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Germany Health

No family at the graveside, no friends, no colleagues: in Germany, increasing numbers of people are being buried in public health funerals. The reasons go beyond demographics. | 11/25/18
Germany's health minister has called for people without children to pay significantly more into the pension scheme. But others in the government have dismissed the idea as an attempt to punish childless residents. | 11/9/18
Just under 800 people donated their organs in 2016. Health Minister Jens Spahn wants to improve those numbers by revamping hospitals and introducing a system where you opt out of donating organs, rather than opting in. | 10/31/18

Since becoming a member of the royal family in May, Meghan Markle has been known to style her brunette tresses in loose waves and the occasional messy bun.

However, for her first day in Dubbo and the second day of hers and Prince Harry’s major royal tour of Australia, Meghan opted for a ponytail.

The former Suits actress, 37, styled the low ponytail with a top from Maison Kitsune, jeans by Outland, boots from J.Crew and a grey blazer from her best friend and tennis star Serena William’s collection.

This isn’t the first time Meghan has supported best friend Williams’ style and sporting endeavors. In July, Meghan and her sister-in-law Kate Middleton had their first solo outing together at the Ladies’ Singles Final at the Wimbledon Championships. Throughout the event, Meghan could be seen cheering on Williams, who lost to Germany’s Angelique Kerber.

It’s also not the first time Meghan has flaunted a ponytail.

For her nephew Prince Louis christening this past summer, Meghan wore an olive green Ralph Lauren dress, which featured a boatneck and wore her hair in a ponytail to show off her hat by Stephen Jones.

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Following their warm welcome in Dubbo in which Harry was greeted by an enamored little boy, Meghan and Harry met with a local fourth generation cattle and sheep farm family to hear their experiences with the drought.

While learning from the farmers Scott and Elaine Woodley and their 23-year-old daughter Laura, Meghan and Harry also got a chance to feed cattle, which consisted of dumping a mixture of grains onto piles of hay.

RELATED: Meghan Markle’s Best Friend Jessica Mulroney Arrives in Australia Hours After Baby Announcement

Next, the royal couple visited Victoria Park for a picnic to celebrate the community spirit within the region.

Once there, Meghan and Harry were met with unexpected rainfall, which Harry joked was a “gift,” during his speech as the Dubbo community has been drought-stricken for the past two years.

Also in his speech, Harry praised the people of Dubbo for being, “honest, hardworking and as tough as they come and that resilience, sense of humor and commitment to the land are the qualities that make you unique.”

While the rain was a welcomed surprise, Harry went on to say “it is going to take a lot more and a long time to recover,” from the water shortage.

He also spoke on the increase of suicides by male farmers as a result of the drought. “But you need to know, part of being strong and tough is having the courage to ask for help when you need it. You must not silently suffer.”

Harry previously opened up about his own mental health battles as he struggled after the death of his mother Princess Diana.

“You are all in this together and, if I may say, personally, we are all in this together. Because asking for help was one of the best decisions that I ever made.”

Meghan and Harry will spend 16 days touring Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand.

The tour “will focus on youth leadership, and projects being undertaken by young people to address the social, economic, and environmental challenges of the region,” the palace said in a statement. Harry “is particularly keen to highlight these youth-led initiatives in his new role as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador, and to shine a light on the work and aspirations of young people across the Commonwealth.” | 10/17/18
The number of employees in Germany who were written off sick rose by 60 percent in recent years — especially those with mental health complaints. Despite this, the German government has said there's no reason to panic. | 9/21/18
Members of the special commission of Russia's Federal Space Agency Roscosmos investigating into the causes of the recent depressurisation of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft came to conclusion that American astronauts could intentionally drill a hole in the coating to bring back their sick colleague back to Earth ahead of schedule.Roscosmos asked NASA to provide health reports for US astronauts and the data from their video cameras. Chances to obtain such information are extremely small, because this type of information is regarded as medical secrecy. If the above version of the incident is confirmed, Russian-American relations may sink to new lows. Against the backdrop of the aggravation of relations between the two countries, space has so far remained practically the only sphere where it was possible to maintain fruitful cooperation between Russia and the United States.Roscosmos officials refused to comment on the above-mentioned version. Vladimir Ustimenko, an official spokesman for the agency, said that Roscosmos will not discuss any insinuations until the special commission exposes the results of its work. The incident on board the International Space Station took place on August 30, when pressure on the docked Soyuz spaceships started falling. The crew found a small hole in the shell of the spacecraft and fixed the problem with the help of epoxy resin. On August 31, astronauts strengthened the patch with an additional layer of sealant.A few days later, Roscosmos representatives said that the depressurisation of the spaceship occurred due to a manufacturing defect. Russian Space Corporation Energia launched an internal investigation into the incident with the participation of a special commission of Roscosmos.On September 4, the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, did not exclude a version of sabotage on the ISS. Cosmonaut Maxim Suraev, who spent 167 days on board the ISS in 2014, supported such an assumption. "Maybe, someone was very tired of flying in there, and they wanted an early descent. They drilled a hole, and if it hadn't been found, the crew would have returned back to Earth ahead of schedule," he said. The day before, Rogozin told reporters at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok that the results of the investigation conducted by the special commission of Roscosmos have not provided an objective picture of what happened. "The situation has turned out to be much more complicated than we thought before," the head of the state corporation admitted.For the time being, it is believed that the hole in the coating of the Soyuz spaceship appeared after the vehicle docked to the ISS. Around the hole, there were traces found indicating that someone was trying to drill the hole several times. The drill could leave such traces on the shell of the spacecraft when used in vacuum. The Soyuz docks the ISS near the "Dawn" module next to the lock with the American part of the station. One can access the ship only with the permission from the commander, but one could enter the spaceship covertly too. Mission Control allegedly ordered the commander of the Russian crew not to allow US specialists to the Russian part of the ISS without commander's permission. There are six people living on board the ISS at the moment: Andrew Feustel, Richard Arnold and Serena Aunon-Chancellor (all US citizens),  Alexander Gerst (Germany), Oleg Artemiev and Sergei Prokopiev (Russia).
German Health Minister Jens Spahn's suggestion that Germany needs an opt-out organ donor system to boost numbers, has drawn both applause and criticism. For Tamsin Walker, it's been an overdue wake-up call. | 9/7/18
Health Minister Jens Spahn wants organ donation to occur automatically if a person fails to explicitly decide against it. But his plan faces stiff opposition from Germany's Ethics Council. | 9/3/18
The widow of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo moved to Berlin in July after years of house arrest in China. In a picture tweeted by exiled Chinese writer Liao Yiwu, she can be seen enjoying a glass of German beer. | 8/11/18
David Evans' father had not written a will before he died in Germany, leaving his son in debt. | 8/7/18
For those seeking psychological help in Germany, it can take months before a spot in therapy opens up. Online therapy can reduce waiting time, but only a handful of health insurance companies currently cover the costs. | 8/3/18

Some of us can barely make it from the kitchen to our bedroom without tripping over our on feet, so we’re endlessly impressed by these performers who get back up on the stage, no matter how many times they end up nosediving in front of a crowd.

These 14 onstage wipeouts were particularly memorable, and prove that cringing is basically an occupational hazard when you’re a music star.

1. Blake Shelton

After falling during a concert in Pendleton, Oregon, in July 2018, PEOPLE’s 2017 Sexiest Man Alive turned to Twitter to poke fun at his actions and ask for the evidence.

“Ok Pendleton I know somebody is bound to have video of me falling on stage last night!!” he posted. “Please!! I have to see it!!! Post that s—t! And yes I had been drinking. A lot.”

Fans supplied footage from multiple angles of Gwen Stefani’s boyfriend stumbling before righting himself and picking up his guitar.

My friend @devore_dani caught it!

— Alexandrea Rivera (@AlexandreaH13) July 15, 2018

Shelton pointed a finger at Pitbull, his fellow performer at the Pendleton Whisky Music Fest, for getting him a little too lubricated. “By the way @pitbull…I blame you,” Shelton wrote on Twitter. “It was my attempt at competing with your show… I am a dancing son of a bitch when I don’t take a 10 second giant s—t fall….”

2. Shawn Mendes
A mid-set jump turned into a mid-set jump straight down into the pit during the singer’s July 2018 concert in Quebec City.

OH NO @ShawnMendes LOL

— Shawn Legendas (@ShawnLegendas) July 9, 2018

A Twitter user caught the scary moment, but Mendes replied — in good health. “LOL yep. Im ok but also that was insane hahahahaha,” he wrote.

3. Madonna
Madge famously ended up on the floor when her theatrical cape failed to properly rip off near the beginning of a 2015 Brit Awards performance.

The musical icon was able to stand back up and finish the song, but she later revealed that the wardrobe malfunction had put her in serious danger of a head injury. “I didn’t hurt my butt, I hurt my head,” she revealed on The Jonathan Ross Show. “I know how to fall. I’ve fallen off my horse many times, and I tucked, and I have good core strength, but the thing is, I had a little bit of a whiplash, and I smacked the back of my head. So, there was a man standing over me with a flashlight until about 3 a.m. making sure that I was still compos mentis.”

“It was a horrible nightmare, because I like to be amazing,” she added. “Seriously, I rehearse and I rehearse and I rehearse, so that when I do the show it’s effortless and I create magic, and I did the opposite.”

4. Demi Lovato
Warning: Stages are slippery when went. Lovato found out as much while performing at a pool party to promote her 2015 single “Cool For The Summer” in some very high heels.

Lovato was a good sport about the fall, quickly jumping into the pool after the tumble and even posting a video of the incident on Instagram with “#NOTCoolForTheSummer.”

5. Luke Bryan
The country singer got a little caught up in his booty shaking at a 2014 concert in Charlotte, North Carolina, and ended up falling right off the stage.

Security guards helped Bryan back up and he was able to finish the concert mostly unharmed.

The next day, Bryan updated his fans on Twitter, revealing that he received a few stitches after the mishap.

I'm good. Few stitches.

— Luke Bryan (@LukeBryanOnline) May 30, 2014

Like any good managers, his team also chimed in to share some pics and throw some playful jabs at the star, who had taken a few previous mid-show tumbles.

.@LukeBryanOnline Charlotte uh oh, gone and fell off stage, #ouch

— Brian O'Connell (@boccountry) May 30, 2014

New set list @LukeBryanOnline ready set ….

— Brian O'Connell (@boccountry) May 30, 2014

6. Justin Bieber
When you perform as much as Bieber, you’re bound to have a few falls, so it’s no surprise that the “Sorry” singer has several spills to his name.

One particularly memorable snafu took place in Saskatoon, Canada, in 2016, when he didn’t notice an open trap door. Bieber seemingly disappeared as he fell through the hole in the stage with an alarming thud.

Luckily, Biebs was able to crawl back out unscathed. “Good thing I’m like a cat and I landed on my feet — oh my God,” he joked to the audience. “That scared the f— outta me.”

The resilient star also took a handful of other Purpose tour falls:

#CrewGoals always there when you have a fall @justinbieber you clutz, hope you're okay doe

— lauren (@_ohsnapitsloz) June 30, 2016

7. Harry Styles
The One Direction charmer completely ate it at a 2015 show in San Diego, California.

The boy bander appeared to get tripped up by his microphone as the group sang “Through The Dark,” prompting him to go down in spectacular fashion.

Styles recovered with a smile, and the One Direction boys later reminisced on their many stumbles on Ellen. “That one was bad,” Styles said of the San Diego accident. “The worst part of that is all my friends were there. Right at the front.”

8. Ariana Grande
Grande’s ultra high heels may have been her literal downfall during a Toronto concert.

After the slip, the star quickly got back to her feet and continued strutting and belting out “Bang Bang.”

9. Iggy Azalea
The rapper fell clear off the stage while performing “Fancy” at a 2014 MTV Video Music Awards benefit concert.

Impressively, Azalea continued to rap from below the stage as security scrambled to help her back up.

After the show, Azalea shared a video of the fall on Instagram, writing “Sorry but it would be a crime not to share this with you all, I know I laughed. #StillFinishedtheSongTho #KeptOnRapping #TheShowMustGoOn.”

10. Meghan Trainor
At a May 2016 appearance on The Tonight Show, Trainor collapsed on the floor at the end of her song “Me Too.”

Although she appeared to hurt her ankle on the way down, the singer was in good spirits after the fall, laughing as host Jimmy Fallon joined her on the floor.

Trainor took to Twitter to assure her fans that she was okay after the late night blunder.

Haha I didn't feel it till hours later . I'm all good tho. Barely a scratch

— Meghan Trainor (@Meghan_Trainor) May 13, 2016

11. Selena Gomez
A pesky set of stairs cost Gomez her first fall of her 2016 Revival tour.

Selena Gomez is the only person who can fall in front of thousands of people & still be cute

— Serena Harwell (@serenamaria) June 20, 2016

The starlet was singing “Kill Em with Kindness” in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when she went down. “First fall on the whole damn tour. Can you believe it,” she laughed, clearly unfazed by the slip that may have embarrassed us mere mortals.

12. Pink
A performance in Nuremberg, Germany, became a very scary situation in 2010 when a harness used for one of Pink’s aerial stunts was not properly secured.

The harness launched her into the crowd barricade during “So What,” sending the popstar from the arena to a hospital.

Pink tweeted to her fans on her way to get medical care, and later updated them with the good news that she had not been seriously injured.

To all my nurnberg fans- I am so so so sorry to end the show that way.I am embarassed and very sorry. I'm in ambulance now but I will b fine

— P!nk (@Pink) July 15, 2010

Ok all my lovers out there- nothings broken, no fluid in the lungs, just seriously sore. I made that barricade my b*tch!!!! Thanx nurnberg:(

— P!nk (@Pink) July 15, 2010

13. Dave Grohl
In perhaps the most serious accident of them all, the Foo Fighters frontman suffered a broken leg after falling from a Gothenburg, Sweden, stage.

“I think I just broke my leg. I think I really broke my leg,” Grohl told the crowd from the ground. Amazingly, Grohl returned to the stage about an hour later via a stretcher, and proceeded to perform with his freshly broken leg for over two more hours.

The band tweeted proof of their fearless leader’s injury after the show.

Thank you Gothenburg. That was amazing.

— Foo Fighters (@foofighters) June 12, 2015

Unfortunately the broken bone forced the Foo Fighters to cancel several subsequent shows. But Grohl eventually returned to the tour with his broken leg and simply performed while sitting on a throne.

His orthopedic surgeon,  Dr. Lew C. Schon, even joined him onstage at a Boston show.

14. Ed Sheeran
While opening for bestie Taylor Swift on her 2013 Red tour, the singer-songwriter misjudged his ability to jump onto a piece of sound equipment, and ended up heading for the floor.

Sheeran launched from the fall into a rather impressive somersault-type move, and continued singing “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You” for the Omaha, Nebraska, audience. | 7/17/18

Stan Dragoti, the ad man-turned-film director who co-created the “I Love New York” campaign and is best known for his comedy films “Love at First Bite” and “Mr. Mom,” died July 13. He was in an assisted living facility and had been experiencing health issues following open heart surgery in 2014, the Hollywood Reporter reports.

Born in 1932 in New York to Albanian immigrant parents, Dragoti began his career directing commercials, most prominently for pioneering ad agency Wells Rich Greene beginning in 1966. There, he formed a creative partnership with future ad legend Charlie Moss, leading them to co-write the script for Dragoti’s debut feature film, the revisionist Western “Dirty Little Billy” in 1972.

The pair remained close after Dragoti’s departure from Wells Rich Greene in 1972. Five years later, Moss recruited Dragoti to help create the commercials for the “I Love New York” ad campaign, introduced in 1977.

Also Read: Steve Ditko, 'Spider-Man' and 'Doctor Strange' Co-Creator, Dies at 90

Dragoti’s first success as a film director would come two years later with “Love at First Bite,” a romantic comedy starring George Hamilton as Dracula, who moves to New York City at the height of disco. It was a solid success, earning $43 million on a $3 million budget.

That same year, Dragoti was arrested in Frankfurt, Germany, after authorities discovered he was trying to smuggle 21 grams of cocaine onto a flight. He was jailed for eight weeks, but received a suspended 21-month sentence upon release. He attributed the incident to his imploding personal life, as his nine-year marriage to his second wife, model Cheryl Tiegs, was ending at that time. “I guess you could say I was not strong enough to take the pain,” he later told People Magazine.

Dragoti’s next film, the 1983 comedy “Mr. Mom” starring Michael Keaton, was also a success. His other films include 1985’s “The Man With One Red Shoe,” starring Tom Hanks, 1989’s “She’s Out of Control,” starring Tony Danza and Catherine Hicks, and “Necessary Roughness,” starring Scott Bakula.

Dragoti is survived by his wife, Yolanda.

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In an open letter on Monday addressed to “Fellow Humans,” actress Rose McGowan urged people not to seek to blame Anthony Bourdain’s girlfriend, her friend Asia Argento, for his death by suicide last week.

“Many of these people who lost their ‘friend’ are wanting to lash out and blame. You must not sink to that level. Suicide is a horrible choice, but it is that person’s choice,” she wrote.

“Anthony was part of a ‘pull up your bootstraps and march on’ generation. The a ‘strong man doesn’t ask for help’ generation,” McGowan wrote in the letter, which she said was sent at the urging of Argento herself.

Also Read: Anthony Bourdain's Ex-Wife: 'I Hope You Are Having a Good Trip, Wherever You Are'

“I know before Anthony died he reached out for help, and yet he did not take the doctor’s advice. And that has led us here, to this tragedy, to this loss, to this world of hurt,” McGowan noted. “Do NOT do the sexist thing and burn a woman on the pyre of misplaced blame. Anthony’s internal war was his war, but now she’s been left on the battlefield to take the bullets. It is in no way fair or acceptable to blame her or anyone else, not even Anthony.”

Argento, who had been publicly linked to Bourdain for more than a year, had become the target of some online trolls speculating about the state of their relationship.

Hours before Bourdain’s body was found in a hotel room outside Paris, People reported, Argento had posted a now-deleted Instagram post of herself wearing a t-shirt that read “F— Everyone” with the caption “You know who you are.”

McGowan said that Bourdain and Argento “had a free relationship, they loved without borders of traditional relationships, and they established the parameters of their relationship early on. Asia is a free bird, and so was Anthony.”

Also Read: What's the Future of CNN's 'Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown' After His Death?

McGowan also urged fans to focus on the unique challenges of depression as a mental illness. “Anthony was open with his demons, he even wrote a book about them,” she wrote. “In the beginning of their relationship, Anthony told a mutual friend, ‘He’s never met anyone who wanted to die more than him.'”

She added that Argento herself shared some of the same mental-health issues. “Through a lot of this last year, Asia did want the pain to stop,” she wrote. “But here’s the thing, over their time together, thankfully, she did the work to get help, so she could stay alive and live another day for her and her children.

“Anthony’s depression didn’t let him, he put down his armor, and that was very much his choice,” she wrote. “His decision, not hers. His depression won.”

Also Read: Suicide Prevention Calls Increase After Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain Deaths

Read her full letter here:

Dear Fellow Humans,

Sitting across from me is the remarkable human and brave survivor, Asia Argento, who has been through more than most could stand, and yet stand she does. She stood up to her monster rapist and now she has to stand up to yet another monster, suicide. The suicide of her beloved lover and ally, Anthony Bourdain. I write these truths because I have been asked to. I know so many around the world thought of Anthony Bourdain as a friend and when a friend dies, it hurts. Many of these people who lost their ‘friend’ are wanting to lash out and blame. You must not sink to that level. Suicide is a horrible choice, but it is that person’s choice.

When Anthony met Asia, it was instant chemistry. They laughed, they loved and he was her rock during the hardships of this last year. Anthony was open with his demons, he even wrote a book about them. In the beginning of their relationship, Anthony told a mutual friend, “He’s never met anyone who wanted to die more than him.” And through a lot of this last year, Asia did want the pain to stop. But here’s the thing, over their time together, thankfully, she did the work to get help, so she could stay alive and live another day for her and her children. Anthony’s depression didn’t let him, he put down his armor, and that was very much his choice. His decision, not hers. His depression won. Anthony and Asia had a free relationship, they loved without borders of traditional relationships, and they established the parameters of their relationship early on. Asia is a free bird, and so was Anthony. Was. Such a terrible word to write. I’ve heard from many that the past two years they were together were some of his happiest and that should give us all solace.

Anthony was 61, the same age my father was when he died. My father also suffered from intermittent deep depression, and like Anthony, was part of a “pull up your bootstraps and march on” generation. The a “strong man doesn’t ask for help” generation. I know before Anthony died he reached out for help, and yet he did not take the doctor’s advice. And that has led us here, to this tragedy, to this loss, to this world of hurt. Do NOT do the sexist thing and burn a woman on the pyre of misplaced blame. Anthony’s internal war was his war, but now she’s been left on the battlefield to take the bullets. It is in no way fair or acceptable to blame her or anyone else, not even Anthony. We are asking you to be better, to look deeper, to read and learn about mental illness, suicide and depression before you make it worse for survivors by judging that which we do not understand, that which can never fully be understood. Sometimes we are stuck in the unknowable, and that is where we are now, a massive wave of darkness that threatens to swallow everyone in its wake.

As I watch Asia do her job on set today, I see a pillar of strength who continues to work to put food on her children’s table. I see Elizabeth Taylor carrying on filming Cat on a Hot Tin Roof despite her love, her husband, dying in a plane crash. I see all of us who have carried on. Please join me in sending healing energy to Anthony on his journey, and to all who’ve been left behind to journey on without him. There is no one to blame but the stigma of loneliness, the stigma of asking for help, the stigma of mental illness, the stigma of being famous and hurting.

We must do more and be better. Anthony, our friend, would want it that way.

To the media and to the random commenter, Anthony would never have wanted Asia to be hurt, I’d like to think he would want us to have the collective conversation that needs to be had about depression. Blame is NOT a conversation, it is the shutting down of our collective growth. Which is where we are now. We have a choice as humans, shrink to our smaller, uglier selves, or be better and grow as only true Phoenixes can. I urge you to be that Phoenix.

With great sadness and even greater hope, I remain,

Rose McGowan

cc: Asia Argento

If you are considering suicide, reach out. We need you here. You matter. You exist. You count. There is help a phone call away, reach out.

Suicide Prevention Hotlines:

Argentina: +5402234930430

Australia: 131114

Austria: 017133374

Belgium: 106

Bosnia & Herzegovina: 080 05 03 05

Botswana: 3911270

Brazil: 212339191

Canada: 5147234000 (Montreal); 18662773553 (outside Montreal)

Croatia: 014833888

Denmark: +4570201201

Egypt: 7621602

Finland: 010 195 202

France: 0145394000

Germany: 08001810771

Holland: 09000767

Hong Kong: +852 2382 0000

Hungary: 116123

India: 8888817666

Ireland: +4408457909090

Israel: 1201 or 972-889-1333 from abroad

Italy: 800860022

Japan: +810352869090

Mexico: 5255102550

New Zealand: 045861048

Norway: +4781533300

Pakistan: 15 / 115 (Emergency)

Philippines: 028969191

Poland: 5270000

Russia: 0078202577577

Spain: 914590050

South Africa: 0514445691

Sweden: 46317112400

Switzerland: 143

United Kingdom: 08457909090

USA: 18002738255

For a USA Crisis Text Line, please text CONNECT to 741741 from anywhere in the USA, anytime, about any type of crisis.

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Rosanna Arquette and her family are continuing to mourn the death of their sister, transgender pioneer Alexis, who died nearly two years ago at the age of 47.

“Alexis was our hero and it’s a huge wound, an open gaping wound, in our family,” the actress, 58, tells PEOPLE while promoting her new film Born Guilty. “That’s why I started the Alexis Arquette Family Foundation on behalf of us all, so that we could do good things in the world under Alexis’s name.”

The Alexis Project was founded as a partnership between the Alexis Arquette Family Foundation and the Violence Intervention Program (VIP) at the LAC+USC Medical Center. “Queer youth can find safety at the Alexis Project with specialized medical and mental health staff who understand their needs,” the group’s website explains.

Arquette tells PEOPLE that she and her brother, actor David, visited VIP after Alexis’s death in hopes of making a donation for an art studio. But after meeting with Dr. Astrid Hager, who heads the group at the University of Southern California, the trio decided to start a new project together.

“So now we have a clinic!” Arquette says proudly. “It’s called the Alexis Project and it’s down at the USC Medical Center and it’s helping kids. Half of the homeless kids on the street are still figuring it out, questioning and they’re often abused and that’s really sad,” she added. “So this is a place for them to get some help and medical and therapy. No one should feel ashamed of their sexuality or who they want to love.”

Alexis, one of the first transgender activists in Hollywood, died in September 2016 of complications stemming from HIV, which she had contracted nearly 30 years earlier. Her family, including siblings Patricia, David, Rosanna and Richmond, released a statement at the time.

“Alexis was a brilliant artist and painter, a singer, an entertainer and an actor. She starred in movies like Last Exit to BrooklynPulp FictionJumpin’ at the BoneyardOf Mice and MenThe Wedding Singer, and The Bride of Chucky,” they said. “Her career was cut short, not by her passing, but by her decision to live her truth and her life as a transgender woman. Despite the fact that there are few parts for trans actors, she refused to play roles that were demeaning or stereotypical. She was a vanguard in the fight for understanding and acceptance for all trans people.”

Outside of working together on The Alexis Project, Arquette said she and her famous siblings aren’t able to spend as much time together as they would like. “Patricia’s been living and working in New York, and we’re really busy. It’s terrible that we’re not spending the time we should like birthdays,” she said.

“We try, but for instance, I was in Germany for Patricia’s last birthday and had to miss the party that David and I had planned for her. When we can be together, like over the holidays, it’s really nice, but everyone’s schedule is just jam packed with project and work and our own families. When we are together it’s nice.”

Arquette, who was one of the first women to speak out against Harvey Weinstein, also opened up about the current state of the #MeToo movement. “It’s women holding hands across the world and igniting people’s stories, because I’ve said from the beginning, the truth sets us all free,” she said.

“It’s amazing watching these men shaking in their boots about bad behavior that might have happened years ago,” she continued, noting that “there are so many good, wonderful conscious men out there – this is not a witch hunt, this just having men be accountable for their behavior.”

She added, “There are too many college campus rapes, there are too many men out there in the world that are continuously abusing and harassing women in the work place, in any workplace, not just Hollywood. And, like the phrase, time is up.”

Arquette also said there is room for forgiveness in certain situations. “I believe in forgiveness, I believe in redemption and I believe there are men who can look at themselves at acknowledge that they’ve participated in some s—– behavior and are willing to change and help other men and boys not participate in this type of behavior anymore. That’s what needs to happen.”

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A Turkish man was sentenced to jail for trying to smuggle 51 migrants into Germany last year. The court ruled the man was indifferent to the health and safety of the men, women and children held in the back of his truck. | 3/20/18
Without a dildo, but with a condom: This is sex education for refugees, conducted by refugees. DW’s Astrid Prange reports from Zirndorf on how AIDS and HIV are discussed in Germany’s asylum-seeker reception facilities. | 3/19/18

It’s been over 40 years since the death of one of America’s most beloved musical icons, and yet with Elvis Presley: The Searcher, audiences may still discover new things about The King. 

The documentary, which premieres on HBO April 14, takes viewers on a creative journey from Presley’s childhood through the final 1976 recording sessions held in the famous Jungle Room of his Memphis estate, Graceland. 

The rock legend’s former wife and longtime love, Priscilla Presley, executive produced the film, and on Wednesday she gathered a host of music minds and luminaries for an insightful panel held during SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. Alongside director Thom Zimny, Sony Music’s John Jackson, and legendary country songwriter/producer David Porter, the group discussed Presley’s Memphis roots and early Beale St. influences, as well as his authenticity as an artist and superhuman ability to connect with fans.

The film doesn’t shy away from Presley’s fatal descent into prescription drugs and ill health, but according to director Zimny — who often consulted with Priscilla on the content of the film — “it’s not a clear black and white situation. When I was looking at certain tracks the very end of his life…I still have this feeling that there was a man who was connecting to the music and that this story has been told one way. Sitting and listening to that music and also talking at length with Priscilla, I realized that we were going to be able to touch on some of the tragic moments, not dwell in the details of it.”

More importantly, the director said, is the “feeling that was coming through the music … that he was still connected, he still was trying. And there is sadness there but there is also still this beauty.”  

Priscilla admitted it was hard to revisit her former husband’s “final chapter” and relive the painful memories through the film: “It was difficult for all of us, we certainly didn’t see it coming. But we certainly saw the journey he was taking.”

She mentioned there were highs and lows that came with being married to Presley, and that people still ask why those close to him failed to stop his prescription drug dependance — which may have contributed to his heart attack at age 42.

“People go, well why didn’t anyone do anything?” said Priscilla. “Well, that’s not true. People there in the inner group did, but you did not tell Elvis Presley what to do. You did not. I mean, you’d be out of there faster than a scratched cat. They would try and no way. He knew what he was doing.”

Priscilla said she even tried to hide pills from him when they were together, under pillows and under the telephone. “But oh my God, he knew,” she said. Presley took sleeping pills because he had insomnia and a fear of going to sleep, a phobia Priscilla says went back to his childhood. 

She went on to explain that Presley started taking pills during his two-year stint in the U.S. Army while stationed in Germany.

“That was the thing — they gave them to the soldiers over there to keep them awake,” she said. “He was on guard at that time. He had maneuvers that he had to do late at night, so the pills were given to the guys and that’s how he started. And if you take a sleeping pill, you have to do something to get yourself awake. … He was in unchartered territory, he truly was, and he did this and tried to do this alone.”

Elvis Presley: The Searcher will premiere on HBO on April 14, 2018. | 3/15/18
A top German health body has released a report on children’s health. Obesity, smoking and psychological issues all remain problems. | 3/15/18
Denying poverty in Germany has prompted a backlash against its designated health minister, Jens Spahn. The uproar over Chancellor Angela Merkel's nominee emerged as her grand coalition signed its long-pending deal. | 3/13/18
Jens Spahn, Germany's new minister of health, has defended the Tafel food bank's decision to turn away non-Germans. Speaking to German media, Spahn also said he was hopeful the conservatives could win back AfD voters. | 3/10/18
Jens Spahn, Germany's new minister of health, has defended the Tafel food bank's decision to turn away non-Germans. Speaking to German media, Spahn also said he was hopeful the conservatives could win back AfD voters. | 3/10/18
Some 6,000 early deaths linked to nitrogen oxides (NOx) are recorded each year in Germany, the Federal Environmental Agency said Thursday, providing more evidence of the health hazards posed by the toxic particles mostly produced by diesel engines.
Think getting the regular flu shot that's free in Germany will keep you from getting sick? Think again. There's a better one out there that experts are recommending – but it'll cost you. | 2/28/18

There is no doubt that big data is going to be one of the most important tools that will assist human society in the future. Our increasingly complex society has been able to move forward, and it will continue to do so, based on rational, scientific facts and figures within the context of the needs of humanity.

As an example, neuroscience is giving us more insight into ourselves, and we are learning that many of the elements that we have always thought of as being uniquely human are based on neurological/biological processes that can be put into algorithms. The more we know, the more interesting the question is — what makes us human? And, given the progress being made in artificial intelligence (AI), this is an important question.

Society lost touch with its people

We largely still trust that our governments are guiding us through these ever-changing developments, and it must be said that the democratic processes that have ruled us since WWII are very beneficial to mankind. Disputes generally are settled with the assistance of our democratic institutions, using common sense, scientific facts, statistical information and so on.

One could argue that the underlying data and information used in these processes are used for the common good.

However, over the last 30 years, a large proportion of the population has not seen the positive results from their political systems that they had hoped for, and they are now rebelling against politicians who are increasingly using facts and figures for their own political purposes.

Selective use of that information is creating a dangerous breakdown of trust right through our democratic system. And President Trump is going one step further — he is actively undermining several of the institutions that underpin American democracy.

But it is not just government. The Volkswagen car manufacturer scandal in Germany showed a gross misuse of data for the sole purpose of making profit at the expense of the environment. Then there are the blatant intrusions into personal data by intelligence services, social media, etc.

Another very dangerous situation is occurring in China with the introduction of the Citizen Score. This form of mass surveillance and mass manipulation is one of the worst Big Brother-like scenarios that one can imagine.

Despite this misuse of big data, it will have to be reason, facts and statistics that will guide us through the many social, environmental and economic challenges that society is facing. But it is crucial that this takes place within the structures of our democratic principles as well as within our emotional and other 'soft' values.

So far big data has mainly been used for commercial purposes, for sometimes questionable intelligence activities, and for downright criminal activities (hacking, stealing, political interference and so on).

There is an urgent need for big data to be used for the common good. A rapid rebalancing is needed that will see big data being used for the benefit of our society. We shouldn't be put off by its misuse and bury our heads in the sand, hoping it will go away — or, as the new conservative forces in politics would have us believe, that the answer lies in returning to the way things were in 'the good old days'.

Big data for the common good

We should face the big data challenges head-on. Universities in Germany and the Netherlands launched the Data for Humanity Initiative, encouraging people and organisations to use the following principles:

  • Do no harm
  • Use data to help create peaceful coexistence
  • Use data to help vulnerable people and people in need
  • Use data to preserve and improve the natural environment
  • Use data to help create a fair world without discrimination

New regulations and legislation might be needed to ensure that big data is used for the common good, and that it takes privacy and human rights issues equally seriously. At present most of the big data is in the hands of corporations who have shown little interest in the common good; and most of their big data activities are clouded in secrecy and used to gain competitive advantage. Just recently I also mentioned the work of Yuval Nora Harari, who warns of big data dictatorship if we don't get this right.

One of the first critical areas will be healthcare. New medical innovations will make it possible for people to obtain information about potential illnesses they might contract, and personalised big data solutions will be on offer to mitigate this and create better health and lifestyle outcomes.

Personal benefits in the healthcare sector could be enormous, and as a result, people may be less concerned about their personal data. But the reality is that the availability of this information could be used in a positive and a negative way. The latter could lead to discrimination by insurance companies and governments. Also, different cultures might look for different outcomes — what leeway will there be for them?

With predictive analytics and complex algorithms, allowance must be made for error, and there needs to be a system of fairness in place to guide this.

What this all means is that a key principle should be for the ownership of all personal data to rest with the individual person, and that they can decide to share that information, or not, on a permission-based footing.

We have been recommending the above approach for the last two decades (but, I must say, without much success).

I can see situations where an opt-out rather than an opt-in system could be a more effective or efficient option, but that would necessitate a restoration of trust in the political system that guides such decisions.

Rather than relying on the organisations that are currently leading the development of big data (Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc), we should encourage the national statistical institutions to start looking at big data that can help guide us through the myriad issues we are facing.

It is, of course, vital that these national institutions be based on democratic principles, and that they are not used for party political reasons. At present, the Trump government is looking at how they can use census data for the benefit of their own party politics. If this happens, we are one step closer to a very dangerous decline in our democracy.

Bureaus of Statistics were a result of the Enlightenment

Interestingly, many of our democratic institutions started their life in the 19th century as a consequence of the Enlightenment, when there was a new drive towards rational politics, scientific, social and economic developments. This needed to be underpinned by a framework of national measurements. The first National Bureau of Statistics was established in Paris in 1800. Over the last 200 years these institutions, which are now established in every country, have looked after uniformity in data collection, data integration, and data analytics, supported by a large group of independent and trusted data experts involved in interpreting the data that guided policy decisions for the benefit of all.

The effects of the Enlightenment have been enormous; and they are still being delivered. There are now more democratic countries than ever before; overall global poverty keeps decreasing; literacy keeps increasing; wars and the number of people killed in wars continue to decline; and average lifestyle around the globe keeps improving. We need to ensure that this upwards trend continues.

The philosopher Immanuel Kant, key person in what we might want to call the modern Enlightenment, described (in 1784) Enlightenment as follows:

'Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's understanding without guidance from another.'

We most certainly have that ability to think for ourselves, and it is our responsibility as human beings to do so at a time when fake news, lies and other forces are trying to undermine our democratic values and principles. If we don't stand up to these undermining forces they will cause extensive damage.

Decentralisation of facts and figures

A key problem now is that since many people no longer believe they are receiving positive social and economic outcomes they have ceased to trust the underlying data and are reverting to emotions, vague memories of a much better past, and imaginary futures.

While the statistical information that governments collected and used was certainly correct at macro-levels (levels of poverty, migration, GDP, unemployment, etc.), people live in micro-environments, and there the 'facts and figures' were quite different. And not just between national and local situations — importantly, there are great differences in facts and figures within towns, suburbs, rural regions and so on.

Differences within communities are significantly more complex than they were when these institutions were first established, and data collection began.

National governments unwilling to accept this level of criticism from their people will continue to lose trust. People don't live in some artificial place as the national average — they live in real communities with real problems and issues which are not necessarily reflected in national facts and figures.

It has become clear that for our society to move forward, its governance needs to be more decentralised and that all of us need to participate in that process. And technology can assist us here.

Big data in connected cities

This also fits in with the understanding that cities need much better data to run their communities. There are great opportunities to win political trust back at these local levels. A key issue here is that this spatial decentralisation needs to be supported by functional decentralisation, so that cities, regions, and provinces have the autonomy enabling them to successfully address the local issues of education, healthcare, environment, jobs, economy, mobility, etc. Furthermore, a decentralisation of political systems and institutions is needed to assist these developments.

This does not mean that big data is not needed at a national level as well. It is equally essential there; but they, too, will need to decentralise. The National Bureaus of Statistics should be the nations' leaders in big data for the common good, and they should not be used for party politics if they want to retain the position of trust that they currently still enjoy. But they will need to work far more closely with cities to better reflect the facts and figures of local communities.

The leading smart cities understand the need for these news structures. Councils of Mayors are becoming a new political force. Cities already have vast amounts of data that can be used to improve their local situations. However, to maximise the use of big data for the common good of their citizens a breakdown of the many (data) silos within their bureaucracies will be necessary. Little ivory towers where security, safety, and privacy issues are used to stop the data from being used in a broader and more open context.

An early lesson learned by smart city pioneers was that it is not about open slather data; it is about open data in a controlled environment.

Actively involving the local citizens in the various 'smart city' projects is critical and can generate further data relevant to their local situation. There are already some good examples in some of the leading smart cities.

Emotional and sentimental data

An emerging development is the taking of 'emotional' or 'sentimental' data analytics into account. We see this happening already in the commercial sphere (Facebook produced some interesting data reflecting emotional trends but was vilified for it, and as a result this form of data in now shrouded in secrecy — a very bad outcome indeed).

Another example is Cambridge Analytica — on whose board sits Steven Bannon. They developed psychological profiles for the Trump campaign and, again, great secrecy here also. Despite its potential little is happening so far in the public sphere in relation to the common good. Again, cities and communities could be a much better starting point for exploration of these softer data options, rather than the nation as a whole.

Big data is a far too important a development to be left just in the hands of commercial or 'secret' organisations. Cities that already have a holistic strategy in place could take a leadership role here. Within such a plan they will already have a data strategy in place and over time other cities and communities can learn from them and follow in their footsteps. Like trusted national statistical organisations, at a city level also we need professional statisticians and big data analysts who are able to make unambiguous and objective observations about their local economy and local community.

Written by Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication | 2/28/18
Germany's grand coalition is not expected to do anything to tame the powerful business lobby. That much was underlined by Angela Merkel's decision to appoint a former pharmaceutical lobbyist as her new health minister. | 2/26/18
At school, Jens Spahn said he aimed to become chancellor one day. At 22, he won a seat in Germany's parliament. Today, critics of Angela Merkel's centrist approach in the CDU are pinning their hopes on the 37-year-old. | 2/26/18
The latest on Germany's new government (all times local): 5:10 p.m. Chancellor Angela Merkel has named an ambitious young conservative as health minister in Germany's new government, signaling a desire to include critics in her fourth term. | 2/25/18

The top figure skating pair teams in the world came together in PyeongChang on Tuesday night for the 2018 Olympic Games’ pairs short program.

Going into the event, all eyes were on Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim, the sole U.S. pair team at the Olympics.

The two-time U.S. national champions had already picked up a bronze medal in the team event, for which they skated both the short and long programs. But for Tuesday’s short program, the couple — who began skating together in 2012 and married in June 2016 — was considered a bit of an underdog team. They’d only placed as high as seventh at world champions, and fifth at their Grand Prix assignments in Japan and the U.S.

The skate ended with China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong claiming the top spot with a score of 82.39, followed by OAR/Russia’s Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov’s 81.68, and Canada’s Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford’s 76.82.

Although it wasn’t their strongest skate, scoring only a 65.55, the Knierim’s celebrated the opportunity to be on Olympic ice on Valentine’s Day —something they also celebrated on social media prior to their skate.

“We were soaking it in,” Alexa told NBC after their skate. “We promised we would be present every single second.

Chris also said he whispered “great job and Happy Valentine’s Day” to her after their short program.

Her response? “I told him the only thing that would top this is having a child on Valentine’s Day!”

The pair also have a dramatic personal story, with Alexa Scimeca Knierim overcoming a rare and potentially deadly gastrointestinal condition less than two years ago.

“This competition’s very meaningful for us,” Scimeca Knierim, 26, told PEOPLE earlier this week. “We’ve kind of been lacking the joy and lightheartedness of life for about two years now, from all the struggles we’ve been through, so being here together, Chris and I are kind of just enjoying it.”

She credits her faith for getting her through, and when asked whether such a competition feels like a celebration, having made it through the lows of Alexa’s health struggles, the couple is quick to reply yes. “One-hundred percent,” Chris, 30, told PEOPLE.

The event also featured the debut of North Korean skaters Ryom Tae-ok, 19, and Kim Ju-sik, 25.

But the ones to beat were Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, of Canada. Like most competitors on Tuesday, the pair had a sea of wins under their belt — including the 2015 and 2016 world champions, seven Canadian national championship titles, victories at the Autumn Classic and Skate Canada, and bronze medals at Skate America and the Grand Prix Final.

Most importantly, Duhamel (who made headlines for rescuing a dog headed to the South Korean meat trade) and Radford already struck gold in PyeongChang — winning the short and long programs for Canada in the team event and topping the competition in the free skate.

Keep Following PEOPLE’s Complete Coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics

Still, Duhamel and Radford had stiff competition coming their way. Mainly, there was Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot, who won the Grand Prix Final in December, as well as gold in the U.S. and silver in Canada.

Savchenko is a seasoned Olympic pro, with two bronze medals from past pairings over her four previous Olympic games. Her pairing with Masson put her at the front of the pack this time around — though she and Masson chose to skate to last season’s short program Tuesday night, telling reporters it felt more comfortable to them.

Behind them were OAR/Russia’s pair Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov and China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong — the two teams who were also on the podium at December’s Grand Prix Final.

Tarasova and Morozov are two-time European Championships gold medalists and the reigning Russian national champions. Earlier at the Olympics, they earned a silver medal for their contribution to the team event’s short program. They also had history on their side, as Russian pairs have won gold in every Olympic Games from 1964 to 2006.

PEOPLE‘s special issue The Best of Olympic Figure Skating is available now in the Time Inc. store, on Amazon, and wherever magazines are sold.

Wenjing and Cong perhaps had the most to prove on Tuesday, having missed the 2014 Sochi Olympics when they weren’t selected to the team. Since then, Sui underwent surgeries on both of her feet — operations that forced her to learn how to walk and skate again. She came back alongside Wenjing with a vengeance. They won gold at the 2017 Shanghai Trophy, took silver medals at the Grand Prix final, and have two Worlds silver medals on their trophy case. They are the reigning world champions.

And then there is France’s Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres, who competed in their second Olympics together. Though they nearly spoiled a Russian podium sweet at the European Championships (missing the bronze by 0.01 points), the duo had been fighting hard through their Olympic season. They scored a victory at the Autumn Classic, and nabbed silver and bronze in the Canada and France Grand Prix series.

But it’s been a tough journey in PyeongChang so far. James and Cipres failed to advance to the free skate earlier and finished sixth in the team event for France. At the Sochi Olympics, they placed tenth.

RELATED VIDEO: The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics Is on… and It’s Really, Really Cold!

Now that a victor has been selected, the pairs will next take on the free skate competition, set for Wednesday.

The 2018 Winter Olympics are airing live on NBC. To learn more, visit | 2/14/18

Lady Gaga can no longer finish her Joanne World Tour as she continues to struggle with chronic pain disorder fibromyalgia.

The singer, 31, announced on Instagram and Twitter early Saturday that she has chosen to cancel the final ten dates of the European leg of the tour.

“I’m so devastated I don’t know how to describe it. All I know is that if I don’t do this, I am not standing by the words or meaning of my music. My medical team is supporting the decision for me to recover at home,” Gaga said in a statement.

“I love this show more than anything and I love you, but this is beyond my control. London, Manchester, Zurich, Koln, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Paris, Berlin. And Rio. I promise I will be back in your city, but for now, I need to put myself and my well-being first. I love you, forever,” she concluded.

Fibromyalgia is a disorder affects an estimated 5 million adults, according to the National Institutes of Health. It can cause pain as well as fatigue, headaches and insomnia.

The Joanne World Tour began on August 1, 2017, in Vancouver, Canada, and was scheduled to conclude on Feb. 23 in Berlin, Germany.

RELATED: What to Know About Lady Gaga’s Painful Disorder

— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) February 3, 2018

“Unfortunately, Lady Gaga is suffering from severe pain that has materially impacted her ability to perform live. As a result, Live Nation and Lady Gaga are announcing the cancellation of the final 10 dates of the European leg of her Joanne World Tour,” a second statement read.

“Last night, with strong support from her medical team, Lady Gaga made the tough decision to immediately come off the road. She is extremely sorry and deeply saddened that she cannot perform for her European fans, who have waited so patiently,” the statement continued.

Concluding, “She is in the care of expert medical professionals who are working closely with her so she can continue to perform for her fans for years to come.”

Refunds will be available beginning Feb. 6 at the point of purchase.

In September, Gaga revealed she suffers from fibromyalgia and was forced to postpone the European leg of her tour due to her illness. The announcement came just days after she canceled a performance in Brazil.

In 2013, Gaga was forced to cancel several tour dates to have surgery on her broken hip.

The Grammy winner previously opened up about her health struggles in her 2017 documentary, Gaga: Five Foot Two.

Throughout the film, the “Bad Romance” singer is shown undergoing treatments to help ease muscle spasms, which cause her to feel pain on the entire right side of her body. Gaga was often forced to stop working to deal with the pain and the star regularly had multiple people rubbing her muscles and putting ice on her.

“Do I look pathetic?” she asked in one scene, putting her hands over her face to cover her tears. “I’m so embarrassed.”

Gaga’s last public appearance was on Sunday at the 60th annual Grammy Awards in New York City. | 2/3/18

James (Jon) Castle - 7 December 1950 to 12 January 2018

Over four decades Captain Jon Castle navigated Greenpeace ships by the twin stars of ‘right and wrong’, defending the environment and promoting peace. Greenpeace chronicler, Rex Weyler, recounts a few of the stories that made up an extraordinary life.

Captain Jon Castle onboard the MV Sirius, 1 May 1996

James (Jon) Castle first opened his eyes virtually at sea. He was born 7 December 1950 in Cobo Bay on the Channel Island of Guernsey, UK. He grew up in a house known locally as Casa del Mare, the closest house on the island to the sea, the second son of Robert Breedlove Castle and Mary Constance Castle. 

Young Jon Castle loved the sea and boats. He worked on De Ile de Serk, a cargo boat that supplied nearby Sark island, and he studied at the University of Southampton to become an officer in the Merchant Navy. 

Jon became a beloved skipper of Greenpeace ships. He sailed on many campaigns and famously skippered two ships during Greenpeace’s action against Shell’s North Sea oil platform, Brent Spar. During his activist career, Jon spelt his name as "Castel" to avoid unwanted attention on his family.

Right and wrong

Jon had two personal obsessions: he loved books and world knowledge and was extremely well-read.  He also loved sacred sites and spent personal holidays walking to stone circles, standing stones, and holy wells.  

As a young man, Jon became acquainted with the Quaker tradition, drawn by their dedication to peace, civil rights, and direct social action. In 1977, when Greenpeace purchased their first ship - the Aberdeen trawler renamed, the Rainbow Warrior - Jon signed on as first mate, working with skipper Peter Bouquet and activists Susi Newborn, Denise Bell and Pete Wilkinson.

In 1978, Wilkinson and Castle learned of the British government dumping radioactive waste at sea in the deep ocean trench off the coast of Spain in the Sea of Biscay. In July, the Rainbow Warrior followed the British ship, Gem, south from the English coast, carrying a load of toxic, radioactive waste barrels. The now-famous confrontation during which the Gem crew dropped barrels onto a Greenpeace inflatable boat, ultimately changed maritime law and initiated a ban on toxic dumping at sea.

After being arrested by Spanish authorities, Castle and Bouquet staged a dramatic escape from La Coru?a harbour at night, without running lights, and returned the Greenpeace ship to action. Crew member Simone Hollander recalls, as the ship entered Dublin harbour in 1978, Jon cheerfully insisting that the entire crew help clean the ship's bilges before going ashore, an action that not only built camaraderie among the crew, but showed a mariner's respect for the ship itself. In 1979, they brought the ship to Amsterdam and participated in the first Greenpeace International meeting.

In 1980 Castle and the Rainbow Warrior crew confronted Norwegian and Spanish whaling ships, were again arrested by Spanish authorities, and brought into custody in the El Ferrol naval base.

The Rainbow Warrior remained in custody for five months, as the Spanish government demanded 10 million pesetas to compensate the whaling company. On the night of November 8, 1980, the Rainbow Warrior, with Castle at the helm, quietly escaped the naval base, through the North Atlantic, and into port in Jersey.

In 1995, Castle skippered the MV Greenpeace during the campaign against French nuclear testing in the Pacific and led a flotilla into New Zealand to replace the original Rainbow Warrior that French agents bombed in Auckland in 1985.

Over the years, Castle became legendary for his maritime skills, courage, compassion, commitment, and for his incorruptible integrity. "Environmentalism: That does not mean a lot to me," he once said, "I am here because of what is right and wrong. Those words are good enough for me."

Brent Spar   Action at Brent Spar Oil Rig in the North Sea, 16 June 1995

One of the most successful Greenpeace campaigns of all time began in the summer of 1995 when Shell Oil announced a plan to dump a floating oil storage tank, containing toxic petroleum residue, into the North Atlantic. Castle signed on as skipper of the Greenpeace vessel Moby Dick, out of Lerwick, Scotland. A month later, on 30 April 1995, Castle and other activists occupied the Brent Spar and called for a boycott of Shell service stations.

When Shell security and British police sprayed the protesters with water cannons, images flooded across world media, demonstrations broke out across Europe, and on May 15, at the G7 summit, German chancellor Helmut Kohl publicly protested to British Prime Minister John Major. In June, 11 nations, at the Oslo and Paris Commission meetings, called for a moratorium on sea disposal of offshore installations.

After three weeks, British police managed to evict Castle and the other occupiers and held them briefly in an Aberdeen jail. When Shell and the British government defied public sentiment and began towing the Spar to the disposal site, consumers boycotted Shell stations across Europe. Once released, Castle took charge of the chartered Greenpeace vessel Altair and continued to pursue the Brent Spar towards the dumping ground. Castle called on the master of another Greenpeace ship, fitted with a helideck, to alter course and rendezvous with him. Using a helicopter, protesters re-occupied the Spar and cut the wires to the detonators of scuppering charges.

One of the occupiers, young recruit Eric Heijselaar, recalls: "One of the first people I met as I climbed on board was a red-haired giant of a man grinning broadly at us. My first thought was that he was a deckhand, or maybe the bosun. So I asked if he knew whether a cabin had been assigned to me yet. He gave me a lovely warm smile, and reassured me that, yes, a cabin had been arranged. At dinner I found out that he was Jon Castle, not a deckhand, not the bosun, but the captain. And what a captain!"

Again, British naval police evicted the occupiers, but Castle and the crew kept up pursuit. Then the Spar suddenly altered course, heading towards Norway. Shell had given up. The company announced that Brent Spar would be cleaned out and used as a foundation for a new ferry terminal. Three years later, in 1998, the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR) passed a ban on dumping oil installations into the North Sea.

"There was no question among the crew who had made this possible, who had caused this to happen," Heijselaar recalls. "It was Jon Castle. His quiet enthusiasm and the trust he put into people made this crew one of the best I ever saw. He always knew exactly what he wanted out of a campaign, how to gain momentum, and he always found the right words to explain his philosophies. He was that rare combination, both a mechanic and a mystic. And above all he was a very loving, kind human being."


After the Brent Spar campaign, Castle returned to the South Pacific on the Rainbow Warrior II, to obstruct a proposed French nuclear test in the Moruroa atoll. Expecting the French to occupy their ship, Castle and engineer, Luis Manuel Pinto da Costa, rigged the steering mechanism to be controlled from the crow's-nest. When French commandos boarded the ship, Castle stationed himself in the crow's-nest, cut away the access ladder and greased the mast so that the raiders would have difficulty arresting him.

Eventually, the commandos cut a hole into the engine-room and severed cables controlling the engine, radio, and steering mechanism, making Castle's remote control system worthless. They towed the Rainbow Warrior II to the island of Hao, as three other protest vessels arrived. 

Three thousand demonstrators gathered in the French port of Papeete, demanding that France abandon the tests. Oscar Temaru - leader of Tavini Huiraatira, an anti-nuclear, pro-independence party - who had been aboard the Rainbow Warrior II when it was raided, welcomed anti-testing supporters from Britain, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Sweden, Canada, Germany, Brazil, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, the Philippines, and American Samoa. Eventually, France ended their tests, and atmospheric nuclear testing in the world's oceans stopped once and for all.

“Moral courage”

Through these extraordinary missions, Jon Castle advocated "self-reflection" not only for individual activists, but for the organisation that he loved. Activists, Castle maintained, required "moral courage." He cautioned, "Don't seek approval. Someone has to be way out in front... illuminating territory in advance of the main body of thought."

He opposed "corporatism" in activist organisation and urged Greenpeace to avoid becoming "over-centralised or compartmentalised."  He felt that activist decisions should emerge from the actions themselves, not in an office. We can't fight industrialism with "money, numbers, and high-tech alone," he once wrote in a personal manifesto. Organisations have to avoid traps of "self-perpetuation" and focus on the job "upsetting powerful forces, taking on multinationals and the military-industrial complex."

He recalled that Greenpeace had become popular "because a gut message came through to the thirsty hearts of poor suffering people ... feeling the destruction around them."  Activists, Castle felt, required "freedom of expression, spontaneity [and] an integrated lifestyle."  An activist organisation should foster a "feeling of community" and exhibit "moral courage." Castle felt that social change activists had to "question the materialistic, consumerist lifestyle that drives energy overuse, the increasingly inequitable world economic tyranny that creates poverty and drives environmental degradation," and must maintain "honour, courage and the creative edge."

Well loved hero

Susi Newborn, who was there to welcome Jon aboard the Rainbow Warrior way back in 1977, and who gave the ship its name, wrote about her friend with whom she felt "welded at the heart: He was a Buddhist and a vegetarian and had an earring in his ear. He liked poetry and classical music and could be very dark, but also very funny. Once, I cut his hair as he downed a bottle or two of rum reciting The Second Coming by Yeats."

Newborn recalls Castle insisting that women steer the ships in and out of port because, "they got it right, were naturals." She recalls a night at sea, Castle "lashed to the wheel facing one of the biggest storms of last century head on. I was flung about my cabin like a rag doll until I passed out. We never talked about the storm, as if too scared to summon up the behemoth we had encountered. A small handwritten note pinned somewhere in the mess, the sole acknowledgment of a skipper to his six-person crew: ‘Thank You.’” Others remember Castle as the Greenpeace captain that could regularly be found in the galley doing kitchen duty.

In 2008, with the small yacht Musichana, Castle and Pete Bouquet staged a two-man invasion of Diego Garcia island to protest the American bomber base there and the UK's refusal to allow evicted Chagos Islanders to return to their homes. They anchored in the lagoon and radioed the British Indian Ocean Territories officials on the island to tell them they and the US Air Force were acting in breach of international law and United Nations resolutions. When arrested, Castle politely lectured his captors on their immoral and illegal conduct.

In one of his final actions, as he battled with his failing health, Castle helped friends in Scotland operate a soup kitchen, quietly prepping food and washing up behind the scenes.  

Upon hearing of his passing, Greenpeace ships around the world - the Arctic Sunrise, the Esperanza, and the Rainbow Warrior - flew their flags at half mast.

Jon is fondly remembered by his brother David, ex-wife Caroline, their son, Morgan Castle, born in 1982, and their daughter, Eowyn Castle, born in 1984. Morgan has a daughter of eight months Flora, and and Eowyn has a daughter, Rose, who is 2.   

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Traditional early morning Japanese breakfast, briefing on objectives, equipment check and drive into the beautiful mountainous forests of this region: this is the daily routine that will allow us to complete our latest investigation into the radiological status in some of the most contaminated areas of Fukushima prefecture.

But there is nothing normal about the routine in Fukushima.

Nearly seven years after the triple reactor meltdown, this unique nuclear crisis is still underway. Of the many complex issues resulting from the disaster, one in particular may have become routine but is anything but normal: the vast amounts of nuclear waste, stored and being transported across Fukushima prefecture.

A satellite image shows damage at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant In Fukushima Prefecture. 

As a result of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, gases and particulates which vented into the atmosphere, led to radioactive fallout greater than 10,000 becquerels per square meter contaminating an estimated 8 percent, or 24,000 square kilometers, of the landmass of Japan. The highest concentrations (greater than 1 million becquerels per meter square) centered in an area more than than 400 square kilometers within Fukushima prefecture.

In the period 2013-14, the Japanese government set about a decontamination program with the objective of being able to lift evacuation orders in the Special Decontaminated Area (SDA) of Fukushima prefecture. Other areas of Fukushima and other prefectures where contamination was lower but significant were also subject to decontamination efforts in the so called Intensive Contamination Survey Area (ICSA).

Two areas of the SDA in particular were subject to concentrated efforts between 2014-2016, namely Iitate and Namie. A total of 24-28,000 people formally lived in these areas, with all evacuated in the days and months following the March 2011 disaster.

The decontamination program consisted of scraping, reverse tillage and removal of top soil from farmland, stripping and removal of soil from school yards, parks and gardens, trimming and cutting of contaminated trees and plants in a 20 meter area around peoples homes, and the same along a 10-15 meter strip either side of the roads, including into the nearby forests.

Aerial view of nuclear waste storage area in the mountainous forests of Iitate, Fukushima prefecture in Japan.

This program involved millions of work hours and tens of thousands workers (often Fukushima citizens displaced by the earthquake, tsunami and reactor meltdown), and often homeless and recruited off the streets of cities, and exploited for a wage of 70 dollars a day to work long hours in a radioactive environment. All this for a man-made nuclear disaster officially estimated at costing 21 trillion yen but with other estimates as high as 70 trillion yen.

As of March 2017, the decontamination program was officially declared complete and evacuation orders were lifted for the less contaminated areas of Namie and Iitate, so called area 2. The even higher radiation areas of Iitate and Namie, Area 3, and where no decontamination program has been applied, remain closed to habitation.

In terms of effectiveness, radiation levels in these decontaminated zones have been reduced in many areas but there are also multiple examples where levels remain significantly above the governments long range target levels. In addition to where decontamination has been only partially effective, the principle problem for Iitate and Namie is that the decontamination has created islands where levels have been reduced, but which are surrounded by land, and in particular, forested mountains, for which there is no possible decontamination. Forests make up more than 70% of these areas.

As a consequence, areas decontaminated are subject to recontamination through weathering processes and the natural water and lifecycle of trees and rivers. Given the half life of the principle radionuclide of concern – cesium-137 at 30 years – this will be an on-going source of significant recontamination for perhaps ten half lives – or 300 years.

Greenpeace documents the ongoing radioactive decontamination work in Iitate district, Japan. The area is still contaminated since the March 2011 explosions at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant.

So apart from the decontamination not covering the largest areas of significant contamination in the forested mountains of Fukushima, and in reality only a small fraction of the total landmass of contaminated areas, the program has generated almost unimaginable volumes of nuclear waste. According to the Japanese Government Ministry of Environment in its September 2017 report, a total of 7.5 million nuclear waste bags (equal to 8.4 million m³) from within the SDA was in storage across Fukushima.

A further 6 million m³ of waste is generated in the ICSA within Fukushima prefecture (but not including waste produced from the wider ICSA which stretches from Iwati prefecture in the north to Chiba in the south on the outskirts of Tokyo). In total nuclear waste generated from decontamination is stored at over 1000 Temporary Storage Sites (TSS) and elsewhere at 141,000 locations across Fukushima.

The Government projects a total of 30 million m³ of waste will be generated, of which 10 million is to be incinerated, generating 1 million cubic meters of highly contaminated ash waste. Options to use some of the less contaminated waste in construction of walls and roads is actively under consideration.

Government policy is for all of this waste to be deposited at two sites north of the Fukushima Daiichi plant at Okuma and Futaba – both of which remain closed to habitation at present but which are targeted for limited resettlement as early as 2021. Although the facilities are not completed yet, they are supposed to be in operation only for 30 years – after which the waste is to be deposited in a permanent site. The reality is there is no prospects of this waste being moved to another permanent site anywhere else in Japan.

As we conducted our radiation survey work across Fukushima in September and October 2017, it was impossible not to witness the vast scale of both the waste storage areas and the volume of nuclear transports that are now underway. Again the numbers are numbing.

In the space of one hour standing in a main street of Iitate village, six nuclear waste trucks passed us by. Not really surprising since in the year to October over 34,000 trucks moved nuclear waste across Fukushima to Okuma and Futaba. The target volume of waste to be moved to these sites in 2017 is 500,000 m³. And this is only the beginning. By 2020, the Government is planning for as much as 6.5 million m³ of nuclear waste to be transported to the Futaba and Okuma sites – a rough estimate would mean over one million nuclear transports in 2020.

On any measure this is insanity – and yet the thousands of citizens who formally lived in Namie and Iitate are expected and pressurized by the Japanese government to return to live amidst this nuclear disaster zone.

Perhaps one of the most shocking experience in our visit to Fukushima was to witness a vast incineration complex hidden deep in the woods of southern Iitate and a nearby vast storage area with tens of thousands of waste bags surrounded on all sides by thick forests. The tragic irony of a multi-billion dollar and ultimately failed policy of decontamination that has unnecessarily exposed thousands of poorly protected and desperate workers to radiation – but which leads to a vast nuclear dump surrounded by a radioactive forest which that can never be decontaminated.

There is no logic to this, unless you are a trucking and incineration business and of course the Japanese government, desperate to create the myth of recovery after Fukushima. On this evidence there is no 'after', only 'forever'.

This new abnormal in Fukushima is a direct result of the triple reactor meltdown and a cynical government policy that prioritizes the unattainable fantasy of effective radioactive decontamination, while de-prioritising the safety, health and well being of the people of Fukushima.

The nuclear waste crisis underway in Fukushima is only one of the many reasons why the Japanese government was under scrutiny at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva last month. Recommendations were submitted to the United Nations by the governments of Austria, Mexico, Portugal and Germany at the calling on the Japanese government to take further measures to support the evacuees of Fukushima, in particular women and children.

The Government in Tokyo is to announce its decision on whether it accepts or rejects these recommendations at the United Nations in March 2018. Greenpeace, together with other human rights groups and civil society in Japan are calling on the government to accept that it has failed to defend the rights of its citizens and to agree to implement corrective measures immediately.

Shaun Burnie is a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany

According to the World Health Organization, Germany's health care system was 77% government-funded and 23% privately funded as of 2004. In 2004 Germany ranked thirtieth in the world in life expectancy (78 years for men). It had a very low infant mortality rate (4.7 per 1,000 live births), and it was tied for eighth place in the number of practicing physicians, at per 1,000 people (3.3). In 2001 total spending on health amounted to 10.8 percent of gross domestic product.

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