Noteworthy News
      28 Nov 2011
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 Digital Worlds Can Help Autistic Children to Develop Social Skills
In social science news, digital reality may help children with autism. United Kingdom researchers used multi-touch screen technology in which virtual characters show gestures to which youths respond. The scientists found that this enabled some youngsters to increase interactions with others and ability to self-manage their behavior. Co-leader of the program, Dr. Porayska-Pomsta said: “Since autistic children have a particular affinity with computers, our research shows it may be possible to use digital technology to help develop their social skills.” The study is part of the Echoes Project: “Improving Children’s Social Interaction through Exploratory Learning in a Multimodal Environment,” which is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council of the United Kingdom. Our thankfulness, Dr. Kaska Porayska-Pomsta and colleagues, for this caring endeavor. May all children have many opportunities to develop innate talents, skills, and abilities to the fullest.
 Elephant mourns loss of canine companion
In animal news, Tarra, a female pachyderm, is comforted by friends. For eight years, Tarra, who lives at the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, USA, and canine Bella chose to spend most of their time together. When Bella passed away, Tarra was observed to become quieter and to visit her cherished companion’s burial place. It was also noted that Tarra was receiving support from her sister elephants to help her during this sad time. We are so sorry, gentle soul Tarra, for the loss of beautiful Bella. May you derive comfort from sweet memories of the many joyful days enjoyed with your treasured friend.
 Kidnapped French aid worker freed in Yemen
FN… Red Cross and Red Crescent workers freed. Two Yemeni and one French national who had been detained in south Yemen while distributing food and other essentials were released on Thursday, November 24 as confirmed by Eric Marclay, who heads the International Committee of the Red Crescent delegation in Yemen. Affirming that they were in good health, Mr. Marclay thanked local officials and tribal elders who helped mediate the release, while villagers in Mesaimeer where the three were detained, issued an apology for the incident.

We join in offering thanks, Yemeni officials and elders, for the peaceful freedom of the Red Cross and Red Crescent personnel. Wishing them many joyous reunions in the loving company of family and friends.
 Heavy Rains Affect Venezuela
FN… Incessant rains inundate Venezuela. A week of continuous rainfall has flooded central and southeastern states, with the most affected being Aragua, Carabobo, Zulia and Mérida. A 35-year-old farmer lost his life when he was swept away by the rising waters of the River Chama, which burst through a retention wall in at least four locations in the state of Zulia. Flooding there was as high as three meters, affecting 12,000 hectares, much of it agricultural land, with thousands who fled their homes. These recent inundations follow heavy precipitation the week of November 17 in Tachira state, where the rain that fell in just a matter of hours surpassed the amount for the entire month of November the previous year. Venezuela’s Civil Protection Agency personnel have been dispatched to monitor rivers in efforts to prevent further loss of life, while the military has been assisting evacuees as well as distributing food and other supplies.

Conveying all her love and prayers, Supreme Master Ching Hai requested our nearby Association members to please find out whether any assistance is required, asking that they also go if possible to comfort those most in need. She added that financial aid is available for urgent necessities.

We are grateful, Venezuelan officials, military and all agencies working to assist the storm-stricken as we also thank Supreme Master Ching Hai for her thoughtful concern. Our prayers for the swift recovery of residents' regular daily lives as we strive for more planet-protecting actions to ease such distressing conditions as these.
 Residents rescued from NSW floodwaters
FN… Floods sweep New South Wales, Australia. At least one person perished and properties were isolated after two days of heavy rain and flooding hit the state of New South Wales on Saturday, November 26. A three-year-old lost his life and the State Emergency Service rescued more than two dozen people from floodwaters, receiving 800 calls for assistance in the Sydney region and northern parts of the state as trees were uprooted and roofs were damaged. Officials warned some 400 residents to be prepared for evacuation as the Gwydir River rose, along with another 1,800 in the town of Wee Waa who might be stranded if the Namoi River overflowed, as crews prepared to send supplies by helicopter.

Our appreciation, Australian officials and rescue personnel, for your prompt and caring assistance in the flood-stricken areas. May Heaven protect the residents of New South Wales as we pray that such disasters are soon a thing of the past through humanity's gentler, eco-stabilizing lifestyles as a vegan world.
 John Key re-elected as New Zealand's Prime Minister
FN… Term renewed for New Zealand's prime minister. On Saturday, November 26, incumbent Prime Minister John Key's National Party secured 60 Parliamentary seats in the country's general election, winning him a second term in office. Having assisted in the country's economic recovery during his first term, especially following the devastating Christchurch earthquake, Prime Minister Key has pledged to continue enhancing economic growth, with intentions to return the nation to a budget surplus by 2014.

Our respectful congratulations, Your Excellency, on your renewed role. May Heaven grace your leadership to continue serving the highest goals of your gracious fellow citizens in New Zealand.
 WWF Russia seeks foster parents for 500 polar bears
SAVE OUR PLANET... In a campaign launched on November 24, 2011, World Wildlife Fund Russia appeals to individuals and companies to assist in supporting a patrol program run by local volunteers to protect endangered polar bears in the Russian Arctic.
 Sri Lanka donates US$ 50,000 worth of flood relief to Thailand
In a ceremony held at the Royal Thai Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lankan officials donate over US$50,000 in humanitarian aid to assist the flood-affected in Thailand.
 Mexico, CentAm to Sign Single FTA
Culminating several years of negotiations, ministers from Mexico and the five Central American nations of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua sign a free trade agreement that opens the flow of goods and investments among their countries.
 Qatari Emir Meets with Romanian President
As His Highness Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani of Qatar meets with visiting Romanian President Traian Basescu, the two leaders acknowledge their countries' existing amicable relations while discussing ways to enhance further cooperation.
 Israeli president on first Vietnam trip
Visiting Israeli President Shimon Peres signs several cooperative agreements with Aulacese (Vietnamese) President Trương Tấn Sang, as the Aulacese leader conveys his thanks for Israeli support in areas such as student scholarships that have benefited both scientific research and the nation's economy.
 Wildlife crisis as mallard numbers plummet
SAVE OUR PLANET... Published in November by a group of conservation organizations, the "State of UK’s Birds 2011" reveals a nearly 50% decline in mallard ducks migrating to Scotland over the past three decades, with other birds also diminishing in number, which the scientists say could be due to global warming and the far-reaching effects of rising temperatures.
 Quake Survivors To Heat Up With Pocket Heaters Sent By Japanese Citizens
Thanks to contributions from Japanese residents in response to an aid campaign launched by author Ayumi Iwasaki, 1,500 packet heaters and blankets are sent to help the quake-affected in Van province of eastern Turkey.
 Somalia: rainfall brings some hope for the next harvest
Following a prolonged drought since the end of 2010, rainfall in central and southern Somalia is bringing hope that newly planted cereals and vegetables will yield harvests and restored habitat for wildlife.
 Dog earns award for saving a life
Husky canine Kira is inducted into the 2011 Animal Hall of Fame in Texas, USA for his heroic actions in stepping between a snake and his one-year-old human best friend Riley, despite being bitten himself.
 14-year-old girl wins Pakistan's first peace prize
Fourteen-year-old Malala Yousufzai from Swat Valley in northwest Pakistan receives the country's first National Peace Prize along a US$6,000 cash award for her online diary entries raising awareness for girls to be allowed to attend school.

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