Noteworthy News
      31 Dec 2011
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 Denmark donates DKK 500,000 or 100,000 USD in total to relief efforts for flood victims in Cambodia
In humanitarian news, Denmark donates approximately US$110,000 to help flood victims in Cambodia. Save the Children Denmark is the recipient of about US$50,000 of the total amount. The non-profit will use the funds to provide food parcels. Furthermore, guidance will be offered to people who experience health problems as a result of the flood situation. Life with Dignity, which will be given approximately US$60,000, will supply a food package also containing water purification necessities and soap to each family. Our sincere appreciation, Denmark, for your generosity. May the gentle people of Cambodia soon return to a calm life on a balanced planet.
 Will Business For Boozeless Liverpool Bar Dry Up?
In community news, a non-alcoholic bar in the United Kingdom provides patrons with a wholesome alternative. Funded by the UK charity Action on Addiction, The Brink in Liverpool, England offers alcohol-free drinks in a stylish atmosphere. It was envisioned to help provide a place where people who are recovering from dependency on alcohol, drugs, and other debilitating habits can enjoy the company of others. There is wifi as well as comedy programs and live music and theater. Other events include dance fitness sessions and bike recycling. Kudos, The Brink and Action on Addiction, for this inventive approach to sharing more constructive ways to socialize. May all choose a positive lifestyle for a happier and healthier existence.
 First Andaman dictionary a 'linguistic treasure trove'
In cultural news, the first dictionary of four languages of the Andaman Islands is published. According to BBC, Dr. Anvita Abbi, who is based at Jawaharlal Nehru University at New Delhi, India, has compiled an interactive dictionary. It consists of the languages of Bo and Khora, which are unfortunately now classified as extinct, and Jeru and Sare. Dr. Abbi stated that her work was motivated by the fact that the Andamanese culture is one of the oldest on Earth. She said, “This was my way of documenting ancient and traditional knowledge as words are cultural, archaeological, and environmental signatures of a community.” Congratulations, Dr. Anvita Abbi, on this significant accomplishment. May all heritages and languages be respected and preserved, adding vibrancy and richness to our treasured world.
 Azerbaijan ranks 8th in among 51 developing countries
FN… Poll reveals the world’s most hopeful countries. For this year's Global Barometer of Hope and Despair, an annual report published by WIN-Gallup International, some 45,000 people were interviewed in over 50 countries about their expectations for 2012. Based on the input of co-citizens, this year's most optimistic country is Nigeria, while rounding out the top 10 are Âu Lạc (Vietnam), Ghana, South Sudan, Uzbekistan, Cameroon, Tunisia, Azerbaijan, Colombia, and Iraq. Among the age groups considered most optimistic are youths under 30, while countries that gained the most hope compared to the previous year were Turkey, Pakistan, Iceland, Romania and Macedonia.

A big bravo, all fellow citizens and countries entering the new year in optimism and faith. May your sense of well being spread to neighbors across the globe for a brighter 2012 for all.
 Smoking in pregnancy may thicken fetal arteries
FN… Smoking during pregnancy harms the circulation of the unborn child. A study conducted with 259 children by scientists at the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands has found that children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy have artery walls that are thicker and stiffer compared to the children whose mothers did not smoke. Thicker arterial walls are said to increase the risk of developing heart disease and obesity. Published in the journal Pediatrics, the study, which began in December 2001 and is still ongoing, also found that the children's arteries are thickest when both parents smoked during pregnancy.

To better convey the dangerous health risks of such intoxicants, Kirov Military Medicine Academy in Russia has sponsored a unique exhibition and has been inviting visitors from around the world to view actual preserved human cadavers and organs affected by tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs. Located in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Telo Cheloveka (Human Body) Exhibition includes graphic displays of babies who sadly did not survive birth or died in the womb, with various birth defects that are due to the mothers’ use of alcohol or illegal drugs. In addition, human lungs are shown that reveal their sensitivity to varying degrees of exposure to tobacco smoke.

(In Russian)
Tour guide - Telo Cheloveka (Human Body) Exhibition, St. Petersburg Russia (M): These are standard lungs, nice and beautiful, look, they are normal. These are lungs of a rural non-smoking person. These are lungs of a non-smoking city-dweller, a non-smoking city-dweller, meaning that all people living in mega cities have these kinds of lungs because of the pollution, a lot of cars, a lot of dust, of course. These are lungs of a so-called passive smoker. One-two cigarettes a day or s/he goes to the smoking room with others. And this is our main feature. Lungs of an active smoker who smokes a pack or two a day. So you see they are black. They filtered through around 100-150 liters of acetone and they are still black, still black inside.

VOICE: Many thanks, Kirov Military Medicine Academy and researchers in the Netherlands, for your work in raising awareness on the severe damage of smoking to ourselves, our children, and others. May the realization of the tragic consequence of all addictive substances encourage safe and intoxicant-free lifestyles for all.
 Reports: Cuba frees thousands of prisoners
FN… Cuba frees nearly 3,000 detainees. In consideration of requests by the Catholic Church and relatives of the prisoners, Cuban President Raul Castro has granted amnesty to 2,991 detainees. Those pardoned included political prisoners, seniors over 60 years of age, detainees who have been ill, and women and youths with no previous criminal history. Among the released were also 86 foreign nationals from 25 different countries.

We join in gladness, Your Excellency, for this humanitarian gesture. May the newly freed find solace and joy in their warm reunions with family and friends.
 James Rizzi, US pop artist, dies aged 61
FN… Iconic pop artist remembered. As reported on Wednesday, December 28, American James Rizzi has passed away at the age of 61. Known internationally for a style that was born through combining painting and printmaking with the three-dimensional elements of sculpture, Mr. Rizzi’s colorful and cartoon-like creations have graced everything from buildings and cars like the Volkswagen Beetle to a Lufthansa aircraft, which he decorated with stars, birds and travelers. He also created German postage stamps, memorable Japanese train ads and a tourist guide to New York City, USA, along with being the official artist for the 1996 US Summer Olympics, the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and the World Cup soccer games in France. In Germany, a school in Duisberg is named for him, while the Rizzi Dome was unveiled in one of Europe’s largest shopping malls in Oberhausen, and his office building in Braunschweig was dubbed the Happy Rizzi House. Alexander Lieventhal, an executive at the company that manages and sells Mr. Rizzi’s art, said, “With his art, ... any child can look at it and understand what he’s trying to convey: a celebration of life.”

Our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Mr. James Rizzi, whose gifted artistic contributions will continue to uplift viewers worldwide. May his soul rest serenely in the love and light of the Divine.
 Heavy rains cause flooding in Eastern Visayan towns
FN… Philippines battered by new round of storms. Following significant flooding in southern Mindanao due to tropical storm Sendong, which claimed thousands of lives and left widespread damage, another low pressure system has brought more rain to the region. As of Thursday, December 29, northern Mindanao and the neighboring Visayas region were hardest hit, with homes destroyed and bridges and roads rendered impassable. In the Eastern Visayas province of Leyte, which received record precipitation, a young child lost his life and another was reported missing. In Cebu province, where 18 communities flooded, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that two people had perished, with nearly 14,000 evacuated and more than 40,000 affected. Rising waters in some areas also worsened as the National Irrigation Administration opened dams to prevent overflowing. Meanwhile, the military has been providing assistance in ongoing efforts to rescue stranded residents from rooftops and other areas, with 80 children on holiday in Mindanao's Davao del Norte province who were brought to safety on Thursday after being trapped by the floods.

Upon hearing of the initial storm's impact on December 17, Supreme Master Ching Hai had requested our local Association members to please check with regional governments on any assistance that might be required. Conveying all her love and prayers, she also asked that they go if possible to comfort those in need, saying that funds are available for emergency aid.

We thank the Philippine military and all emergency responders for your kindhearted help to co-citizens as well as Supreme Master Ching Hai for her loving concern. Our prayers for the protection of the Philippine people as we strive for a safer tomorrow through our more benevolent lifestyles as a vegan world.
 Group campaigns against horse, donkey carts
Israel-based animal rights group Hakol Chai writes a letter to the Israeli Interior Ministry, appealing for the protection of cart-drawing horses and donkeys who suffer from overexertion and inadequate care, and asking for a ban on the carts in city streets.
 Japanese children clean up beach in Thailand
Japanese secondary school students and their teachers, along with Japanese Rotary Club members help clean up a popular beach in Patong, Thailand as a gesture of gratitude to Thai citizens for their assistance following Japan's quake and tsunami in March.
 'Turkish passport,' untold tale of Holocaust survivors
Agence France-Presse, reporting on the factually-based drama "Turkish Passport," reveals a previously untold tale of Turkish diplomats in Europe who assisted Turkish and foreign Jews during the second world war by issuing passports and arranging trains for their safe transport to Turkey.
 Bringing cheer to canines
During the holiday season, UK-based Dogs Trust distributes collars, leads, coats, toys and more to canines whose caregivers are homeless in South Wales, also offering free veterinary treatment as part of the organization's Hope Project.
 Indonesian Foreign Minister Meets Suu Kyi in Burma
In meetings with Burmese Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin as well as pro-democracy leader Dr. Aung San Suu Kyi, Indonesia's Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa affirms his country's wish for enhanced bilateral cooperation as well as support for Myanmar's democratization process.
 Uruguay to Increase Minimum Wage
Highlighting a commitment to economic growth that benefits all Uruguayans, the country’s Ministry of Labor and Social Security announces that the minimum wage will increase by 8% as of January 1, 2012.
 Kuwait''s 2nd dispatchment arrives in Benghazi
In support of Libya's emerging peace and political reform, Kuwait sends a second convoy carrying aid to Benghazi, which includes fully equipped ambulances and fire trucks.
 Sunnies, Shiites factions pledge to drop weapons for polit. process
Following meetings with Iraq's National Reconciliation Council, Qais al-Khazali, leader of the Asaib Ahel al-Haq or League of the Righteous, announces that his group is willing to disarm and join the country's political process.

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