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  • Dave Grohl

    Formerly the drummer for Nirvana, Dave Grohl went on to form the Foo Fighters.

    Read more about Dave Grohl0s charity work and events.
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  • It's National Save the Bats Week! Zack Snyder, Ben Affleck and Amy Adams tell us why it's important to save the bats. Learn more here.

    Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - Help Save the Bats

    Click here to view the video in your browser.


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  • Stepping up to serve the community is why two political leaders chose to go above and beyond to touch the lives of desperate people in downtown L.A. This is also the reason that these two men were honored by the Los Angeles Mission in its third annual Legacy of Vision Gala at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills.

    Los Angeles Mission 2014 Legacy of Vision Award Honorees Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Congressman David Dreier
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    Tuesday's event focused on the Mission's services to homeless families and veterans through vital programs designed to remake and restore their lives.

    This year's honorees were former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and former U. S. Congressman David Dreier. They received the Anne Douglas Award, presented each year to individuals who have made significant contributions to the community. The award is named for Mrs. Anne Douglas, the creative force and benefactor behind the Anne Douglas Center for Women at the Los Angeles a Mission and the wife of actor Kirk Douglas.

    "The Los Angeles Mission has worked with both of our honorees for years," said Herb Smith, President of the Mission. "They have supported the work of the Mission both publicly and behind the scenes. The public sees them at our holiday events not only serving meals but also washing the feet of people who are astonished when they realize who is helping them. What we also appreciate is their support and wise counsel behind the scenes along with their dedication to far-reaching goals of getting life restoring services to our city's homeless."

    "What initially made me come down to the Mission was hearing about how it was having an actual impact on the lives of people. I wanted to see if that could possibly be true. I saw for myself that it actually was true," says Villaraigosa. "What kept me coming back to the Los Angeles Mission was the impact the Mission had on me and on my life. I never expected that serving in the humblest way: washing the feet of the homeless would move me to tears. Presenting me with a whole new dimension of how giving to others can change your own life."

    "The Los Angeles Mission is a very special place," said Dreier. "I'm honored to have had a quarter century long affiliation as a member of the foundation Board. My friends Anne and Kirk (Douglas) continue to be my model. My hope is to replicate their work as our fellow Angelenos strive to become productive members of society."

    Miguel A. Núñez Jr., known for his numerous roles in films and television, hosted the evening¹s festivities. Núñez has also appeared in "Juwanna Mann," produced "School Dance", and written, produced and appeared in "Belle's" on TV One.

    Steve Amerson, "America¹s Tenor" provided entertainment for the evening. He is a renowned recording artist and concert musician whose voice is recognizable from more than 160 films and television programs. In his 20-year career Amerson has recorded 17 albums, had more than 100 compositions published by Word Music and other publishing companies, and performed for many Christian events including the Billy Graham Crusades. Sixteen of his albums were produced for Amerson Music Ministries, a label he established as a nonprofit organization.

    Sponsors for the event include the John W. Carson Foundation, the Goldwin Foundation, Wells Fargo Bank, City National Bank, the Los Angeles Trial Lawyers Charity and others.

    Los Angeles Mission was established in 1936 as a soup kitchen and Christian outreach to homeless men on Skid Row. During the depression years, many homeless and unemployed men struggled on the streets of cities across America. It was during the days of burgeoning bread lines and no food stamps. Soup kitchens, often supported by religious and civic groups, were established to feed the needy. The Los Angeles Mission was begun for just this reason.

    Several decades later, in the mid 1980's, it was clear the Mission organization had outgrown its original Los Angeles Street building. The Mission saw the need to expand and purchased vacant property at the corner of 5th and Wall Street. The present Mission facility was built there and was dedicated in 1992 to serve an ever-increasing homeless population.

    With that new facility, the Mission was the first in Lost Angeles to establish a dedicated women¹s center ­ The Anne Douglas Center for Women ­ a long-term residential rehabilitation facility endowed by Kirk and Anne Douglas. It was a tour of the old Mission by the Douglases which spurred Anne's interest in creating a safe place for women. Her passion to help the women opened both minds and doors. The result? A women's facility was endowed and constructed through her efforts. Named for Anne, it opened in February of 1992.

    For more than 78 years, the Los Angeles Mission has served homeless and hurting men and women of downtown Los Angeles, providing emergency services such as shelter, food and clothing. In addition, the Los Angeles Mission also offers long-term residential rehabilitation programs, including education, job training, transitional housing and counseling.

    From: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/12780-los-angeles-mission-honors-antonio-villaraigosa-and-david-dreier

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  • In recognition of the role individuals, organizations and corporations play in supporting the work of the United Nations to advance global peace and prosperity, the United Nations Foundation and the United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA) honored recipients of the 2014 Global Leadership Awards at the annual Global Leadership Dinner in New York City Wednesday night. 



    Selita Ebanks at the 2014 Global Leadership Awards Dinner
    Selita Ebanks at the 2014 Global Leadership Awards Dinner

    "Today we see many dark clouds. But I am convinced that we can stand up for UN principles and achieve the transformations we seek, the future we want. Let us work together to press all those in power to live up to their political and moral responsibilities. And let us be inspired by the honorees and other leaders here tonight to build a better world for all," said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in welcoming attendees. 



    Behati Prinsloo at the 2014 Global Leadership Awards Dinner
    Behati Prinsloo at the 2014 Global Leadership Awards Dinner

    Also in attendance was Ted Turner, chairman and founder of the United Nations Foundation, who joined Kathy Calvin, UN Foundation president and CEO; UNA-USA executive director Christopher Whatley, and nearly 500 diplomats, policymakers, business leaders and UN supporters in celebrating the contributions of the honorees as well as the vital work of the United Nations.

    Kelly Rutherford at the 2014 Global Leadership Awards Dinner
    Kelly Rutherford at the 2014 Global Leadership Awards Dinner

    

"Tonight we honor leaders who believe that it can be done — and who are showing us how to do it. We have a unique opportunity to improve millions of lives, while safeguarding the planet for generations to come. The UN Foundation is dedicated to mobilizing a movement of supporters to help the UN go further and faster in building this better world," said Calvin. 



    The honorees recognized during the dinner were:
    * Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, honored for her diplomatic command of cross-sector global relief efforts in response to humanitarian crises
    * Justice Michael Kirby, UN Commissioner, Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea, who received the Leo Nevas Human Rights Award for his consistent call for action against rights abuses
    * Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, who received the UN Foundation's highest honor, the Champion for Global Change Award, for his lifelong personal commitment to sustainable development and leadership in galvanizing the global community around the Post-2015 Development Agenda
    * Merck & Co., in recognition of its industry leadership and corporate commitment to global health and development
    * Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) for their commitment to a strong American relationship with the United Nations
    * Rana Abdelhamid, honored with the Leo Nevas Youth Advocate for Human Rights Award for her efforts to raise awareness of the UN and human rights mechanisms, and her empowerment of young Muslim women across the United States

    The dinner, supported by Merck & Co. and the Angelica Fuentes Foundation, benefits UNA-USA's Global Classrooms Model UN program to provide education and leadership opportunities to under-resourced middle and high school students. Together with its sister organization, the Better World Campaign, the organizations represent the largest network of UN supporters in the U.S.



    For more than 50 years, the Global Leadership Awards Dinner has highlighted the crucial role the UN plays in helping advance global peace, prosperity and justice. It recognizes individuals and organizations for their outstanding leadership in furthering the purposes of the United Nations Charter and advancing UN causes — from global health and economic development, to human rights, education, and environmental sustainability.

    Also attending the event were models Behati Prinsloo and Selita Ebanks, as well as actress Kelly Rutherford.

The event comes as the UN Foundation's Board of Directors holds its semi-annual meeting in New York City.

    From: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/12782-united-nations-foundation-hosts-global-leadership-dinner

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  • Martha Stewart is the latest celebrity to stand up for New Jersey's pigs.

    In a letter delivered yesterday to the office of Governor Chris Christie, Stewart urges the governor to sign a bipartisan state animal welfare bill that will ban keeping mother pigs in crates so small they can't even turn around.

    Stewart's letter comes on the heels of fellow New Jersey native Bill Maher's op-ed in the New York Times, in which he accused the governor, who's mulling a 2016 presidential campaign, of pandering to voters in Iowa, which holds the nation's first presidential caucus.

    "There must be more to it," Maher wrote, referring to Christie's veto of a similar bill last year. "Could it be that a possible presidential candidate is aware that Iowa is the No. 1 pig state in the country, and that Republican primary voters there are strongly anti-regulation?"

    In her letter, Stewart writes, "All animals need to turn around; they were designed that way. But pigs, especially, are interesting individuals with unique personalities and complex behavior and cognition. It is no more acceptable to cram pigs into tiny crates than it would be to do the same thing to dogs."

    The bill just overwhelmingly passed the Senate and Assembly, and will follow similar bills in nine states, including California, Arizona, Florida, and others. It has the support of The Humane Society of the United States, ASPCA, Farm Sanctuary, and 93 percent of New Jersey voters — including 94 percent of Democrats and 92 percent of Republicans.

    Stewart and Maher have both spoken out publically to end farm animal cruelty in the past, and were recruited to help by Farm Sanctuary, America's leading farm animal protection and rescue organization.

    To learn more about Farm Sanctuary, visit farmsanctuary.org.

    Farm Sanctuary operates three shelters in New York and California that provide lifelong care for nearly 1,000 rescued farm animals, works to change laws to decrease abuse of farm animals, and promotes compassionate vegan living.

    From: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/12781-martha-stewart-and-bill-maher-stand-up-for-new-jerseys-pigs

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  • The power of BLUE Ocean Film Festival and Conservation Summit to catalyze cultural change and to shift global consciousness has drawn an A-list of ocean stars from all walks of life.

    Extraordinary people, stories and discoveries will take center stage at BLUE 2014, November 3-9 in St. Petersburg, Florida.

    BLUE is a unique public event with global reach, where advanced ocean technologies are showcased in concert with inspiring films, and an amazing and diverse collection of other venues. Founded in 2006 by Debbie and Charlie Kinder, it has become internationally renowned for its unique ability to spark important discussions in areas of ocean science, conservation and exploration, and as a platform for professional development among industry leaders, students, and marine enthusiasts all over the world.

    "BLUE is a unique gathering of filmmakers, storytellers, and technologists who come together to figure out how to ignite public passion for the ocean," said Jenifer Austin, Manager of Google Ocean Program.

    The weeklong event includes Jeremy Irons0 presentation of documentary feature Trashed, James Cameron0s film on his death-defying 7-mile solo submersible dive, Fabien Cousteau's 31-day underwater living experiment in the Florida Keys, remarkable new images from Google Ocean Program, Sylvia Earle's presentation of documentary Mission BLUE, screening of Island President under the stars, workshops, special events, professional roundtables, and surprise appearances. For more info, click here.

    BLUE 2014 Highlights:
    * Academy Award winning actor and advocate Jeremy Irons will host a special screening of his award-winning ocean pollution documentary, Trashed.
    * Opening night special screening of James Cameron's DeepSea Challenge 3D. The Oscar Award- winning director's journey to fulfill his lifelong dream of diving to the deepest part of the ocean will be showcased in 3D, ultra high-definition, at The Mahaffey Theatre. The expedition team will be on hand and James Cameron's actual diving sphere will be available for viewing throughout the event.
    * Presentation of Making Waves Award to Sir Richard Branson
    * An address from Katherine Anne "Kathy" Castor, U.S. Representative for Florida's 14th congressional district.
    * 75 International Fulbright Scholars by special invitation from the U.S. State Department
    * Rising Tides: Sea Level Symposium with guest speaker Dr. Gary Mitchum, oceanographer at University of South Florida St. Petersburg, who will lead an important discussion that is close to home in Florida and everywhere around the world.
    * Fabien Cousteau's Mission 31. The first grandson of Jacques-Yves Cousteau will share footage from his recent expedition living 31 days submerged in the Aquarius, the world's only underwater marine habitat, located off the coast of the Florida Keys.
    * Special screening of Mission Blue, which follows Dr. Sylvia A. Earle around the globe on her life-long mission to protect the ocean. Widely recognized as one of the world's most influential ambassadors for the ocean, Dr. Earle has been called a "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress, and the first "Hero for the Planet" by Time Magazine.
    * Exclusive goliath grouper exhibit and slideshow by National Geographic photographer David Doubilet. Doubilet has produced nearly 70 stories for the National Geographic Magazine since 1971, is a feature columnist, author of twelve books, award recipient, and founding member of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP).
    * Renowned Australian photographer, explorer, Senior Fellow at ILCP, and author, Michael Aw, will be exhibiting photographs and giving workshops throughout the festival. Aw was named one of the world's most influential nature photographers by Outdoor Photography.
    * Sir Robert Swan, the world's first person to walk to both the North and South Poles. Sir Robert Swan will deliver the keynote, "Leadership on the Edge."
    * Google Ocean Program and Catlin Seaview Survey will present an exclusive preview of new StreetView images from the Florida Coast.
    * Environmental journalism workshop hosted by Poynter Institute.
    * Other speakers include Dan Basta, Director of National Marine Sanctuaries, Paul Baribault, VP at Disney Studios, legendary underwater filmmaker Stan Waterman, Mote Marine Laboratory's founder and pioneering scientist Dr. Eugenie Clark "The Shark Lady," and more.
    * Special appearance by "Gossip Girl" actress, Kelly Rutherford.
    * Screening of 150+ films, Q&As with famous ocean celebrities, art exhibits, the prestigious BLUE Carpet Awards, fun family activities, Ocean Voyagers, a special collaborative screening and live score presentation by The Florida Orchestra, and much more. A complete listing of events and speakers (subject to change) is available at www.blueoceanfilmfestival.org/

    Host city of BLUE 2014, St. Petersburg, Florida, was named a top global place to visit in 2014 by The New York Times and is among the most concentrated centers of ocean research in the world. BLUE Film Headquarters is the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront.

    BLUE sponsors include: Rolex, Disney Nature, Google, City of St. Petersburg, St Petersburg Clearwater, Bill Edwards Presents, Bright House Networks, Glass is Life, Muvico Theaters, Tampa Bay Times, NOAA National Marine Sanctuary, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, HealthCareIQ, Poynter Institute, Make a Difference Media, Earth Advertising, Paradise, and many others.

    Attendees include the general public, students, research and academic institutions, film and media professionals and organizations, ocean and environmental leaders, government officials, and retail and consumer businesses.

    "Ocean issues urgently need our attention and not just for the well being of future generations, but for the health of our own children. If humanity's life support system is lost, little else matters. I believe film and entertainment are the most powerful tools we have for reaching a large number of people in a short amount of time, hopefully before our only choice is crisis management," said Debbie Kinder, Co-Founder and CEO of BLUE.

    BLUE's strategic partnership with the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation brings BLUE to Monaco in 2015. In closing remarks at BLUE 2013 held in Monaco, HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco emphasized both the need to shift global consciousness and the power of BLUE to help do this.

    "This event uses the power of film, photography, entertainment and science to educate, empower and inspire ocean stewardship around the globe," he said. "To awaken consciousness toward environmental protection more effectively, our best weapons are those that win over our hearts and minds."

    From: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/12783-celebrities-artists-and-explorers-to-gather-at-blue-ocean-film-festival-and-conservation-summit

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  • Edie Falco, Danny DeVito, Martha Stewart, Bill Maher, Jon Bernthal, and Paul Wesley are united in publicly urging Gov. Chris Christie to ban the extreme confinement of breeding pigs in New Jersey.

    "I spent many years in New Jersey filming my show The Sopranos," wrote Edie Falco in a statement to Gov. Christie. "New Jersey citizens were by far the most welcoming, kind, and compassionate folks so it is no surprise that more than 90 percent of them are against unnecessary cruelty to animals. In this second time around, I sincerely hope you sign the gestation crate ban without delay. You proved yourself a kindhearted man for animals by passing the recent ivory legislation, and I hope you will follow suit for pigs who desperately need your help. I am proud to stand with my friends at The Humane Society of the United States and urge you to pass S. 998."

    "You know my heart is in New Jersey," wrote Danny DeVito. "Chris, please sign the ban on gestation crates -- cages used to confine breeding pigs! Man, that sounds like something we should do right away. I'd be proud of you for signing that one, Gov. You sign this ban and I think you go straight to heaven. Not for a long while of course, but, no question this kind of thing opens the gate!"

    Last month a Mason Dixon poll showed that 93 percent of New Jersey voters supported the governor signing the bill.

    Kathleen Schatzmann, New Jersey state director for The Humane Society of the United States, said: "Mr. DeVito is a fixture in New Jersey and with his support of this commonsense animal protection bill in his home state, he joins more than 90 percent of citizens who also support it. We urge Governor Christie to sign this bill into law."

    Find out more about what the stars are saying here.

    Gov. Christie has until Nov. 30 to sign the bill

    From: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/12784-edie-falco-and-danny-devito-stand-up-for-new-jersey-pigs

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  • Sir Elton John and David Furnish – the Founder and Chairman, respectively, of the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) – were in Washington, DC, last Friday for a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry.

    Discussions with Secretary Kerry centered on EJAF's new collaborative arrangement with the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to conduct a national program in South Africa focused on men who have sex with men (MSM).

    "The incidence of HIV among MSM is greater than the general population in all regions across the world, including South Africa, the nation hardest hit by HIV," said Furnish. "This disparity is primarily due to the stigma and discrimination faced by MSM, which discourages and excludes them from the HIV services, if any, available to the population at large."

    EJAF's envisions its collaboration with PEPFAR in South Africa as a prelude to additional collaborations in other countries, such as Nigeria and Ethiopia.

    "At the Elton John AIDS Foundation, we are convinced that specialized MSM programs should be a part of every national strategic plan to combat HIV," said Sir Elton. "This belief and vision is what led us to design Health4Men, the first program of its kind in the world. With an initial commitment of $7 million from EJAF and PEPFAR, Health4Men will leverage support from the Global Fund and the South African Department of Health to provide a set of targeted interventions for MSM. These interventions will be aimed at preventing new HIV infections and treating existing infections, thereby leading to a reduction in the number of HIV-related deaths among MSM."

    On Saturday, October 25, Sir Elton John and David Furnish received the Human Rights Campaign (HRC)'s National Equality Award at the 18th annual HRC National Dinner. At the dinner, Sir Elton announced a $300,000 grant from EJAF to HRC for a national program to increase awareness of HIV prevention, treatment and care among LGBT people — with a specific focus on young gay and bisexual men and transgender women.

    "We are truly grateful for the leadership of the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the opportunity we now have to greatly expand our efforts around HIV/AIDS education and advocacy," said Jeff Krehely, HRC's Vice President & Chief Foundation Officer. "The grant will make a profound difference to the lives of countless people, especially the members of our community who are disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS and the stigma surrounding the disease."

    From: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/12785-elton-john-meets-with-john-kerry-for-aids-discussions

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  • Saint John's Health Center (SJHC) hosted its 2014 Power of Pink event October 23, at House of Blues in West Hollywood to benefit the Cancer Prevention Program at Saint John's Health Center.

    P!nk and Dr. Maggie DiNome, Chief of General Surgery at Saint John0s Health Center and Acting Director of the Breast Center
    P!nk and Dr. Maggie DiNome, Chief of General Surgery at Saint John0s Health Center and Acting Director of the Breast Center
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    The evening was attended by more than 700 people. P!nk performed an intimate acoustic set with friends including Linda Perry, Nate Ruess, Dallas Green, Butch Walker, Justin Derrico and Billy Mann. Celebrities attending included Melanie Griffith, Valerie Bertinelli, Camila Alves, Katie Holmes, Chris Meloni, Sara Gilbert and Samantha Harris, among others.

    The Power of Pink is a fundraising event recognizing and celebrating the strength of women who battle and beat breast cancer daily. Proceeds from the event go directly to the Cancer Prevention Program at the Margie Petersen Breast Center at SJHC. SJHC believes that ultimately, prevention of cancer may be the most effective cure.

    "The power and momentum of this event coupled with the generosity of our donors allows us to offer through our Cancer Prevention Program genetic risk assessment, nutritional counseling, yoga therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy and meditation as integral parts of a patient's care. We are grateful to our sponsors, and together, are all deeply committed to saving lives through the prevention of cancer. And, we are humbled by our collaboration with P!nk who gives so generously of her time and talent to help support our efforts," said Dr. Maggie DiNome, Chief of General Surgery at Saint John's and Acting Director of the Breast Center.

    Power of Pink is made possible by the support of event sponsors: John Wayne Cancer Foundation, Duke Bourbon, Tervis, Inman Family Wines, LiveNation, House of Blues, Chocolate Sun and Uber.

    Since its founding in 1942, SJHC has been providing the patients and families of Santa Monica, West Los Angeles and ocean communities with breakthrough medicine and inspired healing. Providing the latest in diagnostic technology and specialty care with a strong dedication to our core services: cardiac care, oncology, orthopedics and women's health, SJHC is honored to be voted one of America's Top 50 Hospitals and is devoted to providing leading-edge medicine with unwavering compassion and personalized care. For information, visit providence.org/saintjohns.

    From: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/12786-pink-performs-at-cancer-prevention-event

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  • Last week, multi-talented entertainer, comedian, performing artist and member of the board of directors of St. Mary's Healthcare System for Children -- Nick Cannon -- attended A Tribute to Nick Cannon benefiting St. Mary's Healthcare System for Children at Hard Rock Cafe New York.

    Nick Cannon poses on the red carpet at Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square with children and staff from St. Mary's Children's Hospital
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    Nick Cannon was honored at the event and joined by special guests NFL Hall of Famer Lynn Swann, Miss USA, The Alternate Routes, who performed their hit "Nothing More," and NCredible Artists: Kehlani, Kreesha Turner and 4Count as well as "Americas Got Talent" finalists Quintavious Johnson and Sons of Serendip.

    Nick Cannon poses on the red carpet at Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square during A Tribute to Nick Cannon
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    St. Mary's improves the health and quality of life for children with special needs and life-limiting conditions and their families. They are New York's largest and most experienced provider of long-term care to children with medically complex conditions and New York's City's only state-of-the-art post-acute care facility for children.

    From: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/12787-nick-cannon-hosts-st-marys-kids-benefit

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  • Last week, non-profit organization Little Kids Rock hosted its sixth annual benefit at Hammerstein Ballroom at The Manhattan Center, which generated approximately $1.5 million in donations to help support students and music teachers in public schools with donated instruments, curricular resources and training.

    The benefit also honored Joan Jett as "Rocker of the Year" for the impact that her career, influence, and music has had on the charity's ‘Modern Band' music program, which helps facilitate the teaching of popular musical styles that kids know and love, like rock, hip hop, country, blues and funk.

    "For twelve years, Little Kids Rock has supported over 320,000 teachers and students realize the true impact of music -- inside and outside the classroom," said David Wish, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Little Kids Rock. "Thanks to the generosity of our partners and supporters, we're able to continue to bring this gift to thousands of kids each year, long after the benefit has ended."

    To begin, guests enjoyed a performance by Sharkapella, an after school a cappella vocal group made of current and former students ages 13-16. Maureen Van Zandt then formally welcomed the audience to the evening's festivities. Van Zandt is an honorary board member of Little Kids Rock alongside her husband, Steven Van Zandt, who also served as the producer of this year's musical production and oversees his own Rock and Roll Forever Foundation.

    Following her introduction, The Sopranos' Vincent Pastore and radio host, Rich Russo, took to the stage to serve as hosts for the night, bringing David Wish front and center to honor Guitar Center's Mike Pratt for his and Guitar Center's support and partnership with the charity. Guitar Center also served as the title sponsor.

    Wish went on to speak to the crowd about the charity's mission and, most importantly, the students and teachers it supports -- teachers like John Flora, who joined a number of student performers on stage to captivate the crowd with hits like "Counting Stars."

    "Not only do our students receive the gift of music education for free, but they also know they're welcome in a classroom where everyone speaks the only universal language the world has ever known- music," said Mr. Flora during his address to the audience.

    Don Reo, who co-wrote the book Big Man with Clarence Clemons, then came to the stage to present the "Big Man of the Year" award to the late performer's nephew, Jake Clemons. The students joined him in two entertaining performances, "You're a Friend of Mine" and "Valentine Song."

    Ten-year-old Ashley Nunez, a student from PS 98 Shorac Kappock elementary school in Manhattan who performed an original song featuring Jake Clemons, summed up the night best, saying "Little Kids Rock gave me the chance to learn to play music, and now they are giving me the chance to play a song that we wrote in school in front of all of these people. This has been such an awesome experience, and a night I'll never forget."

    The night then turned its attention to Little Kids Rock "Rocker of the Year" Joan Jett, her legacy and the role she's played in advancing music education. Members of rock royalty paid homage, including Alice Cooper, Green Day0s Billie Joe Armstrong, Cheap Trick, Tommy James, Darlene Love, Gary U.S. Bonds, Kathleen Hanna with Ad-Rock, Mike Ness, Jesse Malin, Brody Dalle, Jake Clemons and Little Kids Rock students from local schools. Guests enjoyed a variety of covers and original music, such as:

    * Cheap Trick, "I Hate Myself For Loving You"
    * Gary US Bonds and Jake Clemons, "Eye to Eye"
    * Brody Dalle, "Victim of Circumstance"
    * Jesse Malin, "Bad Reputation"
    * Darlene Love, "Little Liar"
    * Mike Ness, "Love Is Pain"
    * Tommy James and Joan Jett, "Crimson and Clover"
    * Kathleen Hannah with Ad-Rock, "Fake Friends"
    * Billie Joe Armstrong and Joan Jett, "Don't Abuse Me"
    * Alice Cooper and Joan Jett, "Be My Lover"

    The night ended, fittingly, with an epic finale of Joan's classic "I Love Rock N Roll."

    From: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/12788-joan-jett-joined-by-steve-van-zandt-and-alice-cooper-at-little-kids-rock-event

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  • Rufus Wainwright, Natasha Lyonne and Andy Rourke from The Smiths were just a few of the several hundred supporters at the LilySarahGrace (LSG) fund "Color Outside the Lines" benefit last week at Jack Studios in New York.

    Rufus Wainwright, Natasha Lyonne and Andy Rourke
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    The evening launched the organization's "Color Outside the Lines" fundraising campaign based around original drawings from more than 40 artists in film, television, music and visual art that were specially created for LSG. Wainwright performed "Hallelujah" and Rourke performed a DJ set during the evening that honored Charles Best, Hans Tullmann and Whoopi Goldberg for their significant contributions and dedication to arts education.

    Additional guests included Artist Carole Feuerman, Poppy King, Photographer Mark Seliger, Actress Rebecca Blumhagen and many more. LSG provides underfunded schools with supplies and educational tools to teach their curriculum through the arts. For more information, please visit www.lilysarahgrace.org.

    From: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/12789-rufus-wainwright-performs-at-lilysarahgrace-benefit

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  • International football legend David Beckham and music star Robbie Williams, both longstanding UNICEF Ambassadors, have been photographed demonstrating the need to protect children from danger in a set of images released by Unicef UK on Friday.

    David Beckham UNICEF Photo Shoot
    David Beckham UNICEF Photo Shoot
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    The images have been released to highlight a new Unicef UK campaign to protect children from violence, disease, hunger and the chaos of war and disaster. This week the organisation released a ground-breaking report that shows how children are facing an epidemic of violence.

    Robbie Williams UNICEF Photo Shoot
    Robbie Williams UNICEF Photo Shoot
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    The report "Children in Danger: Act to End Violence against Children" reveals that every five minutes a child around the world dies as the result of violence. It also outlines that some 345 children under the age of 20 could die from violence each day in the next year, unless governments act.

    Unicef Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham said: "If you saw a child in danger, any child you would instantly step up and protect that child from whatever threat they were facing. Millions of children around the world are facing dangers every day – violence, disease and disasters. We need to grab this opportunity to step up and protect them now. Join me in supporting Unicef's Children in Danger campaign and we can all help keep these children safe."

    Unicef UK Ambassador Robbie Williams said: "I've met children around the world who are facing all kinds of dangers -- kids in Haiti who lost everything in the earthquake and little children in Mexico at risk of violence and abuse. Since becoming a dad I realise more than ever how much these children need someone to protect them. With your help Unicef can keep these children safe, please sign up to their Children in Danger campaign."

    To mark the launch of the campaign, Unicef UK has also released a powerful 90 second film that tells how children are facing an epidemic of violence. The film asks the viewer to imagine what it would be like if there was a ‘violence vaccine' that could protect children and ensure they were safe.

    To date the film has already been shared on social media by Unicef Ambassadors and supporters including Andy Murray, Cat Deeley, David Beckham, David Walliams, Eddie Izzard, Emma Bunton, Ewan McGregor, Jessie Ware, Lewis Hamilton, Michael Sheen, Nicole Scherzinger, Robbie Williams, Roger Moore, Stephen Fry, Tom Daley and Tom Hiddleston.

    Unicef UK is calling for a target to end violence, exploitation and abuse of children to be included in the world's new development agenda in 2015. The UK and other governments must act now and commit to keeping every child safe. The public can join Unicef UK's Children in Danger campaign and help end violence at unicef.org.uk/danger.

    From: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/12790-david-beckham-and-robbie-williams-join-unicef-campaign-to-protect-children-from-violence

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  • Life Ball is coming to New York with a special charity auction at Sotheby's on December 8.

    The auction will see Build-A-Bear teddy bears specially created by stars to benefit Operation Bobbi Bear. Among the stars who have created bears for the event are Bill Clinton, Elton John, Sean Penn, Nicole Kidman, Sharon Stone, Heidi Klum, Janet Jackson, Adrien Brody, Vivienne Westwood, Eva Longoria, Jean Paul Gaultier, Roberto Cavalli and many more.

    It is estimated that in the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal (South Africa), one in every four girls will be raped by her sixteenth birthday. Operation Bobbi Bear works on behalf of sexually abused and victimized children by helping to minimize their risk of an HIV infection, ensuring their health and well-being and bringing their attackers to justice. Their court-approved approach, which uses a teddy bear for children to describe their abuse, has helped save thousands of children from being victimized again through retelling their stories. Find out more here.

    To find out more about the auction, click here.

    From: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/12791-stars-create-teddy-bears-for-charity-auction-in-new-york

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  • On Thursday, October 23, American Friends of Magen David Adom (AFMDA) proudly celebrated the second annual Red Star Ball at The Beverly Hilton.

    Toni Braxton at Red Star Ball
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    Hosted by Jay Leno, the star-studded event featured a special musical performance by legendary singer, Paul Anka. The evening raised more than $5.7 million, making it the most successful single fundraising event in AFMDA history.

    The night honored Magen David Adom's wartime medics and recognized David Wiener with the Lifetime Achievement Award, Dr. Bill Dorfman with the Humanitarian of the Year Award, and Gina Edwards with the Next Generation Award.

    The event featured two Israelis who were nearly killed by terror attacks this past summer in Israel, reuniting on-stage with the MDA medics who saved their lives. Proceeds from the Red Star Ball will go towards building MDA's new national blood center, a facility that will protect Israel's entire blood supply from terror attacks and natural disasters while continuing to provide 97% of the blood used by Israel's hospitals and all the blood for the Israel Defense Forces.

    Also in attendance were Jim Sears, Pat Boone and Toni Braxton.

    An exclusive after-party hosted by JR Martinez for AFMDA's NextGen community, Heartbeat, followed the gala at The Beverly Hilton and raised tens of thousands of additional dollars.

    From: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/12792-jay-leno-hosts-red-star-ball

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  • On 14th October, Hugh Quarshie, star of the BBC One medical drama Holby City, met with patients, doctors and nurses at King's College Hospital, to officially open the new Paediatric Short Stay Unit (PSSU).

    Holby City Star Opens King's Variety Children's Unit

    The new six-bedded unit is part of the Variety Children's Hospital, based at King's College Hospital, which cares for 50,000 children every year.

    The unit cares for young patients who need up to 48 hours of care, treating those from our local community who are admitted via the Emergency Department. Whilst these patients need to be in hospital, they often do not need be on a specialist ward, so the new unit can offer general paediatric care for the children with conditions.

    Hugh Quarshie, a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and known for his roles in the films Highlander and Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, has starred as Dr Ric Griffin in Holby City since 2001. He has supported Variety for the last year across a number of their events and initiatives, with the opening of the unit being a fitting new venture for the star to champion.

    "I'm delighted to be here at the opening of this special unit and to see the great work of the real medics at King's," said Hugh. "I'm also very honoured and humbled to be a celebrity ambassador for Variety, the Children's Charity."

    Dr Mo Akindolie, one of the Paediatric Consultants on the new unit, added: "I know PSSU will make a huge difference and help us to make the care we provide to all our patients even better. It was great that Hugh took the opportunity to step out of character and join us to officially open our unit -- hopefully he picked up a few tips from our team to take back to Holby!"

    Trevor Green, Chief Barker of Variety - The Children0s Charity, added: "We are extremely honoured to be able to unveil this new unit as part of the Variety Children's Hospital at King's. The Charity and its fundraisers are absolutely dedicated in continuing to ensure that places such as King's can make life a more positive experience by providing emotional and practical support to sick children and their families."

    From: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/12793-holby-city-star-helps-open-kings-variety-childrens-unit

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  • On Thursday, October 23rd, Hilaria Baldwin and Roberto Dutesco co-chaired Bent On Learning's Pre-Celebration for its Inspire! 2015 gala.

    Dutesco's art gallery served as the backdrop to the kick-off event.

    Additional attendees included Alec Baldwin, author and wellness enthusiast, Erica Reid, top model, Grace Bol, designer and CEO of Slane, Landon Slane, co-founders of Sakara Life, Danielle DuBoise and Whitney Tingle, designer of Stephanie Johnson handbags, Stephanie Johnson, and designer of Satya Jewelry, Satya Scainetti.

    Following a compeling short video about Bent on Learning's program and the announcement that Julianne Moore will host the upcoming 2015 gala on March 12, 2015 by Bent On Learning's co-founders Anne Desmond and Jennifer Ford. Alec and Hilaria Baldwin surprised and delighted guests by joining an impromptu yoga session with the students in attendance.

    Founded in 2001 when three yoga teachers met by chance in their mutual pursuit of bringing yoga to urban youth, Bent On Learning is a nonprofit organization committed to teaching yoga to New York City public school children. The organization is the first to bring free yoga programs into schools during the academic day and is paving the way for making health and happiness an integral part of the curriculum of our schools.

    Studies show that yoga's combination of movement with breathing, relaxation and meditation not only improves physical health, but also has a positive impact on emotional and cognitive intelligence -- making children better prepared for learning and for personal success! Over the past 14 years, Bent On Learning has taught yoga to approximately 18,000 students throughout Brooklyn, Manhattan, Washington Heights, Harlem and the Bronx. Find out more here.

    From: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/12794-alec-and-hilaria-baldwin-join-yoga-session-at-inspire-2015-gala

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  • Goodwill Industries International and Kristian Bush, one-half of Platinum-selling country duo Sugarland, are partnering to raise awareness of Goodwill's mission of transforming lives through the power of work.

    It's a partnership inspired by the message of Bush's debut solo single, the Top 40-and-climbing hit Trailer Hitch, which reminds us that we collect so many things that we don't need, and we can't take it with us when we go… so why not "give it away"? Bush announced his new partnership with Goodwill when he appeared on NBC's TODAY Show this morning (10/27).

    "I think a lot of people feel like you need to have extra money in order to be a ‘philanthropist' or make a difference in the world," said Bush. "But we all have a box or a bag of things we don't need sitting around in our house or our car. Anyone can become a job creator just by donating that stuff to Goodwill, and when you learn more about what Goodwill does with the proceeds from your donations, you will be amazed. It's philanthropy that anyone can engage in, and it really does change lives."

    Bush will join Goodwill in encouraging music fans to donate clothing, electronics and small household goods in their communities, and reminding them that the revenue from the sale of these donations goes directly to help find employment for people with disabilities, disadvantages, or anyone facing challenges. Bush will also build awareness of Goodwill's mission at his concerts, in media interviews, on blogs, and by sharing messaging through his social media channels.

    By using the catchy, irresistible hook of "Trailer Hitch," Bush hopes to reinforce that Goodwill is so much more than a thrift shop -- it is vital organizations throughout the United States and Canada, providing job and skills training, employment placement and community-based services such as career counseling, resume preparation, mock interviews, child care, financial education, and transportation. Every 27 seconds of every business day, a person served by Goodwill is placed in employment.

    "Almost everyone knows someone who is struggling to make ends meet, and unemployment in our communities is still a hardship. But the simple act of giving away what you no longer need builds independence and dignity for people who need support to provide for themselves and their families," said Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. "Bush's message in ‘Trailer Hitch' aligns perfectly with Goodwill's mission by helping people realize the impact they have by donating the items they no longer need to Goodwill."

    From: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/12795-goodwill-and-sugarlands-kristian-bush-partner-to-give-it-away

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  • One of the world's most iconic pop stars shared her support last week to seven young children in Los Angeles who have been bullied. Beyonce posted the Kids In The House anti-bullying PSA on Facebook, which encourages everyone to take a stand to end bullying.

    "These children are so brave for speaking out and telling their personal stories of being bullied in order to help change the world," posted Beyonce.

    "It was very courageous of these kids to speak out and it makes them feel special to have an individual like Beyonce validate their efforts," says Leana Greene, producer and director of the PSA.

    Kids in the House interviewed children from the Los Angeles area who have experienced bullying, as well as leading bullying experts, to explore how to stop bullying, and to get clear advice on what to do when it happens.

    The children in the video give a voice to the cost of bullying. The pain they have experienced is evident as you watch the video and hear their stories. Their courage in speaking out and Beyonce's support of such an important message is a great reminder to kids across the nation that we need to join together to end bullying.

    Kids in the House: The Ultimate Parenting Resource is an educational website with the goal of helping parents and caregivers become better at parenting by educating, inspiring and entertaining. The 8,000 videos on the website feature interviews with over 450 top experts in parenting, including physicians, psychologists, researchers, educators and best-selling authors, as well as leaders of national organizations. The videos also feature parents who have dealt with particular issues and can share their hard-earned wisdom. Parents have the opportunity to hear and share different perspectives and get solutions for parenting challenges that range from pregnancy to getting into college. Kids in the House aims to be the most comprehensive resource for parenting advice -- one that respects the fact that there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

    From: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/12796-beyonce-supports-kids-to-endbullying

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  • The Duchess of Cambridge attended a charity gala dinner last week in support of Action On Addiction, of which she is Patron.

    The Duchess of Cambridge greets supporters as she attends an Autumn gala evening dinner
    The Duchess of Cambridge greets supporters as she attends an Autumn gala evening dinner
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    The Duchess of Cambridge, who is pregnant with her second child, met supporters of the charity, with which she has a close relationship, at her third official engagement in three days since returning to the spotlight after her battle against serious morning sickness, hyperemesis gravidarum.

    The Duchess has previously publicly supported Action On Addiction, including a visit to Hope House in Clapham, London in February 2013 and a more recent visit to a school in Islington, taking a close interest in helping children of addicted families break the cycle of addiction.

    Writing in the programme for the Autumn Gala Evening, Her Royal Highness highlighted its "life-changing" work.

    She wrote: "As I am sure you are aware, the impact of addiction can be extremely damaging for individuals, families and the wider community.

    "During the time I have spent with clients and staff I have been privileged to see the phenomenal work which the charity undertakes to improve the lives of those affected by addiction."

    "The stories of recovery are remarkable; and Action On Addiction's role in helping people achieve this is truly inspiring."

    Christopher Holder, another of the charity's supporters, said they we pleased she had been able to attend after her recent illness to help promote the charity's work.

    Action On Addiction runs two residential treatment centres – Clouds House in Wiltshire and the women-only Hope House. It also runs day treatment programmes in Liverpool, Bournemouth and London.

    From: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/12797-duchess-of-cambridge-attends-action-on-addiction-gala-dinner

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  • On October 29th at 2 PM ET, Chelsea Clinton and Christy Turlington Burns, founder of Every Mother Counts, a non-profit organization dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother, will host a Twitter Q&A via @ClintonFDN on the state of maternal health around the globe.

    This Q&A is part of a series of live and virtual conversations hosted by No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project, a Clinton Foundation initiative led by Secretary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton to advance full participation for women and girls around the world.

    Your voice is critical to these conversations. Please join this Twitter Q&A and tweet your questions to @ClintonFDN using #MaternalHealth.

    From: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/12802-join-chelsea-clinton-and-christy-turlington-burns-for-twitter-q-and-a

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  • WebMD Health Corp., the leading source of health information, will host the first ever WebMD Health Hero Awards, recognizing individuals who are changing the healthcare landscape by meeting a health challenge and giving back to others.

    Robin Roberts will host the event, and presenters include Rocco DiSpirito, Susie Essman, Jordin Sparks, Beth Stern, Dr. Brent Ridge. There will also be a musical performance by Gavin DeGraw.

    The evening will honor Carson Daly, Michael J. Fox, Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz, Dr. Frank Papay, Zarin Idnat Rahman and Martha Stewart.

    WHEN: Thursday, November 6th

    WHERE: The Times Center
    242 West 41st Street

    MD Health Corp. is the leading provider of health information services, serving consumers, physicians, healthcare professionals, employers, and health plans through their public and private online portals, mobile platforms and health-focused publications. The WebMD Health Network includes WebMD Health, Medscape, MedicineNet, emedicineHealth, RxList, theheart.org, Medscape Education and other owned WebMD sites.

    Find out more about the event here.

    From: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/12798-robin-roberts-to-host-webmd-health-hero-awards

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  • President Bill Clinton has announced a roster of international leaders from the private and public sectors across Latin America, the Caribbean, Canada, and the United States who will participate in a one-time Future of the Americas convening on December 11 at the University of Miami in Miami, Florida.

    This convening is part of President Clinton's long-standing commitment to economic prosperity, investment, and innovation across the western hemisphere, through his work in office and post-presidency through the Clinton Foundation.

    Twenty years after President Clinton convened the first Summit of the Americas, this convening will bring leaders together from across the hemisphere to create space for them to have a conversation about the next twenty years, with a focus on how to strengthen investment, jobs, health, and education. The Future of the Americas will complement the official Summit of the Americas in April 2015.

    The agenda of President Clinton's Future of the Americas convening will encourage cross-sector collaboration across Latin America, the Caribbean, Canada, and the United States. Discussion topics will include energy, infrastructure, the environment, agriculture, small and medium-sized enterprises, women and girls, technology, chronic diseases, nutrition, primary education, and vocational training. This convening is a working meeting, with an emphasis on interactive, roundtable discussions.

    "I'm looking forward to our Future of the Americas discussions in Miami. There's been tremendous progress across our hemisphere since we first came together twenty years ago, and now more than ever, it's clear the next twenty years in our hemisphere will depend largely on the actions that leaders from all sectors and countries take today," said President Clinton. "This meeting will give people an opportunity to focus on key challenges and opportunities -- around jobs, education, health and the need for inclusive political, economic, and social policies. I'm thankful for the leadership of the people who are participating, and hopeful that our discussions will re-energize their efforts to shape our shared future in ever more positive ways."

    Participants in the Future of the Americas discussions include Dr. Valentin Abe, Founder, Caribbean Harvest; Gastón Acurio, Chef, La Mar by Gastón Acurio; Fidel Andueza, Head of the Americas, Libra Group; Carlos Julio Ardila, Vice President of the Board, Organización Ardila Lülle; Steffano Bertozzi, Dean, School of Public Health, University of California at Berkeley; Carlos Bulgheroni, CEO, Bridas Energy; Luis Carlos Sarmiento Angulo, President, Grupo Aval; Adriana Cisneros, CEO and Vice Chairman, The Cisneros Group of Companies; Gustavo Cisneros, Chairman, The Cisneros Group of Companies; Henry G. Cisneros, Executive Chairman, CityView Companies; Vicky Colbert, Executive Director, Fundación Escuela Nueva; David Crane, President and CEO, NRG Energy; Hernando de Soto, President, Institute for Liberty and Democracy; Jorge Errázuriz, Partner, BTG Pactual; Emilio and Gloria Estefan, Estefan Enterprises; Alfonso Fanjul, CEO, Fanjul Corp; Angélica Fuentes, CEO, Grupo Omnilife; Alejandro García Padilla, Governor, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; Frank Giustra, President and CEO, Fiore Financial Corporation; Rolando González-Bunster, Chairman and CEO, InterEnergy Holdings Ltd.; Nizan Guanaes, Chairman and Founder, Grupo ABC; Gabriela León, CEO, GRESMEX SA de CV; Phillip Levine, Mayor, Miami Beach; Alfredo Mesa, Executive Director, Marlins Foundation; Thomas F. McLarty, Chairman, McLarty Associates; Luis Alberto Moreno, President, Inter-American Development Bank; Stanley Motta, President, Motta Internacional, S.A.; Dyer Narinesingh, President, University of Trinidad and Tobago; Eduardo Padrón, President, Miami Dade College; Nicholas Prouty, President, Putnam Bridge Funding Jennifer Pryce, Founder and CEO, Calvert Foundation; Frank Rainieri, President and CEO, Grupo Puntacana; Julissa Reynoso, U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay; Carlos Rodríguez-Pastor, Chairman and CEO, Intercorp; David Rothkopf, President and CEO, Garten Rothkopf, Israel Ruiz, Executive Vice President and Treasurer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Alejandro Santo Domingo, Managing Director, Quadrant Capital Advisors, Inc.; Juan Manuel Santos, President of the Republic of Colombia; Donna Shalala, President, University of Miami; Carlos Slim, Chairman, Grup Carso; Javier Soto, President and CEO, The Miami Foundation and Gerardo Werthein, Chairman, Caja de Seguros S.A., and many others.

    For more information, a complete list of featured participants, and the most up-to-date schedule visit www.clintonfoundation.org/futureoftheamericas.

    From: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/12799-bill-clinton-announces-future-of-the-americas-event

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  • A new novel from bestselling author Jodi Picoult has hit the shelves, and she has just written a guest blog post for PETA, a piece discussing the novel, Leaving Time, which centers on a teenage girl's search for her mother, an elephant researcher who disappeared 10 years ago.

    In her piece, Picoult shares her inspiration for the book's elephant-centric backstory — her real-life visit to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee and spending time in Botswana learning about and watching wild elephant herds — and writes passionately about the plight of the animals featured in her book.

    Readers will be drawn in by her determination to take a stand for elephants suffering in captivity and may be surprised to hear that poaching doesn't just decimate wild elephant populations — it also funds terrorism.

    "The elephants in my book Leaving Time are based on elephants I met at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee," wrote Jodi. "Elephants suffer greatly in captivity. A zoo habitat is never large enough to accommodate an elephant properly. Moreover, elephants live in herds, so creating a fake herd of two or three elephants is much like throwing a human into a cell with a stranger and assuming they will become fast friends. Seventy-five percent of elephants in North American zoos are overweight, 40 percent have foot or joint problems, and 80 percent have behavioral tics such as head-bobbing or swaying because of stress. For every elephant born in a zoo, another two die — so even saying that zoos foster breeding programs is not quite accurate.

    "Elephants simply should not be in zoos."

    To read Jodi's full piece, click here.

    From: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/12801-jodi-picoult-blogs-for-elephant-freedom

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  • Written by Tim Saunders

    Douglas Adams was a frood who really knew where his towel was. He was also one of Britain's best comedy writers, a keen conservationist and is the subject of a new book by Jem Roberts – The Frood: The Authorised and Very Official History of Douglas Adams and The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.

    The Frood by Jem Roberts
    The Frood by Jem Roberts

    Just for a bit of background – this review may be slightly biased. Placing a book about Douglas Adams in my hands is not entirely unlike placing a block of cheese in the hands of a hungry mouse (whether the block of cheese is actually very small or the mouse very large is not important. But I like your imagination). I was hooked on The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy from the moment I could work out how to turn on a radio. Later I found that Adams had turned the cult radio show into a series of books – I learnt to read for no other reason. Later still I discovered the TV show and Adams' other books. So I'm a lifelong fan, and any book about the Grandmaster of Comedy will immediately gain a foothold in my library (if library is defined as a large plywood bookcase held together by duct tape and physics).

    Douglas Adams was a large man with a penchant for Apple products (before they were cool), digital watches (which were a neat idea) and animals (which are an even neater idea). Jem Roberts' new book takes us from Douglas' early days writing with Monty Python's Graham Chapman, through his work as Script Editor on Doctor Who and his ground-breaking work on video games in the early eighties. It reveals a writer plagued by self-doubt who has expanded the cerebellums of readers/listeners/viewers across time and space, a scribe haunted by the sound of deadlines whooshing past.

    But it was Adams' love of conservation that really made him a hoopy frood (for those unfamiliar with the Hitchhiker's Universe – hoopy is a really together guy and a frood is a really amazingly together guy. Simple, really).

    This new book reveals how Douglas first encountered endangered Aye-ayes in Madagascar in 1985 while writing an article for Observer Colour Magazine. The trip opened our young and impressionable writer's eye-eyes to the plight of animals on the brink of extinction, but just as importantly he met zoologist Mark Carwardine. The result: a BBC radio show and book called Last Chance To See, which featured the pair as they travelled the globe searching for rare animals such as the elusive Kakapo in New Zealand and the Northern White Rhinos of the Garamba National Park. It was a endeavor that led to renewed and increased conservation efforts around the world, and resulted in a follow-up project – 20 years later and eight years after Douglas' death at the age of 49 – fronted by Mark Carwardine and Stephen Fry that revisited the same species to see how they were getting on (in the case of the Yangtze River Dolphin and the Northern White Rhino, they didn't appear to be getting on very well at all).

    In 1994, Douglas became patron of Save the Rhino, an organisation dedicated to – funnily enough – saving the rhino. He was a dedicated and passionate supporter of the charity until his death in 2001. Since 2003, Save The Rhino has held an annual Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture – next year's event will feature the author of an earlier biography about Douglas, Neil Gaiman. Save the Rhino will also celebrate its 21st birthday in November with a special event featuring Mark Carwardine.

    Douglas has also inspired the establishment of the Hitchhiker0s Guide to the Galaxy Foundation, which makes grants to small charities to benefit literacy. As Jem Roberts points out in his book, Douglas wanted to do as much good in this world as he could, so it is up to his fans to continue his legacy.

    For those who want to immerse themselves more fully in the Hitchhiker's Universe, Jem Roberts has provided the perfect starting point. For fans who miss all things Douglasy, it fills a huge gap left vacant by a huge talent.

    The Frood: The Authorised and Very Official History of Douglas Adams and The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Jem Roberts is available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, as well as wherever hoopy books are sold.

    From: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/12800-book-review-the-frood-the-authorised-and-very-official-history-of-douglas-adams

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  • IKEA has unveiled six animated videos of soft toys voiced by celebrities including Strictly host Claudia Winkleman, Dr Who actor Arthur Darvill, actress Nina Wadia, and TV and film stars Ashley Jensen, James Nesbitt and Stephen Graham.

    Video: IKEA Soft Toys for Education 2014 | James Nesbitt

    The celebrity inspired furry friends tell the stories of children living in poverty in developing countries who have been supported by the €67 million raised by IKEA customers.

    The short films give listeners a fairy-tale style story read by some of the country's best loved personalities. The films bring to life how the money raised by IKEA customers has helped children around the world gain a quality education and the hope of a brighter future.

    For every soft toy purchased as part of the Soft Toys for Education campaign between now and 27th December 2014, the IKEA Foundation will donate 1 euro to support educational projects run by Save the Children and UNICEF around the world. These projects are changing the lives of millions of children, such as those featured in the films. Since 2003 the campaign has reached more than 11 million children, but there are millions more children who still aren't able to go to school and get the education they deserve.

    Video: IKEA Soft Toys for Education 2014 | Claudia Winkleman

    Strictly host Claudia Winkleman, who lends her voice to a panda soft toy, said: "It was an honour to be involved with the great work IKEA is doing with Save the Children and UNICEF. It is such an engaging way to bring the stories of these children to life and to raise awareness for this great cause."

    Actress Ashley Jensen, who lends her voice to a fairy soft toy said: "I'm thrilled to support this campaign and would encourage everyone to buy an IKEA soft toy so that Save the Children and UNICEF can continue their vital work to ensure all children have access to quality education."

    Film star James Nesbitt said: "Every child should be able to go to school and get an education, but millions across the world are in danger of missing out. That's why it's a real privilege to be involved in the campaign and help UNICEF and Save the Children in their amazing work so that every child has the chance of a brighter future."

    Carol McSeveney Children's IKEA sales leader said, "At IKEA, we see children as the most important people in the world. We believe every child has the right to a healthy, secure childhood and access to quality education, no matter where in the world they live. And because we value doing things together, we turn to our soft toys for help".

    "We know from our research that 18% of the British public have imaginary friends, which take the form of a teddy or soft toy so we wanted to fire their imaginations this year by getting our teddies to do the talking.

    "We hope that the irresistible voices of some of our best loved TV and film stars, together with this year's magical range of soft toys really helps to get our message out there. So pick up a soft toy from IKEA this year and give more children the opportunity to receive a quality education."

    In addition to the UNICEF and Save the Children projects, local charitable causes will be supported as part of IKEA's ‘Give Twice' scheme. Customers can choose to buy an additional soft toy and then drop it into ‘Give Twice' boxes at the exit of each store. Donated soft toys will then be given to local charities.

    This year the campaign aims to raise €700,000 in the UK & Ireland, to add to a global total of €67 million raised since it began in 2003, supporting more than 11 million children through 99 projects in 46 different countries.

    The 2015 soft toys range starts from just 80p for the GULLEPLUTT finger puppets.

    From: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/12803-stars-give-voice-to-soft-toys-in-new-charity-campaign

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  • An op-ed by Elton John AIDS Foundation founder Sir Elton John has been published by the New York Times.

    Elton's op-ed, "Don't Forget About AIDS," celebrates the victories that have been won in the march to achieve marriage equality for same-sex couples and calls on the LGBT community to bring that same creativity and dedication back to the effort to end AIDS.

    "As engaged as the gay community and civil rights activists have been in the fight for marriage equality, we have lost ground on the fight that so intensely galvanized the gay community to begin with: HIV/AIDS," Elton writes. "Thirty years after the AIDS epidemic began, rates of infection are still at unacceptable levels.

    "I came out publicly in 1976, just before the beginning of the AIDS crisis. The gay community I inhabited in those years never dreamed of marriage equality — we simply wanted to live, and to stop the terrible epidemic that kept killing our loved ones. We've come a long way. But as we celebrate these victories, we must also come together and redouble our efforts to end H.I.V. Only then will we truly have won freedom and equality."

    To read the full op-ed, click here.

    From: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/12804-elton-john-writes-op-ed-for-new-york-times

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