Monthly Archives: August 2013

Last chance to live on Mars

The mission was proposed in May 2012. Today is the last day to apply online for the Mars One Project. So far more than 165,000 applications from over 140 countries to participate in the TV reality show.

The Dutch-based non-profit organisation is giving a chance to 40 aspiring astronauts to experience life on the red plant by offering them a one-way ticket in 2023. There is a small application fee depending on the country of residence. This fee is used to cover costs of this project.

Where are the applicants from?

USA is at the top of the list of countries where 23 % of most applicants are from. This is followed by China, Brazil, India, Russia, UK, Mexico, Canada, Spain and the Philippines.

Bas Lansdorp, CEO and co-founder of Mars One said: “The cultural diversity of Mars One applicants reflects the international nature of this project and ultimately makes it humanity’s mission to Mars.”

The application criteria

There is a stringent selection process in place to ensure minimum risk to the lives of the astronauts.

All applicants must be over the age of 18 and must be free from any disease and dependency on alcohol, drugs and tobacco. They should have general fitness and 100% or 20/20 eyesight corrected or uncorrected. The applicant’s blood pressure must not exceed 140/90 and their height should be between 157 and 190 cm.

The selection procedure

There are four rounds. The initial application contains general information about the applicant, a CV, a motivational letter and a one-minute video explaining why they should be selected to be the first inhabitants on Mars.

The second round will be the submission of a medical fitness certificate and an interview.

The third round will be broadcasted on the TV and the internet. The audience will select the winner per region. They will be given challenges to demonstrate their suitability.

In round four, the participants will have to demonstrate their ability to live in harsh conditions and work under difficult circumstances. The applicants will be tested on the basis of their characteristics of resilience, adaptability, curiosity, ability to trust and creativity or resourcefulness.

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Weird laws to watch out for

Who knew that you could be fined for feeding a pigeon in Venice or could be arrested and detained for photographing government buildings, palaces and military installations in Saudi Arabia?

These things could seem innocent to several people but could be some of the reasons why people pay hefty fines and are arrested and detained abroad.

“Every year British nationals find themselves on the wrong side of the law unexpectedly, resulting in fines or in some cases arrests or even jail sentences,” says Charles Hay, Director of Consular Services in a statement issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in the UK following the FCO British Behaviour Abroad Report 2013.

The FCO assisted 19,244 British nationals in 2012/13.

Some examples of weird laws

Country

Law

Penalty/Consequences

Netherlands Don’t carry or use drugs. While the Netherlands has a reputation for being tolerant on the use of so-called ‘soft drugs’ this exists only for designated areas. Possession of prohibited substances or buying them can carry a prison sentence Arrest, detention
Venice Feeding the pigeons is against the law Fines
Japan It is illegal to take some commonly available nasal sprays containing pseudoephedrine into Japan Fines
Barcelona It is against the law to wear a bikini, swimming trunks or to go bare-chested away from the beach front area in Barcelona Fines
Singapore Chewing gum on the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system in Singapore is strictly prohibited Fines
Thailand It is illegal to import more than 200 cigarettes into Thailand Large fines and confiscation
Italy (Florence) It is an offence to sit on steps and courtyards or to eat and drink in the immediate vicinity of churches and public buildings in Florence Large fines
Saudi Arabia In Saudi Arabia photographing government buildings, military installations and palaces is prohibited Arrest and detention
Barbados It is an offence for anyone, including children, to dress in camouflage clothing Fines
Nigeria It is illegal to take mineral water into Nigeria Fines, confiscation
Fiji Sunbathing topless is prohibited Fines
Maldives Public observance of religions other than Islam is prohibited for non-Maldivians and visitors Arrest, detention

How to avoid such consequences?

One can easily avoid these circumstances by researching travel destinations thoroughly in advance. It is worth keeping in mind that the laws of the land are in force irrespective of the persons nationality.

“Consular staff often find that travelers are unaware that local laws apply to them and many British nationals think of their British passport as a ‘get out of jail free’ card,” adds Charles Hay.

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The Notting Hill Carnival

Dance, music and masquerade. This is what London will witness during the bank holiday weekend at the Notting Hill Carnival.IMG_3624

The Notting Hill Carnival is taking place on 25th and 26th August in London. The annual festival was started in 1964 by the Afro-Caribbean communities to celebrate their own cultures and tradition. This year will be the 49th carnival.

Largest street festival in Europe.

The Notting Hill Carnival is the second largest carnival in the world after the Rio de Janeiro carnival. The carnival is a true chance to witness the diversity of London with its vibrancy and zest.

The parade

IMG_3601

The parade is the carnival procession that begins at 9 am on Sunday and Monday. Sunday is carnival’s children’s day with a shorter parade and chances to win prizes. The main parade is on Monday. The carnival after-parties will begin once the parade has finished and the floats leave the area.

The Afro-Caribbean specialities

Jerk Chicken

Jerk Chicken

There are several stalls serving traditional Caribbean food and drink like the jerk chicken or pork with rice and peas, curried goat, fried plantain, Jamaican patties, Red Stripe lager, coconut water, rum punch.

There will be traditional and contemporary sounds in the air right from Reggae, Steel Pan, Calypso and R&B to Soca, House, Funk and many more.

Useful tips

  • Leave you car at home. Many tube stations will either be closed or have time restrictions. The best modes of transport are your legs.
  • The area will be crowded. Thieves will make hay while the sun shines so keep valuables at home.
  • The streets and footpath will be overflowing with people so do not carry heavy luggage and buggies.
  • Due to overcrowding, mobile phone networks can get jammed.
  • Carry cash, as food stalls don’t accept cards. Getting to a cash point in the crowd can be a pain and some cash points do run out of money.

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