In philanthropy news, Baron Andrew Lloyd Webber donates £3.5 million to support young talent. Through his foundation, the renowned British composer and theater director is contributing the amount to the Arts Educational Schools, London. The institution provides an arts-based education for 11 to 18-year-olds. It has illustrious alumni that include a host of television and theater stars such as Julie Andrews, Catherine Zeta Jones and Martin Clunes. The funds will go toward refurbishing the auditorium, building costume storage facilities, soundproofing studios and editing rooms, as well as improving facilities for students with disabilities. Kudos, Baron Andrew Lloyd Webber, for your generosity. May all youngsters have the opportunity to discover and develop innate creative gifts.
Bolivian Water Program Benefits Most of the Country
In good governance news, a Bolivian water program will benefit 330 municipalities. Bolivian Minister of Environment and Water Her Excellency Mabel Monje announced that approximately US$70 million of a planned US$100 million has been allocated by the government to encourage water harvesting in rural locations. The goal of the endeavor is to improve the standard of living and to ensure food security for individuals in these areas. Our sincere appreciation, Your Excellency Minister of Environment and Water Mabel Monje and Bolivia, for your care of your precious citizens. May the fine people of your country be graced with peace and plentitude, on a balanced eco sphere.
Quebec sharpens the teeth of its animal cruelty law, boosts fines
In animal welfare news, a Canadian province works towards strengthening laws to protect our co-inhabitants. Members of the Quebec government have proposed Bill 51, which would increase fines for abuse of animals to as much as CAD$75,000. The new legislation would also give the government the right to shut down a kennel if it is found that the animal friends are not being properly treated. Ms. Joanne Tasse, of the Companion Animal Adoption Centres of Quebec, expressed her happiness with the proposed legislation, saying, “I think right now we're at a turning point in Quebec, and we have to be leaders now.” Our thankfulness, Quebec lawmakers, on your steps to safeguard our beautiful co-inhabitants. May all animal friends flourish in security and happiness, and continue to bless our world with love.
Dissection ban will save 19 million animals every year
FN… India to eliminate animal dissection in higher education. The University Grants Commission, a government agency that maintains educational standards across the nation, has announced the phasing out of all animal dissection for experimental purposes at undergraduate and post-graduate levels. In its place will be humane methods such as computerized, or virtual dissection, which has already been shown to be less costly and more effective in the teaching of anatomy. Experts have said that such a ban on the cruel and antiquated practice will save the lives of at least 19 million innocent insects and animals every academic year.
A big bravo and Heaven bless University Grants Commission of India, for your kind and righteous decision. May such noble initiatives inspire similarly compassionate actions in societies across the globe, fostering dignity and respect for all our fellow beings.
Thousands of birds make crash landing in US
SAVE OUR PLANET... Mass perishing of aquatic birds in Utah, USA. As the most recent in a series of incidents this past year where tens of thousands of birds and other animals such as fish suddenly and often mysteriously died, more than 3,500 of the duck-like aquatic birds known as eared grebes recently crash-landed onto a retail store parking lot and adjacent areas in southern Utah, USA. Although approximately 2,000 were rescued, some 1,500 of the birds lost their lives as they collided with the pavement. Teresa Griffin, wildlife program manager for the Utah Department of Wildlife Resource said that scientists thought that the weather may have created light conditions that caused the pavement to look like water, thus disorienting the birds as they were migrating south toward Mexico's coastal waters.
Our sincere thanks, Ms. Griffin, Utah Department of Wildlife Resource colleagues and volunteers for your efforts to save the lives of thousands of eared grebes amidst this distressing event. May these and all cherished feathered friends be graced with conditions that allow them to travel in safety and ease.
During a February 2011 videoconference in the US, Supreme Master Ching Hai responded to a question on an alternative explanation for such tragic events and whether they might be intended to convey a message to humanity.
Videoconference with Supreme Master Ching Hai
and Supreme Master Television staff
February 9, 2011 – Los Angeles, California, USA
Q (m): There has been mass dying of animals reported in the United States and other parts of the world (Supreme Master Ching Hai: Right.) during the past few months for the reason not completely explained, such as the two million dead fish in Maryland, USA; 4,000 to 5,000 birds falling from the sky in Arkansas, USA; hundreds of dead birds in Italy; and 40,000 crabs on the beaches of England. A Chinese animal telepathic communicator spoke to one of the birds in Arkansas, USA, who said that day the animal had sought permission from God to sacrifice themselves in that way and that they were doing it to awaken humans to the sad state of the environment. Master, is this true? And has it been impactful?
Supreme Master Ching Hai: Yes, it's true, and it’s so sad, so sad. But the impact is not even enough, humans are still asleep in their habitual ways of life. That is the sad thing. Even if they cannot explain why the birds die, the fish die, they’re still thinking of something else instead of spiritual way. Instead of asking themselves about their way of life, they will be blaming on something else. I'm so sorry for these animals. But even then, they die like this, it’s still better than those who are raised in factory farming and die every day slowly.
Supreme Master Ching Hai: Or being harassed or being tortured all their life. I cannot believe that I am living in this kind of world that humans are torturing, killing, harassing each other, and then torturing, killing, and harassing animals also. It seems beyond imagination that we, as humans, the children of God, can be so blind – so blind to reality, and so…suppressing our own compassionate nature that we could even degrade our self into doing such kind of thing and feeling okay about it. It's not okay at all. We are not civilized; not civilized enough.
Iraqi factions sign peace pact proposed by radical Shiite cleric
FN... Iraqi groups agree to proposal of peace. In a meeting held on Saturday, December 24, participants that included representatives of all Iraqi political parties as well as scholars and tribal leaders signed an accord proposed by leading cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to help foster the nation's stability following withdrawal of US troops. Known as the Iraqi National Code of Honor, the agreement calls for conflict to be replaced by shared respect among all faiths and ethnic groups. Speaking after the signing, Mr. Sadr's aide, Salah al-Obeidi stated, "The national code... is a guarantee to maintain peace in all Iraqi provinces... It is the best solution, to reject all kinds of violence and to preserve the Iraqi people."
Our respectful accolades, Mr. Sadr and all participants, for your endeavors toward national unity and trust. Wishing you and all the gracious people of Iraq lives of ever expanding stability, prosperity and peace.
Tornadoes, hail as storms lash Melbourne
FN… Severe storms lash Victoria state in Australia. As the effect of Tropical Cyclone Grant began to be felt across the northeast coast, with huge waves shutting down popular beaches on Christmas Day, December 25, thunderstorms packed with hail and mini-tornadoes swept the southeastern state of Victoria. The city of Melbourne was worst-hit, with torrential rains triggering flash flooding across the city and suburbs as State Emergency Service volunteers responded to over 2,000 calls for assistance after hailstones the size of cricket balls damaged skylights, windows, and roofs. Over 3,300 people were left without power, and most train services were also disrupted. A number of flights were grounded at Melbourne Airport, while international and domestic flights were diverted to Sydney due to strong winds and lightning. As crews worked to clean up after the storms, neighboring New South Wales braced for storms that were forecast to strike there.
Our appreciation, State Emergency Service volunteers, and all personnel, for your swift response and aid. May we strive to restore the balance of the ecosphere through our kinder ways as a vegan world.
Freak wave floods village in southern Thailand
FN… Giant waves sweep across coastal villages in southern Thailand. On Sunday, December 25, unusually tall waves arriving from the Gulf of Thailand inundated coastal areas of Chumphon and Surat Thani provinces, causing panic due to the rarity of such weather in December combined with the highest tides in 30 years. A number of villages were inundated, with residents evacuated to safer grounds as hundreds of homes and shops were destroyed or submerged by waves measuring up to five meters high. Dozens of tourists were said to be stranded on Phitak Island, with around 1,000 people affected. Thankfully, no injuries or casualties have been reported, and personnel were dispatched immediately with equipment to help with relief and repairs.
With thankfulness for the caring aid of the emergency crews, we are saddened to hear of such calamities in beautiful Thailand. May the affected residents and visitors alike quickly resume the regularity of their daily lives as we pray that humanity's endeavors to more kindly care for the Earth help ease such disturbances as these.
Iran sends major aid shipment to Somalia
Iran's Red Crescent Society sends an additional 540-ton shipment of humanitarian food aid to Somalia in continued efforts to assist drought-affected residents in the Horn of Africa country.
Hema Malini named PETA Person of the Year
International animal welfare organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) names India’s Bollywood actress Hema Malini as 2011 Person of the Year for her commitment to the humane vegetarian diet and her tireless advocacy for animals.
The Complete Idiot's Guide To Gluten-Free Vegan Cooking And Low-Sodium Cooking
A new book on vegan cooking, "The Complete Idiot's Guide Gluten-Free Vegan Cooking,” features 200 tasty recipes that also show how easy it is to prepare baked goods, vegan cheeses and meatless meats made of plant-based and gluten-free ingredients.
China's largest desert lake may vanish in 10 yrs
SAVE OUR PLANET... As a result of climate change and human activities such as dam building, China's largest desert lake, Hongjiannao, has shrunk by nearly 50% in the past 15 years, with experts saying as of December 23, 2011 that without intervention the lake could dry up within another decade.
AU Promotes Pan-African University
With the participation of Algeria, Nigeria, Cameroon, Kenya and South Africa, the African Union launches the Pan-African University, with each country serving as host for a selected post-graduate specialty in fields that include spatial sciences, energy, climate change, governability and humanities.
Habitat for Humanity supports families affected by disasters across Asia-Pacific
The British Red Cross donates £140,000 in emergency relief aid for people affected by the recent devastating storm in the Philippines, while US-based Habitat for Humanity is also providing hygiene and emergency shelter kits for up to 10,000 families.
Activists send winter socks to North Korea
South-Korea based aid group North Korea Peace launches helium-filled balloons carrying 800 pairs of socks, which can be exchanged for much-needed food, along with messages promoting reunification, to neighbors in North Korea.
Libya Celebrates 60 Years of Independence
Celebrating the 60th anniversary of their nation's autonomy for the first time in 42 years, Libyan dignitaries and members of the public commemorate the occasion with an official ceremony in the capital Tripoli.
Northern Ireland First Minister in peace pledge
During a Christmas message, Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson acknowledges the preciousness of national peace and stability as he reminds fellow citizens that simple acts of kindness such as checking on elderly neighbors living alone can help foster harmony among all people.