Romania takes steps to protect 250,000 ha of virgin forests
In eco news, Romania takes steps to enhance preservation of her forests. The Minister of Environment and Forests of Romania His Excellency László Borbély stated the Government plans to finalize a legislative act to safeguard 250,000 hectares of untouched woodlands which are home for up to 13,000 species. A Memorandum of Understanding between the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Minister of Environment and Forests is expected to be signed, ensuring the legal protection of the important forests. In addition, a new study of pristine or old growth forests in Romania will be completed by the middle of 2012, reports WWF. A respectful green salute, Your Excellency László Borbély, Romania, and World Wildlife Fund, for your joint efforts to conserve these important ecosystems. May all parts of the precious Earth be saved through our wise and compassionate choices.
UNICEF-supported sanitation and hygiene initiatives improving living conditions in Uganda
In humanitarian news, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) helps improve health in Uganda. The Kyangabukama Village in the Kyenjojo District in western Uganda is one of 16 model villages that have implemented hygiene and sanitation projects supported by UNICEF. These practices, which include careful storage of drinking water and harvesting rainwater, have led to notable improvements in the residents’ living conditions and well-being. Due to this success, the approach is being used in two more Ugandan districts. Our sincere thankfulness, United Nations Children’s Fund, for your commitment to the warm-hearted people of Uganda. May all the country’s citizens be blessed with vibrant and happy futures.
Cold wave claims 7 lives in north India
FN… Cold waves hit northern India. As of Tuesday, December 20, fatalities had risen to 39 as more people, primarily the elderly and the homeless, have succumbed to recent piercing cold in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana. As places like Meerut city in Uttar Pradesh experienced a record low of 2.2 degrees Celsius, some schools are being closed until late December. Extremely heavy fog and cold winds have also disrupted both air and road travel, with trains also canceled or delayed. With the weather expected to persist indefinitely, India's Supreme Court has ordered states to provide shelters for the homeless at night during the winter.
Conveying all her love and prayers, Supreme Master Ching Hai asked that our nearby Association members please check to see if any help is needed, requesting that they also go if possible to offer assistance to the most desperate. She added that funds for emergency supplies are available.
With gratefulness for the concerned ruling of India's Supreme Court, we also thank Supreme Master Ching Hai for her attentive concern. Our condolences for the precious lives lost as we pray that such extreme events may be lessened as we strive for more caring stewardship of our environment.
5.0-magnitude quake hits south of the Fiji Islands -- USGS
FN… Earthquakes jolt South Sandwich Islands, Fiji, Indonesia, Nepal, Iran, Argentina, Kermadec Islands, and Peru. On Saturday, December 17, a 5.3-magnitude quake hit just 81 kilometers south of Bristol Island in the South Sandwich Islands, while a 5.0-magnitude temblor struck near Fiji, 290 kilometers southwest of Ndoi Island. On Monday morning, the Sandwich Islands were again rattled by a 5.4-magnitude tremor that hit 81 kilometers northwest of Visokoi Island, as Indonesia’s Sulawesi island was also shaken by an earthquake of magnitude-5.7, 199 kilometers northwest of Palopo. Also on Monday, a 4.6-magnitude quake was felt in Nepal’s Taplejung District as it hit near Mt. Kangchenjunga, and a magnitude-4.6 earthquake jolted Iran's town of Nosratabad in southeastern Sistan and Baluchestan province. Meanwhile, Argentina’s northwestern province of Jujuy was rocked by a 4.7-magnitude temblor, which was reportedly felt in Salta Province, 72 kilometers northwest of the epicenter, and the Kermadec Islands were rattled by a 5.3-magnitude quake centered 164 kilometers east of Raoul Island. In central Peru on the same day, residents fled their homes in fear as a tremor measuring 4.8 on the Richter scale set off vehicle and home alarms with glass breaking in some buildings when it struck 18 kilometers east of Lima. Fortunately, there were no initial reports of injuries or damage for any of these seismic disturbances.
Thank Heaven for the safety of those in the affected regions. Our prayers that such potential disasters may be soon minimized through our kinder actions toward all beings as a vegan world.
Rescuers find raft with 15 people after Sea of Okhotsk oil rig wreck
FN... Crew members rescued from sinking oil rig. As a severe storm hit in the Sea of Okhotsk on Sunday, December 18, a Russian oil rig being towed from the Kamchatka Peninsula towards Sakhalin Island began sinking quickly after a 5-meter high wave hit the vessel. The rig's lifeboats were washed away in the waves as well, leaving 67 crew members without any way to escape. Despite the harsh weather conditions and stormy seas, Russia's State Sea Rescue Coordination Center dispatched teams immediately to begin search and rescue efforts. Although 11 have been confirmed perished, another 14 were saved from the icy waters, with searches still ongoing for the remaining crew members.
Our grateful thanks, all rescue team members, for your prompt and courageous efforts. With sincere sympathies for those who have lost loved ones, we pray for the safe recovery of the missing crew members and wish the survivors many cherished moments in the warm company of loved ones.
Russian, Belarusian, Kazakh leaders gather for Eurasian economic summit
FN... Eurasian leaders sign agreements to promote economic integration. As part of an overall goal to create a regional bloc modeled on the European Union, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev concluded a summit on Monday, December 19 with the formal establishment of the Eurasian Economic Commission, 2011. This new organization will be responsible for the next steps of integration to create a single economic space, and will be later tasked with establishing a Eurasian Economic Union. Following the summit, President Medvedev also said that the membership of additional countries would be encouraged.
We respectfully congratulate Your Excellencies on this fruitful meeting toward regional economic integration. May your continued endeavors bring ever more fulfillment, prosperity and peace to fellow citizens in your countries and across the globe.
Eritrea - Sudan - Eritrean journalist freed in Khartoum, Sudanese newspaperwoman detained
FN... Eritrean and Sudanese journalists freed. Editorial writer and Eritrean national Jamal Osman Hamad, who has also been running a political minority party website while working in Sudan, was released on Monday, December 19 following eight weeks in detention. Also released on Monday was Sudanese journalist Ms. Rashan Awshi, who had been working for the newspaper Altayar Arabic Daily.
We are glad for the freedom of both Mr. Hamad and Ms. Awshi. Wishing you many happy reunions with family, colleagues, and friends as we pray for the safety of all media members as they carry out their noble duties of sharing timely and up-to-date information for the good of the public.
Climate change blamed for dead trees in Africa
SAVE OUR PLANET... Rainfall that has diminished by as much as 48% in Africa's Sahel region, which is experiencing the world's most severe long-term drought, has resulted not only in significant tree losses but has led to the extinction of entire species, according to a study reported by US scientists on December 13, 2011.
Barcelona Soccer Star Carlos Puyol Steps Up to Save Orangutans
Spanish soccer champion Carles Puyol lends his support to a campaign on behalf of orangutans, sponsored by the United Nations Great Apes Survival Partnership and the International Animal Rescue, as he calls on the public to help save Indonesian rainforests, the primates' vital habitat.
Faster Than A Speeding Bullet: Photon Camera
Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the USA develop a camera that can render slow-motion images of light waves recorded at the remarkable speed of one trillion frames per second, with the technology intended to benefit many areas of both medicine and industry.
Facebook 'unfriends' coal and 'likes' clean power
SAVE OUR PLANET... In response to a Greenpeace campaign calling on social media network Facebook to implement clean energy at its primarily coal-powered data centers, Facebook reported a partnership on December 15, 2011 to promote sustainable energy and to develop programs that encourage network users toward similar decisions locally.
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt to build Ethiopian AIDS clinic
Following the establishment of a charitable children's center in Cambodia, the birth country of their eldest son Maddox, award-winning Hollywood actors Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are now founding a medical clinic in Ethiopia, which is daughter Zahara's native land.
Rapid rise in wildfires in large parts of Canada?
SAVE OUR PLANET... In the December 2011 issue of American Naturalist, a study by US and German scientists concludes that continued climate change effects could cause regions of Canadian forests to reach a tipping point, after which the areas consumed by fires as well as the size of the blazes would become larger and larger.
UN ends sanctions on Libya central bank
The United Nations Security Council officially lifts previous sanctions on Libya's Central Bank, releasing more than US$30 billion in funds that will go toward rebuilding a peaceful nation.
Work starts on first international science and education centre
science and education center in Âu Lạc (Vietnam) is being constructed in the city of Quy Nhơn of Bình Định province, to serve as a hub for the country’s leading scientists in sharing knowledge and expanding networks of international cooperation.
Nebraska Firm Recalls Ground Beef Products Due To Possible E. Coli O157:H7 Contamination
WARNING NEWS... On December 16, 2011, the US Department of Agriculture's Food and Safety Inspection Service announced a Class I recall with high risk to human health for nearly 41,000 pounds of ground beef contaminated with E. coli, a bacteria that can cause kidney damage and even death.
Azerbaijani President awarded by Serbian foundation
The Serbian Ana and Vlade Divac Foundation honors Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev with the Worthy Friend of Balkans award, in recognition of his contributions that include implementing humanitarian projects in the Balkan states as well as promoting intercultural and religious appreciation.
RSPCA: Handbag Dogs Born To Suffer
Wishing to address the physical problems found in all 50 of the UK's most popular purebred canines, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) launches a campaign to raise awareness about the suffering endured by pedigreed dogs that are bred for looks only.
Sino Pec donates funds to build up 19 clinics and 1 hospital in Myanmar
As part of China National Petroleum Corporation's US$6 million assistance program to Myanmar (Burma), the state-owned corporation donates US$750,000 for the construction of a hospital and 19 health clinics to serve the Burmese people.