FEATURED PHOTOS AND STORIES

Friday:  August 15, 2014

When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open? 

(PHOTO: Workers set up camp at Santiago's Rio Mapocho/Mason Bryan, The Santiago Times)Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus

 

(PHOTO: Saudi men walk to the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, east of the capital Riyadh on June 16, 2013/Fayez Nureldine)The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia.  WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he  told reporters it was a "proactive move".  The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added.  The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79.  (Read more at Xinhua)

LINKS TO OTHER STORIES

                                

Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream.  Or is it just too fanciful?  By Francesco Sisci

Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar  - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan

The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates.  By Aidan Foster-Carter  

Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit.  By Zofeen Ebrahim

Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries.  By Robert M. Cutler

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Entries in Japan (14)

Wednesday
Apr112012

The South China Sea: China, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, & the Philippines all stake claim over oil-rich waters (REPORT) 

(MAP: The South China Sea/NASA)(HN, April 11, 2012) -- A cold-war `esque conflict is brewing in the area known as the South China Sea, though recently US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said there is no such scale of a dispute brewing.  It might be described then as an inter-Asia issue with China claiming the entire South China Sea for itself, with Taiwan and four ASEAN members - the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam - also making overlapping claims to parts of the territory.

THE PHILIPPINES

The Philippines and China are contesting sovereignty over a small group of rock formations known as Scarborough Shoal which the Philippines calls the Panatag Shoal but what China call's Huangyan Island. This weekend, Philippine Navy officials said eight Chinese fishing vessels had been found there, 124 nautical miles off the coast of Zambales province and the country’s largest warship, the US Hamilton-class cutter Gregorio del Pilar, was sent to investigate.

The fishermen claim they were seeking shelter from bad weather, and were prevented from entering the lagoon by a Philippine Naval gunboat. A boarding party found endangered marine species on the ships, and a standoff ensued after China sent two surveillance vessels to the area to prevent the arrest of its nationals, Vice Admiral Alexander P. Pama of the Philippine Navy told reporters at a briefing.

On Wednesday in Manila, the Philippines Foreign Secretary Albert Del Rosario met with the Chinese ambassador Ma Keqing over the matter and  both made a statement saying "We resolve to seek a diplomatic solution to the issue", though neither country is backing down from territorial claims to the Scarborough Shoal  region.

(PHOTO: A Chinese fishing boat boarded by Philippine Navy officers/DAF handout)The dispute is one of a myriad of conflicting claims over islands, reefs and shoals in the South China Sea pitting China against its Asian neighbors who, last year using patrol boats to disrupt hydrocarbon survey activities chasing away a ship working for Forum Energy off the Philippines and slicing cables of a vessel doing work for Vietnam. Some of the claims have drawn the United States to press China over sovereignty.

Both of the countries reject China's map of the South China Sea as a basis for joint development of oil and gas resources, and have pushed ahead with exploration work, leading to more confrontations as China expands the use of its marine surveillance vessels.

OIL? SHIPPING?

Also at play are the Spratly Islands, a group of more than 750 reefs, islets, atolls, cays and islands in the South China Sea. The archipelago is situated off the coasts of the Philippines and Malaysia, about one third of the way from there to Vietnam - amounting to less than four square kilometers of land area over more than 425,000 square kilometers of ocean.  Such small, remote islands have little economic value in themselves, but are important in establishing international boundaries.

The islands stand as rich fishing grounds, and initial surveys indicate the islands may contain significant reserves of oil and natural gas which a 2008 US Energy Information Agency report said could be as much as 213 billion barrels of oil.

About 45 of the islands are occupied by small numbers of military forces from Vietnam, China, Taiwan, the Philippines and Brunei.

Tension has risen in the past two years over worries China is becoming more assertive in its claims to the area as needs for oil and gas rise in the population booming Communist nation in and as more goods are needed in the second largest nation on earth. 

Straddling the Spratly archipelago are also the main shipping lanes between East Asia and Europe and the Middle East and the control of these lanes has not been lost on those claiming sovereignty over these waters.

(MAP: South China Sea claims by country/USC China Center) The stakes have risen further since the US last year began refocusing its military attention on Asia, strengthening ties with the Philippines and Australia.  The US has a mutual defense treaty with the Philippines and has boosted military relations with Vietnam in recent years.

VIETNAM

On Tuesday, Chinese state media said a Chinese cruise ship, the `Scent of Princess Coconut', had completed a trial voyage to the Paracel Islands - Hoang Sa in Vietnamese - a cluster of close to 40 islets, outcrops and reefs that both Vietnam and China claim as theirs since ancient times.

The Scent of Princess Coconut docked at a port in the Chinese southern island of Hainan on Monday after the trip. The proposed opening of the Paracel Islands to tourism by China could add to the long-standing tension, which has drawn the United States into pressing China over the issue.

The Japanese-built ship carried out a three-day voyage to the northern shoals of the Paracels, though China said there was no firm timetable for a launch of such regular cruises. Initial Chinese plans call for ships to visit Woody Island, called Yongxing Island by China, though tourists would not be allowed to leave their boat.

Vietnam's foreign ministry spokesman Luong Thanh Nghi said Monday that the trip was "illegal and seriously violates Vietnam's sovereignty".

(PHOTO: Scent of Princess Coconut Cruise Ship/Yexiang Gongzhu)China and South Vietnam once administered different parts of the Paracels, but after a brief conflict in 1974, Beijing took control of the entire group of islands - although this remains disputed by Hanoi.

Last month, China detained 21 crew sailing on two Vietnamese fishing boats near the Paracels, sparking an angry rebuke from Hanoi.

INDIA, RUSSIA

Complicating matters as well are recent claims by both India and Russia which have both, in the past few months announced their own plans to go ahead with oil exploration in the South China Sea, in partnership with Vietnam.  China has vocally asked both nations to step aside saying, "China enjoys indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea".

RESOLUTION?

Although not an ASEAN (Association of Southeast Nations) nation member, Chinese President Hu Jintao travelled to Phnom Penh ahead of the Asia bodies meeting in Cambodia last week to press his case over the South China Sea with Prime Minister Hun Sen - asking that ASEAN work to resolve the dispute among its members.  ASEAN, for its part has stated that it believes the issue should be discussed and solved among those members making claims to the area directly.

--- HUMNEWS

Tuesday
Mar202012

Iraq and the Limits of US Power (COMMENTARY) 

By Paul Mutter

Malaki and Obama 

 “Washington has lost a valuable opportunity to nurture and support a key counterweight to Iranian influence among Shiites in the Arab world,” lament Danielle Pletka and Gary Schmitt of the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute in an op-ed for the Washington Post. They subsequently call on the Obama administration to bulk up its already grossly overloaded staff at the gigantic U.S. embassy in Baghdad. But in these few words, the two writers fleshed out a more fundamental concern for hawkish pundits in the Middle East: the fear of a “Shia Crescent” of Iranian-backed regimes in Baghdad, Beirut, and Damascus linking the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf.

Indeed, with Iran now able to meddle in Iraq in ways it never could have with Saddam Hussein in power, the country will be more able to contest US-Israeli hegemony in the Middle East. The grim irony, notes Ted Galen Carpenter, is that by invading Iraq in 2003, “the United States has paid a terrible cost - some $850 billion and more than 4,400 dead American soldiers – to make Iran the most influential power in Iraq.” Few, if any, of the war’s architects and boosters will now concede this, even as they raise alarm over Iran’s influence in Iraq.

Looking East

But where today’s neoconservatives see an encroaching Iranian Islamist threat in the Middle East, an older guard has reached back to the not-so-distant Cold War past for parallels. Notably, many leading neoconservative lights hold out hope that Iraq can be turned into an Arabian version of postwar South Korea and Japan.

Prominent neoconservatives draw heavily on the memory of America’s seizure of Japanese hegemony in Asia after 1945. The United States worked steadfastly with postwar Japanese and South Korean governments to build the two countries up as buffers to Soviet and Chinese influence during the Cold War — efforts that were, by Washington’s standards at least, quite successful. Despite challenges from a resurgent China, the Pacific Ocean was (and still is) an American lake.

In a 2010 op-ed for the New York Times, leading Iraq war agitator Paul Wolfowitz invoked this history explicitly, treading breezily past US support for authoritarian South Korean regimes. “The United States stuck with South Korea even though the country was then ruled by a dictator and the prospects for its war-devastated economy looked dim,” he wrote. Wolfowitz noted that Iraq’s struggling democracy and central location were not unlike South Korea’s during the Cold War.

However unseemly, there is some truth to Wolfowitz’s recollection. It may be impossible to imagine a fifth column of South Korean agitators helping Pyongyang take over Seoul today, but during the Cold War this was a real concern for the United States. So Washington chose to prop up feudalistic landlords and former Japanese collaborators as Seoul’s ruling class, stiffening South Korea’s sinews against the appeal of the North Korean model with a glut of military and economic support. Today, Japan and South Korea remain firmly within the US fold.

Moreover, these alliances continue despite the brutal wars that spawned them. U.S.-led forces laid waste to the Korean peninsula with saturation bombing in the 1950s, but Washington could always count thereafter on “our men in Seoul.” Japan is an even more extreme case. After several years of firebombing and blockading the country, the United States annihilated two of the Japan’s cities with nuclear weapons. And yet Japan plays host to U.S. troops even today.

Those who fear that the United States “lost Iraq” because Barack Obama went through with the U.S. withdrawal schedule negotiated by President Bush are clearly thinking about longer-term issues of American hegemony (see Mitt Romney’s foreign policy white paper and list of advisors for good examples of this kind of thinking). It's simple logic, really: everything with Iraq keeps coming back to the dual-track policy of containment and rollback the United States has pursued against Iran. Iraq is a vital piece of this strategy; Juan Cole’s map of American bases around Iran is unimpeachable evidence of this.

American neoconservatives may hope that a U.S.-buttressed military-political establishment in Iraq could form a bulwark against a potential “Shia Crescent” led by Iran, just as South Korea and Japan helped stem the red tide spreading through East Asia during the Cold War. They may even have some reason to hope that Iraqis will overlook their resentment over the immensely destructive US war on the country.

Wishful Thinking

Just as in South Korea and Japan, there are Iraqis who see the United States as a partner — or at least as a cash cow that can be milked by exploiting US jitters about Iran. In contrast to most Iraqi politicians, who have been almost uniformly opposed to an ongoing US military presence in Iraq, there are Iraqi military officers who wanted to maintain ties with the US military because they doubted their own forces could keep the peace.

There are always people within a country's security establishment who can be made into agents of American influence. But in Iraq, the United States is confronting a much less homogeneous society than in South Korea or Japan, and it faces a much better equipped rival for hegemonic influence in Iran. As Washington’s influence in Baghdad recedes, Tehran’s hidden hands in Iraq are coming to the fore.

It’s not that Iran doesn’t have its own baggage to contend with in Iraq as it vies with the United States for influence—Iran wasn’t winning Iraqi hearts and minds, after all, when the two countries were busy destroying each other in the 1980s. But a key distinction for Iraqis between that war and the U.S. invasion was that the Iran-Iraq War was launched by their own Saddam Hussein, driving thousands of Iraqi Shia refugees into Iran by the end of the 1980s. By all appearances, America’s war on Iraq was purely voluntary and imposed on Iraqis from the outside. Moreover, Iran has from at least 1982 on been working to build up its own agents of influence in Iraq's security and religious establishments.

Most importantly, an Iraqi alignment with Iran is the result not only of two decades of Iranian intrigue, but also of two decades of US sanctions, war, and occupation. Especially since the US occupation, Iraqis have viewed Iranian machinations in Iraq—and even Iran’s quiet participation in Iraq’s horrific sectarian violence—as just another symptom of a plague brought by the US invasion. 

A Lack of Options

Suppose Obama came into office determined to overturn the withdrawal agreement and keep US troops in Iraq. What tools would he have to force Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to reverse himself in the face of an angry Iraqi public and threats by some Shia groups to take up their arms again if the U.S. military presence continued? What could Obama do to "reclaim the partnership with Maliki," as Danielle Pletka and Gary Schmitt ask?

The answer is surprisingly little, mainly because the US-Iraqi relationship was never a partnership to begin with. It was, from the start, an occupation. The US presence in Iraq – where it tried not just to police the country but at times even had Provincial Reconstruction Teams stand in for civil society – meant that Maliki had little agency of his own. Additionally, holdouts like the Sadrists, Sunni tribal militias, and the Badr Brigades had little reason to lay down their arms; it was fight or collaborate, and they chose to fight.

But ever since the United States enabled Maliki to build his own security forces, electoral bloc, and bureaucracy – and thus achieve an understanding with members of the “insurgency” – he has found other people he can depend on to bolster his rule. He doesn't need US forces to intimidate, capture, or kill people for him; his own people are quite capable of doing that.

Far from being run out of the country after detaining hundreds of former Ba’athist officials this winter, Maliki has apparently managed to use such heavy-handed actions to his advantage. As paper by the neoconservative Institute for the Study of War recently noted, “It is clear that Maliki has come out as the winner . . . He has made it more difficult for his Shia rivals to dissent while simultaneously confining his Sunni opponents in a position suitable for exerting pressure and exploiting divisions within their ranks.” For all of the rampant disunity and criminality of the Iraqi government, its leadership has been able to achieve ever-greater independence from its U.S. backers.  

Most importantly, Iraq has little reason to sully an important relationship with its Iranian neighbor just to please Washington. Moreover, it’s uneasy about having such a long border with a regime change target and has no wish to get involved with the nuclear question that so preoccupies Israel and the United States. “Iraqis," Adil Shamoo notes, "can tell the difference between mutually beneficial programs and those that create the impression that the U.S. is powerful and can do what it wants in Iraq."

Out of Cards

Even "our man in Iraq" Ahmed Chalabi – who swept back into the country by way of Langley, Virginia after a decade of agitating for U.S.-led regime change in exile – wanted the United States out of Iraq because he thought it would be political suicide to keep associating with the country that paid his organization $335,000 a month during the first year of the occupation.

If the United States could not secure gratitude from a man who spent over a decade working with the CIA to overthrow Saddam Hussein, then from whom in Iraq can it call in any favors? Short of sectarian violence reaching the level it did in 2005, gratitude is the only thing that would compel Iraqi officials to reverse course, let U.S. troops back in, and focus their foreign policy efforts on a dual-track policy of rollback and containment against Iran.

Unfortunately for neoconservatives, Iraq is no South Korea or Japan, and “gratitude” seems to be in short supply.

-- Paul Mutter is a fellow at Truthout.org, as well as a contributor to Foreign Policy in Focus, Mondoweiss, The Arabist, and Salon. He is currently on leave from NYU’s graduate program in journalism and international affairs.  This work by Institute for Policy Studies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

Saturday
Mar102012

One Year Anniversary of Japan Tsunami Commemorated With 'Healing Anthem' (REPORT)

(PHOTO: DemocraticUnderground.COM) 

(HN, March 10, 2012)  From Tokyo - On the one-year anniversary of the tsunami and earthquake in northern Japan, noted Japanese soprano Tomoko Shibata will perform a Japanese translation of the American healing anthem “Towers of Light” at her memorial concert at the prestigious Yamaha Hall in Tokyo. The event on Sunday evening will commemorate the victims of last year’s Japanese tsunami and earthquake. 

Towers of Light” was composed by noted New York clinical psychologist and well-known radio and TV personality, Dr. Judy Kuriansky and international composer Russell Daisey.  Inspired by the two beams of light which shine on each 9/11 anniversary at the Ground Zero site where the Twin Towers fell, the song promotes healing and commemorates the heroes of that day. 

Through the unique friendship and shared vision of healing between the American and Japanese writers and performer, “Towers of Light” will now be featured by Tomoko Shibata in her ‘Songs of Hope’ concert.

The New York composing team of Kuriansky and Daisey are in Tokyo for the premiere of their song in Japanese at the concert and will make introductory remarks at the event.

Shibata produces and performs ‘Songs for Hope’ concerts at the earthquake zone in Japan and also around the world.

Says Shibata, “I passionately believe that music gives hope and lifts spirits of people in trauma.” 

(PHOTO: Dr. Judy Kuriansky, Russell Daisey performing in Tokyo/DRJUDYK)Fear of another quake is ever-present in Japan, she explains, and people around the world also experience trauma and need comfort. 

“My heart expands and people feel like crying when I sing the ‘Towers of Light’ song,” Shibata says. “So I wanted to make a Japanese version so the Japanese people can appreciate the warm feeling and healing.” 

Shibata first sang the “Towers of Light” anthem with Dr. Judy and Russell in September 2010 for the highly acclaimed series of Hiroshima Hibaku (Survivor) Piano concerts in New York City. Subsequently, she sang it for the Tenth Anniversary of 9/11 at the 'Annual 9/11 Japanese Floating Lantern Ceremony’ on the East River, NYC.

Over the past few years, Dr. Judy, Russell and Tomoko have performed the song together and through their friendship and creative collaborations the song has been translated into Japanese by Tomoko as “Souls Become Stars.”  Given their shared vision, this endeavor for peace has expanded and transcended the song’s initial inspiration, to encompass a connection between the two monumental tragedies of 9/11 and 3/11, as well as fostering healing for survivors of both catastrophes. 

Kuriansky and Daisey are co-founders of the Stand Up for Peace Project (SUFPP), an initiative that promotes peace, understanding and healing worldwide. They have performed the healing ballad “Towers of Light” internationally at peace festivals, United Nations conferences, Global Harmony concerts, peace seminars, and music and peace tours throughout Japan, Mexico and Haiti, as well as at the First Hiroshima International Peace Summit in Hiroshima, Japan, for Nobel Peace Laureates, the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Betty Williams.

“Powerful, very powerful,” said the Dalai Lama when he first heard the song.

“As an international psychologist and an NGO representative at the United Nations, it is powerful to me that our song to help heal from 9/11 is now in Japanese and helping people heal from 3/11.  The intensity of that cross-cultural connection brings me to tears," says Kuriansky.

The humanitarian, who represents psychological organizations at the United Nations, has provided psychological first aide after the 9/11 terrorist attacks at Ground Zero and at the Family Assistance Center, as well as after other disasters including the Asian tsunami and earthquakes in Haiti and China.  She teaches psychology at Columbia University Teachers College and runs peace workshops world-wide. 

SUFPP co-founder Daisey is an internationally acclaimed pianist/singer/songwriter who has played command performances for American presidents and world dignitaries, including Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, and the Chiniya Lama of Kathmandu, Nepal.

On Monday, the day after the concert and 3/11 anniversary, Kuriansky, Daisey and Shibata will travel to the Miyagi area, to do a workshop and music concert for several schools.  They will be joined by famous Japanese pop star Shinji Harada. All have been working on recovery and global harmony projects separately and together for years in varying parts of the world.

--- Dr. Judy Kuriansky is a member of HUM's Board of Advisors

Tuesday
Feb142012

UNEP Report Says World Soil Management is Key to Food, Water, Climate Future

(PHOTO: Soil, side by side/Treehugger) (HN, 2/14/2012) - According to the United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) Year Book 2012 released Monday on the eve of the 12th Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum in Nairobi, Kenya, 24% of the global land area has already suffered declines in health and productivity over the past quarter century as a result of unsustainable industrial land-use and dramatic improvements in the way the world manages its precious soils will be key to food, water and climate security in the 21st century.

WHY? Soils contain huge quantities of carbon in the form of organic matter that in turn binds the nutrients needed for plant growth and allows rainfall to penetrate into underground aquifers.

Since the 19th century, an estimated 60% of the carbon stored in soils and vegetation has been lost as a result of land use changes, such as, clearing land for agriculture and cities and by some estimates, the top one metre of the world's soils store around 2,200 Gigatonnes (or, a billion tonnes) of carbon; three times the current level held in the atmosphere.

The report states some kinds of agriculture processes have triggered soil erosion rates at 100 times greater than the rates at which nature can form soil and by 2030, without changes in the way land is managed, over 20% of habitats such as forests, peatlands and grasslands in developing countries alone could be converted to cropland which also aggravate losses of vital ecosystem services and biodiversity.

There could also be profound implications for climate change as amounts of this carbon could be released to the atmosphere, aggravating global warming linked to the burning of fossil fuels and points to the world's peatlands as an area of special concern. WHY?  The draining of super carbon-rich peatlands is currently producing more than 2 Gigatonnes of CO2 emissions annually; equal to around 6% of man-made greenhouse gas emissions and is happening at a rate 20 times greater than the rate at which the peat, and thus the carbon, is accumulated.

The Year Book, launched 4 months in advance of the Rio+20 Summit, highlights another issue of emerging global concern - the challenges of decommissioning the growing numbers of end-of-life nuclear power reactors.

There are plans to close up to 80 civilian nuclear power reactors in the next 10 years, as the first generations of reactors reach the end of their `design lives’. So far in world history, 138 civilian nuclear power reactors have been shut down in 19 countries, including 28 in the United States, 27 in the United Kingdom, 27 in Germany, 12 in France, 9 in Japan and 5 in the Russian Federation.

Decommissioning has only been completed for 17 of them, so far but events such as the tragedy of the tsunami that struck Fukushima and its nearby nuclear power plant in Japan in 2011 has caused heightened concern.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of developing countries have built or are considering building nuclear power plants, including the United States which just announced at least 2 new reactors to be built on February 4.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director said: "The Year Book spotlights the challenges, but also the choices, nations need to consider to deliver a sustainable 21st century and urgently improve management of world's soils and the decommissioning of nuclear power reactors".

"Superficially they may seem separate and unconnected issues, but both go to the heart of several fundamental questions: how the world will feed and fuel itself while combating climate change and handling hazardous wastes," he added.  "The thin skin of soil on the Earth's surface is often one of those forgotten ecosystems but it is among the most important to the future survival of humanity. Improved, sustainable management such as no-till policies can assist in productive agriculture without draining peatlands," said Mr. Steiner.

Across the globe, there are examples of how multiple benefits can be delivered through effective management of soil carbon. In Kenya, the World Bank's BioCarbon Fund is providing the Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project with US $350,000 to pay smallholder farmers to improve their agricultural practices, to increase both food security and soil carbon sequestration.

From Dakar to Djibouti, the `Great Green Wall’ initiative is a massive forestation project creating a 15 km wide strip of trees and other vegetation along a 7000 km transect to improve carbon sequestration, stabilize soils and conserve soil moisture amongst others.

In China, similar approaches are being monitored to assess whether land degradation in arid areas can be reversed.  In Brazil, changes in crop production and rotation practices have been found to have significant effects on soil carbon stocks and conversion to no-till techniques in soybean, maize and related crop systems resulted in a decrease of soil carbon degradation. And in Argentina, significant increases in soil carbon stocks have also been achieved, where farmers changed to no-till systems, along with enhanced benefits in water retention, infiltration and erosion prevention.  The UNEP Year Book 2012 is available at: http://www.unep.org

--- HUMNEWS

Monday
Jan302012

`Resilient People, Resilient Planet': New UN Report says World is running out of time, resources. 

(PHOTO: Global Greenhouse Warming.com)(HN/January 30, 2012) - A high level Global Sustainability panel organized by the UN released its report on resilient sustainability for both people and the planet today in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  The report release by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon comes on the sidelines of the 18th ordinary African Union Summit which opened here this weekend.

The report says a “Future Worth Choosing” must be based on true costs to people and the environment and that the world is running out of time to create real solutions to ensure there is enough food, water and energy to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population expected to reach 9 billion by 2040 from 7 billion now, and the number of middle-class consumers which will increase by 3 billion over the next 20 years.  As a result, demand for resources will rise exponentially.

Even by 2030, the world will need at least 50% more food, 45 % more energy and 30 % more water, according to U.N. estimates, at a time when a changing environment is creating new limits to supply. The report warns that if the world fails to tackle these problems, it risks sending up to 3 billion people into poverty.

"The current global development model is unsustainable. To achieve sustainability, a transformation of the global economy is required," the report said.

There are 20 million more undernourished people now than in 2000; 5.2 million hectares of forest are lost per year - an area the size of Costa Rica; 85 percent of all fish stocks are over-exploited or depleted; and carbon dioxide emissions have risen 38 percent between 1990 and 2009, which heightens the risk of sea level rise and more extreme weather.

Among the panel's goals for governments is to agree on a set of sustainable development goals which would complement the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) by 2015 and create a framework for action.

(PHOTO: File) The 22 member panel, established by the Secretary-General in August 2010 to formulate a new blueprint for sustainable development and low-carbon prosperity, was co-chaired by Finnish President Tarja Halonen and South African President Jacob Zuma.  The final report contains 56 recommendations to put sustainable development into practice and to mainstream it into economic policy as quickly as possible.  “Resilient People, Resilient Planet” calls for the integration of social and environmental costs in how the world prices and measures economic activities. It also calls for a set of sustainable development indicators that go beyond the traditional approach of Gross Domestic Product and recommends that Governments develop and apply a set of Sustainable Development Goals that can mobilize global action and help monitor progress.

The Secretary-General, in receiving the Panel’s report, stated that sustainable development is a top priority for his second term of office. “We need to chart a new, more sustainable course for the future, one that strengthens equality and economic growth while protecting our planet,” said the Secretary-General.  The report of provides a timely contribution to preparations for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brazil in June 2012.

Addressing the Secretary-General via video, co-chair President Halonen stressed the importance of placing people at the center of achieving sustainable development. “Eradication of poverty and improving equity must remain priorities for the world community,” noted President Halonen. “The Panel has concluded that empowering women and ensuring a greater role for them in the economy is critical for sustainable development.”

(GRAPH: EOLSS.COM)Among the panel’s other recommendations they said that governments should work with partners to create an "evergreen revolution," which would at least double productivity while reducing resource use and avoiding further biodiversity losses, the report said.  Water and marine ecosystems should be managed more efficiently and there should be universal access to affordable sustainable energy by 2030.  Carbon and natural resource pricing should be established through taxation, regulation or emissions trading schemes by 2020 and fossil fuel subsidies should also be phased out by that time. National fiscal and credit systems should be reformed to provide long-term incentives for sustainable practices as well as disincentives for unsustainable ones. Sovereign wealth and public pension funds, as well as development banks and export credit agencies should apply sustainable development criteria to their investment decisions, and governments or stock market watchdogs should revise regulations to encourage their use.  Science should be behind environmental progress and the UN should consider naming a chief scientific adviser or board to advise the organization, and calls on the Secretary-General to lead efforts to produce a regular Global Sustainable Development Outlook report that integrates knowledge across sectors and institutions

The 22 members of the High-level Panel on Global Sustainability included current and former heads of states, ministers, and representatives of the private sector and civil society.  In addition to the Co-chairs, the Panel included Sheikh Abdallah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates; Hajiya Amina Az-Zubai, Former Senior Special Assistant and Adviser to the President of Nigeria on the Millennium Development Goals; Ali Babacan, Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey; James Laurence Balsillie, former Co-Chief Executive Officer of Research in Motion; Alexander Bedritsky, Adviser to the President of the Russian Federation, Special Envoy for Climate; Gro Harlem Brundtland, Former Prime Minister of Norway; Micheline Calmy-Rey, Former President and former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Switzerland; Julia Carabias Lillo, Former Secretary of the Environment of Mexico; Gunilla Carlsson, Minister for International Development Cooperation of Sweden; Luisa Dias Diogo, Member of Parliament and former Prime Minister of Mozambique; Han Seung-soo, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Global Green Growth Institute and former Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea; Yukio Hatoyama, former Prime Minister of Japan; Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action; Cristina Narbona Ruiz, former Minister of the Environment of Spain, Jairam Ramesh, Minister of Rural Development of India, Susan E. Rice, United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations; Kevin Rudd, Minister for Foreign Affairs and former Prime Minister of Australia; Freundel Stuart, Prime Minister of Barbados; Izabella Mônica Vieira Teixeira, Minister of the Environment of Brazil, and Zheng Guoguang; Administrator of the China Meteorological Administration. Mr. Janos Pasztor was an ex-officio member as Executive Secretary of the High-level Panel on Global Sustainability.

The full report is available at www.un.org/gsp.

---HUMNEWS

Friday
Aug192011

WORLD HUMANITARIAN DAY 2011 – `People Helping People’ 

-- Since 2009 the world’s community of nations has celebrated World Humanitarian Day on August 19, as a day dedicated to recognizing humanitarian personnel and those who have lost their lives working in service for humanitarian causes.

This year, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is focusing its attention on the devastating famine crisis in the Horn of Africa; but is also asking the global public for their ideas on how to change the world.  

 

The day is celebrated in honor of the tireless efforts of former UN diplomat Sergio Vieira de Mello, who died August 19, 2003 along with 21 other colleagues in a bombing of the UN compound in Baghdad, Iraq.  A national of Brazil, Sérgio Vieira de Mello died at age 55 after dedicating 34 years to the United Nations, international cause issues and bringing peace and comfort to the world’s citizens.  He served fearlessly in some of the most challenging humanitarian situations, and died at age 55 leaving a legacy of peaceful co-existence and awareness of the need for people to help people.

The Sérgio Vieira de Mello Foundation works to remind the world every day that the sacrifice and tragic loss of Vieira de Mello, and all humanitarian personnel who have made the ultimate effort to relieve the suffering of victims of war and inequity, have not been in vain.

Since 2006 the Vieira de Mello family and a group of close friends have dedicated their lives to continue his unfinished mission by supporting initiatives to promote dialogue for peaceful reconciliation of communities divided by conflict through an annual Sergio Vieira Mello Award, an Annual Sergio Vieira Mello Memorial Lecture, a Sergio Vieira de Mello Fellowship and advocating for the security and independence of humanitarians worldwide.

People helping people, Sergio Vieira de Mello would be proud.

On this day, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon offers this message:

“There is never a year without humanitarian crises.  And wherever there are people in need, there are people who help them – men and women coming together to ease suffering and bring hope.  From Japan to Sudan, from Pakistan to the Horn of Africa, aid workers help people who have lost their homes, loved ones and sources of income.  These humanitarians often brave great danger, far from home.  They work long hours, in the most difficult conditions.  Their efforts save lives in conflict and natural disaster.  They also draw the world closer together by reminding us that we are one family, sharing the same dreams for a peaceful planet, where all people can live in safety, and with dignity.

On World Humanitarian Day, we honour these aid workers and thank them for their dedication.  And we pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice – in Afghanistan, Haiti and beyond.  Too many have died, or suffered their own loss, in the course of duty.  We pledge to do all we can to ensure the world’s humanitarians are kept safe to do their essential work.   This is also a day to examine our own lives and consider what more we can do to help -- to reach out to people enduring conflict, disaster and hardship.  Let those we honour today inspire us to start our own journey to make the world a better place and bring our human family more closely together.”

--HUMNEWS staff

Thursday
May192011

Emerging Economies Jockeying to Fill Top IMF Job (NEWS BRIEF)

(HN, May 19, 2011) - With the resignation yesterday of the disgraced chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Dominique Strauss-Kahn, smaller member nations are lobbing to get their candidates short-listed for leader of the Washington-based multilateral agency.

Turkey is leading the pack of emerging economies, putting forth former finance minister Kamal Davis. He is a former World Bank employee and is widely credited with rescuing the Turkish economy from the devastating financial crisis of 2001.

In a post-World War II pact, leading powers decided that the IMF Managing Director post would normally be held by a European and the World Bank by an American. This is why the charismatic, high-profile French finance minister Christine Lagarde is most frequently mentioned as a front-runner for the 187-member body.

However powerful member nations such as Brazil, Russia, India and China (the so-called BRIC economies) and Japan are signalling that the selection process for the new IMF chief should be based on merit and conducting with transparency. Moreover, the IMF is said to be working to improve its governance by giving a greater voice to fast-growing developing economies such as Brazil and Turkey.

Brazil’s former Foreign Affairs minister Celso Amorim said that the next IMF Managing Director must come from an emerging economy, according to the MercoPress South Atlantic News Agency.

“I don’t think the IMF or the World Bank can continue to be monopolies of United States and Europe”, said Amorim. “If the next IMF Managing Director were to be chosen from an emerging country it would be much better since it would show the organization is more representative and sensitive to world changes, and that is very important."

The sentiment was echoed by Brazil's current finance minister, Guido Mantega.

Japan's finance minister Yoshihiko Noda urged IMF members Thursday to pick a new leader in a way that's "open, transparent and based on abilities."

He added: "I am expecting an appropriate person will be selected through such a process."

For the BRIC countries to marshal enough support to achieve a crucial 15 percent blocking minority on the IMF board, significant diplomatic effort would need to be expended, analysts say.

- HUMNews Staff 

Thursday
Apr072011

7.1 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Japan - Tsunami warning for Miyagi (Breaking News Brief) 

(Source: USGS) (HN, April 7, 2011) -- A 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the North East coast of Japan in Miyagi prefecture on Thursday, shortly after 11:30  p.m. local time, triggering a tsunami warning for one prefecture, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

This is the same area where the now infamous 9.0 earthquake struck on March 11, 2011 killing more than 16,000 and damaging homes, shattering lives and where the continuing troubled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant run by TEPCO sits. 

Public broadcaster NHK reported a tsunami warning for Miyagi prefecture, saying people in that area should evacuate away from the shore to a safe place. NHK also reported a tsunami advisory for Iwate prefecture, saying a tsunami is expected to arrive in coastal regions there as well.

A one meter wave has been confirmed ashore in the region; and as of 12:30pm the Japanese authorities have cancelled the tsunami warning.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said based on all available data, "a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami is not expected and there is not a tsunami threat to Hawaii."

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was centered 41 miles (66 kilomemeters) from Sendai -- one of the areas worst hit by last month's 9.0-magnitude quake -- and 73 miles (118 kilometers) from Fukushima, where a crisis has been under way at the nuclear plant since last month's tsunami.

Workers at the Fukushima nuclear plant have been evacuated; and the power supply has been cut to 2 of 3 lines at the Ongawa nuke plant in Miyagi prefecture because of the quake.

The quake was centered 207 miles (333 kilometers) from Tokyo where teh quake was felt as buildings shook, and it was 15.9 miles (25.6 kilometers) deep according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

---HUMNEWS

Saturday
Mar262011

Twitters from Japan: Social Media Gives Insight into the Thoughts of the Japanese People Following the Earthquake and Tsunami (Perspective)

(HN, March 26, 2011) -- The Japanese people have been very open on Twitter sharing their experiences following the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan 15 days ago leaving over 20,000 dead or missing. 

Below are snippets taken from Twitter of what has moved and touched the Japanese people and international community during these trying times. 

*please note: these are rough English translations the original Japanese text and Twitter source have been kept with each story. 

揺れている最中でも・・・ 
http://twitter.com/gj_neko26/statuses/46394706481004544  
聞いた話でびっくりしたのが、とっさに「入口の確保」と揺れてるにも関わらず、あの状況で歩いて入口を開けた人が居たのが凄いと思った。正直、シャンデリアも証明も何時落ちるか分からないのに、凄く勇敢な人が居た事に感動した。 
During the earthquake 
We’ve all been trained to immediately open the doors and establish an escape route when there is an earthquake.  In the middle of the quake while the building was shaking crazily and things falling everywhere, a man made his way to the entrance and held it open.  Honestly, the chandelier could have crashed down any minute … that was a brave man! 

渋滞した交差点での出来事 
http://twitter.com/micakom/status/46264887281848320  
一回の青信号で1台しか前に進めないなんてザラだったけど、誰もが譲り合い穏やかに運転している姿に感動した。複雑な交差点で交通が5分以上完全マヒするシーンもあったけど、10時間の間お礼以外のクラクションの音を耳にしなかった。恐怖と同時に心温まる時間で、日本がますます好きになった。 
At a congested downtown intersection … 
Cars were moving at the rate of maybe one every green light, but everyone was letting each other go first with a warm look and a smile.  At a complicated intersection, the traffic was at a complete standstill for 5 minutes, but I listened for 10 minutes and didn’t hear a single beep or honk except for an occasional one thanking someone for giving way.  It was a terrifying day, but scenes like this warmed me and made me love my country even more. 

日本人の良さを再認識 
http://twitter.com/VietL/status/46376383592677376  
この地震が、きっかけになって、失いかけていた日本人本来の良さが戒間見れた気がする。犯罪はする様子はなく、助け合い、律儀、紳士的。普段日本人は冷たい人が多い。って個人的に感じてるんだけど、多くの人が今回で「絆」を取り戻しつつあるように見えて、それがなんか感動して、泣けてくる。 
Reminded of the goodness of the Japanese people 
This earthquake has reminded me of that Japanese goodness that had recently become harder and harder to see.  Today I see no crime or looting: I am reminded once again of the good Japanese spirit of helping one another, of propriety, and of gentleness.  I had recently begun to regard my modern countrymen as cold people … but this earthquake has revived and given back to all of us the spirit of “kizuna” (bond, trust, sharing, the human connection).  I am very touched.  I am brought to tears. 

段ボールに感動 
http://twitter.com/aquarius_rabbit/status/46213254376210432  
ホームで待ちくたびれていたら、ホームレスの人達が寒いから敷けって段ボールをくれた。いつも私達は横目で流してるのに。あたたかいです。 
Card board boxes, Thank you! 
It was cold and I was getting very weary waiting forever for the train to come.  Some homeless people saw me, gave me some of their own cardboard boxes and saying “you’ll be warmer if you sit on these!”  I have always walked by homeless people pretending I didn’t see them, and yet here they were offering me warmth.  Such warm people. 

「みんな」 
http://twitter.com/n_yum/statuses/46388003706380288  
タクシー運ちゃんと電車駅員さんとおばさんと話したけど、みんな遅くまで帰れなかったりしてすごく疲れているのに、苛立つ事なく、言葉遣いもふるまいも丁寧で、逆に気遣われてしまった。「みんな大変だから」という"みんな"って意識があることに感動するし、私も受け継いで大事にしたい文化。 
“All of us” 
I spoke with an old taxi driver and some elderly staff at the train stations.  All of them had been working non-stop and had not been able to go home for a long time.  They were visibly very tired, but never once did they show any sign of impatience; they were gentle and very caring.  They told me “… because all of us are in this together.”  I was touched at what the notion of “all of us” meant to these elderly people.  It is a value I will treasure and carry on to my generation.   

絵師さん 
http://twitter.com/izumi823/statuses/46387948681297920  
絵師さんたちがこの地震でみんなに元気付けようと必死に美しい絵や励ましのイラストを描いていることに感動。みんな自分にできることをしたいと思っているんだね。 
Touch of art 
I saw artists and painters trying to keep things upbeat by painting or drawing beautiful or encouraging drawings for the evacuees around them.  I was touched at how everyone was doing their very best to help. 

バイクでよければ 
http://twitter.com/hikaru_star/statuses/46332900928532480  
僕は感動しました。バイトの先輩が1人でも救うために寒い中紙に「バイクでよければ送ります」と書き駅前で掲げ鳶職のお兄ちゃんを所沢まで送ったそうです。世の中まだ捨てたもんじゃないなって思いました。本当に尊敬です!!自分もなんか人の役に立ちたいと生まれて初めて思いました。 
I just have a bike 
I’m so touched!  My colleague at my part time job, wanting to help even just one extra person, wrote a sign saying “I just have a bike, but if you don’t mind hop on!”, rode out on his motorbike, picked up a stranded construction worker and took him all the way to Tokorozawa!  Respect!  I have never felt so strongly that I want to do something helpful for others.  

パン屋 
http://twitter.com/ayakishimoto/statuses/46403599743451136  
昨日の夜中、大学から徒歩で帰宅する道すがら、とっくに閉店したパン屋のおばちゃんが無料でパン配給していた。こんな喧噪のなかでも自分にできること見つけて実践している人に感動。心温まった。東京も捨てたもんじゃないな。 
The bakery lady 
There was a small bread shop on the street I take to go to school.  It has long been out of business.  But last night, I saw the old lady of the shop giving people her handmade bread for free.  It was a heart-warming sight.  She, like everyone else, was doing what she could to help people in a time of need.  Tokyo isn’t that bad afterall! 

父親の行動 
http://twitter.com/s_hayatsuki/status/46386255767937024  
1階に下りて中部電力から関東に送電が始まってる話をしたら、普段はTVも暖房も明かりもつけっぱなしの父親が何も言わずに率先してコンセントを抜きに行った。少し感動した。 
A little story about Papa 
We live in an area that was not directly hit.  When my father came downstairs and heard the news saying that our area had begun allocating electricity to the hard-hit areas, he quietly led by example, turning off the power around the house and pulling the plugs out of their sockets.  I was touched.  He usually NEVER turns off the lights or the AC or the TV or anything!  
    
日本ってすごい 
http://twitter.com/tksksks/statuses/46403815397801984  
日本って凄い。官僚も民間も、皆で助けようとしてる。トラックの運転手も有志で物資運んでるらしいし、東北の交通整備をヤクザさんがやってるという話も聞いた。最近、日本に対して誇りを持てないことが続いていたけれど、そんなことない。日本は凄い国だ。素直に感動してる。日本国の皆さん頑張ろう! 
Japan is a wonderful nation!  
Both the government and the people, everyone is helping one another today.  There are truck drivers helping evacuees move.  I even heard that the “yakuza” (gangsters, organized crime groups) are helping to direct traffic in the Tohoku region!  There have been many recent developments that have made me lose my sense of pride in my country, but not anymore.  Japan is an amazing place!  I’m just simply touched.  Go Japan! 

スーパーでの出来事 
http://twitter.com/endless_6/status/46395420523503616  
スーパーで無事買物出来ましたヽ(´o`;でもお客さんのほとんどが他の人の事を考えて必要最低限しか買わない感じだったのが感動しました(涙) 
At the supermarket 
I just came back safely from the supermarket!  Man, I was so touched at how everyone there was mindful of others, buying only as much as they needed and leaving the rest for the people behind them. 

声をかけること 
http://twitter.com/RUMI88LoL/statuses/46342599149240320  
昨日、裏の家の高1になるお兄ちゃんに感動した。家に1人で居たらしく、地震後すぐ自転車で飛び出し近所をひと回り。【大丈夫ですか―――!?】と道路に逃げてきた人達にひたすら声掛けてた。あの時間には老人や母子しか居なかったから、声掛けてくれただけでもホッとしたよ。ありがとう。 
A strong voice 
Yesterday, I was impressed and touched by the actions of my neighbor’s 13-year-old-boy.  He was home alone when the earthquake hit.  But instead of hiding, as soon as the earthquake quieted down, he jumped on his bicycle and road around the block repeatedly shouting at the top of his voice, “Is everyone alright?  Is everyone okay?”  At the time, there were only women and children and the elderly in the homes.  I cannot describe how comforting it was just to hear a strong voice asking if I was okay.  Thank you! 

朝礼 
http://twitter.com/kyoheimai/status/46374747755388928  
今朝の朝礼で「何があっても決して不安な顔は見せずに売り場に立つ以上はおもてなしをする気持ちを忘れずにお客様を安心させてあげてください」ちょっと感動した。がんばるか。開店です! 
Morning Ceremony 
At the shopping center I work at, every morning we have a ritual (common in Japan) where we stand and recite, “No matter what the situation, I will never show anxiety before my customer; in all customer-facing situations I will treat my customers with respect and do everything I can to make them feel comfortable and at ease”.  Today, these words were all actually kind of touching.  Well, so the day begins!  Here we go people, open shop! 
  
日本の強さ 
http://twitter.com/dita_69/status/46309373458382849  
サントリーの自販機無料化softbankWi-Fiスポット解放、色んな人達が全力で頑張っててそれに海外が感動・協力してる。海外からの援助受け入れに躊躇したり自衛隊派遣を遅らせたりしてた阪神淡路大震災の頃より日本は確実に強い国になってるんだ。みんな頑張ろう。 
A strong Japan 
Suntory Beverages has set up free vending machines.  Softbank Telephone services is offering free Wifi spots.  Everyone in Japan is putting everything they can into helping one another.  Japan is also now receiving aid from abroad.  Compared to the Kobe earthquake, when Japan took too long to contemplate accepting foreign aid or dispatching the self-defense force to join the rescue effort, Japan has definitely grown into a far stronger nation.  Be strong, everyone!  

助け合い 
http://twitter.com/sorry_no_user/statuses/46332985133375488  
警備員の友人何人かが町田〜相模大野で夜間警備のボランティアをしていたので手伝ってきた。年齢問わずいろんな知らない人同士が助け合っていて心強かった。ちょっと感動してトイレの隅で泣いた。 
The beauty of helping one another 
I went out last night to help some friends who were volunteering as security personnel between Machida City and Sagami Ohno City.  I saw total strangers, both young and old, helping each other along everywhere I turned and was heartened with an overwhelming feeling of encouragement.  I was so touched I hid behind the toilets and cried.  
  
メディアの動きについて 
http://twitter.com/V10CENTAURO/statuses/46388641001508864  
ツイッターやUSTでの状況共有と、それに連動するマスコミの動きは、阪神淡路大震災の時とは比べ物にならない質の高さを感じる。もちろん過去の辛い経験から得た教訓を、みんな活かそうとしている感動。 
Information network this time around 
The information sharing efforts on Twitter or USTREAM, together with the quality of coverage and crucial updates provided by the mass media this time around is incomparable to what we got during the Kobe earthquake.  I am deeply impressed by Japan’s successful efforts and ability to put to practice lessons learnt from past tragedies.  

国連からのメッセージ 
http://twitter.com/akitosk/status/46302222346223616  
国連からのコメント「日本は今まで世界中に援助をしてきた援助大国だ。今回は国連が全力で日本を援助する。」に感動した。良い事をしたら戻ってくるのです。これがいい例なのです 
Message from the UN 
Secretary General Ban Ki Moon: “Japan is one of (the UN’s) most generous and strongest benefactors, coming to the assistance of those in need the world over.  In that spirit, the United Nations stands by the people of Japan and we will do anything and everything we can at this very difficult time.”  I was moved at his words.  What better example that good things happen to those who do good. 
  
外国人から見た日本人 
http://twitter.com/kiritansu/status/46335057689980928  
外国人から見た地震災害の反応。物が散乱しているスーパーで、落ちているものを律儀に拾い、そして列に黙って並んでお金を払って買い物をする。運転再開した電車で混んでるのに妊婦に席を譲るお年寄り。この光景を見て外国人は絶句したようだ。本当だろう、この話。すごいよ日本。 
What foreigners are saying about Japanese people 
At a supermarket where everything was scattered everywhere over the floors, shoppers were helping pick them up and putting them back neatly on the shelves before quietly moving into line to wait to pay for them.  On the totally jam-packed first train after the quake, an elderly man gave up his seat for a pregnant woman.  Foreigners have told me they are amazed witnessing sights like these.  I do believe they actually saw what they said they saw.  Japan is truly amazing.  

ドイツ人の友達 
http://twitter.com/sikkoku_otsuyu/status/46392832893796352  
ドイツ人の友達が地震が起きた時に渋谷に居て、パニックになっていた所を日本人に助けてもらったらしく、その時の毅然とした日本人の態度や足並み乱さずに店の外に出てやるべきことを淡々とこなす姿にひどく感動し、まるでアーミーのようだったと言っていた。 
From a German friend 
A German friend of mine was in Shibuya (downtown Tokyo shopping district) when the earthquake hit.  He was panicking when a Japanese passerby saved him, taking him into a building.  My friend was blown away at how calm and disciplined this Japanese man was.  He went out of the building with firm, unfaltering steps, did everything he was trained to do and came back.  My German friend was deeply impressed by the Japanese people’s actions during the earthquake, saying they looked like a trained army.  

* twitterすごい 
http://twitter.com/bobiko009/statuses/46403721046933504  
Twitterの方々の情報とかが一致団結しててすごくたすかります。みなさま親切です!!こういうとき、なんか、感動します。最近は近所とつきあいなかったり冷たい世の中だとか思ってたけどそんなことなかったね。 
Twitter is amazing! 
The information shared to us all by the twitter community has been amazingly consistent with each other and has been so helpful.  Thank you Twitterers!  I’m very moved. People recently talk about social networks replacing traditional social life and making people cold and unsociable in real life.  But … I guess that’s not true at all.  

-stories from Twitter

Monday
Mar142011

Japan: Second blast at nuclear power plant and reports of cooling breakdown at a third nuclear reactor (News Brief)

(video courtesy of euronews) 

(HN, March 14, 2011) -- On Monday a new explosion hit Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, two days after an explosion at different reactor housing unit at the power plant. Cooling systems have also failed at a third reactor as a result of Friday’s earthquake and tsunami that knocked out electricity to much of the region, Japanese officials said.

Japan Today reported that according to plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. 11 people were injured in the blast, which authorities speculate to by a hudrogen explosion which caused the roof and walls of the building to blow away.

Today’s explosion has increased concern about a possible release of radiation. However, Japan's nuclear safety agency has said there is "absolutely no possibility of a Chernobyl" style accident at the Fukushima I plant, according to the national strategy minister, reports The Daily Telegraph. While the explosions blew the roof off each of the reactor containment buildings, officials said the reactors themselves remained intact.

Yukio Edano, the chief cabinet secretary of the Japanese government, said it was unlikely that a total meltdown would occur in any of the troubled reactors, as none of them were near that point on Monday.

Edano's viewpoint was shared by experts who say the danger of a meltdown is decreasing day by day.

"We're now into the fourth day. Whatever is happening in that core is taking a long time to unfold," said Mark Hibbs, a senior associate at the nuclear policy program for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "They've succeeded in prolonging the timeline of the accident sequence."

There is a general consensus that there is little risk of a Chernobyl-type disaster in Japan, because the Japanese reactors have a containment shell that the doomed Russian reactor did not.

"The likelihood there will be a huge fire like at Chornobyl or a major environmental release like at Chernobyl, I think that's basically impossible," said James F. Stubbins, a nuclear energy professor at the University of Illinois.

"Everything I've seen says that the containment structure is operating as it's designed to operate. It's keeping the radiation in and it's holding everything in, which is the good news," Murray Jennex, of San Diego State University, told the Telegraph.

Since the Fukushima I plant’s cooling systems were shut down by Friday’s earthquake, Japan has been trying to control both overheating reactors with sea water – rendering them useless for future use. Sea water was also channeled into No. 2 reactor today, where the cooling system was shut down.

Radiation levels have measured above normal around the plant as a result authorities have evacuated approximately 210,000 residents within a 13 mile radius, raising fears of contamination to the surrounding area.

-HUMNews Staff

Saturday
Mar122011

Tsunami Warning Cancelled For All Countries (News Brief)

Waves of between 20 to 70 centimetres were expected on islands such as Nauru, Kiribati's Tarawa, Fiji and Vanuatu. (NOAA)(HN, March 12, 2011) A tsunami warning for all countries has been cancelled for all countries, bringing relief to many low-lying Pacific nations that were devastated by the Indian Ocean tsunami six years ago.

The death toll from the earthquake and tsunami is expected to exceed 1300, with most people appeared to have drowned. So far, 413 people are confirmed dead, 784 missing, and 1128 people injured so far. All the deaths are in Japan, however one man is reported to have been swept out to sea when a tsunami wave hit the California coastline yesterday.

The tsunami generated by the quake rolled across the Pacific at 800 kilometres an hour, as fast as a jetliner, hitting the US west coast this morning.

A series of four tsunami waves hit the Hawaiian island of Oahu, but no injuries or property damage were reported.

Many residents in Tonga fled to higher ground ahead of the expected 5:00am arrival of the wave, however Radio Tonga journalists say the waters have remained calm.

In Papua New Guinea, authorities say there has been no sign of a tsunami, nor has Marshall Islands been affected.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre reports waves of between 20 to 70 centimetres were expected on islands such as Nauru, Kiribati's Tarawa, Fiji and Vanuatu.

The alert has since been lifted in most parts, including the Philippines, Australia and China, however New Zealand has upgraded its tsunami warning this morning.

in Fiji, the Department of Mineral Resources confirmed that tide gauge readings show that at least five irregular wave activities were recorded along its coasts.

The tsunami warning for Fiji was cancelled at 5:10 this morning local time and seismologists confirmed that the first wave of about 33 centimeters or 1.1 feet was recorded early Saturday.

Meanwhile, more than 300 aftershocks continue to rattle Japan - some as high as 7.8M. The latest one was 6.1M and hit at 1153GMT, according to the USGS.

- HUMNEWS staff, wires

Friday
Mar112011

Small, Vulnerable Pacific Nations Spared Worst of Tsunami (NEWS BRIEF)

(HN, March 11, 2011) - Hundreds of small Pacific nations and islands have been spared of extensive damage from the tsunami triggered by the mega-quake that hit northern Japan Friday afternoon.

The tsunami that hit Pacific island nations six years ago caused massive damage

According to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre, as of early Saturday morning local time, many of the low-lying nations feared to be in the direct path of the tsunami were struck from the threat list.

It included: Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Niue, Tonga, French Polynesia, Easter Island, Pitcairn and Antarctica.

Several other Pacific nations were on the list - including New Zealand, where the southern island was hit by a devastating quake just a few short weeks ago. Australia was also removed from the threat list, according to Radio New Zealand reports monitored by HUMNEWS.

Many of the Pacific islands feared to be in the path of the tsunami rely heavily on tourism and had many foreign guests at the time of the alert.

In addition many were victims of one of the worst natural disasters of modern times more than six years ago, when a tsunami triggered by an undersea quake off Indonesia killed more than 220,000 people around the Indian Ocean.

It is believed that many of the practices back then that led to an enormous death toll have been eradicated. For example, housing on coastlines is discouraged in countries vulnerable to tsunamis and bad weather. Aid agencies have also spent untold millions on disaster preparedness and sensitizing local populations.

“We have a lot of earthquakes here and so are getting used to tsunami warnings, however they are always scary, especially when the earthquake epicentre is nearby as there is not always high ground easily accessible," said Suzanne Bule, 26, a British national who works at the Hideaway Resort on the small Republic of Vanuatu and has been evacuating guests.

She told her hometown newspaper The Stourbridge News: “It's also nighttime here and the wave is supposed to arrive at 1am, so that makes it more difficult.

“The authorities are on the television and radio constantly at the moment trying to persuade people to take the warning seriously as we haven't had a big tsunami hit here, and so people start thinking all the warnings are false alarms.

“Some villages are moving to high ground, although there's always those that go to the beach to watch.

“Fingers crossed, all will be okay and the warnings will be lifted in a few hours, then we can get some sleep.”

- HUMNEWS staff, wires

Friday
Mar112011

Massive Pacific Quake Triggers Devastating Tsunami, After-Shocks (REPORT, VIDEO)

(video courtesy of TelegraphTV)

(HN, March 11, 2011) UPDATED 2000GMT - A massibe Pacific earthquake measuring 8.9 magnitude hit Japan Friday afternoon local time, triggering tsunami waves that caused massive devastation in northern Japan and even creating damage to docks and boats as far as the California coastline.

A tsunami was inituially issued for Japan's eastern coast - and then broadened to several Pacific nations, including Taiwan and as far as Papua New Guinea and British Columbia in Canada.

Many major airports were closed in Japan, including Narita and Haneda. Several expressways have been closed and damage is reported as widespread. The epicentre was off Japan's northeasten Honshu Island.

The Government of Japan has set up an emergency task force and a call for foreign assistance has been issued. The US has flown in coolant to relieve a damaged nuclear reactor, according to reports.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre issued a warning for Russia, Marcus Island, Wake Island, Northern Mariana, Guam and beyond. The first tsunami waves were up to 50cm high. Some residents in Japan said it was the strongest-ever quake they have ever felt. Many living along coastlines had no chance to escape.

- HUMNEWS staff, agencies

Thursday
Oct282010

(FEATURE) Kids Helping Kids Around the World For 60 Years: Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF

The iconic UNICEF Trick-or-Treat box (CREDIT: US Fund for UNICEF)

(HN, October 28, 2010) -- This weekend marks the 60th anniversary of UNICEF's `Trick-or-Treat’ campaign, symbolized by the iconic orange collection box that millions of school children in the US carry around each Halloween.

The campaign - where children go door-to-door to collect sweets and donations - has raised $160 million over the past 60 years, averaging about $4 million-a-year.

Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF started as an ad hoc fundraising effort by a group of kids in Philadelphia in 1950, who wanted to raise money for children suffering from the after-effects of World War II. That year, $17 was collected in home-decorated milk cartons, and earmarked for powdered milk for European children.

That initiative turned into one of America's longest-running youth initiatives, raising donations for UNICEF's work in more than 150 countries for items ranging from water purification tablets and insecticide-treated bednets,  to high nutrition biscuits and vaccines.

In 2005, in response to the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, the campaign raised a record $18.25 million.

Today, at the Silver Oak Elementary School in San Jose, CA, Michael Bociurkiw, who has worked for UNICEF in several regions of the world, and most recently in Lesotho, addressed 400 children in grades fourth to sixth about UNICEF and his work in the field. He described carrying the Trick-or-Treat box as a child, and what it's like to work in the field, in often the most challenging and inhospitable conditions.

Silver Oak Elementary School in San Jose, CA; grades 4-6. (CREDIT: HUMNEWS)

Silver Oak raised more than $4,300 in donations last year - and about $30,600 since 1999.

Bociurkiw spoke about Lesotho in southern Africa, and how UNICEF is helping children there battle the HIV and AIDS epidemic; and, about efforts to keep children, especially orphans, in school. The mountain kingdom of 2-million people has the third-highest HIV infection rate in the world and suffers from poverty, malnutrition and joblessness.

Bociurkiw also cited recent success in battling polio in Nigeria, where according to UNICEF the number of cases has plummeted this year by more than 90 percent, compared to last year. 

This year, UNICEF has recruited its youngest Goodwill Ambassador, teen sensation Selena Gomez, to promote UNICEF's Trick-or-Treat campaign.

HALLOWEEN ORIGINS:

Halloween is an annual holiday observed on October 31, primarily in the United States, Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.  Today the celebration is largely a secular one.

Historian Nicholas Rogers, exploring the origins of Halloween, notes that while "some folklorists have placed its origins in the Roman feast of Pomona, (the goddess of fruits and seeds), or in the Festival of the Dead called Parentalia, it is more typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain. The name is derived from Old Irish and means roughly "summer's end".

The word Halloween is first noted in the 16th century and represents a Scottish variant of the fuller All-Hallows-Even ("evening"), that is, the night before All Hallows Day. Up through the early 20th century, the spelling "Hallowe'en" was frequently used, eliding the "v" and shortening the word.Assembling UNICEF boxes in a combined class of Grades 2 nd 3 at Silver Oak

Halloween is not celebrated in all countries and regions of the world, and among those that do the traditions and importance of the celebration vary significantly. Celebration in the United States and Canada has had a significant impact on how the holiday is observed in other nations,  particularly the commercial elements which have extended Halloween to places such as South America, Australia, Europe, and Japan as well as to other parts of East Asia.  (VIA WIKIPEDIA)

---- HUMNEWS staff