Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Holidays and Observances for Apr 7 2015

International Beaver Day

Celebrate International Beaver Day April 7, Every Year!

Help people learn about these amazing animals on International Beaver Day,  April 7th. International Beaver Day is a fine time to hike to a beaver pond, arrange a display of books in your library, show a beaver video, and/or otherwise spread the word about nature’s engineer.

Remember beavers are more than fascinating watchable wildlife; learning to coexist with this species can help solve major environmental problems. By building dams beavers restore the land’s most valuable ecosystem, wetlands. Not only are wetlands havens of life with biodiversity comparable to tropical rain forests, they also provide essential services, such as water cleansing, climate regulation, and moderating the flow of streams.

We now have 10% or less, of North America’s beaver population prior to Euro-American colonization. (A much smaller percentage of the original Eurasian beaver population remains.) As beavers were eradicated in past centuries, their dams no longer filtered silt from streams, and kept water on the land longer. As beavers were wiped out, the majority of wetlands were drained, and waterways became disconnected from their floodplains. Rivers became more like canals or sewers, leading to today’s problems with water pollution, erosion, and escalating damage from regional floods and droughts.

Luckily effective, economical methods of coexistence exist that allow beavers to be our allies in restoring a healthy environment. Today, manmade (mitigation) wetlands cost from $10,000 to 100,000 per acre to build, while each beaver family creates and maintains several acres of wetlands—for free.

International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda

The decision to declare 7 April 2004 as the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda stems from a recommendation made by the Executive Council of the African Union. In March 2003, the Council recommended that the United Nations and the international community proclaim, in commemoration of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, an international day of reflection and recommitment to the fight against genocide throughout the world.

On 23 December 2003, the General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/58/234, mandating on 7 April the observance of the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda. That resolution "encourages Member States, organizations of the United Nations system and other relevant international organizations, as well as civil society organizations, to observe the Day, including special observances and activities in memory of the victims of the genocide". The resolution also calls upon all States to act in accordance with the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide so as to ensure that there is no repetition of events of the kind that occurred in Rwanda in 1994.

The Government of Rwanda has asked that the world's observance of the Day include a minute of silence at 12:00 noon local time in each time zone. At the Memorial Conference on the Rwanda Genocide, organized by the Governments of Canada and Rwanda at the United Nations in New York on 26 March 2004, the Secretary-General stated that "'Such a minute of silence has the potential to unite the world, however fleetingly, around the idea of global solidarity. I would like to urge all people, everywhere, no matter what their station in life, whether in crowded cities or remote rural areas, to set aside whatever they might be doing at noon on that day, and pause to remember the victims. Let us be united in a way we were not ten years ago. And let us, by what we do in one single minute, send a message - a message of remorse for the past, resolve to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again - and let’s make it resound for years to come."

The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide defines genocide as any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

In 1994, 800,000 Rwandans were slaughtered by their fellow countrymen and women, most for no other reason than that they belonged to a particular ethnic group. The killings began on 7 April 1994, the day after a plane carrying the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi was shot out of the sky with a missile as it prepared to land in Kigali. The systematic slaughter of men, women and children, which took place over the course of about 100 days between April and July of 1994, was perpetrated in full view of the international community. Appalling atrocities were committed, by militia and the armed forces, but also by civilians against other civilians. The genocide was highly organized, with top government and ruling party officials playing a role. Lists were drawn up of Tutsi and opposition leaders earmarked for assassination before the genocide itself actually began. The hate media also played a role in mobilizing support for and participation in the killings. Thus, the key perpetrators were not faceless crowds, but identifiable individuals who can be brought to justice.

International Snailpapers Day

The likelihood is that if you are reading this column you are online. Though China has to some extent bucked the trend of declining newspaper circulation the bet is 20 years from now it will be the same story here as everywhere else. The daily snailpaper is on its way out.

"Snailpaper," you say. "What's that?"

Wake up and smell the snailpapers

Well, following on from the idea of calling post that is written on a piece of paper and physically carried from one destination to another, snail mail (or smail, as opposed to e-mail), we have arrived at a point in history where we must start talking about the newspaper in the past tense by giving it a new name snailpaper.

Today, fortuitously, is International Snailpapers Day. Since you probably don't know what this involves, it's the first ever, after all, I will enlighten you. Right now, you should stop reading this article if you are online, log off and not get connected again for the rest of the day.

Instead, you are encouraged to pick up a newspaper, savor the feel of natural fibers, enjoy the rustling sound as you turn a page, press your nose to the newsprint and wallow in its inky tones. Savor this multi-sensory reading experience, as it fades away, like papers themselves.

International Snailpapers Day is the idea of a friend of mine, Dan Bloom, who has graduated from earning his living as a newspaperman to being a blogger and neologist. Based in sunny Chiayi, Taiwan, Bloom has been telling anyone who cares to listen (and he's hard to ignore) that we need a new term for newspapers.

"Don't get me wrong," he says, "I love the old-fashioned newspaper and we must do all we can to preserve it. Calling it a snailpaper might serve some small purpose, even if it is as a historical footnote to the slow death of what we all once loved and cherished."

Bloom's timing is uncanny because the iPad was launched this weekend in the United States and it's expected to revolutionize reading in much the same way that Apple transformed the phone into a multi-purpose communications device, able to do anything, from shopping to being a Star Trek Phaser app.

It all sounds wonderful, of course, but Bloom and others are right to wonder where this revolution is headed. We are already immersed in screens, connected 24-7 and at a loss for what to do without these devices.

Enter stage right, Hamlet's Blackberry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age, by media critic William Powers. Set to be published later this year, the book will make an argument against "the sacred dogma of the digital age - the more we connect through technology, the happier we are".

According to advance publicity from the book's publisher, Harper Collins: "Connectedness serves us best when it's offset by its opposite, disconnectedness. There are ways to strike a healthy balance between the two."

International Snailpapers Day is an opportunity to pause for a moment and if not smell the roses, inhale a little newsprint, before it's gone forever.

Metric System Day

Today April 7th on Metric System Day, we stumble into step with the rest of the world and calculate all manner of measurements according to the metric system. It’s a challenging adjustment to make, especially if your high school science class days are well behind you.

For those who may benefit from a refresher, the metric system was developed during the French Revolution by the Assemblee Constituante as a solution to the diverse measurement systems unhappily coexisting throughout Europe. The units in the various systems tended to have the same names, but none of them measured the same amounts. Instead of taking sides and advocating the use of one system over the rest, France decided it would be best to come up with a completely new system.

Over time, the entire world has come to accept this measurement system based on units of ten, except for the United States, Liberia, and Burma. The U.S. uses United States customary units (the foot, the inch, and so on), Burma has its own system of measurements, and our sources were surprisingly mum regarding Liberia’s measurement system. All three countries do, however, use the metric system for things like international trading.

Even so, when working within the international community, it’s best to specify which system of measurement should be used. NASA lost a $125 million Mars orbiter in 1999 because one team did a very important calculation according to the metric system and the other team used United States customary units. Whoops.

National Beer Day

Today is National Beer Day! People have been brewing beer ever since they began cultivating domesticated grains 8,000 years ago. Beer has been an important part of human culture ever since. For example, over 4,000 years ago an anonymous poet wrote an ode to Ninkasi—the Sumerian goddess of beer and brewing! Today, beer is the third most popular beverage in the world behind water and tea.

If you’re searching for an original brewmaster to toast the next time you knock back a cold one, you might be out of luck. It’s difficult to attribute the invention of beer to a particular culture or time period, but the world’s first fermented beverages most likely emerged alongside the development of cereal agriculture some 12,000 years ago. As hunter-gatherer tribes settled into agrarian civilizations based around staple crops like wheat, rice, barley and maize, they may have also stumbled upon the fermentation process and started brewing beer. In fact, some anthropologists have argued that these early peoples’ insatiable thirst for hooch may have contributed to the Neolithic Revolution by inspiring new agricultural technologies.

The earliest known alcoholic beverage is a 9,000-year-old Chinese concoction made from rice, honey and fruit, but the first barley beer was most likely born in the Middle East. While people were no doubt imbibing it much earlier, hard evidence of beer production dates back about 5,000 years to the Sumerians of ancient Mesopotamia. Archeologists have unearthed ceramic vessels from 3400 B.C. still sticky with beer residue, and 1800 B.C.’s “Hymn to Ninkasi”—an ode to the Sumerian goddess of beer—describes a recipe for a beloved ancient brew made by female priestesses. These nutrient-rich suds were a cornerstone of the Sumerian diet, and were likely a safer alternative to drinking water from nearby rivers and canals, which were often contaminated by animal waste.

Beer consumption also flourished under the Babylonian Empire, but few ancient cultures loved knocking back a few as much as the Egyptians. Workers along the Nile were often paid with an allotment of a nutritious, sweet brew, and everyone from pharaohs to peasants and even children drank beer as part of their everyday diet. Many of these ancient beers were flavored with unusual additives such as mandrake, dates and olive oil. More modern-tasting libations would not arrive until the Middle Ages, when Christian monks and other artisans began brewing beers seasoned with hops.

So why is National Beer Day celebrated on April 7th? On this day in 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt took the first step toward ending Prohibition and signed a law that allowed people to brew and sell beer as long as it remained below 4.0% alcohol by volume (ABV). Despite the low ABV, Americans were thrilled to be able to purchase beer for the first time in thirteen years!

Whether you prefer pale ale, stout, or lager, enjoy a pint of your favorite beer today to celebrate National Beer Day!

National Coffee Cake Day

There is absolutely no reason you can't have a slice of cake with your coffee today. April 7 is National Coffee Cake Day.

We can thank the Danish who popularized eating sweet bread with coffee. The Danish came up with the earliest versions of the coffee cake. Around the 17th century in Europe, it became the custom to enjoy a delicious sweet and yeasty type of bread when drinking coffee beverages.

Coffee cake is a common cake or sweetbread intended to be eaten alongside coffee usually in the morning for breakfast or later as a dessert.

Coffee cakes are often flavored with cinnamon, nuts like pecans, walnuts, or almonds, fruits like blueberry, strawberry, banana, or lemon, even cheese or chocolate. Coffee cake often has a crumb like topping sometimes referred to as Streusel.

A coffee cake is typically a single layer cakes that may be square or rectangular.
"A coffee cake does not necessarily contain coffee."
Celebrate National Coffee Cake Day by baking a homemade coffee cake to share with your family and friends. They will love you for it.

National No Housework Day

Are you always looking for an excuse to put off housework and cleaning for just one more day? Well look no further, today's holiday absolutely insists that you put down the sponge and cleaning supplies and just relax!

A 2008 study conducted at the University of Michigan found that the average married American woman does 17 hours of housework per week! After a long day at school or work, housework is the last thing anyone wants to come home to do.

Doctors and health experts say that it is essential for people with busy lifestyles to factor in time to relax. Relaxation can lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce headaches, and improve concentration.

Celebrate National No Housework Day by ignoring the dirty dishes in the sink and the piles of laundry that need to be done and just relax. You deserve it!

World Health Day

The World Health Day is celebrated every year on 7 April, under the sponsorship of the World Health Organization (WHO).

In 1948, the WHO held the First World Health Assembly. The Assembly decided to celebrate 7th April of each year, with effect from 1950, as the World Health Day. The World Health Day is held to mark WHO's founding, and is seen as an opportunity by the organization to draw worldwide attention to a subject of major importance to global health each year. The WHO organizes international, regional and local events on the Day related to a particular theme. Resources provided continue beyond 7 April, that is, the designated day for celebrating the World Health Day.

World Health Day is acknowledged by various governments and non-governmental organizations with interests in public health issues, who also organize activities and highlight their support in media reports, such as through press releases issued in recent years by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Global Health Council.

World Health Day 2014 will spotlight some of the most commonly known vectors – such as mosquitoes, sandflies, bugs, ticks and snails – responsible for transmitting a wide range of parasites and pathogens that can cause many different illnesses. Mosquitoes, for example, transmit malaria - the most deadly vector-borne disease, causing an estimated 660 000 deaths annually worldwide - as well as dengue fever, lymphatic filariasis, chikungunya, Japanese encephalitis and yellow fever.

The goal of the World Health Day 2014 campaign is better protection from vector-borne diseases, especially for families living in areas where diseases are transmitted by vectors, and travelers to countries where they pose a health threat. The campaign also advocates for health authorities in countries where vector-borne diseases are a public health problem or emerging threat, to put in place measures to improve surveillance and protection.