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Monday, December 31, 2012


NEW YORK, USA, Monday December 31, 2012 – Jamaican sprint ace Usain Bolt has done it again, bagging yet another award as the United States Sports Academy's (USSA) 2012 Male Athlete of the Year.

US tennis player Serena Williams took the honours as the USSA Female Athlete of the Year.

Bolt and Williams topped the voting for the USSA's 28th annual Athlete of the Year awards, which are presented in conjunction with NBC Sports.

Sports lovers from around the world chose the top male and female athlete from 12 male and 12 female nominees in online balloting on the USSA website. Voting took place from December 1 through December 21.

The Athlete of the Year Award is the culmination of USSA's Athlete of the Month programme in which the public nominates and votes online every month for the top athletes. Through those votes and an USSA selection committee, the male and female monthly winners are chosen, going on to form the list from which the Athlete of the Year is selected.

Bolt, USSA’s 2012 Male Athlete of the Year, remains the world's fastest man by successfully defending his titles as the Olympic gold medallist in the 100 and 200 metres at the 2012 London Games, becoming the first man to win both events in successive Summer Olympics. The 26-year-old track star went on to take a third gold medal as the anchor of Jamaica's world record-setting 400-metre relay team, repeating his hat-trick of wins at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Bolt triumphed over 11 finalists for the Male Athlete of the Year honour: New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera, US speedskater J.R. Celski, Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic, US decathlete Ashton Eaton, Miami Heat forward LeBron James, Irish golfer Rory McIlroy, Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi, Scottish tennis player Andy Murray, US swimmer Michael Phelps and British cyclist Bradley Wiggins.

Michael Phelps emerged runner-up for the 2012 Male Athlete of the Year honour. The most-decorated Olympian in history pushed his total to 22 medals, including 18 gold, as he became the first man to win the same event at three consecutive Olympics in the 200-metre individual medley at the 2012 London Games.

Novak Djokovic, the 2011 Male Athlete of the Year, finished third for the 2012 honour.

Serena Williams, the 2012 Female Athlete of the Year, took the gold medals in women's singles and doubles at the 2012 London Games and won the championships at Wimbledon and the US Open, running her total of Grand Slam titles to 15.

The other finalists for the Female Athlete of the Year Award were Belarusian tennis player Victoria Azarenka, Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings, US gymnast Gabby Douglas, British heptahlete Jessica Ennis, US sprinter Allyson Felix, US swimmer Missy Franklin, US sprinter Carmelita Jeter, Italian figure skater Carolina Kostner, US golfer Jessica Korda, Taiwanese golfer Yani Tseng and US alpine skier Lindsey Vonn.

Franklin finished second to Williams for the 2012 Female Athlete of the Year Award. The 17-year-old earned four gold medals and one bronze medal at the London Games. Vonn finished third in the female voting.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

CARICOM calls for end to hazardous waste shipments through Caribbean Sea

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Saturday December 29, 2012 – The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has called for an end to the shipment of hazardous waste through the Caribbean Sea.

“It is with gravest concern that the Caribbean Community reiterates and intensifies its opposition to the passage of shipments of high level waste through the Caribbean Sea.  The Caribbean Sea constitutes not only a part of the way of life of the Caribbean people but also a principal source of livelihood and socio-economic activity,” said CARICOM Chairman Dr. Kenny Anthony.

Anthony, who is also the Prime Minister of St. Lucia, made the call ahead of the trans-shipment of Vitrified High Level Waste from the United Kingdom to Japan through the Caribbean Sea.

“The United Kingdom’s imminent shipment of radioactive waste follows 14 such shipments to date, each of which has been strenuously objected to by CARICOM Heads of Government, Caribbean business communities and civil society.

“In this regard, the region is particularly disappointed by the continued disregard shown by the United Kingdom for the objections to such shipments given the historical relations which the Caribbean shares with the United Kingdom,” Prime Minister Anthony said in a statement.(CMC)

Friday, December 28, 2012


By Mark Kinver Environment reporter, BBC News

The growing evidence linking green spaces to human wellbeing could help strengthen the case for conservation, a conference has been told.

Professor Ken Norris from Reading University said green spaces improved wellbeing, so that meant "they can also be linked to our health".

Ecologists need to do better when it comes to convincing people about the importance of conservation, he added.

He made his comments at the British Ecological Society's annual meeting.

Prof Norris, a co-author of the UK National Ecosystem Assessment, said it was sometimes necessary for scientists to closely scrutinise their own work.

"It is very rare that we ask ourselves some very hard questions in the first place, such as 'why the hell are we doing this in the first place?'," he told the audience.

Making the link

He argued that there was a need to strengthen the arguments used by ecologists to justify the importance of the work they did.

He explained that he favoured a framework that embraced the "ecosystem services" concept, which places a value on ecosystem functions - such as reducing pollution or cleaning water - based on what the economic cost would be if we degraded an area's biodiversity.

"We know that these things are linked to our wellbeing, so that means that they can also be linked to our health," Prof Norris observed.

Another speaker, Dave Stone from Natural England, highlighted that connections between the environment and human health were appearing in a number of high level policy documents, such as the Natural Environment White Paper.

But he asked whether, at a population level rather than an individual level, functional ecosystems and biodiversity were important for health.

Focusing on urban environments, as more than 50% of humans on the planet now lived in towns or cities, he said two key issues were air quality and excess heat.

"Most people are well aware that both air quality and excess heat have implications for public health," Dr Stone said.

Listing official figures, he said that 20,000 deaths in the EU were attributed to ground level ozone pollution, and excess heat during France's 2003 drought claimed 15,000 lives.

He asked: "Those effects are very real and costs thousands of lives, so what is the role of potential ecosystem services?"

Just looking at what he called "intra-urban" ecosystem services, he said it was known that city trees and shrubs reduced particulate concentrations and "vegetated urban areas experienced lowers temperatures".

Incomplete picture

The co-ordinator of the presentations at the three-day BES meeting in Birmingham, Dr Becca Lovell from the European Centre for Environment and Human Health (ECEHH), said there were a number of reasons for bringing together an array of speakers on the issue.

"There is a lot of research that is linked to green spaces in general and people's health," she told BBC News.

"But what we don't know what type of green space this is; whether it is a golf course, forest or coastal area etc.

"We also don't know about the state of that green space; whether it is degraded or whether it is very high quality with a lot of biodiversity, and whether that is important for people's health and wellbeing."

While there were some examples of GPs prescribing walks etc, Dr Lovell explained that there was a need for more robust and widespread data in order for the issue to be embraced.

"Although it is a low cost intervention and can have some good outcomes, I do not think the strength of evidence is there yet to justify it to the medical community, which needs very strong evidence showing cost/benefits."

A project by Manchester Metropolitan and Chester universities analysed citations of published evidence on biodiversity and human health.

It found that over the past 40 years, 173 articles had been published in 104 different journals.

"We asked whose discipline is it," explained co-author Dr Konstantinos Tzoulas from Manchester Metropolitan University.

"Is it ecologists who are looking to go into the health sector, or is it the health sector that is looking to go into ecology?

"That is why we carried out this study," He told BBC News. "Who is producing evidence and who is reading it?"

The team found that the issue was being researched by at least 30 scientific disciplines, including health, psychology, architecture, forestry and ecology.

As a result, Dr Tzoulas observed, the results indicated that knowledge was diffusing between the disciplines.

Dr Lovell concluded: "There is definitely interest at the higher level and going into policy. The evidence is there but not quite at a level to convince a lot of clinically minded people."