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from FaithWorld:

Buddhist charity turns bottles into blankets for disaster victims

bottles (Photo: Crushed plastic bottles at the Tzu Chi Foundation recycling factory in Taipei, 4 Nov 2009/Nicky Loh)

A plastic bottle thrown into a Taipei recycling bin could be reincarnated as a blanket to warm disaster victims in any of 20 countries, thanks to a unique project by the world's largest Buddhist charity.

The Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation has been taking plastic bottles from the waste stream of Taipei, a city of 2.6 million, for three years to convert them into about 244,000 polyester blankets intended for disaster zones. It has sent volunteers with relief supplies to some of the world's biggest disasters, including Hurricane Katrina in the United States in 2005 and last year's devastating Sichuan earthquake in China.

This week, Tzu Chi expanded its one-of-a-kind recycling effort to begin making shirts, scarves and cloth shopping bags.  It sends the plastic bottles to a factory that breaks them down into a polyester fabric, which is then sent to crew of volunteers who fashion it into blankets or garments.

"They're faster than a normal factory because they're driven by kind-heartedness," said lead volunteer Wu Yueh-yin, as more than 100 others cut, stitched, folded and boxed the grey polyester fabric into blankets and scarves for the next crisis.

from Global News Journal:

YOUR TURN TO ASK: Karel De Gucht, EU humanitarian aid chief

** This post is from Alertnet, the Thomson Reuters Foundation's global  humanitarian news Web site.**

Earthquakes, floods, the global recession and recurrent famines have been keeping aid professionals across the world as busy as ever. Such crises hit poor countries the hardest, focusing increasing attention on preventing and preparing for disasters rather than dealing with their devastating aftermath.

from Photographers' Blog:

How the earthquake in Sumatra affected me

Write a personal blog on an earthquake where thousands have been killed. Spot the contradiction there... but here goes - how the earthquake in Sumatra affected me.

So usual drill (1) Get a call. (2) Pack my bags, too much, too little, unpack, repack - I know I'm missing something. (3) catch a flight - London, Doha, Kuala Lumpur, Padang. (4) Take pictures. (5) Transmit pictures. (6) Repeat (4) and (5).

from Photographers' Blog:

Remembering Lockerbie

Reuters Sports Editor, Pictures, Greg Bos recalls covering the 1988 Lockerbie bombing in the following question and answer session.

What role were you in when the bombing happened?
I was working on the Reuters pictures desk at the time, but was also part of the rotation system we had - where photographers could go out and cover picture assignments.

from Oddly Enough Blog:

Mud, manure and pedicure…

Hey Marcia, I'm goin' over for my weekly pedicure. I'm on the cell.

Oh Lonnie, ya think they'll be open today?

Why? Is this Labor Day or something?

No Lonnie, but I was wonderin', did ya read about the flooding we had?

Ya know, I DID notice I'm standin' knee-deep in muddy waste water in our bedroom, honey.

Boy, nothin' gets past you, Hotshot. I was thinkin' ya might wanna stay home and help save our stuff?

from Oddly Enough Blog:

Well here’s your problem right here, ma’am!

Ring ring ring...

"Hello? Is this the police? I want to come down to the station to report a stolen car..."

"Your call is important to us. Currently our office is being overrun by hundreds of venomous snakes, so please expect to be bitten a few times and maybe die."

from India Insight:

Quake-prone Kathmandu awaits the next big one

Walking through the maze of narrow, crowded lanes of Kathmandu's old city is, at the best of times, a harrowing experience.

Motorcycles, rickshaws and cars squeeze their way through the tiny, winding streets lined with dilapidated medieval buildings, Hindu temples and Buddhist stupas.

from Global News Journal:

A month after quake, gratitude turns to impatience

A month after an earthquake killed nearly 300 people in Italy, the initial goodwill towards authorities for their swift handling of the disaster appears to be giving way to anger as survivors face an uncertain wait for promised funds and the prospect of a long summer in tents.

Italy's government is promising to start providing the thousands made homeless in the central Italian region of Abruzzo with new, furnished houses by September -- in what would be record speed anywhere. But continued aftershocks, rain and chilly temperatures have made life increasingly difficult for survivors in tents, which left-leaning newspapers have seized upon to issue long accounts of the "nightmare" of life in the 170 tent camps.

from Global News Journal:

PLAYING WITH FIRE — Life in the shadow of an erupting volcano

    You're having breakfast and the earth starts to shudder. Outside, a column of volcanic ash soars miles into the air. Is this the big one that sends millions of tonnes of ash and molten rock crashing down to vaporize what is left of a volcano-ravaged town?
    With Chile's Chaiten volcano in deepest Patagonia still erupting 9 months after stirring to life for the first time in thousands of years, ripping a hole through the middle of the picturesque town in its shadow, residents like mechanic Cesar Barria Umanzor are running the gauntlet daily.
    Looking at the devastation wrought by the volcano when it erupted last May sending ash 20 miles (32 km) into the stratosphere, you don't have to be a volcano expert to realize the town is a write-off -- especially given true experts warn the volcano's cone could continue to collapse as it did last month, potentially smothering the remains of the town.
    With the volcano 6 miles (10 km) from the town, residents reckon they would have around 7 minutes to get out of the way if there is a major eruption. But where to? With the road out in places, that leaves jumping into the sea or a scramble uphill along a scree track.
    Houses swept off their foundations as a torrent of ash redrew the course of a river last year lie buried up to their rafters in debris at haphazard angles.  Children's toys are strewn abandoned in the dirt months on.
    The government has decided to move the town wholesale 6 miles up the road. But not everyone will move.
    "I'm not afraid. I want to stay here. I built this house from scratch. I started out with one nail, denied my kids candy when they were young to pay for it, and now the government just want me to walk away? Well I won't," Umanzor said.
    He and his family are among a few dozen die-hard residents who vow to stay put, despite the fact there is no running water and no electricity.
    With no cars to fix, Umanzor is instead using his time to work on energy self-sufficiency. He has a diesel generator, but the authorities will only give fuel to emergency services.
    So he has connected a series of tractor batteries to a transformer to generate current and is now using hoses to connect a homemade water-wheel to a nearby stream to recharge them. Those batteries kept my laptop going. To read more, click on http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSN26229857

from Photographers' Blog:

Covering the quake: Audio slideshow

David Gray recounts his experience covering the earthquake that devastated Sichuan province, China.

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