In good governance news, more than 37,000 United Arab Emirates residents take part in a “Clean Up the World” initiative. Individuals from 375 groups, including more than 9,000 students and approximately 1,350 government officials, joined in the campaign inaugurated in that area by the Dubai Municipality in Dubai Emirates. The endeavor disposed of 10,000 tons of waste in environmentally friendly ways. Our appreciation, all those who participated in this green campaign. May your wonderful city shine in pristine cleanliness and grandeur.
'Messenger angels' spread a message of peace in Mexico
In community news, Mexican young people bring expressions of faith and harmony to co-citizens. According to CNN, messenger angels, as they call themselves, stand in public places in the city of Ciudad Juarez. Dressed in white robes with wide wings and wearing mime type makeup on their faces, the 15 to 22-year-olds hold placards with inscriptions of peace through trust in God. One of the group members, 19-year-old Daniel Diaz, was able to overcome his illegal drug addiction through his faith. He said, “When you set your mind to change, it can happen.” Bravo, messenger angels. May your purity of spirit reach every corner of your blessed city and land, with Heaven’s grace.
Republic Day of Niger and National Day of Qatar
In cultural news, the Republic Day of Niger today observes its constitution and the formation of the Presidency of Niger in 1958. Southeast of Algeria in West Africa, Niger is home to the 7.7 million hectare Aïr and Ténéré Natural Reserves in the country, the vastest protected area in Africa. Another safeguarded region is the W National Park of Niger. It reflects the interaction between humans and nature since Neolithic times and contains 350 bird species and 500 plant types. Both locales are United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Sites.
Today is also the National Day of Qatar, honoring when His Highness Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed bin Thani became the Emir of Qatar in1878. His Highness The Emir is regarded as the founder of the modern State of Qatar, which is adjacent to Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf. The graceful Arabian Oryx is the country’s national animal. Qatar has established conservation efforts to protect this amazing species. Umm Tais National Park in the northeast is Qatar’s first national park. It contains mangrove forests and an important turtle nesting beach as well as habitat for a diversity of birds and marine life.
May the people of Niger have a memorable Republic Day and the citizens of Qatar a fine National Day.
PETA Names Russell Simmons 2011 Person of the Year
FN… Russell Simmons named PETA's Person of the Year. American hip-hop pioneer, fashion entrepreneur, and vegan Russell Simmons has been recognized as the 2011 Person of the Year by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for his quiet but tireless advocacy for animal welfare and promotion of humane plant-based fare. The music mogul, who has been instrumental in launching careers in the hip-hop culture for several decades, expanded into the fashion industry with Phat Farm, which uses no leather, fur, or wool in accordance with his cruelty-free vision. Upon receiving this year's distinction as PETA’s Person of the Year, a prestige shared with past laureates such as US President Bill Clinton, Mr. Simmons said, “The horrible abuse of animals is the worst karmic disaster in the history of humankind. The work that PETA does to combat this catastrophe is amazing. I’m truly humbled to be chosen as this year’s Person of the Year but the praise should go to the hundreds of thousands of volunteers that are on the ground doing the work. I accept this honor on their behalf.”
We join in heartfelt accolades, Mr. Russell Simmons, for this meaningful commendation. May your exemplary life and efforts continue to inspire more and more people toward respect and care for our beautiful animal co-inhabitants across the globe.
Flash flood kills 3 in southern Philippines
FN… Floods in the southern Philippines claim hundreds of lives. As of Saturday, December 17, the Philippine National Red Cross reported that over 430 people had perished as flash floods from Tropical Storm Sendong hit Mindanao island, with dozens more still missing. Benito Ramos, head of the national disaster rescue agency, said that the waters had risen very quickly, and many were asleep when massive flooding struck in the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro. Tens of thousands have been affected as many fled to higher grounds after regional rivers burst their banks. With damage that has yet to be assessed and residents still stranded in areas, some 10,000 soldiers have been dispatched in rescue efforts.
Conveying all her love and prayers, Supreme Master Ching Hai requested that our local Association members please find out from regional officials whether assistance is needed and to go if possible to comfort the most vulnerable, saying that funds are available for emergency aid.
With gratitude for the assistance rendered by the Philippine military and other rescue personnel, we are also thankful for Supreme Master Ching Hai's wholehearted concern. It saddens us to know of the lives lost and we pray that such disturbing occurrences subside as we strive for more considerate stewardship of the Earth.
Top journalist murdered in Russia's Dagestan
FN… Respected Russian reporter and newspaper founder remembered. While leaving his office in the Dagestan provincial capital Makhachkala on Thursday, December 15, Mr. Khadzhimurad Kamalov was assailed and lost his life to gunshot wounds. The leading journalist had launched the independent weekly paper Rough Draft, which was known for its honest and fearless reporting on all issues, including abuses of authority. Mr. Kamalov also served as director of the publishing house, Freedom of Speech (NFT Svoboda Slova). Despite the challenges he faced at times, Mr. Kamalov was known for his choice of honesty and transparency of reporting. Russia's Union of Journalists and the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists both issued statements mourning the loss of Mr. Kamalov as they called for the upholding of press freedoms.
We offer our condolences to Mr. Khadzhimurad Kamalov’s family and many colleagues for his untimely loss. May his soul rest peacefully in Heaven's light and love as we pray for the safety of media members everywhere as they strive to connect our world through their diligent and timely reports.
Windstorms kill one, injure nine in Spain
FN… Severe storms hit western Europe. Winter storms packed with hurricane-force winds and rains starting Thursday night, December 15 have especially affected regions of Spain, France, and Switzerland, causing casualties, uprooting trees, knocking over vehicles, and disrupting travel. In Spain, a 70-year-old man lost his life when winds up to 140 kilometers per hour caused his home to partially collapse in Almansa, while seven people in the Basque region sustained injuries due to wind-related incidents and flights were cancelled at the Bilbao, San Sebastián, and Vigo airports. In neighboring France, workers strived to restore electricity after some 600,000 households lost power. A number of people in low-lying areas of Brittany in northwest France were evacuated, while stormy conditions caused a cargo ship to run aground, spilling what officials said was a limited quantity of oil off the coast. Meanwhile in Switzerland, three people suffered minor injuries when high-speed wind gusts resulted in derailment of a train as over 100 flights were cancelled in Zurich and Basel-Mulhouse, and at least 400,000 homes lost electricity. Emergency crews were dispatched to many of the affected areas in efforts to restore services.
Our appreciation, officials and personnel, for your prompt response to the storm conditions. We pray that the balance of our Earth may soon be restored through humanity’s adoption of eco-conscious lifestyles as a vegan world.
18 missing in landslide in Colombia
FN… Fatal landslide hits Colombia. As of Friday, December 16, at least 11 people, including children, had lost their lives with four others who were reported missing after heavy rains triggered a landslide and caused already swollen rivers to overflow. Rescue workers rushed to the site of the landslide at an Embera indigenous settlement in northwestern Colombia, where at least nine people perished and two homes were buried. In northeast Magdalena, two people perished and four others were missing after being swept away by the surging waters of a river. According to officials, over 155 people have lost their lives and more than 878,000 people have been impacted by the country’s rainy season, which began in September.
Upon hearing of the extreme conditions in October, Supreme Master Ching Hai had donated US$15,000, an amount that could acquire US$73,000 in necessary supplies purchased in the US, based on the cost of living in Colombia. With her instructions, our Association’s relief team had conducted relief work in areas most in need. Hearing of the continued disasters, Supreme Master Ching Hai again sent all her love and sorrowful prayers as she asked that our nearby Association members please check with local governments on any required assistance, and to go if possible to help the most desperate.
Our appreciation, officials and personnel working to assist the disaster-stricken, as we also thank Supreme Master Ching Hai for her compassionate care. With Heaven’s grace, may such severe weather conditions be eased as we more kindly care for one another and the planet.
New Loving Hut opens in Malaysia
FN… New Loving Hut opens in Malaysia. With now more than 210 Loving Huts serving people across the globe through the original concept and encouragement of Supreme Master Ching Hai, one of the newest locations is in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at the well-known Nirvana Memorial Park Sungai Besi. In this world’s largest privatized memorial park, bereaved families come to honor their deceased loved ones, including animal companions, through its quality facilities. Befitting the park's serene and spacious environment, visitors and staff, as well as the general public, can enjoy nourishing and compassionate vegan meals.
Tan Kean Huat - Nirvana Group Chief Operating Officer; vegetarian (M): For the family members who are holding a funeral, we hope we can provide the convenience for them during this time of deep sorrow, that they may also abstain from killing as much as possible.
VOICE: The recent official opening of this Loving Hut, the fifth in Malaysia, was heralded with a vegan buffet that was attended by many of the park’s staff, who are now some of the regular customers.
J.C. Lee – Deputy general manager, Nirvana Group (F): I think the food here is healthy and delicious. There is a lot of variety.
Tan Horng Han – Staff, Nirvana Group (M): Every day I will be having my meals here, definitely.
Customer (M): The foods are very clean and very hygienic and is good for the health.
Supreme Master TV (M): After eating here, would you consider becoming a vegan?
Customer (M): Yes, of course, because the food is inspiring and the taste is very good.
VOICE: Congratulations, Loving Hut Nirvana! As we also thank Supreme Master Ching Hai for her loving support of this international family of cruelty-free restaurants, we pray that all families may come to enjoy the comfort and peacefulness of organic vegan cuisine.
Task Force Formed to Address Land Rights for Women
Supported by the US Agency for International Development, Afghanistan’s Women’s Land Rights Task Force holds its inaugural meeting toward a goal of achieving legal reforms that better assure economic rights and social equity for Afghan women.
Greenland rose faster as 100 billion tons of ice melted away
SAVE OUR PLANET… Findings of a study of Greenland presented by US scientists on December 9, 2011 have revealed that as the southern part of the island lost 100 billion tons more ice in 2010 than the previous year, the release of the weight has also caused underlying bedrock to rise by a full 20 millimeters in some locations.
Literacy in Angola, Developing with Cuban Aid
Prensa Latina reports that more than 92,000 Angolans have graduated in the past 18 months from the Cuban literacy program known as "I Can," with 78% of those who can now read and write being women.
UAE, Germany hold talks
United Arab Emirates President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan meets with visiting German President Christian Wulff, where the two affirm their countries' longstanding friendship as they discuss ways to further enhance cooperation in many different fields.
Arsenic in water near coal-fired US plants: monitor
SAVE OUR PLANET… A December 12, 2011 report from the US-based Environmental Integrity Project states that coal combustion waste has contaminated 19 new groundwater sites across the country with toxic substances like arsenic, lead, barium, cadmium and boron, at levels that are above the maximum set by the US Environmental Protection Agency for safety.
To cheers and tears, blind 11-year-old finishes marathon
The remarkable young Wakana Ueda of Japan, determined to enter the Honolulu Marathon in Hawaii, USA, joins 19,000 other runners and overcomes her visual impairment by using auditory signals as she successfully completes the 26.2-mile race at just 11 years of age.
Minister Jan O’Sullivan announces funding to support refugees fleeing conflict in Sudan
Ireland’s Minister of State for Trade and Development, Jan O’Sullivan, announces a donation of €250,000 for emergency relief aid of food, water, and shelter to support thousands of Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia.
C20. Google Donates $11.5 Million To Fight Modern-Day
Affirming a deep commitment to human dignity and freedom, US search engine giant Google donates US$11.5 million in partnership with human rights organization International Justice Mission toward a goal of ending modern-day slavery for people around the world.
South Florida woman receives kidney transplant from stranger after posting ad on Craigslist
After seeing 28-year-old Selina Hodge’s plea for a kidney transplant in the online classified section of the website Craigslist, Ms. Stephanie Grant, age 23, decides to donate her kidney to Ms. Hodge, with both women now recovering from successful surgeries in Florida, USA.
Chimpanzee research rarely needed: US experts
The US National Institutes of Health states that new research on chimpanzees is suspended, effective immediately, as well as more stringent criteria being implemented for existing experiments, with animal welfare advocates hopeful that this will also pave the way to future legislation protecting the primates from use in entertainment or as pets.