Noteworthy News
      7 May 2011
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 Green eco-park to be launched next year
In environmental news, Jordan will open an eco-park. The Sharhabil Ben Hassnah Eco-Park, located in the Sheikh Hussein area in Pella District, will be formally inaugurated by 2012. Friends of the Earth Middle East have been working since 2005 to revitalize the area. The park is approximately 270 hectares of land comprised of hills and valleys. It is home to 250 types of wild plants, 53 bird species, 18 of which are classified endangered, and five species of mammals, four of which are considered threatened. Visitors can enjoy ten eco-lodges, various hiking trails, a turtle pond and a picnic area, among other features. A standing ovation, Jordan and Friends of the Earth Middle East, on this fantastic news. May the Sharhabil Ben Hassnah Eco-Park become a safe haven for wildlife to flourish and for people to immerse themselves in the beauty of nature, with Heaven’s abundant blessings.
 Iran, Belarus to strengthen trade ties
In world news, Iran and Belarus enhance trade relations. In Tehran, Director of Iran’s Trade Promotion Organization Mr. Hamid Safdel welcomed Belarusian Ambassador to Iran His Excellency Victor Ribak. Director Safdel stated that a joint chamber of commerce will be established to promote economic cooperation between the two nations and an increase in trade. Congratulations, Director Hamid Safdel, Your Excellency Victor Ribak, Iran, and Belarus, on the growing friendship between your two countries. May both lands prosper evermore in peace and plentitude.
 Heroine teenager dies trying to save her dog
In heroine news, a 15-year-old Costa Rican girl sacrifices her life trying to save her canine companion. When a fire broke out in the home of the Martínez family of Moravia, San José at about 11pm one night, Mr. and Mrs. Martínez and their two children were able to reach an emergency exit on the second floor. However, eighth grader Francini realized her canine companion was still in the house. She attempted to go back in and retrieve the dog, despite the pleas of her mother. Unfortunately, brave Francini became trapped by the fire, and lost her life. The other three members of the family were able to jump to safety after their neighbors put out mattresses for them to land on. We are deeply saddened to hear of the loss of selfless Francini and her cherished dog friend. May the Martínez family be comforted in knowing that the pure-hearted Francini and her beloved canine companion surely rest in God’s tender embrace. Supreme Master Ching Hai is honoring Francini Martinez posthumously with the Shining World Heroine Award and US$1,000 to help out the family with all sorrows, prayers, and love.
 Volcano in Russia's Far East spew ash to 6,000 meters
FN… Eruptions continue in Russia’s Far East as earthquakes rattle Mexico, US, and Japan. Seismic activity at the Shiveluch volcano, one of the largest and most active on the Kamchatka peninsula, intensified on Tuesday, May 3, with ash spewing to a height of 6,000 meters above sea level. An “orange” alert was issued for aviation in the area. A spokesman for the Kamchatka branch of the Geophysical Service of the Russian Academy of Sciences also stated on Tuesday that an eruption of the Kizimen volcano had emitted ash six kilometers skyward. On Thursday morning, a quake measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale struck southwestern Mexico in Guerrero, its epicenter 126 kilometers southeast of the state capital Chilpancingo. To the north on the US Alaskan Peninsula, a 5.8-magnitude temblor struck 24 kilometers south of Sand Point, followed by another of magnitude-5.9. Meanwhile in Asia, the quake and tsunami-ravaged Japan continues to be rattled by aftershocks, with a strong magnitude-6.1 earthquake recorded 276 kilometers east of the hard-hit Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture. Fortunately, there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage for any of these events.

With thankfulness for the protection of those in the affected areas, we pray that instabilities such as these may be eased as we seek to restore the balance of the Earth with our more benevolent actions.
 Flood cuts major highway; Memphis eyes rising river
FN… Extreme weather strikes Canada and US. Rapid spring thaws combined with incessant rains have set off floods in southern Canada and throughout the US. In Quebec, Canada, water levels of the Richelieu River rose to their highest in over 140 years, affecting 2,500 homes and prompting the evacuation of 500 families, with 600 soldiers and reservists dispatched on Thursday, May 5, to aid with sandbagging in an effort to stem the overflowing river. Meanwhile in the United States, residents along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers braced for record floods as waters climbed toward their highest points in decades. From Illinois to Louisiana, thousands have already been displaced, and President Barack Obama declared states of disaster in regions of Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky, making them eligible for federal help for relief efforts. In Arkansas, where officials confirmed the eighth fatality since rains began on April 25, rising waters prompted the closure of a large section of Interstate 40, one of the busiest roadways in the nation. On Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers blasted a third and final breach in the Birds Point levee near New Madrid, Missouri in efforts to control the floodwaters. The excessive rains have also delayed the planting of crops. Meanwhile in the southwest, severe drought is spreading across parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, and Louisiana, while the worst-affected state of Texas is facing the most extreme category of “exceptional drought.” These conditions have already triggered wildfires that scorched 2.2 million acres and destroyed over 1,100 buildings in Texas, where there have also been widespread crop failures.

Upon hearing of these intense conditions, Supreme Master Ching Hai expressed her deep love and prayers as she requested that our nearby Association members please consult with local officials to see if help is required. Saying that necessary emergency funds would be provided, she asked that they go if possible to assist those most in need, such as the elderly and children without caregivers.

Our thankfulness for the efforts of the US officials and personnel, as well as for Supreme Master Ching Hai’s compassionate concern. We pray for the safety of those in the affected regions as humanity strives to ease such extremities through our kinder stewardship of the ecosphere.
 Mexico: March against Violence
FN… Citizens speak out. As members of society continue to assert their rights to peace, dignity and democratic principles, they gather for their voices to be heard in countries such as Bahrain, Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Libya, the Maldives, Mexico, Palestine, Syria and Yemen.

Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, whose son was among a group of seven people kidnapped and killed in March, led members of 150 social groups on a three day “Silent March” from Cuernavaca to Mexico City beginning on Thursday, May 5 to demand an end to the wave of violence gripping the country between drug cartels and military operations of the government.

With Côte d'Ivoire's Constitutional Council officially declaring Alassane Ouattara the winner of the November 2010 presidential elections, the European Union offers €44 million to assist in recovery from the post-election conflict that ensued between supporters of President Ouattara and those of former President Laurent Gbagbo.

In the Maldives, protesters rallied for the seventh straight day over rising prices, stating they will not stop until President Mohammed Nasheed resigns. Presidential spokesperson Mohamed Zuhair explained that the economic policies had been recommended by the International Monetary Fund to reduce the large deficit inherited from the previous administration that had led the country for 30 years prior to President Nasheed’s democratic election in 2008. He invited the activists to partner with the government in overcoming the current budget problems and to propose an alternative plan, stating, “At this difficult economic time, the country should unite for the common good."

UN Human Rights chief Navi Pillay called for Bahraini authorities to immediately release detained activists and to give all detainees access to legal counsel. She also called for a probe into reports of their severe torture as she urged Bahraini officials to end the violence against demonstrators and to guarantee them basic civil and political rights. There are also signs that Bahraini security forces are molesting women as part of the brutal crackdown on protesters. Fatima, a close relative of detained human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, reported to PressTV that she was sexually assaulted in her home when security forces came to arrest her husband. Meanwhile, former Parliament member Jawad Firouz was reported on Thursday to have died during his imprisonment.

Syrian military troops began pulling out of Daraa Thursday after what human rights groups report has been a ten-day massacre of the town, resulting in thousands of arrests, over 500 deaths, and massive destruction of property. The government has now turned its attentions elsewhere, including the Damascus suburb of Saqba where security forces are going house to house making arrests. Meanwhile, people continued to gather in protest across the country on Friday in rallies marking what they termed a “Day of Defiance.” Al Jazeera news agency continues to demand the release of female journalist Dorothy Parvaz, who was detained by Syrian officials upon her arrival on April 29. Advocacy groups such as the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, as well as many other colleagues have echoed concern for the well-being of Ms. Parvaz as they call for her immediate release as well.

Foreign ministers from over 20 countries and four international organizations concluded the second Libyan Contact Group meeting in Italy on Thursday, in which they prioritized the coordination of an immediate ceasefire and the launch of a political process to resolve the conflict. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced his government is currently consulting all parties involved to create an acceptable ceasefire plan. Meanwhile, the World Food Program warns the country could completely run out of food supplies in the next two months.

In sorrow for the loss of precious lives, we pray that all conflicts soon end and that people in every nation decide in favor of shared respect and freedom for peace to reign across all lands.
 France to aid Pakistan enhance security capacity
FN... Pakistani prime minister concludes first official visit to France. Reflecting on his three-day official visit this past week, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani stated that his meetings with French President Nicolas Sarkozy were both friendly and productive, while talks with French corporate business leaders yielded agreements to increase trade through the creation of both a Pakistan-France Joint Business Council as well as a Joint Economic and Trade Committee. Prime Minister Gilani also spoke with Gerard Larcher, President of the French Senate, with pledges from both sides to continue regular Parliamentary contact intended to further democratic principles through the sharing of experience. Prime Minister Gilani also emphasized the interest of his country in supporting regional peace and stability.

Our respectful congratulations, Your Excellencies, on your cordial visit. May the continued cooperation of the French and Pakistani people bring benefit that expands from your nations across the globe.
 Girl Scout Team Patents Prosthetic Hand Device, Helping a Toddler Write For the First Time
A team of 11- to 13-year-old Girl Scouts in Iowa, USA receive the Global Innovation Award and a US$20,000 prize for their creative development of a prosthetic device that allowed a Georgia toddler born without fingers to write for the first time.
 EC Announces New Strategy To Halt Biodiversity Loss Within Ten Years
SAVE OUR PLANET... The European Commission releases a new biodiversity plan which aims to stop the alarming extinction of animals and plants by 2020 through the implementation of more sustainable agriculture and forestry and improved protection for the environment, among other steps.
 Deadly weather in US could become the norm
SAVE OUR PLANET... After the US southeast reported 272 tornados in a two-day period last week, international newspaper USA Today cites two peer-reviewed studies concluding that climate change conditions are likely to continue increasing the incidence of severe thunderstorms and tornados.
 Pakistan, US to support Afghan-led reconciliation process
A trilateral meeting between Afghan, Pakistani and US officials concludes with an agreement to cooperate with the Afghan-led process to peacefully reintegrate Taliban leaders into society.
 Uganda gay activist woman wins major rights award
The 10 organizations comprising the Martin Ennals Foundation award its annual prize to Ugandan gay activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera for her work defending the rights and human dignity of gays, lesbians, and other underserved people in Africa.
 President of Lithuania arrives in Tbilisi
Continuing the traditionally cordial relations between their countries, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili meet in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi where they engage in dialog to continue enhancing cooperative ties.
 Guatemalan Winaq, First Indigenous Group in Elections
Recently certified as an official political party in Guatemala, the indigenous group Winaq is the country’s first to participate in national elections and is expected to name its founder, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Rigoberta Menchu, as a presidential candidate.
 Medvedev signs landmark anti-corruption law
Following its approval by the Russian Parliament, President Dmitry Medvedev signs a new anti-corruption bill that increases penalties for giving or taking bribes in an effort to promote greater integrity within the government.

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