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Santi Asoke eco-village; Dith Pran passes March 31, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Environment, News, Peace, Science.
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A writer for Energy Bulletin visits the Santi Asoke eco-village in Thailand.

An interesting post on Buddhism and Science from Vincent Horn coming from a discussion with B. Alan Wallace on Buddhist Geeks.

And killing fields photographer Dith Pran has passed away at the age of 65.


The Tibet death toll’s at 140. So are the Olympics already ruined? March 25, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Dalai Lama, Environment, News, Tibet.

Death toll in Tibet now 140? The numbers are difficult to verify because China controls the flow of information so religiously. Germany (a country in love with Buddhism) wants answers from China on the violence.

Have the Olympics already been tainted beyond redemption by China’s actions? How will China handle international (i.e. Western) protesters at the games this summer? They can’t go bludgeoning teenagers from Seattle as easily as they can Tibetan monks. If the torch-lighting ceremony protests were any indication, we should expect this.

The U.S. sent missile parts to Taiwan. Accidentally. If the Chinese weren’t so busy they’d be howling with rage over this.

Also, more to feel guilty about; your carbon footprint!

Ten Reasons to Boycott the 2008 Beijing Olympics March 18, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Burma, Dalai Lama, Environment, News, Tibet.

Here they are.

All About China: Tibetan Protests and Pollution from Solar Panels. March 12, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Environment, Tibet.
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The second day of protests in Tibet: Out comes the teargas. And still no permission for Tibetans to march from India. And Chinese police in Kathmandu observe Tibetan demonstrators, manipulate the local police, and try to get American journalists arrested.

The latest “eco-friendly” product to get a black eye: solar panels. The never-ending quest for capital brings more poison to China.

U.N. Losing Hope for Burma?; Freedom Torch; By-products of Biodiesel March 11, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Burma, Environment, Tibet.
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 Is the U.N.’s Burma effort running out of steam? It doesn’t seem like it ever had much. And sanctions haven’t bothered the junta either.
Blood rubies: Who’s buying Burma’s gems?

Monks and some citizens staged a bold protest in Lhasa to celebrate Uprising Day. But Tibetan protesters in Greece (where the Olympic torch is lit) were blocked by police, and will face similar treatment in India. They are running their own protest relay, the Tibetan Freedom Torch Relay.

“Olympia is a sight where people come together, a site of peace,” Olympia Mayor Giorgos Aidonis said. “It’s not a place for political conflict or settlement of disputes, whatever the rights and wrongs in the case. They did not even meet with us to discuss their issue.”

A depressing piece on the damage biodiesel is doing to the environment. This really needs to be figured out.

Thaksin’s Back; Gambari on Burma; Sri Lankan Violence February 28, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Burma, Environment.
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Thaksin’s back in Thailand! The ousted PM returned home Thursday. He’s promised to stay out of politics but many doubt this claim, calling it a “political game.”

Nicholas Kristof discusses the other genocide in the Sudan in a region far poorer than Darfur.

“Burmese Democracy”:
The San Francisco Chronicle joins the chorus decrying Burma’s faux democracy in this editorial. The U.N.’s envoy to Burma, Ibrahim Gambari, wants a “credible and inclusive” roadmap to democracy. Gambari is in Tokyo, sipping sake and chatting with the Japanese about ramping up their aid to Burma. They cut it back after journalist Kenji Nagai was killed during the pro-democracy protests.

The Tamil Tigers say eight civilians were killed in two government ambushes. In the same period, nine Tigers were also killed in two clashes with the government. Journalists are barred from the conflict zone so details are necessarily spotty. Sri Lanka is a majority-Buddhist state with a long-running civil war. The Tamil Tigers, a nationalist organization of Hindu Tamils from northern and eastern Sri Lanka, are fighting the government in hopes of gaining political independence, but in southern and western Sri Lanka and other countries they are considered a terrorist organization, and were early pioneers of the suicide bomb.

And another sad post on our oceans.

Global Seed Vault February 26, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Environment.
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The global seed vault opens (or closes?) in Norway. (So Titan A.E.!) I wish I lived in Norway.

LONGYEARBYEN, Norway, February 26, 2008 (ENS) – The Svalbard Global Seed Vault opened today on a remote island in the Arctic Circle, receiving the first shipments of what will be a collection of 100 million seeds from more than 100 countries. Unique varieties of the African and Asian food staples maize, rice, wheat, cowpea, and sorghum as well as European and South American varieties of eggplant, lettuce, barley, and potato are the first deposits in the icy vault.

At the opening ceremony, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg unlocked the vault and, together with Nobel Peace Prize laureate environmentalist Wangari Maathai of Kenya, placed the first box of seeds inside.

Containing varieties of rice seeds from 104 countries, the box was opened during the ceremony, and then resealed before being placed in the vault.

“With climate change and other forces threatening the diversity of life that sustains our planet, Norway is proud to be playing a central role in creating a facility capable of protecting what are not just seeds, but the fundamental building blocks of human civilization,” said Stoltenberg.

Maathai, founder of the African Green Belt Movement, said, “The significant public interest in the seed vault project indicates that collectively we are changing the way we think about environmental conservation. We now understand that along with international movements to save endangered species and the rainforests of the world, it is just as important for us to conserve the diversity of the world’s crops for future generations.”

[Photo by Mari Tefre, courtesy Crop Diversity Trust]

From the Blogs February 26, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Environment, General, News, Pure Land, Zen.

There’s so much great stuff to be found out there on the Buddhist blogs. Here’s just a tiny taste:

Anyone planning to be in New Haven, Connecticut on April 11th should check out Danny Fisher’s lecture, “What Does a Buddhist Chaplain Do? A Dharma Practitioner’s Reflections on Spiritual Care and Counseling” at the New Haven Shambhala Center.

The Buddhist Geeks continue their conversation with Brad Warner, who as all Hardcore Zen fans know is critical of Genpo Roshi’s Big Mind process.

A great Zen story from Master Seung Sahn (slightly changed) on Marcus’ Journal.

And a wonderful post from last week on The Level 8th Buddhist about the Joys of Devotional Buddhism (including quotes from the Pali Canon, if you like quotes from the Pali Canon.)

Bodhipaksa has a book out on vegetarianism as a Buddhist practice, and you can read sections of it on his blog. Thanks to Going for Refuge for pointing it out.

And for all us internet old-timers, Netscape is finally dead. Thanks to Simra.net for the pointer (and for helping develop Firefox.)

Invasive Species February 20, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Environment.
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Invasive species are a serious and growing problem. The Telegraph (UK) describes the situation around the world and in Britain, where they are now worried about the infamous snakehead fish, which has also been found in the U.S. This is the monster-movie nightmare fish that can survive out of water for extended periods of time, walk on its fins, and apparently, if big enough, kill people.

An editorial in the New York Times describes the common practice of ships dumping their ballast water in-harbor rather than out at sea, whichis largely responsible for carrying invasive species across oceans. Global warming may also play a role. The modest solution for dealing with invasive species? Develop a taste for them. Asian carp, imported to clean catfish ponds in the Mississippi delta, have made their way all the way up to Chicago and only an electrified fence separates them from the Great Lakes, the largest body of fresh water in the world.

The Nature Conservancy discusses new global maps that reveal the spread of invasive species.

Here’s the site of the National Invasive Species Information Center. which has extensive information on the problem in North America.

The Beef Industry, faked photos in Tibet, and Gambari Heads Back to Burma February 19, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Burma, Environment, Tibet.
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You may have heard about or seen the sickening video from the Westland/Hallmark meatpacking plant in California. It’s been all over the news. James at the Buddhist Blog has a great post on it. 143 million pounds of beef were recalled due to cruelty and slaughtering sick animals at this plant. Do a little bit of reading on the beef industry, just a tiny bit. It will make you sick and it will make you angry.

U.N. special envoy Ibrahim Gambari is heading back to Burma after talking with leaders in China:

“The Chinese government has been helpful in helping on my access, including encouraging the [Burmese] authorities to receive me as often as possible,” Gambari said.

Gambari last visited Burma in November, several weeks after the military government crushed mass demonstrations calling for democracy and political reform.

Gambari sees the Burma timetable as a significant step forward.

A bird flu death in Tibet. And this is good: a Chinese editor resigns over faked photos showing endangered antelopes frolicking by the new railroad cutting across the plateau.

And Barack Obama’s eastern support.