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Earth Hour 2010

March 7, 2010

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International Day of Climate Action October 24

October 20, 2009

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And what does this 350 number even mean?

350 is the number that leading scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide—measured in "Parts Per Million" in our atmosphere. 350 PPM—it’s the number humanity needs to get back to as soon as possible to avoid runaway climate change.   read more about climate change

The science is clear: global warming is happening faster than ever and humans are responsible. Global warming is caused by releasing what are called greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The most common greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide. Many of the activities we do every day like turn the lights on, cook food, or heat or cool our homes rely on energy sources like coal and oil that emit carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases. This is a major problem because global warming destabilizes the delicate balance that makes life on this planet possible. Just a few degrees in temperature can completely change the world as we know it, and threaten the lives of millions of people around the world. But don’t give up hope! You can help stop global warming by taking action here at

We need an international agreement to reduce carbon emissions fast, and 2009 might be our best shot.

The United Nations is working on a global climate treaty, which is supposed to be completed in December of 2009 at a conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. But the current plans for the treaty are much too weak to get us back to safety. This treaty needs to put a high enough price on carbon that we stop using so much. It also needs to ensure poor countries a fair chance to develop.

visit the official site of Copenhagen Climate Council

This year, we can create a grassroots movement connected by the web and active all over the world.

We can hold our decision-makers accountable to producing a treaty that is strong, equitable, and grounded in the latest science. On 24 October, we’re holding a Global Day of Climate Action to do just this.

If this global movement succeeds, we can get the world on track to get back to 350 and back to climate safety. It won’t be easy, that’s why we need all the help we can get.

watch videos about 350 campaign

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Ten things you need to know about pandemic influenza

April 25, 2009

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1. Pandemic influenza is different from avian influenza.

Avian influenza refers to a large group of different influenza viruses that primarily affect birds. On rare occasions, these bird viruses can infect other species, including pigs and humans. The vast majority of avian influenza viruses do not infect humans. An influenza pandemic happens when a new subtype emerges that has not previously circulated in humans.

For this reason, avian H5N1 is a strain with pandemic potential, since it might ultimately adapt into a strain that is contagious among humans. Once this adaptation occurs, it will no longer be a bird virus–it will be a human influenza virus. Influenza pandemics are caused by new influenza viruses that have adapted to humans.

2. Influenza pandemics are recurring events.

An influenza pandemic is a rare but recurrent event. Three pandemics occurred in the previous century: “Spanish influenza” in 1918, “Asian influenza” in 1957, and “Hong Kong influenza” in 1968. The 1918 pandemic killed an estimated 40–50 million people worldwide. That pandemic, which was exceptional, is considered one of the deadliest disease events in human history. Subsequent pandemics were much milder, with an estimated 2 million deaths in 1957 and 1 million deaths in 1968.

A pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges and starts spreading as easily as normal influenza – by coughing and sneezing. Because the virus is new, the human immune system will have no pre-existing immunity. This makes it likely that people who contract pandemic influenza will experience more serious disease than that caused by normal influenza.

3. The world may be on the brink of another pandemic.

Health experts have been monitoring a new and extremely severe influenza virus – the H5N1 strain – for almost eight years. The H5N1 strain first infected humans in Hong Kong in 1997, causing 18 cases, including six deaths. Since mid-2003, this virus has caused the largest and most severe outbreaks in poultry on record. In December 2003, infections in people exposed to sick birds were identified.

Since then, over 100 human cases have been laboratory confirmed in four Asian countries (Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Viet Nam), and more than half of these people have died. Most cases have occurred in previously healthy children and young adults. Fortunately, the virus does not jump easily from birds to humans or spread readily and sustainably among humans. Should H5N1 evolve to a form as contagious as normal influenza, a pandemic could begin.

4. All countries will be affected.

Once a fully contagious virus emerges, its global spread is considered inevitable. Countries might, through measures such as border closures and travel restrictions, delay arrival of the virus, but cannot stop it. The pandemics of the previous century encircled the globe in 6 to 9 months, even when most international travel was by ship. Given the speed and volume of international air travel today, the virus could spread more rapidly, possibly reaching all continents in less than 3 months.

5. Widespread illness will occur.

Because most people will have no immunity to the pandemic virus, infection and illness rates are expected to be higher than during seasonal epidemics of normal influenza. Current projections for the next pandemic estimate that a substantial percentage of the world’s population will require some form of medical care. Few countries have the staff, facilities, equipment, and hospital beds needed to cope with large numbers of people who suddenly fall ill.

6. Medical supplies will be inadequate.

Supplies of vaccines and antiviral drugs – the two most important medical interventions for reducing illness and deaths during a pandemic – will be inadequate in all countries at the start of a pandemic and for many months thereafter. Inadequate supplies of vaccines are of particular concern, as vaccines are considered the first line of defence for protecting populations. On present trends, many developing countries will have no access to vaccines throughout the duration of a pandemic.

7. Large numbers of deaths will occur.

Historically, the number of deaths during a pandemic has varied greatly. Death rates are largely determined by four factors: the number of people who become infected, the virulence of the virus, the underlying characteristics and vulnerability of affected populations, and the effectiveness of preventive measures. Accurate predictions of mortality cannot be made before the pandemic virus emerges and begins to spread. All estimates of the number of deaths are purely speculative.

WHO has used a relatively conservative estimate – from 2 million to 7.4 million deaths – because it provides a useful and plausible planning target. This estimate is based on the comparatively mild 1957 pandemic. Estimates based on a more virulent virus, closer to the one seen in 1918, have been made and are much higher. However, the 1918 pandemic was considered exceptional.

8. Economic and social disruption will be great.

High rates of illness and worker absenteeism are expected, and these will contribute to social and economic disruption. Past pandemics have spread globally in two and sometimes three waves. Not all parts of the world or of a single country are expected to be severely affected at the same time. Social and economic disruptions could be temporary, but may be amplified in today’s closely interrelated and interdependent systems of trade and commerce. Social disruption may be greatest when rates of absenteeism impair essential services, such as power, transportation, and communications.

9. Every country must be prepared.

WHO has issued a series of recommended strategic actions [pdf 113kb] for responding to the influenza pandemic threat. The actions are designed to provide different layers of defence that reflect the complexity of the evolving situation. Recommended actions are different for the present phase of pandemic alert, the emergence of a pandemic virus, and the declaration of a pandemic and its subsequent international spread.

10. WHO will alert the world when the pandemic threat increases.

WHO works closely with ministries of health and various public health organizations to support countries’ surveillance of circulating influenza strains. A sensitive surveillance system that can detect emerging influenza strains is essential for the rapid detection of a pandemic virus.

Six distinct phases have been defined to facilitate pandemic preparedness planning, with roles defined for governments, industry, and WHO. The present situation is categorized as phase 3: a virus new to humans is causing infections, but does not spread easily from one person to another. read more about influenza

source: World Health Organization (OMS)

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Earth Day 2009, April 22

April 21, 2009

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“Earth Day is the only event celebrated simultaneously around the
globe by people of all backgrounds, faiths and nationalities. More
than a billion people participate in Earth Day activities each year.”

Earth Day Network

Earth day2009 It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in in 1970 and is celebrated in many countries every year.  read more about Earth Day

The United Nations celebrates an Earth Day each year on the March equinox, a tradition which was founded by peace activist John McConnell in 1969.

In September 1969 at a conference in Seattle, Washington, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin announced that in spring 1970 there would be a nationwide grassroots demonstration on the environment. This occurred during a time of great concern about overpopulation and when there was a strong movement towards "Zero Population Growth." On April 22, 1970 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment. Denis Hayes, the national coordinator, and his youthful staff organized massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.   Things to do on Earth Day           

Related sites

How to Celebrate Earth Day

Earth Day Network

All about Earth day

The Results of Earth Day 1970

Earth Day proved popular in the United States and around the world. The first Earth Day had participants and celebrants in two thousand colleges and universities, roughly ten thousand primary and secondary schools, and hundreds of communities across the United States. More importantly, it "brought 20 million Americans out into the spring sunshine for peaceful demonstrations in favor of environmental reform."GaylordNelson

Senator Nelson stated when that Earth Day "worked" because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level. Twenty-million demonstrators and thousands of schools and local communities participated. He directly credited the first Earth Day with persuading U.S. politicians that environmental legislation had a substantial, lasting constituency. Many important laws were passed by the Congress in the wake of the 1970 Earth Day, including the Clean Air Act, wild lands and the ocean, and the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

It is now observed in 175 countries, and coordinated by the nonprofit Earth Day Network, according to whom Earth Day is now "the largest secular holiday in the world, celebrated by more than a half billion people every year." Environmental groups have sought to make Earth Day into a day of action which changes human behavior and provokes policy changes.


"Earth Day." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 20 Apr 2009, 11:42 UTC. 21 Apr 2009 <>.

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10 World’s Worst Pollution Problems

April 3, 2009

Blacksmith Institute in collaboration with Green Cross Switzerland issued a Top Ten list of the world’s most dangerous pollution problems. The report names pollution as one of the leading contributing factors to death and disability in the world and highlights the disproportionate effects on the health of children.

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The Top Ten list includes commonly discussed pollution problems like urban air pollution as well as more overlooked threats like car battery recycling. The problems included in the report have a significant impact on human health worldwide and result in death, persistent illness, and neurological impairment for millions of people, particularly children.  According to the report, many of these deaths and related illnesses could be avoided with affordable and effective interventions.    Read more about Blacksmith Institute

There are three primary factors taken into consideration when ranking the Toxic Twenty and Top Ten: Pollutant, Pathway and Population.  More innocuous contaminants receive a lower ranking, while those more dangerous substances, say mercury or lead, receive a higher ranking.

The Top Ten list are NOT RANKED against each other and therefore are presented in alphabetical order.

source: ”The World’s Worst Pollution Problems 2008” Blacksmith Institute,  3 Apr 2009


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Día Internacional de la Mujer 2009

March 5, 2009

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logo El Día Internacional de la Mujer (8 de marzo) es una fecha que celebran los grupos femeninos en todo el mundo. Esa fecha se conmemora también en las Naciones Unidas y es fiesta nacional en muchos países. Cuando las mujeres de todos los continentes, a menudo separadas por fronteras nacionales y diferencias étnicas, lingüísticas, culturales, económicas y políticas, se unen para celebrar su Día, pueden contemplar una tradición de no menos de 90 años de lucha en pro de la igualdad, la justicia, la paz y el desarrollo.

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International women’s day (ingles)

Día Internacional de la Mujer

Día Internacional de la Mujer 2009: "Mujeres y hombres unidos para poner fin a la violencia contra las mujeres y las niñas" 

El Día Internacional de la Mujer se refiere a las mujeres corrientes como artífices de la historia y hunde sus raíces en la lucha plurisecular de la mujer por participar en la sociedad en pie de igualdad con el hombre. En la antigua Grecia, Lisístrata empezó una huelga sexual contra los hombres para poner fin a la guerra; en la Revolución Francesa, las parisienses que pedían "libertad, igualdad y fraternidad" marcharon hacia Versalles para exigir el sufragio femenino

La idea de un día internacional de la mujer surgió al final del siglo XIX, que fue, en el mundo industrializado, un período de expansión y turbulencia, crecimiento fulgurante de la población e ideologías radicales .

Se ofrece a continuación una breve cronología de los acontecimientos más destacados:

  • 1909 De conformidad con una declaración del Partido Socialista de los Estados Unidos de América el día 28 de febrero se celebró en todos los Estados Unidos el primer Día Nacional de la Mujer, que éstas siguieron celebrando el último domingo de febrero hasta 1913.
  • 1910 La Internacional Socialista, reunida en Copenhague, proclamó el Día de la Mujer, de carácter internacional como homenaje al movimiento en favor de los derechos de la mujer y para ayudar a conseguir el sufragio femenino universal. La propuesta fue aprobada unánimemente por la conferencia de más de 100 mujeres procedentes de 17 países, entre ellas las tres primeras mujeres elegidas para el parlamento finés. No se estableció una fecha fija para la celebración.
  • 1911 Como consecuencia de la decisión adoptada en Copenhague el año anterior, el Día Internacional de la Mujer se celebró por primera vez (el 19 de marzo) en Alemania,Austria, Dinamarca y Suiza, con mítines a los que asistieron más de 1 millón de mujeres y hombres. Además del derecho de voto y de ocupar cargos públicos, exigieron el derecho al trabajo, a la formación profesional y a la no discriminación laboral. Menos de una semana después, el 25 de marzo, más de 140 jóvenes trabajadoras, la mayoría inmigrantes italianas y judías, murieron en el trágico incendio de la fábrica Triangle en la ciudad de Nueva York. Este suceso tuvo grandes repercusiones en la legislación laboral de los Estados Unidos,y en las celebraciones posteriores del Día Internacional de la Mujer se hizo referencia a las condiciones laborales que condujeron al desastre.
  • 1913-1914 En el marco de los movimientos en pro de la paz que surgieron en vísperas de la primera guerra mundial, las mujeres rusas celebraron su primer Día Internacional de la Mujer el último domingo de febrero de 1913. En el resto de Europa, las mujeres celebraron mítines en torno al 8 de marzo del año siguiente para protestar por la guerra o para solidarizarse con las demás mujeres.
  • 1917 Como reacción ante los 2 millones de soldados rusos muertos en la guerra, las mujeres rusas escogieron de nuevo el último domingo de febrero para declararse en huelga en demanda de "pan y paz". Los dirigentes políticos criticaron la oportunidad de la huelga, pero las mujeres la hicieron de todos modos. El resto es historia: cuatro días después el Zar se vio obligado a abdicar y el gobierno provisional concedió a las mujeres el derecho de voto. Ese histórico domingo fue el 23 de febrero, según el calendario juliano utilizado entonces en Rusia,o el 8 de marzo, según el calendario gregoriano utilizado en otros países.

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Desde esos primeros años, el Día Internacional de la Mujer ha adquirido una nueva dimensión mundial para las mujeres de los países desarrollados y en desarrollo. El creciente movimiento internacional de la mujer, reforzado por las Naciones Unidas mediante cuatro conferencias mundiales sobre la mujer, ha contribuido a que la conmemoración sea un punto de convergencia de las actividades coordinadas en favor de los derechos de la mujer y su participación en la vida política y económica. El Día Internacional de la Mujer es cada vez más una ocasión para reflexionar sobre los avances conseguidos, exigir cambios y celebrar los actos de valor y decisión de mujeres comunes que han desempeñado una función extraordinaria en la historia de los derechos de la mujer.

La función de las Naciones Unidas

Unidos para poner fin a la violencia contra las mujeres

Unidos para poner fin a la violencia contra las mujeres:
Campaña del Secretario General de las Naciones Unidas

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Pocas causas promovidas por las Naciones Unidas han concitado un apoyo más intenso y extendido que la campaña para fomentar y proteger la igualdad de derechos de la mujer. La Carta de las Naciones Unidas, firmada en San Francisco en 1945, fue el primer acuerdo internacional que proclamó que la igualdad de los sexos era un derecho humano fundamental. Desde entonces, la Organización ha contribuido a crear un legado histórico de estrategias, normas, programas y objetivos concertados internacionalmente para mejorar la condición de la mujer en todo el mundo.

En todos estos años las Naciones Unidas han actuado en cuatro direcciones concretas para mejorar la condición de la mujer: fomento de las medidas legales; movilización de la opinión pública y medidas


Tema 2009
"Mujeres y hombres unidos para poner fin a la violencia contra las mujeres y las niñas"

leer sobre temas de otros años

internacionales; capacitación e investigación, incluida la reunión de datos estadísticos desglosados por sexo; y ayuda directa a los grupos desfavorecidos. Actualmente, uno de los principios rectores esenciales de la labor de las Naciones Unidas es que no puede hallarse una solución duradera a los problemas sociales, económicos y políticos más acuciantes de la sociedad sin la cabal participación y plena habilitación de las mujeres del mundo.

Fuentes: “Día Internacional de la Mujer: Invertir en las mujeres y en las niñas”

“División de asuntos de género”

“Unidos para poner fin a la violencia contra las mujeres: Campaña del Secretario General de las Naciones Unidas”

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Carnival time Mardi Gras or "Fat Tuesday"

February 24, 2009

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Mardi Gras (French for "Fat Tuesday") is the day before Ash Wednesday, and is

Carnaval Rio de Janeiro, Brasil 2008

also called "Shrove Tuesday" or "Pancake Day". Mardi Gras is the final day of Carnival, though the term is often used incorrectly to describe the days and weeks preceding Fat Tuesday. Carnival begins 12 days after Christmas, or Twelfth Night, on January 6 and ends on Mardi Gras, which always falls exactly 47 days before Easter. Perhaps the cities most famous for their Mardi Gras celebrations include New Orleans, Louisiana; Venice, Italy; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Many other places have important Mardi Gras celebrations as well. Carnival is an important celebration in most of Europe, except in the United Kingdom where pancakes are the tradition, and also in many parts of Latin America and the Caribbean.   see related photos

In the United States, Mardi Gras draws millions of fun-seekers to New Orleans every year. Mardi Gras has been celebrated in New Orleans on a grand scale, with masked balls and colorful parades, since French settlers arrived in the early 1700s. Hidden behind masks, people behaved so raucously that for decades in the early 19th century masks were deemed illegal in that party-loving city. learn more about Mardi Gras

History        see related post

When Christianity arrived in Rome, the dignitaries of the early Church decided it would be more prudent to incorporate certain aspects of such rituals into the new faith rather than attempt to abolish them altogether. This granted a Christian interpretation to the ancient custom and the Carnival became a time of abandon and merriment which preceded the Lenten period (a symbolic Christian pertinence of 40 days commencing on Ash Wednesday and ending at Easter). During this time, there would be feasting which lasted several days and participants would indulge in voluntary madness by donning masks, clothing themselves in the likeness of spectres and generally giving themselves up to Bacchus and Venus. All aspects of pleasure were considered to be allowable during the Carnival celebration and today’s modern festivities are thought by some to be more reminiscent of the Roman Saturnalia rather than Lupercalia, or be linked to even earlier Pagan festivals.

From Rome, the celebration spread to other European countries. In medieval times, a similar-type festivity to that of the present day Mardi Gras was given by monarchs and lords prior to Lent in order to ceremoniously conscript new knights into service and hold feasts in their honor. The landed gentry would also ride through the countryside rewarding peasants with cakes (thought by some to be the origin of the King Cake), coins (perhaps the origin of present day gifts of Mardi Gras doubloons) and other trinkets. In Germany, there still remains a Carnival similar to that of the one held in New Orleans. Known as Fasching, the celebrations begin on Twelfth Night and continue until Shrove Tuesday. To a lesser degree, this festivity is still celebrated in France and Spain. A Carn ival season was also celebrated in England until the Nineteenth Century, originating as a type of "renewal" festival that incorporated fertility motifs and ball games which frequently turned into riots between opposing villages, follo© jasanone Carnival Time at New Orleans celebrating Fat Tusday (mardi gras)360x480 wed by feasts of pancakes and the imbibing of alcohol. The preparing and consumption of pancakes on Shrove Tuesday (also known as "Pancake Day" or "Pancake Tuesday" and occurring annually between February 2 and March 9, depending upon the date of Easter) is a still a tradition in the United Kingdom, where pancake tossing and pancake races (during which a pancake must be tossed a certain number of times) are still popular. One of the most famous of such competitions, which takes place in Olney, Buckinghamshire, is said to date from 1445. It is a race for women only and for those who have lived in the Parish for at least three months. An apron and head-covering are requisite. The course is 415 yards and the pancake must be tossed at least three times during the race. The winner receives a kiss from the Ringer of the Pancake Bell and a prayer book from the local vicar. "Shrove" is derived from the Old English word "shrive," which means to "confess all sins."

It is generally accepted that Mardi Gras came to America in 1699 with the French explorer, Sieur d’Iberville. The festival had been celebrated as a major holiday in Paris since the middle Ages. Iberville sailed into the Gulf of Mexico and, from there, launched an expedition along the Mississippi River. By March 3, 1699, Iberville had set up a camp on the West Bank of the River…about 60 miles south of the present day City of New Orleans in the State of Louisiana. Since that day was the very one on which Mardi Gras was being celebrated in France, Iberville named the site Point du Mardi Gras in honor of the festival. According to some sources, however, the Mardi Gras of New Orleans began in 1827 when a group of students who had recently returned from school in Paris donned strange costumes and danced their way through the streets. The students had first experienced this revelry while taking part in celebrations they had witnessed in Paris. In this version, it is said that the inhabitants of New Orleans were swiftly captured by the enthusiasm of the youths and quickly followed suit. Other sources maintain that the Mardi Gras celebration originated with the arrival of early French settlers to the State of Louisiana. Nevertheless, it is known that from 1827 to 1833, the New Orleans’ Mardi Gras celebrations became more elaborate, culminating in an annual Mardi Gras Ball. Although the exact date of the first revelries cannot be determined, the Carnival was well-established by the middle of the Nineteenth Century when the Mystick Krewe of Comus presented its 1857 Torchlight Parade with a theme taken from "Paradise Lost" written by John Milton

The traditional colors of Mardi Gras are purple (symbolic of justice), green (symbolic of faith) and gold (symbolic of power). The accepted story behind the original selection of these colors originates from 1872 when the Grand Duke Alexis Romanoff of Russia visitedMardigrasdflag New Orleans. It is said that the Grand Duke came to the city in pursuit of an actress named Lydia Thompson. During his stay, he was given the honor of selecting the official Mardi Gras colors by the Krewe of Rex…thus, did these colors also become the colors of the House of Romanoff. The 1892 Rex Parade theme (" Symbolism of Colors") first gave meaning to the representation of the official Mardi Gras colors. Interestingly, the colors of Mardi Gras influenced the choice of school colors for the Lousiana arch-rival colleges, Louisiana State University and Tulane University. Whe LSU was deciding on its colors, the stores in New Orleans had stocked-up on fabrics of purple, green and gold for the upcoming Mardi Gras Season. LSU, opting for purple and gold, bought a large quantity of the available cloth. Tulane purchased much of the only remaining color…green (Tulane’s colors are green and white).

Rio de Janeiro

Mangueira samba school parades in Rio de Janeiro.The Carnaval is an annual  celebration in Brazil held 40 days before Easter and marks the beginning of Lent. Rio de Janeiro has many Carnaval choices, including the famous Escolas de Samba (Samba schools) parades in the sambódromo exhibition centre and the popular ‘blocos de carnaval’, which parade in almost every corner of the city. The most famous parades are the Cordão do Bola Preta with traditional carnaval parades in the centre of the city, the Suvaco do Cristo parades in the Botanic Garden, Carmelitas parades in the hills of Santa Teresa, the Simpatia é Quase Amor is one of the most popular parades in Ipanema, and the Banda de Ipanema which attracts a wide range of revelers, including families and a wide spectrum of the gay population (notably spectacular drag queens).  read more about Carnival at Rio de Janeiro


In Mexico, there are big Carnival celebrations every year in Mazatlán, which has "The third largest Mardi Gras in the world", and Veracruz, which that include the election of a queen and street parades. There is also a week-long Carnival or Mardi Gras celebration in Mérida, Yucatán.

sources:”Mardi Gras or "Fat Tuesday" Jasan’s Life. 23 Feb 2009,18:53 UTC FEB 2009!FCE4363F5CFE3E4C!690.entry

"Mardi Gras in the United States." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 23 Feb 2009, 19:39 UTC. 24 Feb 2009 <>.

"Mardi Gras." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 24 Feb 2009, 00:59 UTC. 24 Feb 2009 <>.

"Carnival." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 24 Feb 2009, 02:46 UTC. 24 Feb 2009 <>.


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