Noteworthy News
      20 Dec 2011
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 Ghost alps of Antarctica reveal their secret
In science news, researchers explain the origin of mountains in Antarctica. The formation of the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains has been unknown since they were discovered in 1958 by Russian geophysicist Mr. Grigoriy A. Gamburtsev. Beneath up to 3 kilometers of thick ice in East Antarctica, the incredible range is 1,200 kilometers long with peaks reaching heights of 2,700 meters. International researchers led by the National Science Foundation of the United States have proposed that the mountains started forming one billion years ago from the impact caused by several mini-continents colliding. Then over time, rifting caused more uplift, with the East Antarctic Ice Sheet later preserving them. Many thanks, all involved researchers, for these fascinating observations. May we continue to grow in awe of the amazing processes that have created such a gorgeous planet as our Earth.
 Amazing Neptune’s Cup Sponge Rediscovered in Singapore
In eco news, giant sponges are rediscovered in Singapore. The Neptune’s Cup sponge, last seen in 1908, was found near the southern coast of Singapore. The finding was made by biologists from DHI Singapore, an independent, international consulting and research organization which focuses on the fields of water, environment and health. This amazing organism can grow to be more than a meter in height and diameter. The two new ones observed were young examples at just 30 centimeters across, but may be indicative of others nearby, including adult populations. Scientists hope to learn more about the sponge’s lifecycle, biology and ecology. What fantastic news, participating DHI Singapore researchers. May our deeper understanding of the myriad of incredible life forms help us to be better guardians of our sacred eco sphere.
 Government support boosts Thai organic food industry
In good governance news, Thailand’s organic industry flourishes. Organic business in Thailand is now valued at US$12.7 million, with about 70% of the locally grown produce exported overseas, reports This success has been assisted by a government program initiated by the National Innovation Agency (NIA) in 2006 to encourage organic farming. The NIA has also established the Organic Agriculture Innovation Network with the Rajamangala University of Technology Thanyaburi in Thailand to work on enhancing quality and yield. Congratulations, Thailand, on your organic achievements. Also, our heartfelt gratitude, the National Innovation Agency, for your supportive efforts. May Earth-loving practices such as these extend to every corner of our globe for a healthy and prosperous future.
 Czech leader Vaclav Havel dies
FN… Czech statesman and author remembered. Acclaimed playwright, activist and former president of Czechoslovakia Václav Havel passed away on Sunday, December 18 at the age of 75. Known for his championing of democracy and human rights, President Havel served as both the 10th president of Czechoslovakia and then as 1st president of the Czech Republic. Going on to become a prolific author, His Excellency wrote over 20 plays and other works, many with themes that echoed his life's motto, “May truth and love triumph over lies and hatred.” He was also honored with numerous international distinctions, including the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Order of Canada, and the Ambassador of Conscience Award – Amnesty International’s most prestigious human rights honor, as well as nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize. Tributes came from many international leaders, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel stating, “His fight for freedom and democracy was as unforgettable as his great humanity. We Germans in particular have much for which we are grateful to him,” while Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt wrote, “Václav Havel was one of the greatest Europeans of our age. His voice... paved (the) way for a Europe whole and free.”

Our sympathies to the family, colleagues and people of the Czech Republic for the loss of Václav Havel, whose noble ideals will continue to inspire many. May his soul rest serenely in the light and grace of the Divine.
 Homes evacuated as wild storms lash Victoria
FN… Storms flood Victoria, Australia. Severe thunderstorms and heavy rainfall lashed the southeastern Australian state on Sunday evening, December 18, bringing damaging winds and flash flooding. At least one roof collapsed and major roads were inundated, with the State Emergency Service receiving over 300 calls for help. As the towns of Mildura and Stawell were deluged with more than twice their average monthly rainfall in just one day, rescue teams evacuated several families to a nearby relief center. By Monday afternoon, officials said that the floodwaters were receding and clean-up efforts had begun.

Australian officials and emergency personnel, we are thankful for your prompt initiatives to ensure the welfare of Victoria's residents. May such severe weather conditions be curbed through humanity's kinder stewardship of our shared Earthly abode.
 North Korea’s ‘dear leader’ Kim Jong-il dies
FN… North Korea’s Supreme Leader remembered. According to state media reports, on the morning of Saturday, December 17, Supreme Leader Kim Jong Il passed away at the age of 69 when he was unable to be resuscitated after suddenly collapsing while carrying out his duties in a field tour. North Korean citizens began a period of mourning for their leader of the past 17 years as it was announced that the third and youngest son, Kim Jong Un, would succeed Supreme Leader Kim Jong Il as the next head of state.

Our condolences to the family and the North Korean people for the loss of Supreme Leader Kim Jong Il. May his soul rest peacefully in Heaven’s merciful grace and love.
 Massive crop failure in Afghanistan leaves millions at risk from severe drought
SAVE OUR PLANET... Nearly 3 million in Afghanistan face food shortages due to drought. In the country's northern regions, which are entering a third year of delayed rains, many food crops have failed, with the UN World Food Program stating that an estimated 2.8 million people as of December 2011 are facing hunger. Research by the US-based Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting has found that temperatures have been rising in the region since the 1960s, accompanied by a growing frequency of cyclical droughts. Meanwhile, water supplies, which flow down from the mountainous Hindu Kush region, have diminished from an average 1,540 million cubic meters annually to just 640 million this year. With the current conditions expected to worsen as winter sets in, many people have begun selling their belongings, with some who are leaving their homes to move toward major cities in efforts to survive. Based on appeals by the United Nations, countries such as the US, Canada and European Union member states have begun responding to the crisis, with US$49 million in humanitarian aid that has arrived thus far.

With gratefulness to all countries, organizations and individuals seeking to assist the Afghan people, we send our heartfelt prayers for concerted actions to halt climate change. May all regions facing such uncertainties soon be restored to the balance of lives in harmony with nature.

During a June 2011 videoconference in Mexico, Supreme Master Ching Hai expressed concern as on previous occasions about the related issues of climate change and food insecurity, highlighting at the same time the ideal way to address both through compassionate plant-based fare.

Videoconference with Supreme Master Ching Hai
Mexico City, Mexico – June 4, 2011

Supreme Master Ching Hai: So, you see, climate change affects us in many different ways, not just the heat, the drought, the flood, the disease, food shortage, etc., but even the cold.

And climate change – through droughts and floods that destroy crops – is, of course, a major cause of high food price and food insecurity.

So just this one change, simple change, small change: changing our diet to an organic vegan diet. This will help all the governments of the world to afford climate change mitigation and preserve biodiversity. It will also help us protect food security and conserve water. What is the use for us to satisfy our taste right now with meat when we know for certain that in the future our children will go hungry, our world will collapse? What is the use of that? However tasty the meat is, we have to consider this option and change it so that the world can continue to survive and thrive in abundance and happiness and health.
 Q&A: Harper Cherry, A 5-year-old Vegan in Arnold
The Patch news in Maryland, USA reports on the recent activities of young Harper Cherry, a 5-year-old who decided to become vegan on her own due to her love of animals and says she believes other people should, too, to save their lives.
 Drought decimates pecan crop
SAVE OUR PLANET… A December 13, 2011 article in the daily Oklahoma, USA newspaper Tulsa World states that a late winter freeze combined with only two-thirds the normal amount of rain this year has led to forecasts that the state's pecan harvests could be reduced by 75% compared to last year.
 Venezuela's president launches new social programs
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announces that US$3.7 million is being allocated for new social welfare programs toward the goal of eliminating poverty, including one to assist 200,000 retirees with pensions as well as a cash payment system to aid less fortunate children.
 Summit on CentAm Reconstruction Starts in El Salvador
SAVE OUR PLANET… As Central American countries attempt to recover from intense rains that have cost at least US$2 billion in damages, El Salvadorian President Mauricio Funes inaugurates a climate change summit on December 16, 2011 to address these impacts while calling for collaborative efforts from the entire international community.
 India, Russia ink five agreements during Manmohan Singh visit
Meetings between visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev culminate in the signing of several agreements to further their countries' cooperation in areas such as science and education.
To assist 6,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, the Italian government is sending 17 metric tons of humanitarian aid including medical kits, power generators, water containers, and blankets via plane, reports Italian news agency AGI.
 US troops conduct ‘Operation Christmas Drop,’ with care packages raining down on Micronesia
In its 60th year of humanitarian service to the nation, the United States Air Force air lifts medicine, food, toys and school supplies to 50 tiny islands across Micronesia, to share with islander families and children some joys of the holiday season.
 China, Cyprus hail 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties
Celebrating 40 years of diplomatic relations between China and Cyprus, Feng Zuoku, Vice President of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, and visiting Cypriot Ambassador to China, Marios Ieronymides, attend a commemorative reception in Beijing.
 Australia Joins 3 Nations in Condemning Japan’s Whaling
The governments of Australia, US, the Netherlands and New Zealand issue a joint statement calling for Japan to halt the seasonal killing of whales that has begun in the Antarctic region.
 Warning as infectious salmon disease spreads from Europe's fish farms to Canada
WARNING NEWS… As published on December 15, 2011 in the online scientific journal Ecologist, researchers from British Columbia, Canada, find that the viral disease Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) has spread from fish farms where it originated and has now begun to infect wild Pacific salmon.
 Hamas, Fatah Begin Key Unity Talks in Cairo
Following their most recent talks in Cairo, Egypt, representatives from the Palestinian Hamas and Fatah groups report that progress is being made, with Hamas member Izzat Rishiq pledging to continue until their shared reunification goals are achieved.

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