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Nothing But Nets VH1 PSA

Malaria kills one million people each year, the majority of whom are children in sub-Saharan Africa. Simple measures, like sleeping under an insecticide treated bed net, significantly reduces the risk of infection. To help us better understand the effectivness of bed nets, Nothing But Nets teamed up with VH1 to create this PSA. As they say, "Send a Set, Save a Life"
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How Open Source Technology can be a Development Tool

Yesterday, the United Nations Foundation and the Vodafone Group Foundation announced the successful conclusion of a year long pilot program that integrated open source mobile phone technology into the public health systems of Kenya and Zambia. The pilot program equipped Palm Zires with a software tool called EpiSurveyor, created by the NGO Datadyne. (A little while back UN Dispatch featured a Delegates Lounge post by Datadyne's Dr. Joel Selanikio, who was training public health officials in Zambia how to use EpiSurveyor.) Zambia-palm2.jpg
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UNF and Foundation Prince Albert II Monaco Team Up to Combat Global Warming

Here at the Clinton Global Initiative, Prince Albert II of Monaco and UN Foundation chair Ted Turner announced that they will join forces to mobilize political will in support of a comprehensive agreement to combat catastrophic climate change. According to the release this includes "supporting both the Global Leadership for Climate Action (GLCA)- a partnership of the Club of Madrid and the UN Foundation – and the UN Foundation’s other climate change initiatives." The announcement was made moments ago preceding an apropos plenary, "Economic Growth in the Face of Resource Scarcity and Climate Change." Read the full release after the jump:
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Public Service Announcement: Emmanuel Jal Concert

Emmanuel Jal thinks he's 27 years old. Like all of the "Lost Boys of Sudan" Emmanuel says his birthday is New Years day -- and guesses the year was 1980. Emmanuel's confusion should not come as a surprise. When he only was eight years old, Emmanuel left his hometown in Southern Sudan to join an Ethiopian-sponsored militia that was fighting against the Sudanese government. For the next four years Emmanuel fought as a child soldier in South Sudan's devastating civil war, which lasted two decades and claimed more than 2 million lives. Then, at the age of twelve Emmanuel was rescued by Emma McCune, the late human rights activist who is the subject of the book Emma's War (which is being turned into a film.) Like his late rescuer, Emmanuel is also the subject of a forthcoming film. When I met him in a lunch organized by the documentary's production team, it was apparent that he is still haunted by memories of life as a child soldier. When he wakes up each morning, he instinctively checks himself for bullet wounds. In one recurring nightmare, he is surrounded by enemy soldiers, but his gun won't fire. "When I don't talk about it for a few weeks, the nightmares stop," says Emmanuel. But Emmanuel does more than just talk about his experience as a child soldier -- he raps about it. Emmanuel Jal is one of the rising stars of the world music scene. Check out his YouTube page and you will see why. His unique brand of hip-hop layered with African beats is taking the world music scene by storm. His song "Child Soldier" was featured on the soundtrack to Blood Diamond. USA Today calls him "Africa's hottest rap star." Emmanuel is playing a concert tomorrow night in Washington, DC at Night Club Ibiza. Proceeds will benefit a foundation he has established to build poly-technical schools in Southern Sudan, which under the UN's watch (which includes 10,000 peacekeepers) is slowly recovering from civil war. Those in the DC area should stop by, listen, and learn. You won't be disappointed. You can buy tickets (only $15) by following this link.
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Angelina Jolie Visits Refugees in Iraq

The United Nations High Commission on Refugees just announced that Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie traveled to Iraq and Syria yesterday to visit Iraqis displaced by violence. angelina-jolie-refugee-iraq-visit.jpg The Iraq refugee crisis is perhaps one of the most underreported stories from Iraq. UNHCR--the main international body looking out for the interests of the displaced--has estimated that over 4 million Iraqi's have been displaced by fighting, half of whom have fled to neighboring Syria and Jordan. Good on Angelina Jolie to take the personal risk to travel to Iraq to draw attention to their plight.
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Happy Centennial, Donal McLaughlin

You probably don't recognize his name, but you have seen his work. In the 1940's Donal Mclaughlin headed of the Graphics Division of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the World War II-era precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency. Among other things, McLaughlin helped design visual presentations for use in the Nuremburg Tribunals and even designed the courtroom itself. His most famous design was also produced in the wake of World War Two. Via Design Observer, a blog about graphic and architectural design, comes the fascinating story of how McLaughlin created one of the most universally recognizable symbols: the United Nations emblem.

The US State Department announced its intention to convene the United Nations Conference on International Organization in San Francisco in June 1945, and the OSS's Presentation Branch was asked to create displays, certificates, maps and guides for the delegates, and one seemingly modest thing."It was my good fortune," McLaughlin told me, "to be assigned the problem of designing a lapel pin for Conference identification." He went through dozens of designs, struggling with the challenge of accommodating a suitable image with the conference's name, date and location, all in a one and one-sixteenth diameter circle. His solution was what McLaughlin describes as "an azimuthally equidistant projection showing all the countries in one circle," flanked by crossed olive branches. It appeared not only on the delegate's pins, but was stamped in gold on the cover of the United Nations Charter. On June 26, the Charter was signed by delegates of fifty nations, and the United Nations was established. Donal McLaughlin, without fully intending to, had designed its emblem.

Today, July 26, 2007, is McLaughlin's 100th birthday. And after a century on this earth he remains an idealist, "I still believe that the UN is really our only hope for world peace," he tells Design Observer. Happy Birthday, Donal Mclaughlin. Keep up the good work!

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Chadian IDPs Need Your Help

The rainy season is about the hit Chad, where 200,000 people live in internally displaced persons camps. Rain means mosquitoes. And for people living in squalid camps, that means malaria and possible death. The situation is dire, but you can help. Nothing But Nets, a grassroots organization that sends insecticide treated bed nets to Africa, has launched an emergency appeal to send 40,000 bed nets to internally displaced persons camps in Chad in six weeks. The nets cost ten dollars each, and are suited to protect a family of four. Consider helping out. As they say: send a net, save a life.
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Fighting Cyber Squating

This is a bit beyond our normal UN coverage, but one agency that rarely gets the recognition it deserves is the World Intellectual Property Organization (or WIPO), which is dedicated to developing common international intellectual property rights mechanisms. This includes arbitrating so-called "cyber squatting" complaints. For those not in the know, cyber-squatting is "registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with bad-faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else." For example, (and this was a real case brought to arbitration) if one were to register the domain name Madonna.com in Tunisia, then market it as an "adult entertainment site," one would be accused of cyber-squating. Cyber squatting is illegal in the United States and many other countries. This is all coming to my attention today because WIPO just announced that there has been a 25% increase in cyber squatting complaints in 2006. Who knew? Could this be the start of a trend?