Avatar photo by Ruth

CFCI Update, Amneslunch, Refugee Week, Opportunities and Referendum Rights

April 30, 2014 in main, newsletter by Ruth

Hey everyone,

I hope the revision is going well!

We have some wonderful news: our SRC motion for a ‘conflict-free’ campus was passed on the 24th April, which means that the SRC are backing our CFCI campaign. You can find the motion on our website. We are still waiting for a formal response from David Newall and I will continue to email him until we get one.

In other news: Amnesty Scotland has been in touch to ask us to help them out with organising the launch of the ‘End Torture’ campaign. This will be an event with guest speakers including the Secretary of State for Scotland, Alisatair Carmichael and others tbc. The details are yet to be finalised but this will happen on the 28th May and we are delighted that Amnesty Scotland has chosen to launch the campaign in Glasgow with our involvement.

Tomorrow: Amneslunch! 12noon till 2pm, Fraser Building

It may be the month of exams, but here’s something that’ll both take your mind off that and help make the world right.

One of the core activities Amnesty International has always been associated with is letter-writing. A handwritten letter can be an effective tool to remind an oppressive regime that the world is watching; or to the victims of human rights abuses and their family that they are not alone and will not be overlooked. A well-timed letter can literally save or change the life of a person at risk.

So at lunch time, take a well-earned break from the library and come down to the Fraser Building to relax, have a chat, eat some lunch and join us writing letters to defend human rights. It would help if you brought along pen and paper, but there may be some available; along with templates and information on what we’re writing about.

This is totally informal, and don’t feel obliged to write a letter- if you want somewhere to come and chat and get away from studying for a wee while you’ll be most welcome. As tricky as it can be to do, taking a proper break can even help your revision!

Stay posted with our meeting times: https://www.facebook.com/events/1407409816192093/

Referendum Rights Campaign

The campaign to include human rights in the debate over Scottish independence has been launched and you can send an email to MSPs and MPs to make sure that whatever their view, human rights are not ignored.  We have the campaign pack which I will bring to the Fraser Building for some fun reading, and we can all take photos with the poster, yay!


Exciting Opportunity to Volunteer with AIUK

From Sabine:

Amnesty International UK is currently recruiting volunteers to work as country coordinators in the following regional teams:
– Middle East and Gulf,
– Southern Africa
– South Asia (with focus on Afghanistan)
– West and Central Africa

As Country coordinator you help local Amnesty groups to work on individual cases in “your” region, stay in contact with the full time Amnesty staff in London and are called on to provide background information on the human rights situation in the specific region.

It is a great opportunity for anyone interested in human rights in a specific region and willing to shape the campaigning work of a large international human rights NGO. Despite the rather dry job description it is actually a lot of fun, you meet a mix of interesting people throughout the UK and you have the opportunity to work substantially on a particular country.
I have been a country coordinator for Amnesty for several years, so if you want to have an informal chat about what to expect before you apply just drop Sabine an email (sabine.hoehn@amnesty.org.uk or sabine.hoehn@glasgow.ac.uk)


16-22nd June: Refugee Week Scotland 2014

More information here.

Scottish Refugee Council is delighted to launch the 14th Refugee Week Scotland programme – celebrating the warm welcome that Scots give to refugees seeking sanctuary from around the globe and the unique contributions refugees make to our communities.

Discover the vibrancy of Scotland’s cultures for yourself through this programme of over 120 music, theatre, dance, film, discussion, visual art, community celebrations and workshops, featuring the input of refugees from countries including Syria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, Afghanistan, Kurdistan, Iran, Iraq and Sri Lanka amongst others.


Festival Highlights
World Refugee Day Concert, Friday 20 June, 8pm, Old Fruitmarket
Presented by Scottish Refugee Council and British Red Cross, featuring Scottish Album of the Year nominated Young Fathers, a trip-hop trio from Edinburgh via Nigeria and Liberia as well as Scottish Gaelic and Céilidh music band Skipinnish and fiery gypsy punk from Balkanarama.
Tickets: 0141 353 8000 / www.glasgowconcerthalls.com


Video Competition

Just writing to you to let you know of our Refugee Week Scotland video competition. The brief is simple: Create a short video around the hashtag #IWelcomeRefugees. The videos can be abstract or story based, silly or serious. There’s a few more guidelines to find here: http://bit.ly/1iwLcOL.
The winning video will be spread through our social media channels and screened as part Refugee Week Scotland in partnership with Glasgow Film Theatre.

And of course there will be amazing prizes such as shopping vouchers, music, tickets and more…



Keep up the good work!!



Avatar photo by Ruth

Amneslunch and Ceilidh Coming Up, Local Opportunities and Global Campaigns News

April 15, 2014 in events, information, main, news, newsletter by Ruth

Why hello there,

Sorry for the delay, I was waiting for news and updates before sending this newsletter – and now we have news aplenty! Our events are at the top, and then there are some good looking opportunities and actions that we have been asked to share with you, followed by some wonderful human rights news and campaign successes sent out by AIUK at the beginning of this month. Happy reading!

May: Amneslunch!

We are planning to start our new lunch club on the 1st May, as a simple casual, drop-by and say ‘hi’ kind of thing. Join the event to let us know if you think you’ll make it along at some point and suggest things that we can do/talk about. Also, we haven’t confirmed all the dates so let us know when you would like us to be there.

Saturday 24th May: Ceilidh for Red Cross Tracing Service

STAR Glasgow, GU Amnesty, and GU Red Cross are hosting their annual ceilidh fundraiser at the end of exams this year! As well as the usual ceilidh dances, we’ll be having a whiskey toss (where you can win a bottle of whiskey!), and a raffle with prizes worth up to £40!

As usual, all funds raised on the night will be going to the Red Cross International Tracing Service – this service helps reunite families and loved ones who have been displaced by conflicts around the world. They do a lot of great work, and you can read more about it here:


Tickets are £3 if you buy them beforehand, or £4 on the door. Tickets can be bought from anyone in the STAR, Amnesty, or Red Cross groups.

Rights Referendum Campaign: Keeping Human Rights in the Debate

From Amnesty Scotland:

In the run up to Scotland’s Referendum on Independence, we have launched our Rights Referendum campaign calling for any future Scottish Government to respect and safeguard human rights at home and abroad, regardless of the outcome of the vote.

It would be fantastic if you could join the Rights Referendum campaign and mobilise students from around Scotland to take action by contacting local MSPs and Scottish MPs, asking your representatives to show their support for human rights. Here’s the link to our action on the Amnesty website:


AHRI Human Rights Conference: Call for Submissions

From the Glasgow Human Rights Network at Glasgow University:

The Association of Human Rights Institutes (AHRI) calls for the submission of proposals for papers to be presented at the AHRI Human Rights Conference to be held in Copenhagen on 29-30 September 2014.

“Human Rights under Pressure: Exploring norms, institutions and policies”

Papers can be presented on any topic related to human rights and should be unpublished. Interdisciplinary projects and jointly authored papers are welcomed. Proposals for entire pa- nels (up to four papers) are equally welcome, indicating the title, abstract and author of each paper as well as proposed chairs and discussants.

Deadline for submission of abstracts and panel proposals is 1 May 2014. Submissions should be sent to ekni@humanrights.dk. All abstracts will be reviewed by the AHRI Programme Com- mittee and selections announced by 1 June 2014. Formal registration for the conference will be possible from 1 June.

This is only a snippet of the email that was sent. If you are interested, please reply to this email and I will forward you the rest of the information.

New NGO for Maternal and Children’s Rights

From the Glasgow Human Rights Network at Glasgow University:

A new NGO is being established, specialising in maternal and child rights, particularly for Reproductive Health Rights Education, initially in Malawi and Scotland, but not exclusively so.  The aims include reduced HIV, improved maternal health and reduced maternal mortality, through female empowerment.

If you are interested in finding out more and might be interested in supporting these objectives, please contact Gordon MacPherson at scunner1320@yahoo.co.uk.

Great News on our Amnesty Campaigns!

In recent weeks, we’ve had good news on a whole host of campaigns, from the release of Hakamada Iwao in Japan, to the UK ratifying the Arms Trade Treaty and the UN Human Rights Council voting for an inquiry into alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, the UK has welcomed the first of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees to be granted sanctuary here – the direct result of all our campaigning as a global community.

Arms Trade Treaty

2nd April 2014 marked the one year anniversary of the UN vote and saw 18 governments, including the UK, jointly deposit their signed ratification papers at a special ceremony at the UN. That brings the total of ratifications up to 31, well over half way to the 50 we need.

There is now every likelihood that we will see the 50th ratification as early as this autumn, allowing the treaty enter into force well within two years of its adoption. For an international Treaty, that’s actually that’s pretty good going. Read more.

Syrian Refugees

After months of weak arguments and refusal to share responsibility for resettling some of the escalating numbers of Syrian refugees, the government has eventually done the right thing. The announcement comes after a combination of months of lobbying work from our refugee specialists and the incredible response and action taken by Amnesty supporters. Read more.

Hakamada Iwao – the longest-serving death row prisoner.

Hakamada is, for the first time in nearly half a century, experiencing life outside of a detention centre. He has serious mental health problems after his time on death row, having spent the previous 46 years awaiting execution every single day; Japan gives its prisoners no forewarning of their execution – many find out just minutes before they are hanged. We hope that soon Hakamada may experience justice that is nearly half a century overdue. Read more.

War crimes in Sri Lanka

On 27th March 2014, the UN Human Rights Council voted to establish an inquiry into allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sri Lanka, something we have all fought long and hard for. After a certain amount of wrangling with the rules and filibustering, the Resolution was passed with 23 states in favour, 12 against and 12 abstentions. Read more.

Jailed for posting on Facebook: Jabeur Mejri now freed in Tunisia

Jabeur was part of our 2013 Write for Rights campaign and nearly 12,000 of you signed our petition calling for his release. Thank you, your simple act has made a massive difference. Read more.

Jailed for supporting LGBTI teenagers: Elena Klimova now freed in Russia

In January this year, Elena Klimova was charged under Russia’s new anti-‘gay propaganda’ law for running Children 404, a website offering support to LGBTI teenagers. Read more.

Mozambique takes positive step towards outlawing rape in marriage

In March this year, the parliament of Mozambique was close to ratifying a Criminal Code that would permit rape within marriage. Not only would the proposed law allow impunity in existing abusive marriages, but if a rapist were to later wed an unmarried victim (including girls as young as 12 years old), the abuser would escape prosecution altogether. Thankfully, authorities in Mozambique have publicly stated they will not follow through with these proposals. Read more.


Whether you are having a good rest or cracking on with coursework and revision, I hope it’s all going splendidly.




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Election Results, Amneslunch, Campaign Updates and GHRN Event

April 2, 2014 in main, newsletter by Ruth

Hello all,

Well it certainly feels strange not to end a Tuesday in Committee Room 1, but it’s been one of the most exciting weeks all year so there is a lot to report!

Special thanks to Rob for the witty introductions which brightened up my day considerably.

Exciting Things that Happened Last Week

The Committee 2014-2015

Congratulations to the new committee who were elected at our AGM last week!

President – Rob Hallam
Vice President – Duncan McNab
Secretary – Domi Bacanskaite
Treasurer – Jana Sweeney
Campaigns Coordinator – Alex Pancheva
Fundraising Officer – Nikola Cabanova
Publicity Officer – Milia Hau
Press Officer – Rebecca Corbett
Website Manager – Siuan Poirteir

SRC Volunteering, Clubs, and Societies Awards 2014

GU Amnesty was awarded the Publicity Award on Thursday, which we were delighted to accept. The award was given to us for a huge range of efforts including: our website redesign; weekly blogs and news updates; our photo actions and LGBTQ+ rights posters on campus; publicity for all our events including social media and the SPB posters/flyers.  Almost everything that we have achieved this year is related in some way to this award so it’s a true team effort. We have been given £50 as the prize and we would welcome suggestions as to how to best use this money to contribute to the society’s activities.

So far, it has been suggested that we use it for the costs of our first magazine that we are putting together at the end of this year, which has been supported.

GU Amnesty Climbed Goatfell!

After a very early start on Saturday, 8 of us took the ferry to the Isle of Arran and tackled the highest point on the island. We made it to over 700 metres and were not far from the top before we had to turn back due to fog. Still, we made it considerably further than last year and this made a great end to a very busy semester. Thanks for all the sponsor money- we have raised over £400!

Most of the photos are now up; if you missed it this time, there is always next year!

Thursday 1st May: Amneslunch

We are starting the lunch club 12 noon – 2pm, probably in the Fraser Building, and will keep it going for as long as people want to come.

This is going to be a completely informal affair, and you can drop by for some chat at any point. We will also have some follow-up letter writing actions from our campaigns this year to keep up the activism!

Campaign News

CFCI Coalition

We will be attending the next SRC meeting (24th April) to present our motion which will hopefully be passed with ease as well as contacting as many other societies on campus as possible to join us in forming a CFCI Coalition.

In the meantime, I have written to David Newall as a follow-up to our meeting, and asked for a statement from him to either express his support for the campaign, or to give a detailed explanation of his reasons for not supporting it.  I will publish this as soon as I get his response.

Rape Crisis Scotland Poster Campaign – ‘This Is Not an Invitation to Rape Me’

As part of our efforts to work more closely with local organisations and take part in ongoing campaigns, and after our RCS event for GUU International Women’s Week, Alex has obtained some spare RCS posters from the ‘This is not an invitation to rape me’ campaign. There seem to be similar posters already in the QMU so Alex contacted the GUU and they have agreed to put these up; we’ll get these to them asap.

Other events

3rd April: Glasgow Human Rights Network (GHRN) Lecture

Thursday 03 April 2014, 6.00pm
Sir Charles Wilson Lecture Theatre

UN Special Rapporteur For Violence against Women, Ms Rashida Manjoo

The Glasgow Human Rights Network are delighted to host the UN Special Rapporteur for Violence Against Women, Ms Rashida Manjoo, who will give a public lecture and take questions on her work on Thursday 3rd April 2014. More details of the work of the Rapporteur can be found at the website:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Women/SRWomen/Pages/SRWomenIndex.aspx

The lecture will take place in the Sir Charles Wilson Lecture Theatre, Gilmorehill Campus starting at 6pm. This will be followed by teas, coffees and home baking from 7 – 7.30pm where there will also be a chance to network and chat with other attendees informally.

The event is free to attend, but you must register using the link http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ghrn-lecture-series-201314-tickets-7621960489.

I hope you are all having a good break! Feel free to reply with any news/events to put in the newsletters for the upcoming weeks.


2014-15 Plans, Rocky IV

April 1, 2014 in information, main by Rob Hallam

Hi-dilly-ho, neighboureenos!

To round off the last three updates, I thought I would finish with a little about myself and the changes to the society itself.

President: Rob Hallam

Rob listening intently to the suggestions of a member.

Rob listening intently to the suggestions of a member.

I have been with GU Amnesty since 1897, when the society was known as ‘The Gentlemen’s Social Concern for the Plight of their Fellow Men’. Those were the days. I have been doing the website since then, and it has slowly evolved into the marvellous wonder it is today. Even though I do say so myself. I like to think that I run things fairly freely, but if there’s one thing I cannot abide it is jokes and jocularity. I may be quite strict on this point in meetings but it is for the sake of the greater good. The Greater Good. I think if we’re ever going to break the £1 million mark in the raise-off this is the year to do it!

I have kindly offered the use of my car to field trips such as Largs, Perth and Brisbane.

Changes to the Society

It was proposed that we now consider ‘University of Glasgow Amnesty International Society and Activist Group with a Remit for Defending, Promoting and Ecouraging Human Rights via Campaigns, Demonstrations and Petitions’ to be the standard orthographic representation of the society name. It was felt abbreviations such as ‘GU Amnesty’ or ‘GUAI’ were too curt, confusing and – in some cases – offensive to continue using. It was agreed that the new rendering makes things much clearer and simpler.

Due to conflict with our parent organisation, we have also been mandated to change our motto, which instead of being ‘Protect the Human’ will now be ‘Calamus Gladio Fortior’, which is more explicit in conveying our aims and avoids unnecessary reference to a specific species.

There will also be further changes to the constitution, specifically in terms of dealing with membership, voting and committee:

  • It is now proposed that membership will be based not only on a list collated and updated throughout the year; but also with certain requirements: minimum number of letters written (100)
  • Voting will now be considered as a multi-tiered hybrid of Alternative Voting, Instant Runoff Voting and Single Transferable Vote, to be known as Alternative Runoff. Here, individuals can form voting syndicates with votes grouped and ordered by a complex series of transformations that prioritise certain positions under specific conditions. A 47-page document will explain the process. It’s quite simple really.
  • Similarly, it is proposed that each emmeber’s votes is weighted by their contribution, such as number of letters written through the year.
  • Committee elegibility will be decided by a process adapted from Witchfinder Trials; with Committee eligibility eligibility constrained to those who meet prerequisites, such as minimum number of letters written.
  • The number of Ordinary Board Members will initially rise to eight, with more added in proportion to the number of letters the society has written.

I’m sure you will agree that these changes will increase the transparency and simplicity of membership and the voting process.

Group Photo

All the best from all of us.

Here’s to a great academic year 2014-2015!


being hunted down by a dead man

2014-15 Plans, Part Trois

April 1, 2014 in information, main by Rob Hallam

Hey hey hey,

I’m sure by now you’ve read the first two parts of these plans. I hope to introduce the rest of the committee here so you can benefit from knowing who they are, what they’ll be doing, and what suggestions they made for how to change the society.

Campaigns Officer: Alex Pancheva

Alex Pancheva

Alex prepares to cast a spell to dazzle a room of keen Amnesty members.

Alex joined us this year as an ordinary board member, and before even that she had ideas for the Day of Silence / Jamnesty and a general keen interest an all things human rights. Her suggestions are aimed at ensuring members in meetings are never bored and always have something to kep them busy: ‘hot seating’, where everyone has to change seats at least once per minute; three presentations / guest speakers / workshops to run simultaneously; and a free packet of Proplus to be issued to everyone in attendance at the start of the meeting.

Alex has kindly offered to organise, plan and run the proposed 161 campaigns for next year.

Fundraising Officer: Nikola Cabanová

Nikola Cabanová

It is a little-known fact that Nikola’s hair is magical and grants her the power to fly.

Previously Publicity Officer, Nikola mobdro free download was known for kindly offering to permit her flat to be used for getting decorations made (like the 1000 sq ft Amnesty canvas which covered the Library and Fraser building during Fresher’s Week last year), and for storing materials (paper, card, sheets, fabric, several thousand litres of paint). She has proposed a ew changes to fundraisers, mainly aimed at getting more money from them: autographed photos of committee members, a new line of GUAI merchandise and apparel, and a two-drink minimum at bake sale stalls.

Nikola has kindly offered to do a charity abseil down the Boyd Orr building to paint a giant barbed-wire candle on the facade.

Publicity Officer: Milia Hau

Milia Hau

Milia [left] wonders Ellen [right] has suddenly turned to, ready to catch with her right hand.

Milia comes to the committee from being an integral part of the SPB team laast year, where she organised the lighted champagne fountains we all enjoyed so much. She has proposed some quite unorthodox changes to enhance the publicity the society should have: a mandatory GU Amnesty Uniform, “GUAI 4 Life” tattoos, and 1984-style telescreens to monitor and enhance promotion of the group.

Milia has kindly offered to do simultaeous translations of meetings into five languages. M’Goi!

Press Officer: Bex Corbett

Bex Corbett

Bex supports all the new ideas and changes… proposed by Bex.

Bex comes to use from a background of GUST, journalism, blogging and high-stakes poker Mobdro Online TV in Las Vegas. It was her idea to expand on what we do in terms of promoting ourselves as a society; and the proposed establishment of a printing press and London offices will hopefully be ready in time for the first August edtion of the GU Amnesty Picayune, competitively priced at five British pence: “No other paper brings you more for less for more!”

Bex has kindly offered to persuade her good friend John Sessions to join our media team.

Website Officer: Siuan Portier

Siuan Portier

Little do they realise that Siuan [left] has slipped a live grenade into Catherine’s [middle] handbag. What merry japes!

Siuan is rejoining us from her year abroad, where she has spent her time travelling through Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, and Miami on a single cylinder 500cc Norton known as La Poderosa. She has been the most vocal during the proposed changes and improvements, suggesting over two hundred new additions to the year.

Siuan has kindly offered to be our ambassador to South America.

the twisted ones are coming for me

2014-15 Plans, Part the Second

April 1, 2014 in information, main by Rob Hallam

Goodest afternoonage to all and sundry,

Following on from Part 1, I wanted to continue describing some of the changes next year. But it’s also important to get a feel for the new committee, without whom these changes would not be happening.

Vice-President Duncan McNab

Duncan McNab

Duncan keeping an eye on things at the SPB afterparty.

Duncan has also been with the society for many years, learning the ropes and biding his time. In his previous role as Treasurer his creative bookkeeping and offshore accounts saved us money that ended up going towards the Raise-Off! well done to Duncan. Incidentally, he later successfully used the same techniques for technology companies such as Google, Amazon and Apple so that they could continue to do the ecellent work that they do.

Duncan has kindly agreed to be the President’s Malcom Tucker-style enforcer.

Domi Bacanskaite

Domi’s reaction to the proposed changes for this year.

Domi is our secretary and responsible for handling emails, posting letters, receiving faxes, mucking out after the pidgeons, producing our supply of invisible ink, and ensuring the Enteral Spirit Flame of Vigilance used for smoke signals never goes out. The last item may be the most important, as it is the only thing that keeps Bel-Shamharoth at bay. Domi is not only our secretary but also SRC Clubs and Societies Officer, having been elected on a campaign that happily and unusually avoided the usual handing out of sweets, harrassing of voters and assassination of other candidates.

Domi has kindly agreed to organise daily GU Amnesty socials.

Treasurer Jana Sweeney

Jana Sweeney

Jana loves to pull these subtle poses when she thinks the camera is on her.

Jana is our Treasurer, and as such is reponsible for handling they money in our petty cash, society banking, and Swiss/Cayman accounts. She has joined us as Treasurer as she has accounting aspirations; and is in fact planning to later go on do a 47-month intensive training course with the Kuàijì Monks of Beancounting Monastery in remote Tibet. We wish her luck with that when the time comes. She has requested that her position be renamed “Banana Officer” for obvious reasons.

Jana has kindly agreed to take over all official photography and will soon be purchasing a Canon 1DX to that end.

dark things, where reality weakens

2014-15 Plans, Part 1

April 1, 2014 in information, main by Rob Hallam

Hi everyone.

I wanted to express some my plans for next year, so that everyone is up-to-speed and on-board with what will be happening. There are a lot of changes coming, so it’s best that everyone is well-informed.

A typical Ruth pose

Our wonderful president for the year 2013-14, Ruth. We are very fortunate she used her divine powers only for good. Many others have not been so lucky.

But first it is only fair that I say thank you to Ruth. She has been with us through thick and thin, from her days as campaigns officer where she plotted a coup to overthrow the university senate and replace them with CFCI-friendly representatives; to her presidental year, where she initiated contacts and connections with over seven hundred different clubs, societies and external organisations. Her iron rule of “nobody leaves a committee meeting until they’ve submitted ten workable proposals for this week” was at times harsh and enforced through sticky notes but it was necessary to keep the committee in line.

Ruth has kindly agreed to return next year as an honorary representative with a remit to enforce order at our often rowdy and unrestrained weekly meetings.

Before I actually describe the changes I want to reassure everyone that all will be entitled to a fair say in this. To that end, it was agreed that anyone wishing to feed back on any aspect of the changes should complete a small feedback sheet with the following questions:

Feedback Sheet (#280747) – 2 A4 pages

  1. Name
  2. Age
  3. Student Number
  4. National Insurance Number
  5. College
  6. House
  7. Rating of previous year (scale 1-10)
  8. Predieted rating of forthcoming year (scale 1-10)
  9. Rating of current committee (scale 1-10)
  10. Rating of current government (scale 1-10)
  11. Feedback on changes (min. 1000 words)
  12. Proposed amendments (max 10 words)
  13. Drawing of ‘ideal’ weekly Amnesty meeting (1 side of A4)
  14. Proposal for GU Amnesty Theme Song* (min. 3 minutes)

*Music sheets available on request from your nearest music shop

In the interest of a fair process we are regrettably unable to consider feedback from an incomplete sheet. If you have any issues with this, please fill out ‘Feedback Sheet #280747’ in full explaining why.

Hopefully this reassures everyone that the changes are the result of a fair and democratic process. More information to follow.

keep watching the skies