Français | English | Español | Português

Netherlands Health

The Netherlands is pioneering new ways to treat dementia, with sensory aids, soothing music and other tools to calm and nurture patients. | 8/22/18
Health officials in the Netherlands, which borders the country, have warned travellers to pack their own condoms and that holiday romances can be risky.

In May, a flight from Spain to the Netherlands had to make an emergency landing because of the overpowering body odor of a man on board the plane. One month later, he died, and it was revealed that his smell was not due to poor hygiene, but because of a bacterial infection called necrosis.

Andrey Suchilin, a Russian guitarist, had developed tissue necrosis during a vacation in Spain. And because his health insurance had expired, Suchilin was unable to get proper medical care.

Necrosis is the death of living cells or tissue, and can develop from infections, improper wound care, an injury, frostbite or circulation problems, Dr. Travis Stork, an ER physician, host of The Doctors and member of PEOPLE’s Health Squad, explains.

“Tissue necrosis, which was present in this case, begins with redness, pain and tenderness, swelling, and warmth of the affected area,” Stork, who did not treat Suchilin, says. “Skin can darken and turn purplish, sometimes developing ulcers, blisters or black spots. Chills, fever and vomiting may also occur.”

Necrosis can develop into “a serious bacterial infection that destroys tissue under the skin,” he says. “It is very aggressive and if untreated, deadly.”

The disease is also easily identifiable by its smell.

“A hallmark of tissue necrosis is odor,” Stork says. “When tissue is injured, bacteria move in and begin to degrade that tissue. As they break down the tissue the cells release chemicals that have a foul odor. The strength of the wound’s odor is often used by physicians to assess the severity of necrosis and determine treatment.”

Suchilin wrote in a Facebook post on May 30, two days after he was taken off the plane, that the doctors in Spain misdiagnosed him, and said that he just had “an ordinary beach infection.” One day later, his wife wrote that he was in intensive care in critical condition.

Stork says that with immediate treatment, doctors can stop necrosis from spreading.

“The tissue destroyed by necrosis can’t be salvaged, but if identified early enough patients with tissue necrosis can be treated,” he says. “A wound with any necrotic tissue will not heal, so the damaged tissue needs to be removed as soon as possible through a process called debridement. The patient should also receive antibiotics, often intravenously, to stop the spread of bacteria.”

Unfortunately, in Suchilin’s case, he was unable to get medical treatment in time, and the necrosis moved to his kidneys, heart and lungs. By June 25, he had died.

Stork says that it is rare for someone with necrosis to die, but that it again is all about getting immediate treatment. To avoid developing the condition, he advises maintaining good hygiene.

“Treat any wound promptly, no matter how small. Wash your hands and the area regularly with soap and change bandages regularly. When you have a wound, try to avoid places where bacteria can live, like pools, oceans, lakes and hot tubs,” he says.

And if something looks off, it’s best to see a doctor.

“Sometimes, infections like necrotizing fasciitis don’t look that scary initially because necrosis occurs under the skin,” Stork says. “That’s why if you have unexplained pain, redness, swelling or other concerning symptoms, I always tell people to get it checked out sooner rather than later.” | 6/28/18

Queen Maxima of the Netherlands is speaking out for the first time about her sister’s suicide.

The queen, 47, returned to her royal duties on Tuesday after she took time off following her sister Inés Zorreguieta’s June 6 death. She made a tearful statement to reporters during a visit to the UMC Groningen Proton Therapy Center, as reported by Hola! 

“Today is my first day back at work after a difficult time,” she said. “And actually, I’m happy that I could pay this visit to the Proton Therapy Center in Groningen, because this place means so much to people with cancer.”

“People who are sick, yet who hope for a cure,” she added. “My dear, gifted little sister Inés was sick too. She could find no joy, and she could not be cured.”

Maxima continued, “Our only comfort is that she has now at last found peace. And I would like to say how very grateful we are for the countless letters, messages and tokens of sympathy that we have received. They have really helped us. I’d also like to say thank you for the respect that everyone has shown my family in this very dark period. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Zorreguieta, 33, was found in her apartment in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on June 6. A spokesman of the Dutch government told the Argentinian newspaper, La Nacion, “It is presumed that it was a suicide.”

The youngest sister of Maxima, a native Argentinian, worked for the country’s Ministry of Social Development.

RELATED: Queen Maxima of the Netherlands’ Sister, 33, Found Dead in Her Home of Apparent Suicide

In a statement to Dutch newspaper, De Volkskrant, the Dutch government said that Queen Máxima was “shocked and devastated” by the news of her sister’s death. According to reports, Zorreguieta suffered from depression and mental health issues.

Maxima canceled all of her royal engagements and attended her sister’s funeral in Buenos Aires alongside her husband King Willem-Alexander and their three children Princesses Amalia, 14, Alexia, 12, and Ariane, 11, according to Hello! 

Zorreguieta was Ariane’s godmother.

Last summer, Maxima traveled with her husband and their daughters to attend the funeral of her father, who died in August at the age 89 following a battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). | 6/20/18
Royal Philips, a global leader in health technology, and the governments of Ethiopia and the Netherlands, today signed a seven-year agreement to build Ethiopia’s first specialised Cardiac Care Centre to address the critical shortage of cardiology services in Ethiopia. Under the terms of the agreement, valued at approximately Euro 40 million, Philips will be responsible [&hellip
[The Exchange] Royal Philips, a global leader in health technology, and the governments of Ethiopia and the Netherlands, today signed a seven-year agreement to build Ethiopia's first specialized Cardiac Care Center to address the critical shortage of cardiology services in Ethiopia. | 5/25/18
The two nations also discussed science and technology, and health cooperation, Cooperation in the fields of Water, Agriculture and Urban Development, Security cooperation, Economy, Trade & Investment, and Connectivity, Climate Change | 5/24/18
The inspiring projects announced today, highlight the affordability and accessibility of healthcare | 5/23/18

James Corden, Oprah Winfrey and RuPaul Charles are among the top nominees for the 22nd annual Webby Awards, the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences announced Tuesday.

All nominees are eligible to win the two most prestigious awards: The Webby Award, selected by the Academy, and The Webby People’s Voice Award, voted on by Internet fans around the world through online balloting through April 19.

Academy judges selecting Webby winners include Lyft CEO Logan Green, Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani, Gimlet Media CEO Alex Blumberg, Instagram’s Eva Chen, social entrepreneur Van Jones, internet inventor Vint Cerf and Playmatics CEO Margaret Wallace.

Also Read: The Last 15 Oscar Hosts Ranked From Worst to Best (Photos)

Here’s the complete list of nominees.

Best Branded Editorial Experience (Advertising, Marketing & PR)
A Message From Earth
Waze | On the Road in 2017
Search On Stories
iFly KLM Selections
South Africa in 360

Best Cause-Related Campaign (Advertising, Marketing & PR)
Child Replacement Programme
Prescribed to Death
Palau Pledge
Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror
Stop The Horror

Best Event Activation (Advertising, Marketing & PR)
KLM Connecting Seats
The Tailor Made Store
Intel x Super Bowl Halftime Show

Also Read: Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards: 13 Things You Didn't See on TV

Best Host (Podcasts & Digital Audio)
RuPaul: What’s the Tee with Michelle Visage
Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations
Questlove Supreme
Criminal Podcast

Best Overall Social Presence (Social)
Museum of Ice Cream
Xbox Social Media
Sony Alpha Brand Presence on Instagram
Denny’s Does Social
Madewell Social Media

Best Use of Mobile Media (Advertising, Marketing & PR)
Vodafone Get the Flow
The Most Boring Films Ever Made
Expedia/Visit Britain “The Only Place You Need to Go”
Adidas NMD Campaign
Spreading the Word

Also Read: All 7 of This Year's National Book Critics Circle Awards Went to Women

Best Web Personality/Host (Film & Video)
Another Message for Donald Trump from Former Mexican President Vicente Fox
Adam Savage/
Good Mythical Morning
Hot Ones
Try Living With Lucie

Best Writing (Podcasts & Digital Audio)
S-Town Podcast
A Very Fatal Murder
Myths and Legends
Stuff You Missed in History Class

Celebrity/Fan (Websites)
Lemonade Rage
Elton John
Paloma Faith
Kourtney Kardashian

Also Read: 'Thunder Road,' 'People's Republic of Desire' Take Top Honors at SXSW Awards

Comedy Individual Short or Episode (Film & Video)
The Simpsons “Donald Trump’s First 100 Days In Office”
Welcome to America with Gad Elmaleh and Ron Livingston
Get Staffed
Alex Jones Rants as an Indie Folk Song

Entertainment (Mobile Sites & Apps)
Marvel Unlimited Android App
Great Big Story

Best Use of Machine Learning (Advertising, Media & PR)
Outthink Melanoma
Silicon Valley – Not Hot Dog
Art with Watson: Hidden Portraits
Re:scam – the A.I. Bot that Responds to Scam Emails
The Billion Color Film

Also Read: Corey Feldman is Getting a Lifetime Achievement Award, You Guys

VR: Cinematic or Pre-Rendered (Film & Video)
The Long Road Home VR
The Giant
Raising a Rukus
Take Every Wave: Laird in VR

Music (Film & Video)
“Jazz Is The Mother Of Hip-Hop”
This and Nothing Else: Chicago’s Hip-Hop Scene
Gaga: Five Foot Two
Residente: Prison Tour
Stormzy – Gang Signs & Prayer (The film)

Best Art Direction (Games)
The Long Dark
Monument Valley 2
What Remains of Edith Finch

Also Read: The Rock 'Humbly and Graciously' Accepts His Razzie Award for 'Baywatch' (Video)

Public Service & Activism (Mobile Sites & Apps)
Escalating GIFs
Lin-Manuel Miranda and Charity Network Rise Up for Good
Disappearing Persons
Unsafety Check

Fashion & Beauty Social Video (Social)
adidas Originals Brand Film Instagram Story
Y-3 Multi-Cam Split-Screen Instagram Live Story
Face Forward
Big Spaceship & Converse First Day Feels
Centenarians: Beauty Advice from 100-Year-Olds

Weird (Film & Video)
Coke Habit
420 Special: A Quiz Show
Being Batman
Grand Theft Auto Pacifist
Blark and Son

Also Read: Sorry, 'Shape of Water': Twitter Picks a Different Best Picture During Oscars

Viral (Film & Video)
Used Car Commercial // 1996 Honda Accord
7 Days of Artificial Intelligence
Mean Tweets #11
Hurt Bae asks: Why did you cheat on me? | Broken | The Scene
The Netherlands welcomes Trump in his own words

Strategy & Simulation (Games)
The Long Dark
Universal Paperclips
The Simpsons: Tapped Out
Life is Strange: Before the Storm

Health & Fitness (Mobile Sites & Apps)
Peloton app

For the record: An earlier version of this story listed Jimmy Kimmel as a judge; a rep for the Academy said after publication that he will not be serving as a judge this year.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Watch James Corden Get Hit in the Face With a Dodgeball in Super Slow Motion (Video)

Watch BFFs Adam Devine and James Corden Audition for 'The Amazing Race' (Video)

'RuPaul's Drag Race': Nancy Pelosi Tells Queens to 'Resist' – and Vote

'RuPaul's Drag Race': What It's Really Like to Guest Judge a Reality Sensation (Bonus Podcast) | 4/3/18
A collaborative study between universities in Australia, the Netherlands, Ireland and UK, found babies delivered with any means of intervention were more likely to experience health problems

Finland has a lot to smile about.

The Scandinavian country landed the top spot on the United Nations’ World Happiness Report, released Wednesday.

The list, which ranks countries based on account income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity, according to the website, found the same countries as last year to be the 10 happiest, though some have switched positions.

RELATED: California Has the Worst ‘Quality of Life’ in the Country, Says New Study

The top 10 for 2018 are, in order: Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden and Australia.

Scandinavian countries have dominated the list for years. In the last four reports, the top spot was claimed by Denmark, Norway, Finland and Switzerland (which is not in Scandinavia).

So what is it about these countries that makes their residents so content? Surprisingly, one factor might be the chilly weather.

When Norway won last year, one of the study’s editors told Time magazine that the frigid climate and long, dark winters may actually have had a positive influence on residents’ perceived well-being.

“There is a view which suggests that historically communities that lived in harsher weather were brought together by greater mutual support,” Professor John Helliwell said. “You see this with farming communities as well, who will get together to pull a barn roof up. They don’t ask about who’s paying what. So the colder climate of the Northern countries might actually make social support easier.”

WATCH THIS: Grab Your Checkbook! The Most Expensive Home in America Hits the Market for $250 Million

Less competition at work and better support for those without a job are also big factors, according to Dr. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, who worked on the 2017 report and spoke to Time.

In Finland, economic factors are a major influence, too. The country has a high GDP and high taxes — which support social programs — and free or low-cost higher education and healthcare. Plus, life expectancy is very high: 78 for men and 84 for women, according to 2015 data from the World Health Organization.

The most unexpected reason for Scandinavians’ apparent contentment, however, is that they have lower expectations for their own happiness.

“If we are talking heel-kicking, cocktail-umbrella joie de vivre, then the Danes do not score highly, and I suspect not even they would take their claims that far,” Michael Booth, author of The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia, wrote of Denmark (2013, 2014 and 2016’s happiest country) in The Atlantic in 2015. “But if we are talking about being contented with one’s lot, then the Danes do have a more convincing case to present.”

In other words, they don’t strive to be extremely happy, and as a result, they’re happier with less.

RELATED: This 23-Year-Old Is Out to Break the Record for Fastest and Youngest Person to Travel to Every Country

The United States, for the record, came in 18th, right above the United Kingdom. The unhappiest countries of the 156 ranked were South Sudan, Central African Republic and Burundi. | 3/14/18
[The Herald] India and Netherlands are looking at expanding cooperation with Zimbabwe in agriculture, health and offering scholarships in many academic areas. This came out last week when Netherlands Ambassador to Zimbabwe Barbara van Hellemond and Indian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Rungsung Masakui separately paid courtesy calls on Minister of State for Government Scholarships in the Office of the President and Cabinet Dr Christopher Mushohwe. | 3/5/18

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

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.