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      17 Mar 2011
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 Diving for Dophins
In animal welfare news, a champion freediver brings attention to one of the Earth’s rarest dolphin species. New Zealander world record holder William Trubridge (NFH:TRUH-bridge) has completed Project Hector, a 101-meter dive without fins or other apparatus. It required Mr. Trubridge to hold his breath for more than 4 minutes, making him the first person do so in the world. Mr. Trubridge is using his exceptional skills to promote appreciation of the endangered Hector’s dolphin, which is endemic to New Zealand’s coastal waters. The population of these amazing mammals has decreased 75% in the last 30 years with about 7,400 remaining. Our many thanks, Mr. William Trubridge, for utilizing your remarkable talent to encourage preservation efforts of the precious Hector’s dolphin. May the ocean and all marine species be safeguarded through our sustainable choices, including the Earth-saving vegan diet.
 Energy-efficient intelligent house that can monitor health
In technology news, a smart home integrates health monitoring, security concerns, and energy savings. Mr. Johann Siau and his team from the University of Hertfordshire’s School of Engineering and Technology, United Kingdom have developed a prototype of a home which can keep track of an occupant’s body temperature and pulse through a wrist strapped sensor. In addition, Interhome, as it is called, can send an alert about safety issues such as a door being left open. It also automatically becomes familiar with the residents’ lifestyle to enable automatic reduction of energy consumption, such as switching lights off when not needed. The system can be accessed remotely through web browsers, smart phones, or other mobile devices. Congratulations, Mr. Johann Siau and colleagues, on your impressive model of automated home care. We look forward to hearing of more such innovative and beneficial advancements.
 Bolivia, Cuba reaffirm good ties
In world news, Bolivia and Cuba reaffirm their good relations. Bolivian Foreign Minister His Excellency David Choquehuanca and Cuban Foreign Minister His Excellency Bruno Rodriguez signed an agreement reiterating their dedication to maintaining secure relations. His Excellency Choquehuanca said, “This meeting and signature of agreements strengthen the good ties, not only between the governments but between the people.” He also thanked His Excellency Rodriguez for Cuba’s support in Bolivia’s health and education sectors. Our respectful appreciation, Your Excellencies David Choquehuanca and Bruno Rodriguez, and Bolivia and Cuba, for your commitment to a future of friendship between your sun-blessed countries. May all nations enhance cooperation for a world of peace and kindness among all beings.
 Ancient Catastrophic Drought Leads to Question: How Severe Can Climate Change Become?
SAVE OUR PLANET… Ancient mega-drought parched Africa and Asia. New research by an international team of scientists indicates that a catastrophic drought that occurred some 15,000 years ago dramatically affected humans in ancient Africa and southern Asia, and may indicate what future droughts could be like if global warming continues to worsen. Dr. Curt Stager of Paul Smith’s College, New York USA led the study, which analyzed sediment cores from lakes in Africa to establish ancient climate conditions in what was one of the most intense and extensive dry periods in the history of modern humans. During the mega-drought, Africa’s legendary Lake Victoria and other water bodies dried up as the Nile, Congo and other major rivers shriveled. Although the cause of this massive change in climate is not known, the scientists say that the timing could link it to an occurrence known as the Heinrich Event 1 (H1), which coincided with a huge release of icebergs and melt-water that caused regional cooling as they entered the North Atlantic Ocean but also led to prolonged droughts in the tropics.

Our appreciation, Dr. Stager and colleagues on this study of past climate change which aids our understanding of the planet’s current situation. May we avert such drastic impacts to all life on the planet by quickly turning to effective eco-protecting ways.

During a January 2011 videoconference with Supreme Master Television staff in California, USA, Supreme Master Ching Hai spoke about mega-drought conditions being repeated now along with their root cause.

Videoconference with Supreme Master Ching Hai
and Supreme Master Television staff
Los Angeles, California, USA – January 1, 2011

Supreme Master Ching Hai: As you know already from scientific news report, we have tens of thousands of people hungry due to the Amazon drought. Also, such a severe, they call “mega-drought,” usually occurs only once in many decades or century. Now, the latest one is only several years ago, five years ago, scientists say that droughts related to global warming are very different from normal droughts. They are more permanent, more severe, and irreversible. Trees die, not only the oldest ones, but of all ages, even the young ones, and all sizes. Regions most vulnerable are the US Southwest, southeast Asia, eastern South America, Western Australia, southern Europe, southern Africa, and northern Africa. And if we continue to live our lives the way most people do right now, it will get worse and worse. Karma (retribution) changes so fast because we create new patterns of karma (retribution) all the time and that, in turn, affect the weather. And the weather affects us, of course. And all this are due to the consequences of the way we live our lives. Not benevolent enough.
 The rain flooded the river in Santiago del Estero and there are 8 thousand victims
FN… Brazil floods render thousands homeless. More than 21,000 people have been evacuated due to floods in southern Brazil that claimed at least 10 lives with one person missing as of Monday, March 14. Torrential rains over the past week have triggered floods and landslides, affecting up to 60,000 Brazilians, including 12,000 in Santa Catarina state, 9,000 displaced residents of Paraná state, and people in neighboring Tio Grande do Sul state, where eight of the fatalities were reported. Over 6,500 homes have been destroyed, and vast areas are without electricity and potable water, while firefighters are working to road travel after several national highways were blocked by mudslides.

Conveying her sympathies and prayers, Supreme Master Ching Hai requested that our nearby Association members please check with local officials on what aid is needed, and to go if possible to bring support to the most desperate. She added that emergency funds are available for urgent necessities.

We are thankful for the swift efforts of the emergency personnel, as well as for Supreme Master Ching Hai’s compassionate concern. May Heaven bless the Brazilian people with resiliency as we pray that the balance of the ecosphere is restored through our greater benevolence toward all beings.
 Tokyo, a city on edge amid nuclear emergency
FN… A nation copes with disaster in Japan. As of Wednesday, March 16, the official number of fatalities stood at 3,676 as fears grew for the fate of more than 7,558 listed as missing following the catastrophic 9.0 quake and resulting tsunamis that leveled entire towns to the ground. This is the highest number of natural disaster victims recorded in Japan since World War II. With the combined efforts of the Self-Defense Force, Coast Guard, police, and firefighters resulting in 25,460 people being rescued, efforts continued to save an estimated 23,300 still stranded, some on islets near the coast. Continued tremors and debris hampered search and rescue operations as more than 200 aftershocks of magnitude-5.0 or higher struck the Pacific coast of northeast and central Japan since Friday. In a rare speech on Wednesday, His Imperial Majesty Emperor Akihito encouraged resiliency in the nation’s people as he said, "It is important that each of us shares the difficult days that lie ahead. I pray that we will all take care of each other and overcome this tragedy. He went on to address the nuclear crisis, saying, “With the help of those involved I hope things will not get worse.”

With more than 440,000 people in northeastern and central prefectures taking refuge at 2,400 shelters, some of which have yet to receive essential supplies, relief efforts have been further hindered by a lack of fuel for trucks and ambulances. Many people are without food, water, heating fuel, or other basic necessities including medical care. Adding to the woes of survivors already fatigued both mentally and physically is a cold snap that caused temperatures to drop to below freezing on Wednesday morning, after snows began on Tuesday night. This winter-like weather, which is forecast to continue into Friday, is causing health problems especially for the vulnerable.

Adding to the major trauma of survivors is the ongoing nuclear crisis. As the radiation levels in Tokyo rose to 10 times normal levels on Tuesday evening, although not yet a threat to human health, residents ran to buy face masks and emergency supplies, with others rushing to depart via planes and bullet train. Following a fire and then a blast on Tuesday in the Fukushima plant’s No.4 reactor that left an 8-meter hole in one of the walls, a second fire at the same reactor on Wednesday released a plume of radiation that was detected as far away as Tokyo, 240 kilometers to the south. With radiation levels increasing beyond levels deemed safe, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano ordered the evacuation of all workers, which also brought a further exodus of people from the area. Meanwhile, officials in Ibaraki Prefecture, just south of Fukushima, said radiation levels were about 300 times normal levels by late morning. That afternoon, plant officials also warned that an estimated 70% of the nuclear fuel rods at the No.1 reactor had been damaged, and 33% at the No.2 reactor. On Wednesday, South Korea’s government said it would transfer its reserve of boron to help Japan stabilize the quake-damaged nuclear reactors.

With her heartfelt gratitude for the international aid, Supreme Master Ching Hai had immediately pledged a US$20,000 donation following the disasters, conveying her love and sorrowful prayers as she asked that our Association members go bring comfort and aid to the most in need. Our Association’s relief teams from Japan and Formosa (Taiwan) are joining efforts to render assistance in the most desperate areas.

Our thankfulness for the caring initiatives of all governments, organizations, and individuals around the world, as we also thank Supreme Master Ching Hai for her compassionate support for the Japanese people. With our deep condolences for the lives lost, we pray for the nation’s resiliency and that such devastations may be curbed by humanity’s more considerate, meritorious ways.
 Palestinians protest Hamas-Fatah division
FN… Citizens call for freedom across the globe. Pro-democracy protesters continued risking their safety to demand basic human rights, improved job opportunities and representative governments for themselves and fellow citizens in countries like Albania, Bahrain, Cameroon, Hungary, Iran, Jordan, Libya, Palestine and Syria. Tens of thousands of Palestinians rallied in Gaza and the West Bank, calling for reconciliation between the Hamas and Fatah parties to form a unity government and proceed toward an independent state. As more and more countries upgrade Palestine’s diplomatic status to show recognition of her autonomy, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé stated that if peace talks between Palestine and Israel did not progress, European Union leaders may also recognize Palestine as an independent state.

In Egypt, progress continues in addressing citizens’ demands less than five weeks after a peaceful protest movement began to transform the government toward a democracy. Following calls from the Coptic Christian community for protection from harm and equal treatment, a branch of the Egyptian Armed Forces began to rebuild a Coptic Christian church that had burned to the ground during unrest between Muslims and Christians, and pledged to bear all expenses for its restoration. On Tuesday, the Interior Ministry announced the replacement of its much-feared security agency with a new body, established to serve the country while respecting the rights of citizens. Egypt was also lauded by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the dramatic transition made over the past few weeks, as the secretary of state donated US$90 million in emergency economic assistance on behalf of the US government, pledging continued US support.

In Jordan, King Abdullah II has set a 90-day due time for a newly-formed committee of government officials and minority parties to draft new laws that will facilitate fair representation for all Jordanians within a structure that includes parliamentary elections and political parties. Meanwhile in Syria, around 40 people successfully staged the first pro-democracy march through Old Damascus, calling for improved economic opportunities and education, as well as the end of emergency law and special tribunals. The same day, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem stated the government is taking steps toward political reform beginning with amendments to laws on municipal and legislative elections expected later this year.

In the capital Budapest, thousands of Hungarians gathered in the largest protest since 1989 to call for changes in national media laws to ensure they cannot be used to censor free speech. And in Albania, a month after four pro-democracy protesters were killed during a march, police stood by as tens of thousands protesters reiterated a call for early, free and fair elections.

Camping out in Manama’s Pearl Square despite the recent imposition of martial law, hundreds of Bahraini pro-democracy protesters were fired upon by police with rubber bullets and tear gas. In Iran, the Green Wave movement had organized protests to call for an end to house arrest for minority party leaders Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi, but their marches failed to materialize in the face of a high presence of security forces.

In Ajdabiya, Libya, protesters who have been enduring airstrikes and other military attacks from the government as they call for an urgent no-fly zone from the international community have begun fleeing with other citizens to the eastern city of Benghazi. Some citizens are now also fleeing from Benghazi toward neighborrhing Egypt, as heavily-armed government forces close in on the city. Meanwhile, the newly appointed United Nations special envoy to Libya, former Jordanian foreign minister Abdul Ilah Khatib, arrived in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, calling for an immediate end to violence and protection of citizens.

Our sad sympathies for the loss of cherished lives as we pray for the protection of all citizens and that the conflicts cease, bringing harmony, dignity, and freedom among all nations of the world.
 Charlie Sheen Expands Live Tour to 5 More Cities
FN… Charlie Sheen’s new show already a hit. American film and television actor Charlie Sheen is setting out on what promises to be a most successful theater tour in April. Tickets for the original two show locations of “Charlie Sheen Live” in Detroit and Chicago sold out within a record 18 minutes at Ticketmaster. Following this highly popular public response, five additional tour stops have been announced in two cities in Ohio, as well as New York City, Wallingford in Connecticut, and Boston, with tickets available today. As a humanitarian gesture, Mr. Sheen is donating US$1 for every ticket sold towards the earthquake relief efforts of the Red Cross.

We join in applause for your successful and highly popular engagements, Mr. Charlie Sheen. May your shining star of gifted talents bring joy and delight to audiences everywhere.
 Tougher EU climate goal could boost GDP - study
SAVE OUR PLANET… A study led by Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research finds expanded benefits for reducing European Union greenhouse gas emissions even further, as millions of extra jobs could be created that would help the continent recover from economic slowdowns and increase growth.
 Google-backed startup zaps electricity waste
SAVE OUR PLANET… Launched by internet company Google, start-up enterprise Transphorm is developing modules for electrical devices to reduce current conversion energy loss by up to 90%, a change that could save US$40 billion across the US electrical power grid alone.
 Kenyans collectively sing national anthem worldwide in call for unity
Organized in part through online social media to demonstrate that ethnic and tribal differences no longer divide their peoples, Kenyans around the world join via webcast to sing the national anthem together as a sign of their unity and solidarity.
 Britain plans no-brand cigarette packs
The British government announces a soon requirement for all cigarettes be sold in plain packaging with only health warning labels as part of the country’s stricter laws on tobacco companies to deter smoking.
 Chickens 'tortured' during slaughter: report
WARNING NEWS… Sweden’s National Food Administration finds that a meat processing plant may be in violation of animal welfare law upon receiving reports that a number of chickens were scaled and plucked alive during slaughter, resulting in unimaginable pain and suffering to the birds.
 Obama calls for reform to reduce oil dependence
US President Barack Obama calls for reforms to reduce the country’s dependence on oil as he pledges to work on stabilizing fuel prices.
 Four held, 700 birds rescued
Municipal officials in Umm Al Quwain, United Arab Emirates rescue about 700 migratory birds that had been illegally captured to sell for profit, soon freeing them in their natural marine habitat.
 Climate rise places Africa's vital maize crop at risk
SAVE OUR PLANET… Once thought to be a heat tolerant crop, recent scientific tests conducted by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico have shown that the vital grain suffers pronounced declines with prolonged exposure to temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius, especially in combination with drought.
 Brazilian President Promotes New Programs for Women
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff announces plans to improve women’s healthcare and daycare provisions for working mothers through the program Stork Network (NFT Red Cigüeña).
 Ground broken for Persian Gulf Bridge
The construction of the Persian Gulf Bridge, which will span a full 2.2 kilometers in length to connect Iran’s Qeshm Island to the mainland, is officially launched, with completion scheduled for 2014.
 European Union plans to shift aid priorities in Thai refugee camps
European Union Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva announces plans to donate more funds for the education of Karen refugees living along the Thai-Burmese border for their assistance in integrating into Thai society.
 Scientists ask for help to decipher symbols in rock drawings
A collection of around 100 petroglyphs, or drawings carved in stone, have been discovered by Emirati and Slovenian researchers on top of a mountain in Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates, that date back at least 2,000 years.
 Moroccan, Saudi authors share Arab fiction award
Saudi novelist and author of “The Dove’s Necklace,” Raja Alem, becomes the first woman to win the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, joined by co-honoree, Moroccan poet and writer Mohammed Achaari, making this the first time the accolade has been given to two people.
 Kuwait, Ecuador sign an MoU
Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Sheikh Dr. Mohammad Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, and Ecuadorian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ricardo Patiño sign an agreement to formally establish bilateral consultations between their countries.

   
 
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