Donors launch $430 million health fund in Zimbabwe
In humanitarian news, donors give US$430 million for Zimbabwe’s health system. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and countries including Britain, Ireland, Norway and Sweden have launched the fund to help Zimbabwean women and children access medical care. The finances will be used for medicine and equipment for health centers and hospitals. Our heartfelt gratitude, all donors, for this life-saving project. May it help the gentle-hearted citizens of Zimbabwe to thrive in well-being and vibrancy.
Azerbaijan fights to protect national animal from extinction
In animal welfare news, the Azerbaijani Government takes steps to protect precious Karabakh horses. American news media CNN reported on efforts being made to conserve the beautiful equines. The national animal of the country, the majestic Karabakh horses are considered to be a symbol of nobility and strength. With their numbers declining, the Government is providing veterinarian services for the equines. Scientific studies are also underway so that the breed can be easily identified in the future. Our appreciation, Azerbaijani Government, for your caring efforts. May the beautiful Karabakh horses flourish in health and security, continuing to forever bless our world.
Japan: Mysterious 'Ultra Seven' donor sends 1 million yen to foster home
In community news, a Japanese children’s home receives an anonymous JPY 1 million donation. The funds and a letter were sent by post to Wakasugi Gakuen foster home in Muroran, Hokkaido, suggesting ways to use the gift. These included games, toys, textbooks, and clothes. The letter was signed by the pen name “Ultra Seven,” the star of a well-liked television series in the country. This latest contribution is part of a series of donations to facilities caring for youngsters by people using the names of historical heroes and popular animation characters. Kudos, Ultra Seven and other kind givers. May the selfless spirit of sharing and service continue to grow in your lovely land.
Icelandic Volcano Threatens Mass Disruption
FN… Volcanoes erupt in Formosa (Taiwan), Italy, and Iceland as quakes jolt Guatemala, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Early on Friday, December 2, the Wandan mud volcano in Pingtung County of Formosa erupted, spewing hot gray mud that flowed into areas of Sinyuan Township, where residents lit fires to burn off the emitted gases. In Latin America, a 4.7-magnitude earthquake shook Guatemala that same day, centered 70 kilometers northeast of Huehuetenango. On Saturday, a temblor measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale rumbled under New Zealand's Cook Strait, 30 kilometers southwest of Wellington, where minor damage to buildings was reported. In Italy that morning, Mount Etna erupted, emitting a small cloud of ash, while in Iceland, seismic tremors continue as part of over 500 that have rocked the Katla volcano over the past month, raising fears of a massive eruption that could cause catastrophic flooding as the frozen surface of the volcano melts. On Sunday, a 2.2-magnitude quake rattled UK residents in the early hours of the morning as it struck Cornwall at a shallow depth. There were fortunately no reports of significant damage or injuries for any of the volcanic or seismic events.
With thankfulness for the safety of those in the affected regions, we pray that such distressing conditions may be eased through our more caring stewardship as a vegan world.
Georgia pardons two Israelis jailed for bribery
FN… Israelis freed in Georgia. On Friday, December 2, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili issued full pardons for businessmen Ron Fuchs and Zeev Frankiel, who had been detained for the past year. The decision, which was said to be a gesture of humanitarian consideration for the detainees' health, was made after talks between Georgian and Israeli officials as well as a letter of appeal from Israeli President Shimon Peres to President Saakashvili.
We appreciate this decision of clemency, Your Excellency, and the harmonious resolution between Israel and Georgia. Wishing Mr. Fuchs and Mr. Frankiel joyous reunions with their family and friends and that friendship may flourish for all people across both lands.
Report: Bollywood star dies at 88
FN… Bollywood screen icon remembered. On Saturday, December 3, India's Dev Anand passed away at the ripe age of 88 in London, England. The Bollywood legend was known for his romantic and heroic leading roles in more than 100 movies, with his first color film, "Guide," considered a timeless masterpiece that continues to be screened at film festivals and other venues. Among some of Mr. Anand’s other notable movies are "Hum Dono," "Des Pardes," and "Hare Rama Hare Krishna." In addition to acting, Mr. Anand went on to show great talent as a director, producer, and writer, with honors that he received for cinematic achievements throughout his career being both numerous and bestowed within his homeland and internationally. He was the recipient of India's Padma Bhushan Award as well as the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, which is the highest distinction for lifetime achievements in film. He was also presented with an award in the USA, presented by then First Lady Hillary Clinton for his Outstanding Contribution to Indian Cinema. The news of his passing brought condolences from colleagues and dignitaries alike, with India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying, “Dev Anand was ... an embodiment of a lifelong passion for acting and filmmaking. I join millions of his fans in mourning his death.”
We too, send sympathies to the loved ones and countless admirers of Mr. Dev Anand, whose contributions to the world of film will continue to be treasured by audiences worldwide. May his soul rest serenely in the light and love of the Divine.
Ten people killed in heavy rain-related incident in Indonesia
FN… Heavy rains claim lives in Indonesia. As of Monday, December 5, days of incessant rainfall caused more than 15 people to perish as flooding hit parts of both South and Central Sulawesi provinces. Near the South Sulawesi capital of Makassar, at least 11 people perished, with several others injured and still more missing when a concrete wall collapsed, while five people lost their lives and one person is still unaccounted for in Central Sulawesi's Bolepapu village when a river overflowed its banks. More than 400 residents had to be evacuated as hundreds of houses were damaged or destroyed. The main road to the village was also submerged, isolating some areas which had also lost power. The National Disaster Management Agency stated that rescue teams of military personnel and local police crews had been dispatched to search for those missing as well as assist other affected residents.
Conveying all her love and prayers, Supreme Master Ching Hai asked that our nearby Association members please find out if any additional assistance is needed, requesting that they also go if possible to comfort the most desperate as she said that funds for emergency aid are available.
We are grateful for the efforts of the Indonesian officials and relief personnel, as we also thank Supreme Master Ching Hai for her kindhearted concern. It saddens us to know of the lives lost, and we pray for the safe recovery of those missing and that such disasters subside as we strive to restore our harmony with nature.
Media report: Veganism halts climate change
SAVE OUR PLANET… Media report: Veganism halts climate change. Following the “Veganism to Save the Planet” gala hosted by the Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association on Thursday, December 1, coinciding with the COP 17 meetings in Durban, South Africa, journalists Jocelyn Newmarch and Sue Blaine authored an article entitled “COP-17: A message from the Master.” Published in the South Africa-based Business Day on December 2, the article begins, “The truth is out: veganism is not just for animal lovers, but also for anyone who cares about the effects climate change will have on the world.”
The article covered the special gala dinner, in which Supreme Master Ching Hai shared an important video message on the devastating effects of climate change, explaining how eliminating meat consumption is a critical part of the solution, as well as the health benefits offered by a vegan diet, which is also key to a peaceful world in which all beings may live in harmony. The article stated, “...Her message was echoed by other speakers, including Indian parliamentarian Maneka Gandhi, Kenyan scientist Daniel Maingi — also the executive director of Biowatch and the Animal Welfare Network of Africa — and American Stephan McGuire, who produced the climate change documentary “The 11th Hour.”
The authors further commented on other notable highlights of the event, such as the 5-course vegan meal and a presentation from the Honorable Maneka Gandhi, in which she described the benefits of turning away from meat and choosing plant-based alternatives. In speaking of Ms. Gandhi's vision, the article stated that she wished to see a convenience-food restaurant chain based on "mock" meat, while it highlighted the international franchise of vegan restaurants already supported by Supreme Master Ching Hai, known as Loving Hut.
Meanwhile, Business Day also reported that Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, had announced in a Durban press conference that progress had been made during the first week of COP 17 talks toward options to be presented for global nations' commitment to a second period of the Kyoto Protocol.
Our appreciation, journalists Jocelyn Newmarch, Sue Blaine, and Business Day, for your efforts to raise awareness on climate change issues and actions for the protection of our planet. May such informative coverage bring motivation for all to quickly adopt the most sustainable Earth-saving vegan diet.
Central Asian States boost UN-backed efforts to help endangered species
At the United Nations wildlife conference in Norway, central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan agree to increase their shared efforts to protect endangered species such as the Bukhara deer, the Bactrian camel and the horse-like Onager (Equus hemionus).
The Arab-Australian Parliamentary Friendship Committee is launched between the Arab League and Australia, intended to bring together Arab Ambassadors and Australian members of Parliament to share Parliamentary interests and enhance cultural understanding.
Winter vomiting virus: British oysters contain bug
WARNING NEWS… Having tested 8,000 oysters from 39 areas across the UK, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) warned on November 29, 2011 that 76% of those tested were contaminated with norovirus, which causes intestinal pain and vomiting, and in extreme cases can be fatal.
Walnut trees may not be able to withstand climate change
SAVE OUR PLANET… Researchers at Purdue University in Indiana, USA report on November 28, 2011, that walnut trees, which are more sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity, may not be able to survive the increasing weather extremes of climate change.
Goodwill on tap: Woman pays others' water bills
An anonymous good Samaritan in Iowa, USA donates more than $1,500 to the Iowa City utility service to pay off less fortunate families' overdue accounts to continue their water supplies over the holidays.
Burmese Rebel Group Reported to Agree to Ceasefire
Leaders of Myanmar's (Burma) central government and Burmese ethnic group Shan State Army-South reach a preliminary peace agreement that includes an immediate ceasefire, followed by the opening of liaison offices to pursue diplomatic efforts for harmonious co-existence.
Serbia, Kosovo strike border management deal: EU
Following several months of negotiations, delegates from Serbia and Kosovo meeting in Belgium reach an agreement to jointly manage all their border crossings, with personnel that includes Serb, Kosovar and European Union officials.
Caltech-led team of astronomers finds 18 new planets
In one of the largest single discoveries ever made, US astronomers discover 18 new Jupiter-size gas planets, many having similar characteristics that the astronomers say could help provide a better understanding of how planets form.
smoking ban helping lower heart attacks, officials say
Two years after a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants was enacted into law, a study by the North Carolina Division of Public Health in the USA shows a 21% decline in emergency room visits for heart attacks across the state.
Web helps Bangkok's flood-hit pets find relief
With the help of online social networks Facebook and Twitter, veterinary students and residents in Bangkok, Thailand, organize temporary pet shelters, rescues and free medical care for animal companions of flood-affected caregivers.