Good News Agency – Year II, n° 9



Weekly - Year II, number 9 –  11 May 2001

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph. D.

Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000.           

Good News Agency carries positive and constructive news from all over the world relating to voluntary work, the work of the United Nations, non governmental organizations, and institutions engaged in improving the quality of life – news that doesn’t “burn out” in the space of a day.

Good News Agency is distributed through Internet to over 2,300 editorial offices of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations with an e-mail address in 38 countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Finland, Holland, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, USA, and it is also available in its web site:

It is a free of charge service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, a registered non-profit educational organization chartered in Italy in 1979. The Association operates for the development of consciousness and supports the activities of the Lucis Trust, Radio For Peace International, The Club of Budapest and other organizations promoting a culture of peace in the ‘global village’ perspective based on unity within diversity and on sharing.          Via Antagora 10, 00124 Rome, Italy. E-mail:



International legislation




Human rights


Energy and safety


Economy and development


Environment and wildlife




Culture and education




International legislation



ILO to mark international commemoration day for dead and injured worker

Geneva, 24 April - In memory of workers who die, are injured or fall ill due to unsustainable forms of production, the International Labour Organization (ILO) is to mark the International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers at its headquarters here with a solemn ceremony on Friday, 27 April.

The event will also commemorate UNHCR staff who died in East Timor last year, as well as other United Nations staff, including UN peacekeepers who have died or been injured while in service.

The day is aimed at drawing attention to the global toll of occupational health and safety. The ILO estimates that deaths caused by work-related accidents or illnesses amount to more than 1.3 million workers per year, or an average of 3,300 per day, nearly double the deaths caused by war, and more than those caused by malaria.


USA: tax credits for eco-vehicles?

27 April - Ford, Toyota, and Honda are working with environmental groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council and Union of Concerned Scientists to urge Congress to pass tax credits for people who buy vehicles that are better for the environment.  Legislation introduced in the Senate would create tax credits that range from $1,000 for gas-electric hybrids to much more for heavy-duty trucks that runs on electricity or fuel cells.  Ford President Jacques Nasser said the bill "will help accelerate demand for cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles in the marketplace and put them on the road earlier and in higher volumes."  DaimlerChrysler and General Motors say they support tax incentives, but they disagree with the way the bill calculates fuel improvements.  The Sierra Club, on the other hand, supports higher requirements for gas mileage rather than tax credits.


Europe tackles high cost of energy dependency

Brussels, Belgium, April 25 - The European Commission is proposing a new law that would improve the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings within the 15 member European Union.

The building sector is estimated to be responsible for 40 percent of the European Union's energy consumption. Most of that energy is used for heat, light, hot water and air conditioning.


Sweden legislates for sustainability

Stockholm, May 4 - The Swedish government today underlined its determination to make Sweden the world's most environmentally sustainable nation by proposing a series of legal targets and deadlines for implementing 15 over-arching environmental quality objectives adopted in 1999.

Designed to achieve environmental sustainability within one generation, the new environmental quality objectives bill sets out about 60 "concrete measures and strategies" to achieve 14 of the 15 quality objectives by 2010.

Separate proposals on how to achieve "reduced climate impact" will emerge this autumn. The law is largely based on proposals from a government committee last June.

The move has even greater impact because Sweden now holds the revolving six months Presidency of the European Union.


Argentina to eliminate PCBs

Buenos Aires, May 4 - Argentina has taken the first steps down the long road to elimination of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from the country. Argentine Minister of Social Development and Environment Juan Pablo Cafiero and National Secretary of Sustainable Development and Environmental Policy Dr. Oscar Massei, today announced the start of a National Plan for the Elimination of Polyclorinated Biphenyls. At the same time, they introduced several drafts for a future Law of Minimum Budgets in the management of hazardous waste.

The announcements were made today in the closing session of the meetings of the Federal Council of Environment (COFEMA)

By Alejandra Herranz


International ban on submarine mine tailings disposal urged

Manado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, May 2 - An international conference here on the dumping of mine waste at sea, known as submarine tailings disposal, concluded Monday with a declaration which calls for an international ban on the practice.

The mining industry is currently attempting to open dozens of mines across the Asia Pacific region that would rely on submarine tailings disposal as a method of getting rid of their waste.

Scientists, representatives of nongovernmental organizations, government officials and affected community members from the Asia-Pacific region, North America and the United Kingdom met to discuss the ocean dumping of mine waste. They demanded that mining companies accept liability for the impacts on coastal communities of what they call an "environmentally and socially destructive technique."



Human rights



UNIFEM's Progress of the World's Women 2002 report to explore emerging issues in women's experiences of war, peace building and conflict resolution

United Nations, New York, 24 April - Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), today announced the appointment of two independent experts, Elisabeth Rehn (Finland) and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Liberia), to spearhead the organization's efforts to assess progress of the world's women, particularly those affected by conflict. Heyzer also announced that Victoria Brittain (UK), internationally acclaimed correspondent and Associate Foreign Editor of the Guardian has agreed to document the findings of Rehn and Johnson Sirleaf for Progress 2002.

 Progress of the World's Women 2002, scheduled for release next Fall, will focus on the issue of women, peace and security. The first edition of Progress of the World's Women was launched in June 2000 and focused on the economic dimensions of women's lives.

"The issues at stake are enormous," Heyzer said. "Armed conflict affects women and girls differently from men and boys. These gender dimensions continue to be ignored. Progress 2002 will demonstrate that it is impossible to talk about effective humanitarian responses or inclusive peace processes without taking gender into account."


Police training will promote civil protection in Somalia

25 April - The Police Training School in the Somaliland town of Mandera welcomed 350 new recruits yesterday to begin a four-month course. They are part of a larger programme sponsored by UNDP aimed at training 1,000 new recruits this year and improving the police force countrywide. Most of the recruits are former militia members, and the programme gives them an opportunity to get back to work in a productive way, said Mr. Rajola, chief technical advisor for the law enforcement component of the UNDP Somali civil protection programme.. "Before the civil war, Somali police were regarded as some of the best in Africa. We are glad to help them reach that high standard once again."

The new class includes about 300 police recruits and 50 prison guards. They will learn the penal code and how to incorporate respect for human rights and the rights of women in their work.


Living in a Pollution-Free World a Basic Human Right

Geneva/Nairobi 27 April - Everyone has the right to live in a world free from toxic pollution and environmental degradation, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights has concluded.

The decision, the first time the Commission has addressed the links between the  environment  and  human  rights,  was made at its annual meeting which ended today in Geneva.

Mary  Robinson,  the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Klaus Toepfer, the  Executive  Director  of the United Nations Environment Programme, have been   invited   to  organize  an international  seminar  to  explore  how environmental and human rights principles can be

strengthened. Mr  Toepfer  welcomed  the  historic  move saying: "Many of the fundamental rights  enshrined  in the  Universal  Declaration  of  Human  Rights  have significant environmental dimensions. Environmental  conditions  clearly  help  to determine the extent to which people enjoy their basic rights to life, health, adequate food and housing, and  traditional livelihood and culture. It is time to recognize that those who  pollute  or  destroy the natural environment are not just committing a crime against nature, but are violating human rights as well”. 

The  results  of  the  seminar  will be considered at the Commission's next session  in  March 2002  and will feed into the review of progress towards sustainable  development  that  has  been achieved since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit.


Green rights in French constitution, Chirac urges

Paris, May 7 - France should promise its citizens a ‘protected and preserved’ environment as one of their constitutional rights, President Jacques Chirac said. A green expansion of human rights is warranted in the face of a growing ‘collective fear’ about the consequences of environmental damage, he declared and he said it is time to enshrine five principles in law. These are: environmental responsibility; the precautionary principle; integration of environmental issues into all sectors; damage prevention; and citizen participation. Chirac repeated his support for the creation of a global environmental governance body. “The proposed global environmental body would give coherence to a ‘fragmented’ series of international green conventions”, Italian environment minister Willer Bordon said.



Economy and development



Reforming the international financial architecture

UNCTAD calls for "even-handed" approach between debtors and creditors

24 April - Rather than focusing on international action to address systemic instability, the process of reforming the international financial architecture has so far placed emphasis on what should be done at the national level. Even in this regard it has failed to adopt an "even-handed" approach between debtors and creditors, says UNCTAD's Trade and Development Report, 2001 released today. The Report sets forth alternative proposals for a more symmetrical treatment of debtors and creditors, less intrusive conditionality, more effective multilateral surveillance of macroeconomic policies of major industrial countries, and bolder moves to stabilize reserve currencies. It advocates payment standstills and limits on crisis lending as a means of involving the creditors in crisis resolution…


Iraq earns additional 354 million under UN's oil-for-food scheme

1 May Iraq has earned an additional € 354 million (euros) under the United Nations oil-for-food programme, which allows Baghdad to export its petroleum and use a portion of the revenues to purchase humanitarian relief. According to statistics released today by the Office of the Iraq Programme, over the past week Baghdad exported an average of 2.08 million barrels of crude per day, earning an estimated 24.22 per barrel.

Meanwhile, the Security Council committee monitoring the sanctions against Iraq released holds on 41 contracts worth $125 million, but placed new holds on 38 contracts with a combined value of $140.6 million. In total, 1,170 contracts worth $3.6 billion are now on hold.

The recently released contracts were for a variety of goods, including trucks, bulldozers and pumps, while the new holds were placed on contracts for gas turbines, cranes and a water treatment plant, as well as laboratory, medical and hospital rehabilitation equipment.

According to the Office of the Iraq Programme, contracts are generally put on hold because they lack technical specifications or because the goods in question have the potential to be used for purposes other than those stated.


Developing countries growing despite 2001 global slowdown

30 April - Global Development Finance, the World Bank's yearly report on external financing prospects for developing countries, finds that despite the sharp slowdown in the global economy, growth rates in the developing world are expected to average 4.2 percent in 2001.  This is a drop of more than a full percentage point from last year, but still 0.8 percentage point higher than growth in these countries during the 1990s.  Growth is expected to be highest in East Asia and the Pacific, at 5.5 percent, and lowest in Europe and Central Asia with 2.3 percent.

You can access Global Development Finance 2001 on-line at:






Mandela, Annan, Gates urge world to Say Yes for Children

Unprecedented global campaign seeks millions of pledges

London, 26 April - An unprecedented global pledge campaign on behalf of children, led by an impressive array of international personalities including Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan and Bill Gates, begins today in London and numerous other locations worldwide. Called Say Yes for Children, the campaign will reach every part of the globe to rally people behind ten overarching principles that seek to improve and protect the lives of children.

More than a simple sign-up campaign, Say Yes will focus attention on the serious issues that face children today. It is intended to galvanize action at all levels of society, from political leaders to ordinary citizens, in particular children.

The ten principles of Say Yes build on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most ratified international human rights treaty ever, and 1990's World Summit for Children, where nations committed themselves to specific goals for children and young people. The goal of Say Yes is to build a groundswell of support that will push leaders to live up to these commitments at September's United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Children


Yugoslavia/Kosovo : ICRC helps disinfect wells

26 April - Owing to heavy rain over the past few weeks, wells have been flooded in various municipalities of Kosovo and high levels of bacteriological contamination have been detected by the mobile laboratory of the water and sanitation department of the Institute of Public Health. To prevent the outbreak of gastro-intestinal diseases, the ICRC is providing the Institute, based in Ferizaj/Urosevac and Lipjan/Lipljan, with chlorine for the disinfection of over 2,000 wells. The programme will be extended to other municipalities as new cases of contamination are reported.


Burundi: EU adopts US $18 million humanitarian aid plan

27 April – The European Commission last week adopted an approximately US $18 million intervention plan to help meet continuing humanitarian needs in Burundi, a statement from the organisation's Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) said on 20 April. The main emphasis of the funds would be on vulnerable groups such as the displaced and resettled people, drought victims and women and children who are heads of households, it said. The funds would be channelled by ECHO through 17 partner organisations working in the country. The Commission would support major humanitarian programmes in Burundi in the fields of food security, nutrition, health and water/sanitation, ECHO said.


Tanzania: EU allocates US $28.8 million for humanitarian needs

27 April - The European Commission last week adopted an equivalent of US $28.8 intervention plan in response to continuing humanitarian needs in Tanzania, which has the largest refugee population in Africa, a statement from the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) said on 20 April. The statement said the funds would be channelled by ECHO through partner organisations working in the country. Tanzania is currently host to more than 500,000 refugees, including more than 370,000 Burundians and 110,000 Congolese, living in 14 camps in Tanzania's western provinces.

"The numbers are likely to remain high in the near future, given the continuing instability in the region. External assistance is crucial to help the country in supporting its huge refugee burden," ECHO said. Based on close cooperation with ECHO's proposed partners - the International Federation of the Red Cross, UNHCR, UNICEF and WFP - this intervention plan "will make a significant contribution to meeting the humanitarian needs of the refugees". The programme covers a wide range of actions, including shelter, food aid, health, sanitation, logistics, protection, education, community services, non-food items and environmental protection.


TeleFood to Woyowayanka women

7 May - On the island of Woyowayanka, 5 km off the coast of Bamako, Mali, a community of 100 fishermen struggle to earn a living. The men spend their days catching the fish. Thanks to some help from FAO in December, the local women's association acquired four "Chorkor" ovens, with US$4 600 grant from TeleFood, which allow them to smoke large quantities of fish using less firewood than traditional smoking ovens. TeleFood aims to increase awareness of hunger problems and raise money to help small farmers, herders and artisanal fishers produce more food and improve nutrition. The women have a joint bank account into which they deposit all the money they earn from sales of the fish. In addition, each member deposits monthly dues of 1 000 FCFA (US$1.50) as 'seed money' to initiate small projects. Now the women are saving for their next project: they hope to get a small loan to buy refrigerators for storing the fish and sell it frozen to the city's restaurants and capture a much higher price. But the women need more than technology, they need education and training. Some help has come from a representative of the Mali Chamber of Agriculture, Moussa Thienta, who is also the national coordinator of TeleFood projects.

Notice about TeleFood Campaign:






UN Secretary-General calls for new global AIDS campaign

26 April - A major new global campaign - including a massive mobilization of funding - is needed to fight the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told African leaders today, gathered at a summit on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other related diseases in Abuja, Nigeria.

A war chest of US$7 billion to 10 billion is needed annually to wage an effective global campaign against AIDS, said the Secretary-General. The UN leader issued a call to donors that by the time of the UN Special Session on HIV/AIDS (25-27 June, New York), firm commitments should be made to meet this massive mobilization.


UN Hails Significant Progress in Fight Against Malaria

Five African States Reduce or Abolish Taxes for Bed Nets - A Model for Other Countries

Geneva/New York/Abuja, 25 April - In a move that promises to protect millions of people from the danger of malaria, five African countries have recently reduced or abolished taxes on insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs) to make them more affordable to their populations. They include: Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Bed nets are considered one of the most effective measures for malaria prevention but are too expensive for many families to afford. "In some countries, the price of a treated bed-net is as much as 8% of per capita GNP," said Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO). "Making these effective prevention tools available to all who need them is one of the big challenges African governments face in their war against malaria."

The news is part of a new report issued by Roll Back Malaria, a major United Nations/World Bank-sponsored initiative, to mark the first Africa Malaria Day. The primary goal of Roll Back Malaria is to reduce malaria-related mortality by 50% by 2010.


International Conference on Stimulating Research and Development for Neglected Diseases Organised by Médecins Sans Frontières and the London School of Economics and Political Science

Médecins Sans Frontières and the London School of Economics and Political Science are organising a one and a half day international conference on stimulating research and development for medicines for neglected diseases. The conference will take place in London 14-15 June.

Infectious diseases kill 15 million people every year. Over 95% of these deaths occur in the developing world. Despite growing disease burden in poor countries, drug research and development targeted at the major infectious diseases has not been significantly advanced - only a few per cent of the world-wide expenditure on health R&D is devoted to these diseases.



Anti-AIDS Summit:  African governments decide to re-launch the health sector 

28 April - Assign 15 percent of the annual budget to improving the health sector. This is the commitment taken at Abuja (Nigeria) by about forty African leaders who, for two days, met to discuss the plague of the century, Aids and other diseases that afflict the continent. The urgent situation caused by the Hiv virus is invoking great fear, even if for no other reason than because the number of the sick and the sieropositive is increasing constantly in the continent. According to observers, it deals with concrete commitments but heavy financial engagements for the weak economies of the African countries where the large majority of the people struggle to make ends meet. Peter Piot, Director of Unaids (the UN agency that deals with Aids), declared that the demands for health made on the governments are heavy, but there is nothing else that can be done since it is clear that the sums allocated till now have been totally insufficient. A definite commitment has been adopted by the African governments which will guarantee fiscal reductions, easy access to loans, and other measures with the intention of reducing drug prices. After Pretoria's victory last week against the multinational drug manufacturers, the African leaders declared at Abuja that every price, economic or financial obstacle that slows down the fight against the disease must be abolished. This beginning brought about the Medical Act as inspired by ex-President Nelson Mandela: when the health of the poor is at risk, the use of those drugs unpatented by the multinational companies is legitimate. (CO)


Mexicos national health plan takes women into account

30 April - Results from a seminar on gender and health-care policy held in Mexico last month will be incorporated into the National Health Plan. The seminar was organized by UNIFEM in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the National Womens Forum on Population Policies and the Centre for Analysis and Research. It was held in response to the urgent need to find ways to mainstream gender into public health policies and to identify gender gaps in existing health policies.

Participants discussed the criteria used for the design and formulation of the 2001 National Health Budget and identified criteria that should be used in the allocation of health-care resources in 2002. Other topics of discussion included: the way in which women and men experience illness and death differently due to biological, social and cultural factors; womens access to and use of health-care services; womens sexual and reproductive rights and the obstacles to womens enjoyment of these rights; the relationship between gender violence and health; and, gender and HIV and AIDS.

For more information, contact the UNIFEM office for Mexico and Central America at



Energy and safety



Australia opens world's first Titanium Solar Cell Factory

Canberra, Australia, May 3 - Senator Minchin spoke at the opening of the world's first titania dye solar cell manufacturing operation developed by the company Sustainable Technologies International at Queanbeyan, near Canberra. The new cell technology has the capacity to provide low cost solar energy supplies to buildings, remote areas and businesses around the world, providing significant environmental benefits. The opening of the Queanbeyan factory is the culmination of seven years of research and A$12 million expenditure Production costs are cheaper compared with the silicon based solar cells that are now most widely used. Titania cells perform under a wide range of temperature and light conditions including low and diffuse light, and they can be optically transparent or opaque. Titania solar cell manufacture produces no toxic gas emissions, Sustainable Technologies says.


Pvc free database allows builders to choose alternatives

Greenpeace has launched a new international database that helps builders choose environmentally friendly alternatives to PVC products. “There is enormous enthusiasm and interest in PVC alternatives in the construction industry,” said Lisa Finaldi of Greenpeace, “They are over 200 products from companies based in 17 countries that avoid the use of polyvinyl chlorides (PVCs), which have been linked to a range of health problems”. During the manufacture of PVC, dioxin - a known human carcinogen - and other persistent pollutants are emitted into the air, water and land. When PVC burns in accidental fires, hydrogen chloride gas and dioxin are formed. The European Parliament has confirmed the dangers associated with PVC and called for caution over its use in buildings with high fire risks. At last year's Olympics, Sydney organizers chose to use more environmentally sound alternatives.

Greenpeace PVC Alternatives Database by country or product category at:



Environment and wildlife



Cleaning up Kenya's Athi River near Nairobi

27 April : UNDP is supporting an initiative to clean up the Athi River basin in the Nairobi area and other nearby rivers. The Athi, the second largest river in Kenya, carries pollutants to the Indian Ocean, where they are damaging a mangrove ecosystem and marine biodiversity.

The lake formed by the Nairobi dam is a focus of the project. Fed by effluents from nearby Kibera, a slum area that is home to close to 800,000 people, water hyacinth choke the entire lake. Chemical pollutants Nairobi's industrial area also flow into the river.

The UNDP Global Environmental Facility (GEF) small grants programme is providing $150,000 for the initiative. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) is allocating $640,000 contributed by Belgium, France and the Rotary Club of Nairobi. Other partners include the UN Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS), the World Conservation Union, Kenya's Ministry of Environmental and Natural Resources, the Nairobi City Council, local civil society groups and residents of Kibera.

The two-year initiative has several elements, including data collection, an environment impact assessment, and construction of wetlands to remove pollutants.


Sharp and wide reaction to US withdrawal from the Kyoto treaty

27 April - Some Labor Party members in the U.K. are publicly deriding U.S. President Bush as the "toxic Texan" and "the fool on Capitol Hill" for his stance on climate change.  In fact, the Bush administration, by all reports, has been astonished by the intense reaction around the world to its decision to withdraw from the Kyoto treaty on climate change.  The State Department put together a review of how the press in 43 countries covered the issue.  One Seoul paper wrote that Bush's "scrapping" of Kyoto was "tantamount to a declaration of ... environmental terrorism against humankind."  Read more quotes and learn how Kyoto could still be saved on the Grist Magazine website.

Only 38 percent of the American public approves of the way President Bush is handling the environment, according to a poll taken this week by CBS News.  More than twice as many Americans place a priority on protecting the environment over producing energy -- but the public overwhelmingly thinks Bush is on the side of energy production, the poll found.,1597,287908-412,00.shtml


Town in Kuwait turns trash into clean energy

26 April - Environmentalists in Kuwait celebrated scent-free, fresh air on Earth Day in the town of al-Qurain, nine miles south of Kuwait City.  Thirty years ago, before the town was developed, officials began dumping the nation's trash in an abandoned quarry in al-Qurain.  Fifteen years later, housing went up, and residents since then have had to deal with constant fumes of methane, carbon monoxide, nitrogen, and other smellies rising from the mess. But to the surprise of almost everyone, the nation's Environmental Protection Agency has come to the rescue.  The agency, which relies mostly on private donations for its funding, has leveled the heap and turned it into a clean source of energy.  In fact, the dump could produce enough methane gas to power 300 homes for the next 30 years. EPA Director General Mohammed al-Sarawi thinks the townspeople should get the energy free "as compensation for years of bad smells."


Enlarging the European Union will save lives by cutting pollution

Brussels, April 30 - Compliance with European Union environmental legislation could improve the health and quality of life of citizens across the candidate countries that are applying to join the bloc, a new research study finds. Thousands of lives would be saved in a cost effective way, the report shows. The study, "The Benefits of Compliance with the Environmental Acquis for the Candidate Countries," was presented during the Green Week Conference and Exhibition organized in Brussels, by the European Commission last week. The study conducted by ECOTEC Research and Consulting Ltd., highlights and assesses the range of benefits that the implementation of European Union environmental laws, known as directives, will bring to the candidate countries.

Thirteen countries - Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, and Turkey - are seeking access to the existing union of 15 European states.

According to the study, full implementation of European Union (EU) directives related to air quality in the candidate countries "can lead to between 15,000 and 34,000 fewer cases of premature deaths from exposure to air pollution, and between 43,000 and 180,000 fewer cases of chronic bronchitis." There are other important health benefits highlighted, such as safer environment for children as a result of lower lead emissions

By Alexandru R. Savulescu


50,000 volunteers in forty-five US states participate in National River Cleanup Week

Knoxville, Tennessee, USA, May 4 – Covering some 8000 miles of waterways, an estimated 50,000 participants will clean 350 sites in forty-five states during the tenth annual National River Cleanup Week, May 12-19, 2001. One of the largest groups, with an estimated 2000 volunteers taking part, The Friends of the Chicago River will clean numerous sites in and around Chicago during its annual "River Rescue" on May 12.  Other large groups participating include Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR), the Peace River Cleanup Committee, Florida, and the Christina River Watershed Cleanup, Delaware.


Intense objections to U.S. Navy's LFA sonar

Silver Spring, Maryland, USA, May 2 - The Humane Society of the U.S., Friends of the Earth, Animal Welfare Institute, Defenders of the Wildlife, and the Natural Resources Defense Council are opposed to the Navy that claims at the Silver Springs headquarters of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for a new LFA technology (low frequency active)  sonar based on the fact that very low frequency sound (100-1000 Hz) can travel great distances and detect quiet submarines. The system uses intense sound, 235 decibels generated, by TAGOS-class ships (the noise level of a jet engine is about 120 decibels). “It is a serious threat to the health of marine mammals, particularly whales, and other marine life,” Hawaii attorney Lanny Sinkin wrote in an editorial in the ‘Honolulu Advertiser’. “A NATO LFA exercise in 1998 left numerous dead beaked whales on the coast of Greece. LFA testing off the Island of Hawaii in 1998 caused humpback whales to leave the test area, apparently resulted in separation of whale and dolphin calves from their mothers, and seriously injured a snorkeler in the water”. Low frequency active sonar has been under development for more than a decade, and has been tested about 25 times over 7,500 hours in several oceans since 1988.


US: serious consequences to clean water act violations.

Washington, USA, April 27 - Those who deliberately or accidentally pollute the nation's waterways can expect to face stiff sentences.

BP Amoco has agreed to pay a $804,700 civil penalty for violating the CWA (Clean Water Act) by dumping more than 162,000 gallons of oil into the Marais des Cygnes River in Osawatomie, Kansas, disrupting the city's water supply for 38 days. BP Amoco also agreed to spend $145,300 on a supplemental project involving reconstruction improvements to the city's water intake. .


Environmentalists protest Baja plans

Cabo San Luca, Mexico, May 6 — The Mexican government is proposing its biggest tourism development in 20 years, a network of upscale marinas around Baja California, that President Vicente Fox says is critical for economic growth but environmentalists call a threat to one of the world’s great marine wildlife sanctuaries. Nautical Steps, would cover more than 2,500 miles of coast, beginning in Ensenada, just south of San Diego, to marinas located along the entire western and eastern coasts of the Baja Peninsula, is aimed at luring the 1.6 million boat owners in California and other nearby U.S. states into a new system of harbors, wharves, hotels and restaurants. Fox, who took office in December pledging to lift Mexico’s standard of living, says the tourism industry is underdeveloped and should be built into a passport to prosperity. Environmentalists say the project for the sake of building an American playground, threatens the Gulf of California, also called the Sea of Cortez, a body of water with whales, sea lions, dolphins, turtles and other wildlife so diverse and abundant that the late French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau called it the ‘aquarium of the world’.



Culture and education



54th Annual Conference for NGOs associated with UN Department of Public Information  The Conference is open to representatives of NGOs associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI), those in consultative status with the United Nations through the Economic and Social Council, and those working with UN agencies and programmes and with UN Information Centres and Services. The Conference will be held at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 10 to 12 September 2001.


Indian surgeon to receive highest Rotary humanitarian award for offering 'Jaipur Foot' to disabled

Evanston, Illinois, USA, 4 May - Rotary International, one of the world's largest humanitarian organizations, announced today that its highest honor, the Rotary Award for World Understanding and Peace, will be given to Dr. Pramod Karan Sethi, a retired orthopedic surgeon from Jaipur, India. Dr. Sethi and his team developed the "Jaipur Foot," an artificial limb that has transformed the lives of millions of land mine amputees and polio victims in India and other developing countries. The award will be presented at Rotary International's annual convention on 26 June in San Antonio, Texas, USA.

The 73-year-old Dr. Sethi is a fellow of Britain's Royal College of Surgeons and worked for many years at Jaipur Sawai Man Singh Hospital, where his medical team collaborated with local craftsmen and designed new prostheses that are made from locally available materials such as rubber, wood and aluminium. They are light in weight and have great mobility. Those who wear them can run, climb trees and pedal bicycles. Unlike those prostheses in the West that can cost several thousand dollars, the Jaipur Foot costs US$28 and is truly affordable for mass distribution to the physically disabled in rural India and other developing countries. Considered a component of humanitarian service, the design of the Jaipur Foot has never been patented.

Every year, the Rotary Award for World Understanding and Peace is given to an individual or organization whose life or work exemplifies the Rotary ideal of promoting community service, as well as international understanding, goodwill and peace. The award carries with it a grant of US$100,000 for contribution to a charitable project, chosen by the recipient, that promotes Rotary's mission of world understanding and peace.


Emergency fund for Palestinian students appeals for support

24 April - With the education of thousands of Palestinian youths at stake, a new emergency fund to help students in Gaza and abroad pay university tuition and fees is appealing for support.

The UNDP Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People (UNDP/PAPP) joined the Palestinian Red Crescent Society/Gaza Strip in launching the Emergency Needy Student Fund yesterday.

"With world headlines filled for nearly seven months about suffering and losses, it is encouraging that UNDP has, once again, demonstrated its commitment to the future of the Palestinian people," said Dr. Haider Abdel Shafi, Chairman of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society/Gaza Strip.

Timothy Rothermel, Special Representative of UNDP/PAPP, said, "Hopefully this small investment in the future of Palestinian youth - especially at this time - will be seen as a contribution towards peace and development." Both Dr. Abdel Shafi and Mr. Rothermel appealed to international donors, businesses and charitable bodies to support the initiative by contributing to the fund.



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Next issue: 25 May 2001