Sony World Photography Awards

Image Name: Back Home. Photographer Name: Liu Jon. Year: 2020.

Image Description: After a downpour, there is often a moment of beauty. Here, a zebra crossing, an umbrella, and a lone figure combine to make a colorful composition.

Copyright: © Liu Jon, China, Shortlist, Open, Street Photography, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards.

Sony World Photography Awards


Image Name: Just Saving the Planet. Photographer Name: Tim Johnston. Year: 2020.

Image Description: I was wandering around Central London when I came across the UK Student Climate Network blocking Westminster Bridge during a school Climate Strike. It’s an issue that affects us all, and one I care about, so I followed the protest to its end. I wanted to capture the defiance and resolve of the students.

It was a bright day, so I narrowed my aperture and set a fast shutter speed. I decided to convert the picture to black & white to draw attention to the students’ faces and the establishment buildings behind them. These kids are our future, and they are the ones fighting for it.

I hope my picture can make an impact, however small.

Copyright: © Tim Johnston, United Kingdom, Shortlist, Open, Street Photography, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards.

Sony World Photography Awards


Image Name: Pan Katy. Photographer Name: Dmitrii Tulmentev. Year: 2020.

Image Description: It was a warm July evening. I sat in the studio and prepared myself and my Hasselblad for a few experiments - I wanted to see how an old film camera would behave when paired with modern lighting equipment. All well and good, but what should I photograph? Suddenly a girl walked into the studio, and everything fell into place.

Copyright: © Dmitrii Tulmentev, Russian Federation, Shortlist, Open, Portraiture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards.

Sony World Photography Awards

Image Name: Of Lines and Arcs II. Photographer Name: Marek Juras. Year: 2020.

Image Description: In this geometric experiment, I made a double exposure of wooden shapes lit by several lights.

Copyright: © Marek Juras, Czech Republic, Shortlist, Open, Creative, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards.

Sony World Photography Awards


Image Name: Autumn Mood. Photographer Name: Veliko Karachiviev. Year: 2020.

Image Description: Life high in the Bulgarian mountains.

Copyright: © Veliko Karachiviev, Bulgaria, Shortlist, Open, Travel, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards.

Sony World Photography Awards


Image Name: Graceful. Photographer Name: Manfred Voss. Year: 2020.

Image Description: The small fishing village of Reine in Norway delivers one of the most beautiful views in the Lofoten archipelago. The balance between the cold light of blue hour and the warmth of the well-lit houses was perfect this morning. It was almost windless, resulting in a beautiful reflection of the mountain in the water. I opted for an exposure that balanced the blue hour with the slightly illuminated mountains and the gentle light from the houses.

Copyright: © Manfred Voss, Germany, Shortlist, Open, Travel, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards.

The World Photography Organisation has announced this year’s category winners and shortlist in the Open competition of the Sony World Photography Awards 2020, recognizing the best single images from 2019.

The World Photography Organisation has shortlisted more than 100 photographers in the 2020 competition alongside ten category winners. Each winner receives the latest digital imaging equipment from Sony to develop their vision and will go on to compete for the prestigious Open Photographer of the Year title and a $5,000 (USD) reward.

Standout images from this year’s shortlist include:

Gisela Kayser, Managing Director, and Artistic Director, Freundeskreis Willy-Brandt-Haus, e.V., Berlin, judged this year’s Open Competition.

World Photography Organisation’s online channels and platforms would celebrate the Winning and shortlisted images using dedicated content, including videos, presentations, and Q&As.



Category Winner:
Rosaria Sabrina Pantano, Italy



Category Winner:
Suxing Zhang, China Mainland



Category Winner
Alec Connah, United Kingdom



Category Winner:
Jorge Reynal, Argentina



Category Winner:
Adrian Guerin, Australia



Category Winner:
Antoine Veling, Australia



Category Winner:
Guofei Li, China Mainland



Category Winner:
Santiago Mesa, Colombia



Category Winner:
Craig McGowan, Australia



Category Winner:
Tom Oldham, United Kingdom


Source: World Photography Organisation

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June 7, 2020

Cannes Film Festival announces Official Selection 2020

Cannes Film Festival

Photo: Cannes Film Festival. Red Carpet. May 17, 2019. The American singer, Madison Beer, looked fascinating on the red carpet. She added yet more glamour to it with de GRISOGONO attire. She captured the light by teaming a pair of Millefoglie earrings in white gold set with white diamonds and an Allegra bracelet in white gold set with white diamonds. Besides, she wore an Allegra ring in white gold set with white diamonds paired with a Gocce ring in white gold set with black quartz drops and white diamonds. [File Photo]

Cannes Film Festival

Photo: Cannes Film Festival. Red Carpet. May 20, 2019. Aishwarya Rai attends the screening of “La Belle Epoque” during the 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival on May 20, 2019, in Cannes, France. The Actress chose a pair of earrings from Avakian Jewellery matched with a black diamond ring from the same collection. (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images). Copyright © 2019 Getty Images. Image provided by Avakian Jewellery. [File Photo]

Paris, France. June 7, 2020 — On Wednesday, June 3, Pierre Lescure and Thierry Frémaux announced the line-up of the 73rd edition of the Festival de Cannes, live from the UGC Normandie in Paris.

For the occasion, Thierry Frémaux, the Festival’s General Delegate, has unveiled the 2020’s Official Selection, comprising fifty-six films to be delivered by the Festival for release in cinemas and screenings at specific shows.

Check out the Cannes 2020 films!

(or at least selected once before)

THE FRENCH DISPATCH by Wes Anderson (USA) - 1h43

ÉTÉ 85 by François Ozon (France) - 1h40
Production: MANDARIN - International Sales: PLAYTIME - French Distribution: DIAPHANA.

ASA GA KURU (True Mothers) by Naomi Kawase (Japan) - 2h20
Production: KINO FILMS CO - International Sales: PLAYTIME - French Distribution: HAUT ET COURT.

LOVERS ROCK by Steve McQueen (United Kingdom) - 1h08

MANGROVE by Steve McQueen (United Kingdom) - 2h04

DRUK (Another Round) by Thomas Vinterberg - (Denmark) - 1h55
Production: ZENTROPA - International Sales: TRUSTNORDISK - French Distribution: HAUT ET COURT.

ADN (DNA) by Maïwenn (France / Algeria) - 1h30

LAST WORDS by Jonathan Nossiter (USA) - 2h06
Production: STEMAL - International Sales: THE PARTY FILMS.

HEAVEN: TO THE LAND OF HAPPINESS by IM Sang-Soo (South Korea) - 1h40
Production: HIVE MEDIA CORP - International Sales: FINE CUT.

EL OLVIDO QUE SEREMOS (Forgotten we’ll be) by Fernando Trueba (Spain) - 2h16

PENINSULA by YEON Sang-Ho (South Korea) - 1h54
Production: REDPETER FILMS - International Sales: CONTENTS PANDA - French Distribution: ARP SELECTION

IN THE DUSK (Au crépuscule) by Sharunas BARTAS (Lituania) - 2h06
Production : KINOELEKTRON - International Sales : LUXBOX

DES HOMMES (Home Front) by Lucas BELVAUX - (Belgium) - 1h40
Production: SYNECDOCHE - International Sales: WILD BUNCH INTERNATIONAL - French Distribution: AD VITAM

THE REAL THING by Kôji Fukada (Japan) - 3h48
Production: NAGOYA TV - International Sales: NAGOYA TV


PASSION SIMPLE by Danielle Arbid (Lebanon) - 1h36
Production : LES FILMS PELLÉAS - International Sales : PYRAMIDE INTERNATIONAL - French Distribution : PYRAMIDE DISTRIBUTION

A GOOD MAN by Marie Castille Mention-Schaar (France) - 1h47
Production: WILLOW FILMS - International Sales: PYRAMIDE INTERNATIONAL - French Distribution: PYRAMIDE DISTRIBUTION

LES CHOSES QU’ON DIT, LES CHOSES QU’ON FAIT by Emmanuel Mouret (France) - 2h
Production: MOBY DICK FILMS - International Sales: ELLE DRIVER - French Distribution: PYRAMIDE DISTRIBUTION

SOUAD by Ayten Amin (Egypt) - 1h30
Production: VIVID REELS

LIMBO by Ben Sharrock (United Kingdom) - 1h53

ROUGE (Red Soil) by Farid Bentoumi (France) - 1h26
Production: LES FILMS VELVET - International Sales: WTFILMS - French Distribution: AD VITAM

SWEAT by Magnus Von Horn (Sweden) - 1h40

TEDDY by Ludovic et Zoran Boukherma (France) - 1h28
Production: BAXTER FILMS - International Sales: WTFILMS - French Distribution: THE JOKERS FILMS

FEBRUARY (Février) by Kamen Kalev (Bulgaria) - 2h05
Production: KORO FILMS - French Distribution: UFO DISTRIBUTION

AMMONITE by Francis Lee (United Kingdom) - 2h
Production: SEE-SAW FILMS - International Sales: CROSS CITY FILMS - French Distribution: PYRAMIDE DISTRIBUTION

UN MÉDECIN DE NUIT by Elie Wajeman (France) - 1h40
Production: PARTIZAN FILMS - International Sales: BE FOR FILMS - French Distribution: DIAPHANA DISTRIBUTION

ENFANT TERRIBLE by Oskar Roehler (Germany) - 2h14

NADIA, BUTTERFLY by Pascal Plante (Canada) - 1h46
Production: NEMESIS FILMS - International Sales: WAZABI FILMS

HERE WE ARE by Nir Bergman (Israel) - 1h34
Production: SPIRO FILMS - International Sales: MK2 FILMS


SEPTET: THE STORY OF HONG KONG by Ann Hui, Johnnie TO, Tsui Hark, Sammo Hung, Yuen Woo-Ping et Patrick Tam - 1h53


FALLING by Viggo Mortensen (USA) - 1h52
Production: PERCIVAL PICTURES - International Sales: HANWAY FILMS - French Distribution: METROPOLITAN FILMEXPORT

PLEASURE by Ninja Thyberg (Sweden) - 1h45
Production : PLATTFORM PRODUKTION - International Sales : VERSATILE

SLALOM by Charlène Favier (France) - 1h32
Production : MILLE ET UNE PRODUCTIONS - International Sales : THE PARTY FILM INTERNATIONAL SALES - French Distribution : JOUR2FÊTE

CASA DE ANTIGUIDADES (Memory House) by Joao Paulo Miranda Maria (Brazil) - 1h27
Production : MANEKI FILMS

BROKEN KEYS (Fausse note) by Jimmy Keyrouz (Lebanon) - 1h30
Production: EZEKIEL

IBRAHIM by Samir Guesmi (France) - 1h20

BEGINNING (Au commencement) by Déa Kulumbegashvili (Georgia) - 2h10
Production: FIRST PICTURE / O.F.A - International Sales: WILD BUNCH INTERNATIONAL

GAGARINE by Fanny Liatard et Jérémy Trouilh (France) - 1h35
Production : HAUT ET COURT - International Sales : TOTEM FILMS - French Distribution : HAUT ET COURT

16 PRINTEMPS by Suzanne Lindon (France) - 1h13
Production: AVENUE B PRODUCTIONS - International Sales: LUXBOX - French Distribution: PANAME DISTRIBUTION

VAURIEN by Peter Dourountzis (France) - 1h35
Production: 10:15 PRODUCTIONS - International Sales: KINOLOGY - French Distribution: REZO FILMS

GARÇON CHIFFON by Nicolas Maury (France) - 1h48
Production : CG CINEMA - International Sales : LES FILMS DU LOSANGE - French Distribution : LES FILMS DU LOSANGE

SI LE VENT TOMBE (Should the Wind Fall) by Nora Martirosyan (Armenia) - 1h40

JOHN AND THE HOLE by Pascual Sisto (USA) - 1h38

STRIDING INTO THE WIND (Courir au gré du vent) by WEI Shujun (China) - 2h36

THE DEATH OF CINEMA AND MY FATHER TOO (La Mort du cinéma et de mon père aussi) by Dani Rosenberg (Israel) - 1h40
Production: PARDES FILMS - International Sales: FILMS BOUTIQUE


EN ROUTE POUR LE MILLIARD (The Billion Road) by Dieudo Hamadi - (Democratic Republic of Congo) - 1h30
Production : LES FILMS DE L’OEIL SAUVAGE - International Sales : ANDANA FILMS

THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS by Michael Dweck et Gregory Kershaw (USA) - 1h24

9 JOURS A RAQQA by Xavier de Lauzanne - (France) - 1h30
Production: ALOEST FILMS


ANTOINETTE DANS LES CÉVÈNNES by Caroline Vignal (France) - 1h35
Production: CHAPKA FILMS - International Sales: PLAYTIME - French Distribution: DIAPHANA DISTRIBUTION

LES DEUX ALFRED by Bruno Podalydès (France) - 1h30
Production: WHY NOT PRODUCTIONS - French Distribution: UGC DISTRIBUTION

UN TRIOMPHE (The big hit) by Emmanuel Courcol (France) - 1h40
Production : AGAT FILMS & CIE - International Sales : MK2 FILMS - French Distribution : MEMENTO FILMS DISTRIBUTION

L’ORIGINE DU MONDE by Laurent Lafitte (France) - 1st film
Production: TRESOR FILMS - International Sales: STUDIO CANAL - French Distribution: STUDIO CANAL

LE DISCOURS by Laurent Tirard (France) - 1h27
Production : LES FILMS SUR MESURE - International Sales : CHARADES - French Distribution : LE PACTE


AYA TO MAJO (Earwig and the Witch) by Gorô Miyazaki (Japan) - 1h22
Production: NHK / NHK ENTERPRISES / STUDIO GHIBLI - International Sales: WILD BUNCH INTERNATIONAL - French Distribution: WILD BUNCH

FLEE by Jonas Poher Rasmussen (Denmark) - 1h30
Production: FINAL CUT FOR REAL - International Sales: CINEPHIL

JOSEP by Aurel (France) - 1h20 - 1st film
Production: LES FILMS D’IC I - International Sales: DOC & FILM INTERNATIONAL - French Distribution: SOPHIE DULAC DISTRIBUTION

SOUL by Pete Docter (USA) - 1h30

Source: Cannes Film Festival

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June 4, 2020

World Economic Forum to Convene a Unique Twin Summit "The Great Reset" in January 2021.

The twin summit will be both in-person and virtual, connecting key global governmental and business leaders in Davos with a global multistakeholder network in 400 cities around the world for a forward-oriented dialogue driven by the younger generation.

World Economic Forum

Photo: Impressions from the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2020 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. Image provided by & Copyright © World Economic Forum / Benedikt von Loebell. [File Photo]

World Economic Forum

Photo: Impressions from the Opening Concert: An International Call for Unity and Joy, at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2020 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. Image provided by & Copyright © World Economic Forum / Christian Clavadetscher. [File Photo]

Geneva, Switzerland, 3 June 2020 - “The Great Reset” will be the theme of a unique twin summit to be convened by the World Economic Forum in January 2021. The 51st World Economic Forum Annual Meeting will bring together global leaders from government, business, and civil society, and stakeholders from around the world in a unique configuration that includes both in-person and virtual dialogues.

“We only have one planet, and we know that climate change could be the next global disaster with even more dramatic consequences for humankind. We have to decarbonize the economy in the short window remaining and bring our thinking and behavior once more into harmony with nature,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.

“To secure our future and to prosper, we need to evolve our economic model and put people and planet at the heart of global value creation. If there is one critical lesson to learn from this crisis, we need to put nature at the heart of how we operate. We can’t waste more time,” said HRH, The Prince of Wales.

“The Great Reset is a welcome recognition that this human tragedy must be a wake-up call. We must build equal, inclusive, and sustainable economies and societies that are more resilient in the face of pandemics, climate change, and the many other global changes we face,” said António Guterres, Secretary-General, United Nations, New York.

“A Great Reset is necessary to build a new social contract that honors the dignity of every human being,” added Schwab. “The global health crisis has laid bare the unsustainability of our old system. We lack social cohesion, equal opportunities, and inclusiveness. Nor can we turn our backs on the evils of racism and discrimination.”

“COVID-19 has accelerated our transition into the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We have to make sure that the new technologies in the digital, biological, and physical world remain human-centered and serve society as a whole, providing everyone with fair access,” he said.

“This global pandemic has also demonstrated again how interconnected we are. We have to restore a functioning system of smart global cooperation structured to address the challenges of the next 50 years. The Great Reset will require us to integrate all global society stakeholders into a community of common interest, purpose, and action,” said Schwab. “We need a change of mindset, moving from short-term to long-term thinking, moving from shareholder capitalism to stakeholder responsibility. Environmental, social and good governance have to be a regular part of corporate and governmental accountability,” he added.

According to the World Economic Forum, this innovative summit will be a very different Annual Meeting. It would reflect the spirit of the Great Reset. It will provide a unique opportunity at the beginning of 2021 to bring together the critical global government and business leaders in Davos. It would be a worldwide multistakeholder summit driven by the younger generation to ensure that the Great Reset dialogue pushes beyond traditional thinking and is genuinely forward-oriented.

To do so, the World Economic Forum will draw on thousands of young people in more than 400 cities around the world (the Global Shapers Community), interconnected with a robust virtual hub network to interact with the leaders in Davos. Each of those hubs will have an open house policy to integrate all interested citizens into this dialogue, making the Annual Meeting open to everyone. Also, global media and social media networks will mobilize millions of people, enabling them to share their input while also providing them with access to the Annual Meeting discussions in Davos.

HRH, The Prince of Wales, and Professor Schwab announced the Great Reset during a virtual meeting. Statements by UN Secretary-General António Guterres and IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva followed the announcement.

All stakeholder groups of global society supported the above statements. The Great Reset supporters include:

In the run-up to the Annual Meeting, the Forum will host a virtual series, The Great Reset Dialogues. These dialogues are a joint initiative of the World Economic Forum and HRH The Prince of Wales.

Source: World Economic Forum

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June 2, 2020

EarthX to Celebrate World Oceans Week in Partnership with the National Geographic Society.

EarthX convenes the world’s largest environmental expo, conference and film festival.

EarthX, National Geographic

DALLAS, June 1, 2020 — EarthX and the National Geographic Society will convene virtually to celebrate World Oceans Week from June 9-11 at EarthxOcean will bring together cross-disciplinary innovators driving solutions to the most pressing threats facing the oceans. Conversations, film screenings, and extended reality experiences would explore these solutions using the power of science and storytelling. It would unlock the impact potential of communities across cultures, generations, and ideologies.

Trammell S. Crow, Founder of EarthX, Michael L. Ulica, President of the National Geographic Society and Danni Washington, Conference Moderator, would introduce ‘Protecting the Life Systems of the Ocean.’ A welcome note from Robert and Sybille Szaggars Redford would follow the introduction. Later, Robert and Sybille Szaggars Redford would introduce their environmental film series ‘The Way of the Rain - Reflections on Earth.’ The conferences will bring together leading voices in ocean conservation, including renowned National Geographic Explorers-at-Large Enric Sala and Dr. Sylvia Earle, and conservationists Julie Packard and Fabien Cousteau. The three-day program will cover some of the most critical issues threatening the most significant life source of the planet.

• High Seas Protection

As the region of the global ocean that is beyond national jurisdiction, the high seas include some of the least protected and most critically threatened ecosystems in the world. EarthX offers a platform for members of the High Seas Alliance and mission-aligned partners. They work together to inform and engage the public, decision-makers, and experts to support and strengthen high seas governance and conservation.

Musical storytelling with the EarthXR presentation of The Outlaw Ocean Music Project would further explore the lawlessness of the high seas. The session will feature visuals from this lawless realm alongside music produced for the project. It features rhythmic sounds to raise awareness and stoke a sense of urgency about human rights, labor, and environmental abuses that occur at sea. EarthxFilm will showcase Watson, the story of Captain Paul Watson, co-founder of Greenpeace and founder of Sea Shepherd, who has spent 40 years fighting to end the destruction of the ocean’s wildlife and its habitat.

• Coral Reef Conservation & Restoration

Coral reefs support a quarter of all marine species on the planet but make up only 0.1% of our ocean. Rising water temperatures, acidification, destructive fishing practices, and pollution are destroying an essential source of life in our ocean’s ecosystem. EarthX is assembling leading ocean conservationists across the world to address these threats and introduce solutions at an industry and individual level.

EarthxFilm will bring this issue to life through the screening of Chasing Coral, an ocean adventure directed by Jeff Orlowski. Chasing Coral is a mission to discover why reefs are disappearing and revealing the underwater worlds of our changing oceans. EarthXR will also transport audiences to the depths of our ocean through virtual dives with National Geographic Explorer Erika Woolsey and Underwater Earth Co-Founder Christophe Bailhache. They would immerse viewers in the underwater worlds of coral reefs while illustrating the importance of their conservation.

• Ocean Plastic Solutions

With over 8 million tons of plastic dumped in our ocean every year, plastic waste has become ubiquitous. It has found its way into the air we breathe and the food we eat - with the average person ingesting the equivalent of 1 credit card a week in microplastics. EarthX will host leaders in ocean plastic solutions to highlight this critical issue and introduce innovative solutions across categories including technology, policy, and activism in a session featuring youth leader and Founder of Bye-Bye Plastic, Melati Wijsen.

EarthX convenes the world’s largest environmental expo, conference and film festival, and is a member of IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education, and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed research boundaries, investing in bold people, and transformative ideas. It has provided more than 14,000 grants for work across all seven continents, reaching 3 million students each year through education offerings and engaging audiences worldwide through signature experiences, stories, and content.

Source: EarthX

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May 30, 2020

Mastercard Launches Recovery Insights. It would assist Businesses and Governments in making Smarter Economic Decisions.

Mastercard extends COVID-19 Commitments by Providing Data Insights and Tools to New York City, London, Madrid, the State of Arizona, and other Governments.



PURCHASE, NY. MAY 29, 2020 — Businesses and governments worldwide are looking for resources to help better manage the health, safety, and economic risks presented by the recent pandemic. To assist in these efforts, Mastercard has launched Recovery Insights, a set of tools, innovation, and research that can provide some certainty today and support data-driven decision-making for a more digital tomorrow.

The initiative draws on Mastercard’s analytics and experimentation platforms, its longstanding consulting practice, and unique data-driven insights.

“Enabling smarter decisions with better outcomes is our goal. And, it’s what airlines, restaurants, Consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands, banks, governments, and countless others are seeking right now,” said Raj Seshadri, president of data and services, Mastercard. “Our insights are helping apparel brands refine their inventory to address the rise in e-commerce, grocers fine-tune store hours to give at-risk shoppers peace of mind, and governments guide services to fuel local economies.”

• Empowering Data-Driven Decision-Making

As part of this initiative, Mastercard is making specific insight-driven tools available at no cost to governments and select businesses to give a timely snapshot of economic performance. These solutions draw on aggregated and anonymized spending insights to provide an ongoing view of financial health, Mastercard said.

Dozens of cities (including New York City, London, Barcelona, Madrid, Los Angeles, and Logan City, Australia), states (Arizona), and national governments (Turespaña, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism of Spain) are now using Mastercard tools. These solutions help inform budget planning, optimize aid disbursement, understand which merchants are open for business, and prioritize investment to support those most impacted by the pandemic. The tools help assess the local effects of COVID-19 and build a foundation for an inclusive recovery.

“Access to Mastercard’s insights gives us a much more detailed picture of the economic health of the capital’s high streets during lockdown - and as we move towards easing restrictions,” commented London’s Chief Digital Officer, Theo Blackwell. “It complements other insights we’re gathering, which allows us to target future investments and understand the emerging needs of businesses and communities across London.”

Meanwhile, U.S. small business owners are using the tools to understand local consumer spending trends better, while central banks around the world are collaborating closely with the Mastercard Economics Institute to better understand changing market conditions through regular COVID economic impact trackers, Mastercard elaborated.

• Informing Plans to Reopen New York City

In New York City, retail sales were down 44 percent at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March. Policymakers needed to understand how the steep decline in consumer spending would impact the city’s sales tax revenue to adjust their budgets. Mastercard Geographic Insights identified spending pattern changes in specific neighborhoods.

Mastercard is also working closely with local institutions, trade organizations, and other groups on recovery efforts. Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, said, “The Mastercard insights into how the pandemic and quarantine are impacting consumer spending have helped us understand the huge and devastating impact of COVID-19 on jobs and the local economy.”

“We’re committed to helping government leaders take an evidence-based approach to policy and program development,” added Miguel Gamino, executive vice president, Enterprise Partnerships and head of Global Cities, Mastercard. “Given the multitude of challenges today, the government leaders are activating our network to support areas ranging from aid disbursements to emergency fundraising to cybersecurity assessments and identity theft protection. It’s about building more inclusive economies for everyone everywhere.”

• Upcoming Research

The Mastercard Recovery Insights initiative will feature a research series about the short- and long-term impacts of COVID-19 on economies, businesses, and people. The first report, available in June, will focus on the retail sector’s shift to digital.

Source: Mastercard

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May 27, 2020

Johns Hopkins Releases Comprehensive Report on Digital Contact Tracing to Aid COVID-19 Response.

Leading global experts contributed to the report, offering clear guidance and recommendations on ethics and governance as digital technologies fight the pandemic.


BALTIMORE, May 26, 2020 — Johns Hopkins University has released a comprehensive report on the use of digital contact tracing technologies (DCTT), including smartphone apps and other tools, to fight COVID-19. The paper would help the government, technology developers, businesses, institutional leaders, and the public make responsible decisions.

‘Digital Contact Tracing for Pandemic Response’ is a report led by the Berman Institute for Bioethics in collaboration with the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins, as well as leading experts worldwide. The report highlights the ethical, legal, policy, and governance issues that the world must address as it develops and implements DCTT. The report’s primary conclusions and recommendations advise that privacy should not outweigh public health goals and other values. Big technology companies should not unilaterally set terms when such broad public interests are at stake. And decisions about the technology and its uses are updated continuously as new information becomes available.

As officials in many countries strive to find a balance between respecting civil liberties and controlling the pandemic, the report offers clear, well-supported guidance for leaders as they consider deployment and use of these technologies and the data they collect, store and share.

“As we move forward, we must strike a balance between privacy and values like equity, choice, economic well-being, and solidarity,” said Jeffrey Kahn, Ph.D., MPH, director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute for Bioethics. “Too much emphasis on privacy could severely limit the ability to gather the information that is critical for effective and efficient contact tracing to help beat the pandemic. And so the full range of interests and values of the public must drive this conversation, and not just those asserted by tech companies.”

The report makes numerous recommendations, including:

“In this time of COVID-19, digital technologies have an unprecedented capacity to accelerate and improve the way the world responds to infectious disease outbreaks and pandemics,” said Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels. “The digital contact tracing technologies represent a great opportunity. They also present significant ethical, legal, and governance concerns. I’m grateful to the Berman Institute of Bioethics for leading this effort and galvanizing some of the nation’s and the world’s foremost leaders on these issues to share their knowledge on this complex and timely set of issues.”

The report is the result of rapid research and expert consensus effort led by a group of leaders in bioethics, health security, public health, technology, engineering, public policy, and law.

Source: Johns Hopkins University

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John Jay College Senior Students Balance Front-Line Work with Education Demands

John Jay College

NEW YORK, May 26, 2020 — John Jay students, many who live and work in communities of color hit hardest by Covid-19, are also on the front-lines. Their stories of studying while saving lives and keeping New Yorkers safe are inspiring examples of sacrifice and resilience.

Rosa Jimenez is an Emergency Medical Technician working in the Bronx, the borough with the highest infection and mortality rates in New York City. While studying full time in her senior year at John Jay, Jimenez has seen firsthand how the virus is impacting families, communities, and medical professionals.

“I’ve seen so many doctors and nurses end up with Covid-19. It concerns when you look at the patient’s chart and recognize the name,” says Jimenez.

Between shifts, Jimenez studies for finals. It’s her last semester, and she’s not letting the coronavirus or the change to distance learning stop her momentum.

Estefania Solis, a transfer student from Panama, is a Presidential Intern at John Jay and a member of the National Guard. When Covid-19 spread across New York City, Estefania’s life rapidly transformed from that of a typical student attending class and an internship to that of an active duty National Guard member contributing to a critical mission.

“My community has been affected. Some friends have had to fly back to their home countries and struggle with financial hardships. Others lost their job. Many have gotten sick. I am grateful I have the chance to help and not stay at home.”

The virus has altered all of her current plans, from summer job opportunities to her coursework. Balancing the internship, the National Guard, and her college work was initially overwhelming, and Solis thought she wouldn’t be able to complete her classes. But her professors stepped up and worked with her to make sure she finishes the semester and doesn’t lose momentum towards graduation.

Matthew Hart plans to graduate this summer, taking six courses this semester to keep on schedule. He is also serving in the National Guard at Covid-19 testing sites and food distribution centers.

“Juggle is tough. There are times when you want to sleep, but then you remind yourself that you have to get your homework done.”

Despite the struggle, Hart tries to keep a positive attitude and is committed to finishing his undergraduate education. He will start working on a master’s degree in the fall at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College.

Graduate student Khalid Islam took a course at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and studied how Toronto handled a SARS outbreak. A few months later, he is using what he learned to keep the Emergency Medical Technicians and paramedics safe under his supervision. Khalid is an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Safety and Training Manager for the Mount Sinai Health System. He would receive his master’s degree this month. He has managed to balance his work, family obligations, and education in the shadow of a global pandemic.

According to John Jay College, all these students rose to the challenge these past few months, facing the danger of Covid-19 head-on while staying on the path to graduation. “Their commitment to public service and their communities centers them on a course to become tomorrow’s leaders,” the College said.

John Jay College would honor these students and their classmates from the Class of 2020 in a virtual celebration to mark the end of the semester on Wednesday, May 27. The ceremony will include pre-recorded remarks from special guests, including CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez; Charles Schumer, United States Senate; Kathy Hochul, Lt. Governor; and Letitia James, NYS Attorney General, among others.

An international leader in educating for justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York offers a vibrant liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations. John Jay is home to faculty and research centers at the forefront of advancing criminal and social justice reform. In teaching, scholarship, and research, the College engages the theme of justice and explores fundamental human desires for fairness, equality, and the rule of law.

Source: John Jay College of Criminal Justice

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May 26, 2020

Naya Hindustan - Anthem on India's Unity in Diversity during the Pandemic.

MUMBAI, May 26, 2020 — The COVID-19 Pandemic has created massive disruptions across the world. For the last two months, the lockdown in India has altered people’s lives - socially, economically, and emotionally. Music Director Hitesh Prasad ideated the concept, scored the music, and penned the lyrics of the song ‘Naya Hindustan,’ an anthem on India’s Unity in Diversity during the Pandemic. Leading singers — Mahalaxmi Iyer, Bhumi Trivedi, Toshi Sabri, Shraddha Pandit, and Hitesh Prasad sang the song with contributions from Raju Shankar (Piano) and Glen Fernandez (Guitar).

Kanishka Shankar directed the video, Tosif Shaikh mixed it, and Raju Shankar and Sanjay Jaipurwale arranged the music. Nihilent, a global consulting and services company, supported the project.

“As people embrace this new reality, it is also a time to reflect and ink a new future. With this unprecedented crisis, comes a great opportunity to heal ourselves, break barriers and blur boundaries and hasten compassion, empathy, and togetherness. No doubt, this crisis has unified all, and it is time to showcase this unity amid diversity of caste, religion, and creed. This is the time to foster humanity, love, and light,” said the producers. “The song is a tribute to the countless COVID-19 warriors, the unsung heroes and a billion-plus people suspended on hope, united by courage and faith in humanity.”

Hitesh Prasad said, ” I wrote and composed this music video to primarily showcase the communal harmony and motivate people of this country impacted by COVID-19 and lockdown in many different ways. The key message of this video I wanted to convey is my vision of ‘New India’- a country that needs to rise above all our differences and be one in this hour of crisis.” “The lyrics capture this idea of peace, communal harmony, compassion, and resilience to move forward. The singers and others have contributed as a purely social cause. Thanks to Nihilent for supporting us with this initiative,” he added.

Source: Nihilent

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Edited & Posted by Surender Hastir | 9:22 AM | Link to this Post

May 25, 2020

Jayatu Jayatu Bharatam - A tribute to India's eternal spirit.

Jayatu Jayatu Bharatam!

India will be victorious!

Watch this unique tribute by 211 singers from across the country, as they come together to salute India’s indomitable spirit.

Source: ICICI Bank

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Edited & Posted by Surender Hastir | 1:32 AM | Link to this Post

World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development — Message from Ms. Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO.

World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.

Unesco, Paris

Unesco, Paris

Photo: Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), briefs journalists following a Security Council meeting on the maintenance of international peace and security. 30 November 2017. United Nations, New York. UN Photo/Kim Haughton. [File Photo]

• World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

• Message from Ms. Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO

21 May 2020

This year’s World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development comes at a time of uncertainty and anxiety.

For many, the closure of public spaces, cultural institutions, and performance and concert halls has led to a constriction of cultural space and increased seclusion.

Fortunately, the technical means we have at our disposal today make it possible for those who can benefit from them to compensate for the narrowness of confined spaces. We have thus seen initiatives blossom that has renewed interest in cultural practices around the world and highlighted their abundant richness. By dint of coordinated action, initial efforts, and creativity, this imposed downtime has made it possible to see what is one of humanity’s riches: our diversity.

Although COVID-19 has not succeeded in curbing dialogue among cultures, the long-term consequences of the crisis, especially in economic terms, might inflict severe damage on diversity, as periods of crisis are conducive to concentration and standardization. It is this insidious threat that looms.

Without significant support, structures will disappear. We would miss the opportunities to stimulate and hear different ways of seeing and feeling. Cultural diversity may get diminished, and humanity would be the poorer for it.

We must, therefore, protect diversity without delay before it is too late. That is why UNESCO has launched the ResiliArt movement, whose purpose is to find ways of fostering the protection and promotion of cultural diversity in these difficult times. By bringing together artists, cultural professionals, governments, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector to reflect on the pandemic’s impact, we are developing the future of cultural diversity through collective intelligence and joint cultural building.

The current crisis must lead to new awareness and new efforts to ensure the development and continuation of varied cultural forms and flourishing cultural structures. The crisis has brought to light difficulties that were often already present.

On this 21 May, World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, UNESCO appeals to all: together, let us celebrate and support cultural diversity, the symbol of our humanity.

Source: UNESCO

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Edited & Posted by Surender Hastir | 12:22 AM | Link to this Post

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