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World Science Day for Peace and Development

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The World Science Day for Peace and Development (WSDPD) is annually held on November 10 to raise awareness of the benefits of science worldwide. The WSDPD is also known as World Science Day.

What Do People Do?

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) works with people, government agencies and organizations to promote the WSDPD each year. The WSDPD celebrations include:

  • Open days to highlight science’s important role in peace and development.
  • Classroom discussions to emphasize how science and technology affect daily life.
  • Distributing the WSDPD posters throughout tertiary institutions, school campuses, and public venues.
  • Arranged science museum visits to commemorate the day.
  • Visits to local schools on careers in science or scientific presentations.

Some governments have, in the past, used World Science Day to publicly affirm their commitment to increased support for scientific initiatives that help society, as well as launch new science policy programs together with scientific institutions, civil society, universities and schools.

Metal Thefts at Historic Buildings in England

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metalAs reported by BBC, Police in England has teamed up with heritage experts to crack down on gangs stealing valuable metal from churches and historic buildings.  The Local Government Association estimates metal thefts – of materials including electricity cables, railway lines, war memorials, road signs, children’s playground equipment and church roofs – cost the country as much as £770m a year.  In the case of historic buildings and churches, the thieves are stealing years of history and destroying English cultural heritage. 

Officers are working with Historic England to inspect scrap yards where thieves might try to sell lucrative metals such as lead and copper as reported by BBC. The police say that some dealerships are failing to carry out checks when they are offered metal for sale.  In the partnership between the police and experts, officers from Operation Crucible are taking members of Historic England along when they investigate scrapyards to help them understand how thieves operate.

The Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 requires all scrap dealers and motor salvage operators in England and Wales to apply for a license from their local authority and keep records on whom they buy from.  The council also has the power to assess whether each license applicant is a “suitable person” – including examining criminal convictions – and increased powers to carry out inspections.

Stolen Van Gogh Paintings Recovered in Italy

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van_goghLast month (September 2016),  the Italian anti-mob Police recovered paintings from a house in stronghold of Camorra crime syndicate near Naples.  Two Vincent van Gogh paintings that were stolen 14 years ago from a museum in Amsterdam more have been recovered by Italian authorities in Naples following a sting operation that targeted organized crime.

The paintings, View of the Sea at Scheveningen, painted in 1882, and Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen, painted in 1884, were the two paintings recently discovered after allegedly being hidden away in one of the houses of an international drug trafficker based in Castellammare di Stabia, near Naples.

The authenticity of the paintings has already been confirmed by an expert from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, from where they were stolen in 2002.  The experts from the museum have stated that they are not sure when the paintings were supposed to be returned to the museum and that one of the paintings has a small patch of damage in the bottom corner. Otherwise the paintings appeared to be in good condition.

The theft was considered one of the most infamous heists to rock the art world in recent times. The thieves entered the Van Gogh museum from the roof of the building, which allowed them to get past security and cameras undetected, even though their entry did trigger alarms. They had used a ladder to climb up to a window and then smashed through it using a cloth to protect their hands.

As reported by a number of news outlets, the two men, Octave Durham, an art thief who earned the nickname The Monkey for his ability to evade police, and his accomplice Henk Bieslijn, were eventually convicted of the theft in 2004 after police discovered their DNA at the scene of the crime. They were handed four year sentences, but authorities were never able to track down the stolen works.

View of the Sea at Scheveningen is one of Van Gogh’s early paintings and depicts the beach resort close to The Hague. It was the only work in the museum’s collection from Van Gogh’s two years in The Hague and one of just two Dutch seascapes the artist made.

Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen is a smaller work that Van Gogh painted for his mother in 1884, and depicts a church in Brabant where his father Theodorus was a preacher. After his father’s death in 1885 Van Gogh revised the painting, adding figures of women wearing black shawls used in mourning.

Cyrus The Great Day, October 29

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Niel Macgregor Video on Ted Talks: 2600 Years of History in One Object (Click Here)

freedom-7jpgThis year, the twenty-ninth day of October 2016 coincides with the annual celebration of “Cyrus the Great Day” by Iranian people and many friends of culture across the globe. In 2005, the Pasargad Heritage Foundation – the first international NGO for preservation of the cultural heritage of Iran- that introduced the idea. At the time, Cyrus’ mausoleum in Iran- a monument registered on the UNESCO’s world heritage list – was in danger of being inundated and eventually destroyed. However, the hard work of this Foundation and timely intervention of UNESCO, human rights activists and organizations removed the danger and led to a world-wide recognition of Cyrus’ seminal contribution to the survival of our common human civilization. Such recognition has been further evidenced by the exhibition of Cyrus cylinder in a number of museums in major cities in United States of America. 

October 29, the “Cyrus the Great Day” and the anniversary of the first declaration of human rights. Twenty six centuries ago, when savagery was the dominant factor in human societies, a civilized and compassionate declaration was written on clay and issued to the “four corners of the world”, addressing important issues relevant to human rights; the very same issues that today we face and could also inspire and mobilize those who believe in human dignity and rights. 

This document, known as “The Declaration of Cyrus the Great,” emphasized the removal of all racial discrimination and slavery, and bestowing to all people, freedom to choose their places of residence, and practice their own chosen faith and religion, therefore, attempting to create peace amongst all nations. This Declaration could actually be considered a present from the Iranian people to all humanity, expressed through the words of Cyrus, the founder of the first empire in the Iran. In 1971, the general assembly of the United Nations recognized this declaration as the first Declaration of Human Rights.

www.savepasargad.com

Serious Threat to the Sundarbans

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sundarbansThe Sundarbans in Bangladesh is part of the world’s largest mangrove forests, home to the famous Bengal Tiger and a hotspot for dolphins, turtles, and birds. Millions of people depend on this beautiful part of the world for food, homes, and flood protection.  

The Sundarbans were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997, and will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year. As reported by UNESCO, In March 2016, the World Heritage Centre and International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) conducted a monitoring mission to review the conservation of this iconic area. The mission was requested by the World Heritage Committee during its 2015 session in Bonn.

The goal of the mission was to look at the potential impacts from the construction of the Rampal power plant, assessing risks from climate change, and evaluating the overall management system of the Sundarbans, including provisions around shipping safety. As reported by UNESCO, the mission visited the site of the proposed Rampal power plant, as well as the locations of a 2015 cargo vessel accident and 2016 oil spill. The team also met with with key ministries, industry representatives, port authorities, a small number of researchers and local community members.

 

Earlier this month, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN released a report on the mission. The report concludes that the proposed Rampal power plant, a 1320 megawatt super thermal power plant located just 65 kilometers from the World Heritage property, poses a serious threat to the site. The mission team identified four key concerns related to the plant’s construction. These concerns include: pollution from coal ash by air, pollution from wastewater and waste ash, increased shipping and dredging, and the cumulative impact of industrial and related development infrastructure. The mission recommends that the Rampal power plant project be cancelled and relocated to a more suitable location.

 

The report also concluded that the freshwater flow into the Sundarbans has been drastically reduced, resulting in substantial increases in siltation and salinity that are threatening the overall balance of the ecosystem. It further found that the site lacks a clear and comprehensive assessment of the combined effects from increasing coastal development.

The report recommends immediate action to secure adequate freshwater flow to the site, and calls for a new integrated management plan taking into account the carrying capacity of this fragile ecosystem that can secure a sustainable balance between socio-economic development and conservation.

The State Party of Bangladesh has been requested to provide a progress report to the World Heritage Centre by 1 December 2016, including a 1-page executive summary on the state of conservation of the property. The progress report will then be examined by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017, in view of possible inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

United Nation Day October 24

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united-nations-day1The 24th October, each year is the International United Nations Day. This followed a declaration by the United Nations General Assembly in 1947 which designated 24th of October, the anniversary of the Charter of the United Nations, as United Nations Day, by proclaiming that the day would be instrumental in making people aware and it shall be devoted in making known to the people of the world the aims and achievements of the United Nations and to gain their support for its work. By a further resolution that of the United Nations Resolution 2782 adopted in 1971 by the United Nations General Assembly, it was declared that the United Nations Day would henceforth be celebrated as an international holiday and it was recommended that it will be maintained as a public holiday by all United Nations member states. The event is instituted primarily to disseminate to people worldwide the aims and accomplishment of the United Nations Organization. The United Nations Day is in-fact part of a longer United Nations Week which spans from the 20th to the 26th of October.

united-nations-day3The United Nations Day involves celebratory events such as food festivals showcasing food from around the world and cultural concerts. In-fact the United Nations Day concert is an important part of the day’s celebrations at the United Nations Headquarters. The concert for the year 2011 was sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Mongolia. It featured the traditional “long song” and “throat-singing”. The previously mentioned oral music forms have henceforth been included in the UNESOC’s list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Cultural diversity is the drive-force behind greater development, a step towards leading a more enriching and wholesome intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual life. It is an important economic growth. Cultural diversity is thus a huge asset and a grand alleviator of poverty and a potent precursor of sustainable development. Moreover a larger and more receptive acceptance and recognition of cultural diversity particularly through innovative use of media are conducive to a better understanding, cooperation and dialogue between nations and varying civilizations and culture.

UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, 2001 and its following dialogues has become the core mandate of the UNESCO. And in celebrating the United Nations Day, the world is encouraged to celebrate these core principles of inter-cultural understanding and synthesis and a larger and more acute sense of being in the world, of belonging to a family, the largest family, the universe.

The aim of celebrating such a day, the United Nations Day, is the essential celebration of the values which this organization spells forth-the principles of humanity, unity, and world peace. Coming into effect after the two world wars and the cold war the United Nations was an attempt to salvage humanity from the scourge of war and the wrath of destruction-most importantly to ensure that the human world would never be subject to such instances of horror again. The promise has since been shouldered by the organization and many efforts to alleviate the human condition have been attempted.

America’s Endangered Historic Places

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embarcaderoThe National Trust for Historic Preservation announced earlier this month, the 2016 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. The annual list spotlights important examples of the nation’s architectural and cultural heritage that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage. The list has included more than 270 sites which have been placed on the list over its 29-year history, and in that time, fewer than five percent of listed sites have been lost as reported by the Trust.

The National Trust’s 29th annual list includes historic places in America’s urban areas at a time when cities across the U.S. are experiencing a resurgence. Over the last few decades, millions of Americans especially younger generation, have chosen to relocate to urban areas, with many choosing to live in distinctive, character-rich older and historic neighborhoods. Preservation is playing a key role in this trend, and Trust’s research suggests that older buildings are one of the most powerful tools in revitalization of nation’s urban centers.

The attention that comes from being on the list — along with the community support required to be included on it, can save a site and as a result it is important for the National Trust to place these names on its list.

Here are the 11 most endangered places for 2016 (in alphabetical order):

  1. Azikiwe-Nkrumah Hall at Lincoln University, Lincoln, Pennsylvania
  2. Bears Ears, Southeastern Utah
  3. Charleston Naval Hospital District, North Charleston, South Carolina
  4. Delta Queen, Houma, Louisiana
  5. El Paso’s Chihuahuita and El Segundo Barrio Neighborhoods, Texas
  6. Embarcadero Historic District, San Francisco, California
  7. Historic Downtown Flemington, New Jersey
  8. James River, James City County, Virginia
  9. Lions Municipal Golf Course, Austin, Texas
  10. Mitchell Park Domes, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  11. The Sunshine Mile, Tucson, Arizona

New Exhibition of Buddhist Heritage

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buddhist-sculptureA new exhibition was opened in The National Museum of Afghanistan on 29th April 2012. This exhibition that is entitled “Buddhist Heritage of Afghanistan” is depecting a very important part of our history, the Buddhism which has been practiced in Afghanistan for more than 1000 years. Buddhism in Afghanistan trace back to the middle of 3rd century CE and started fading with the arrival of Islam in the 7th century AD. During that long period Buddhism was practiced in Afghanistan along with other native religions. However, Buddhism had the largest number of followers, and sometimes was supproted by some kings of different dynasties that ruled Afghanistan.

New Photographs of Haxāmanišiyan Bas-Relief

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Photographs by Farzad Arian

Woman on Chariot wheelempire-chariot-wheel

The image of a woman on the  middle of a chariot wheel dated from the Haxāmanišiyan Empire. 550–330 BC.

 

 

Winged Human in Pasargadhuman-winged-in-pasargad

The royal figure carved on a stone pillar stands before a palace in Pasargad. It is believed that the figure belongs to Cyrus the Great. The figure wears an Elamite dress, an Egyptian crown, and 4 Assyrian wings- all member countries of the the Haxāmanišiyan Empire. 550–330 BC.

Experts Call Great Wall Repairs “Ridiculous”

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wallA recent repair and renovation work to the Great Wall of China,  a UNESCO World Heritage Site has created a lot of questions and concerns over how preservation of heritage sites are being done in China.  Chinese officials are being questioned over renovations to a crumbling section of the 700-year-old section of the Great Wall of China.  Many experts even in China are calling the work “ridiculous” and sub-standard.

It has been reported that the widely mocked project has involved five miles (8km) of the un-restored Xiaohekou section of the wall.  Defensive work and guard towers were knocked flat as part of the restoration project which was officially launched to prevent further deterioration caused by the natural elements.  However, the reports show that rather than using correct restoration and preservation techniques, sand and other materials were poured on top, protecting the wall but giving it the appearance of “an elevated bike path” according to some experts.

The head of the Liaoning provincial antiquities bureau, Ding Hui, was quoted by the newspaper, Beijing News that the work was completed two years ago, over the course of three months, as part of a government restoration plan.  It has been reported by several news agencies that the government’s culture bureau in Huludao city, which oversees Suizhong, has said that the restoration plan had been approved at central government level by the State Administration of Cultural Relics.  The officials have also said that the old wall was badly damaged over a long period of time and the restoration work was aimed at preventing it from falling apart and being washed away by the rain or becoming a safety concern. 

Many experts, however, are concerned that the work was done with major inconsistency, with different materials, including lime, mortar and concrete, used in different places and several news outlets have reported that Dong Yaohui, vice-chairman of the Great Wall Studies Society, called the restoration work “basic and crude” further adding that  “This sort of repair work harms the people’s appreciation of the Great Wall’s history and culture, severing a channel of dialogue between the people and cultural heritage”, Mr. Dong was quoted as saying by the Beijing News.

The section of the wall, built in the Ming dynasty in 1381, lies in Liaoning’s Suizhong county, along the border with Hebei province.  The wall dates from 220BC, when China joined existing walls and fortifications to defend against invasions from northern tribes.  Construction continued up to and through the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) until the wall became the world’s largest military structure.  Estimates of its overall length vary, but according to UNESCO, which named it a world heritage site in 1987, it once ran for more than 12,500 miles (20,000km).