Noteworthy News
      30 Dec 2011
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 France to Boast World's Biggest Tidal Energy Farm
In sustainable energy news, French and Irish companies collaborate to build a large tidal energy farm. French utility company EDF and Irish technology company OpenHydro are constructing the farm off France’s northern coast of Paimpol, Brittany. It will be able to supply power to 4000 homes through four 850-ton turbines, which have been built with a large opening in the centre. This will allow marine wildlife to pass though untouched. Congratulations, France, on this eco-friendly project. May we see more such green endeavors in all parts of the world.
 Australia supports Afghan women and children through schooling and health services
In humanitarian news, Australia donates more than US$36 million to enhance health care and education in Afghanistan. The four-year-program, which will help 300,000 individuals, is being funded by AusAid. It will be implemented by non-governmental organization Save the Children. The project includes building twenty schools, training 250 women as teachers, and improving the nutrition of 20,000 children. Our heartfelt gratitude, Australia, for your generosity. Also, many thanks, Save the Children, for your dedicated efforts. May the warm-hearted people of Afghanistan gain many benefits from your kind assistance.
 On the edge of extinction, giant ibis discovered in new region of Cambodia
In animal welfare news, a rare giant ibis is photographed in a province of Cambodia. A picture of the beautiful bird was taken in the Kampong Som Valley in Koh Kong Province. This was the first time in almost a century that the presence of the world’s largest ibis has been recorded in this province. One of the world’s most endangered birds, the giant ibis can grow to be almost 1 meter (3.5 feet) long. It is believed that there are approximately 100 breeding pairs remaining, most of whom reside in Cambodia. Wildlife Alliance, who set up the automated infrared camera which took the picture, stated that the area will now be surveyed to determine if more of the beautiful avians reside there. Kudos, Wildlife Alliance, for your good news. We pray that this amazing messenger of the Divine flourishes in joy and security, with Heaven’s grace.
 Biodiversity going from bad to worse
SAVE OUR PLANET… Studies highlight growing urgency of preserving biodiversity. A review of eight studies conducted by 30 scientists from Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands, published in the scientific journal Pacific Conservation Biology, has found that climate change is worsening the situation for flora and fauna in the Oceanian region, which is already severely impacted by intensive agriculture, habitat loss, and other problems. Land, marine, and freshwater environments are all affected. Recently, US scientists at the University of Miami in Florida also drew attention to the danger of ever-enlarging dead zones in the ocean, which are shrinking the habitat of all marine species, including fish. Their study evaluated the survival of blue marlin, billfish, and tropical tuna, whose size and active movements necessitate large amounts of dissolved oxygen. The researchers found that not only are the fish being deprived by dead zones of habitable regions, they are also being forced into waters closer to the surface where they are more vulnerable to fishing. University of Miami researcher Dr. Jiangang Luo noted, “In human terms, you might describe it as if you were in a house on fire with ... only one exit, then discovering you have a robber inside the house at the same time.” Despite a commitment made in 2002 by governments across the globe to protect 10% of the world's oceans and their inhabitants by 2012, the agreements created so far cover only a little more than 1%. Lead author of the Oceania study, Australian Professor Richard Kingsford of the University of New South Wales, spoke of the urgency of addressing these issues as he stated, "There are opportunities to mitigate some of these impacts but it requires planning now, not when future generations inherit the problem."

Many thanks, international scientists, for your efforts to inform the public of this alarming imbalance on our planet. May we join in acting now to implement Earth-saving practices that protect and preserve all lives.

Speaking with deep concern for the alarming loss of biodiversity, Supreme Master Ching Hai during an August 2009 videoconference in Thailand reminded of what humanity must do in order to ensure the continuation of life on Earth.

Videoconference with Supreme Master Ching Hai
Nonthaburi, Thailand – August 15, 2009

Supreme Master Ching Hai: It’s a very sad thing because our animal friends are suffering terribly due to the effects of global warming. Many of the animals are dying or at the brink of extinction or already gone due to unbearable temperatures, or they are being forced out of their habitats, just like human climate refugees, except they are not nearly as equipped as we are at adapting to new environments.

Supreme Master Ching Hai: To ensure the peace and comfort of all our animal co-inhabitants, we really should first cease to consume them, any animals at all. Then, the wild areas and habitats will be restored, as will be the animals’ natural lives. That’s the best way to protect them, to show our love to them.
 Russian ship sails after repairs in the Antarctic
FN... Damaged Russian ship freed from Antarctic ice. After nearly two weeks of being stranded in Antarctic waters due to hull damage that occurred in a collision with ice, the Russian vessel Sparta was successfully repaired thanks to New Zealand and South Korean joint rescue efforts. Having anchored to an Antarctic shelf to keep from sinking, the Sparta and her 32 Russian, Indonesian and Ukrainian crew members were first aided by New Zealand's Rescue Coordination Center, which made two parachute drops of water pumps and hull patching gear. When the South Korean research vessel Araon arrived, her crews pumped fuel out of the Sparta to allow the damaged area to become accessible for repair. By Wednesday, with repairs complete, the Araon was escorting the Sparta back into open waters.

Our sincere thanks, New Zealand Rescue Coordination Center and South Korea's Araon crew, for your kind and lifesaving assistance. Wishing the Sparta crew a safe passage home and many joyous reunions with loved ones.
 Four killed by lava from Indonesian volcano
FN… Lava mudflow claims lives at Indonesia volcano site. At least four villagers lost their lives and a dozen others were hospitalized with injuries on Tuesday night, December 27 after fast-moving mudflows streaming from the mouth of the Gamalama volcano on Ternate in Indonesia's Maluku Islands hit their communities. Heavy rains that fell on Tuesday caused two rivers on the eastern side of the 1,715-meter high crater to overflow, carrying torrents of cold lava, rocks, and other volcanic debris from an eruption earlier this month into six villages. In addition to those injured, over 2,500 residents were displaced and were taking shelter at several government offices.

Conveying all her love and prayers, Supreme Master Ching Hai requested that our local Association members please check with local officials to see if any assistance is needed, and to go if possible to comfort the most desperate. She added that financial aid is available for urgent necessities.

Indonesian officials and personnel, we sincerely appreciate your efforts to help the affected residents, as we also thank Supreme Master Ching Hai for her sincere concern. Our prayers for the smooth recuperation of the injured and that such disasters may be curbed through our striving for more benevolent stewardship of the ecosphere.
 Richter 4.7 earthquake this morning was seen in two regions of northern
FN… Earthquakes shake Turkey and Chile as volcano erupts in Indonesia. On Tuesday, December 27, twin quakes of magnitude-4.4 and 4.3 struck just 59 kilometers west of the Turkish city of Aydın, setting off panic in Kuşadası District residents. The next day, a temblor measuring 4.7 on the Richter scale struck northern Chile. Centered 64 kilometers southeast of Copiapó in the Atacama Region, it was also felt in the Coquimbo Region. Meanwhile, following an initial eruption in July 2011, Indonesia's Mount Lokon erupted once more on Wednesday, spewing clouds of ash that fell on two villages some five kilometers away from the peak. Although the rumbling of the volcanic activity sparked fear among the villagers, there were fortunately no immediate reports of damage or injuries, and no evacuation orders were issued.

With thankfulness for the security of those in the affected areas, let us strive to eliminate such distressing events through our more considerate, eco-stabilizing efforts as a vegan world.
 3 cultures come together to make art from ice
FN… China opens Ice and Snow Festival. Amidst fireworks and performances, the 13th Manzhouli Ice and Snow Festival was officially launched on Sunday, December 25 in China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, one of the nation's most popular winter destinations. With a theme that highlights cultural exchange among China, Russia and Mongolia, more than 400 sculptures convey the rich architecture and other symbols of the three countries, with additional festival activities that include a first ever beauty contest as well as sports events.

Our accolades, Manzhouli Ice and Snow Festival organizers for your work together on this distinctive occasion. Wishing all attendees abundant enjoyment of its artistic delights as understanding and friendships are enhanced through the shared cultures of your countries.
 More stringent measures seeing reduced US alcohol-related accidents
FN... More stringent measures seeing reduced US alcohol-related accidents. In its 2011 annual report, the US organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving has given top five-star ratings to the states of Arizona, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska and Utah for their legislation to halt driving while under the influence of alcohol. Effective measures include the requirement of ignition interlocks for all first-time offenders, which prevent the car from starting when the driver has consumed alcohol, as well as other initiatives such as sobriety checkpoints. In states such as Arizona, where ignition interlocks are required, alcohol-related traffic fatalities have dropped by almost 50%, from 399 in 2006 to 210 last year. And in Hawaii, where the ignition interlock program was launched at the beginning of this year as completely self sustaining and requires no taxpayer dollars, at least 466 drivers with a blood alcohol level of .08 or above were prevented from starting their automobiles this year. Congresswoman Sharon Har stated, "This is truly a victory for all the people of the state of Hawaii.” Meanwhile, as states like Nebraska pass laws to activate the system effective January 1, 2012, the National Highway Safety Administration has reported a decline in alcohol-related accidents across the country, with some 5% fewer fatalities from 2009 to 2010 alone.

Bravo, all five-star states for your progressive actions to save lives as we also thank Mothers Against Drunk Driving for their tireless efforts in protecting public safety. May more and more governments join in such measures to usher in societies that are healthy, safe and intoxicant-free.
 Refugee emergency, Italy finances two mobile clinics
The Italian Cooperation, a public and private humanitarian organization of Italy, donates funds for two mobile clinics to support the Somalia-based Young Doctors Association in treating more than 200 women and children asylum seekers daily in Mogadishu.
 Team designs a bandage that spurs, guides blood vessel growth
Researchers at the University of Illinois in the USA develop a new bandage called a micro-vascular stamp, which encourages the growth of blood vessels on the surface of wounds and is intended to benefit a number of medical areas.
 Mercosur Signs Free Trade Agreement with Palestine
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Al MalKi and counterparts from the Mercosur countries of Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina sign a Free Trade Agreement, with the Palestinian minister also conveying his wish that Mercosur nations trading with Israel contribute to peace in the Middle East.
 Chilean Govt Approves New Electoral Law
Chile’s Congress approves a voter reform measure that offers greater representation through an automatic registration system that establishes eligibility for nearly 5 million new citizen voters.
 Deaths of Ringed Seals in Alaska an Unusual Mortality Event
SAVE OUR PLANET… The US-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stated on December 20, 2011 that 60 Ringed seals in the Arctic and Bering Strait regions of Alaska had perished, with 75 found still alive but suffering from skin lesions, and the cause still unknown.
 Fairy shrimps threatened after dry autumn
SAVE OUR PLANET… UK-based BBC news reported on December 23, 2011 that the nation's endangered fairy shrimp, a tiny beautiful crustacean that normally hatches around Christmas, faces increasing threats to its survival, as noted by scientists at the wildlife charity Pond Conservation, due to extended drought leaving many of its pools at risk of drying out completely.
 Vietnam, Thailand aim for stronger cooperation
During a meeting with visiting Thai Senate President, Teeradej Meepien, President Trương Tấn Sang of Âu Lạc (Vietnam) commends the growing cooperation between the two countries as he also conveys his wish for continued mutual expansion.
 Toxin found in Chinese milk
WARNING NEWS... Saying that all products had been intercepted before reaching the public, one of China's largest companies in Sichuan province announced on December 26, 2011 that a large batch of milk was found containing excess levels of the cancer-causing substance aflatoxin.
 Generosity of British public makes East Africa emergency appeal most successful ever
Thanks to the generosity of British citizens, international charity Save the Children raised more than £7 million since July 2011 for humanitarian supplies to benefit 1.7 million drought-affected children in East Africa, making the campaign the most successful in the organization’s history.
 Quitting smoking 'can save £2,500'
The UK-based anti-smoking charity Ash Scotland states that a person who smokes 20 cigarettes a day could save at least £2,500 each year by quitting, in addition to health benefits such as improved circulation as well as reduced risk of heart attack, coronary disease, and lung cancer.
 France enjoys hottest year since 1900
SAVE OUR PLANET… Reporting on December 27, 2011, the French national meteorological service Météo-France states that the average daily temperature over the past year was 13.6 degrees Celsius, which is the warmest ever on record, while the Russian capital city Moscow also noted the highest ever December temperatures in history.
 Bill Clinton Pledges To Match Donations To His Foundation This Week
The 42nd US President Bill Clinton pledges a match of US$2 from his personal funds for every US$1 donated to his charitable foundation by the end of 2011 for initiatives that include improved global treatment for AIDS and malaria as well as ways to address climate change.
 A huge group of magpies died in Hengshui Lake in China's Hebei Province
SAVE OUR PLANET… On December 25, 2011, hundreds of dead magpies were found throughout the woods near Hengshui Lake in China's Hebei province, with experts saying that the cause of the birds' death was thus far unknown.

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