Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Struggle against AIDS - Stamps from Pakistan and Algeria

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This condition progressively reduces the effectiveness of the immune system and leaves individuals susceptible to opportunistic infections and tumors. HIV is transmitted through direct contact of a mucous membrane or the bloodstream with a bodily fluid containing HIV, such as blood, semen, vaginal fluid, preseminal fluid, and breast milk. This transmission can involve anal, vaginal or oral sex, blood transfusion, contaminated hypodermic needles, exchange between mother and baby during pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding or other exposure to one of the above bodily fluids. AIDS is now a pandemic. As of 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that there are 33.3 million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS, with 2.6 million new HIV infections per year and 1.8 million annual deaths due to AIDS.]In 2007, UNAIDS estimated: 33.2 million people worldwide had AIDS that year; AIDS killed 2.1 million people in the course of that year, including 330,000 children, and 76% of those deaths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa.[8] According to UNAIDS 2009 report, worldwide some 60 million people have been infected, with some 25 million deaths, and 14 million orphaned children in southern Africa alone since the epidemic began.
Genetic research indicates that HIV originated in west-central Africa during the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. AIDS was first recognized by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1981 and its cause, HIV, identified in the early 1980s. Although treatments for AIDS and HIV can slow the course of the disease, there is no known cure or vaccine. Antiretroviral treatment reduces both the mortality and the morbidity of HIV infection, but these drugs are expensive and routine access to antiretroviral medication is not available in all countries.[13] Due to the difficulty in treating HIV infection, preventing infection is a key aim in controlling the AIDS pandemic, with health organizations promoting safe sex and needle-exchange programmes in attempts to slow the spread of the virus.

South Georgia - Frozen Planet Stamp Issue

This spectacular South Georgia stamp issue, Frozen Planet, released ahead of the BBC's Frozen Planet TV series, is due for release on 15th September 2011.

The theme of these stamps, like the series they represent, is the extreme seasonality that occurs in the Polar Regions.

Produced by the BBC's Natural History Unit, Frozen Planet is the most ambitious series on the Polar Regions ever undertaken.

For four years, camera teams braved temperatures down to -50 degrees C, 200 mile per hour katabatic winds, midnight sun and long dark polar nights to capture the essence of these remote and highly seasonal ends of the earth.

More than 2300 filming days were spent in the field, by small crews working in the most remote corners of Antarctica and across the Arctic. The aim was to take the viewer on a journey through the Polar Regions - north and south - some of the greatest, least explored wildernesses on the planet.

In the south, one of the key locations was the sub-Antarctic Island of South Georgia. The team undertook 4 major filming trips to document the lives of some remarkable animals whose dramas play out on this remote and spectacular island.

Six different camera teams were deployed to South Georgia over a period of around 3 months, covering stories as varied as the whaling history to Shackleton’s epic walk. By far the most effort, however, was spent documenting the lives of the animals, which visit the island during the different seasons.

The stamps feature:

60p - Southern Elephant Seals
70p - Wandering Albatross
95p - Blonde Fur Seal Pup
£1.15p - King Penguin

£2.50p - souvenir sheet showing a Wandering Albatross in flight against the South Georgia backdrop

Frozen Planet broadcasts on BBC One in autumn 2011. The series is presented by Sir David Attenborough, who himself first visited South Georgia in 1982 while filming for the television series, Living Planet.

US Postage Stamps Feature Matson Container Ships

The U.S. Postal Service salutes the U.S. Merchant Marine by issuing 60 million Forever stamps in a four-stamp pane which includes a container ship operated by the Matson Navigation Company.

The four-stamp design on this pane features types of vessels that have formed an important part of merchant marine history: clipper ships, auxiliary steamships, Liberty ships, and container ships.

The Matson ship stamp is based on an undated photograph of the R.J. Pfeiffer, a modern container ship launched in 1992 and operated by Matson Navigation Company.

The U.S. Merchant Marine stamps are being issued as Forever stamps. Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate.

Ascension Island - Red-billed Tropicbird WWF Issue

This Ascension Island stamp issue is due for release on 31st August 2011.

All stamps carry the WWF Panda logo and are released in sheets of twenty with gutter and a sheetlet of sixteen (four sets in staggered format). Values are 35p, 40p, 90p and £1. Sheet stamps have a white border whilst those in the sheetlet 'bleed off'.

The three species of tropicbird all have tropical distributions. Two species are found in the tropical Atlantic and both breed on Ascension Island, with the majority of both species breeding on Boatswainbird Island. The most numerous is the Yellow-billed Tropicbird, or Boatswainbird (so called because its call is likened to that of a Bosun's whistle) after which the island was named. About 500 pairs of Red-billed Tropicbirds breed on Ascension.

The Red-billed Tropicbird is a powerful bird around 48cm long (up to 100cm including the central tail feathers) and with a wingspan of 105cm. It is a white bird with black near the wing-tips, fine dark grey barring over the back and with two long trailing tail feathers. The bill is long, strong and red (yellow in juveniles as can be seen on the 90p value) and the legs are yellowish.

At sea the flight is strong and direct, resembling a pigeon, but when seen from land the birds are generally making repeated and hesitant approaches to nest sites.

Courtship flights can also be seen where several birds alternate rapid flapping and dramatic glides, accompanied by chuckles and screams (giving rise to the name Boatswainbird).

Like all tropicbirds they feed on fish and squid by hovering and then plunging vertically into the sea, although they are poor swimmers.

They nest in crevices in the rocks and where these are in short supply fighting, sometimes to the death, is common. The single egg is fawn to rich purple and averages 64 x 45mm. Incubation lasts around 43 days. Both parents incubate and shifts can last several days.

The birds spend the non-breading season far out to sea, undergoing a complete moult before returning to land.