Translated by Atefeh Rezvan-Nia
Edited by Mohammad Reza M. Karimi
About 95 percent of the Caspian Sea pollution originate from the sea’s littoral states in the north and northwest--Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan--that operate offshore oil platforms.
Announcing this, Reza Pourgholam, the head of Caspian Sea Ecological Research Institute, said oil, agricultural and household pollutants, including different types of detergents and heavy metals, are being dumped into the sea by the northern and northwestern neighbors of Iran, IRNA reported.
“Iran’s share of Caspian Sea pollution is only 5 percent,” he said.
He divided the pollutants into two main categories, namely biological and non-biological.
“While algal bloom and invasive ctenophores are categorized as bio pollutants, oil, household, heavy metals and agricultural toxins dumped into the marine environment are considered non-biological pollutants,” he said.
Pourgholam added that invasive ctenophore is a kind of animal species that feeds on zooplanktons, which are the main source of food for sardines.
He noted that the massive decline in the population of zooplanktons has reduced the population of Caspian sardines.
“Algal bloom is another type of biological pollutant, which has changed the color of Caspian Sea waters in some areas,” he said, adding that algal bloom will harm the marine environment because it is toxic and reduces oxygen in water.
He went on to say that algal bloom can cause hazardous health risks to humans. “The toxin discharged from the algae can enter the body through the skin,” he said, warning residents and travelers not to swim near areas affected by algal bloom.
He emphasized that oil pollutants are the main cause of non-biological pollution in Caspian Sea.
“About 14 types of oil derivatives are cancerous,” he said, adding that oil pollution in Caspian Sea has not exceeded the standard levels so far.
However, the massive oil stains often moving from Azerbaijan toward the northern provinces of Iran can destroy the coastal areas and cause severe environmental damages.
“Oil spill from Azerbaijan is the main cause of pollution in Caspian Sea,” he said, adding that Baku’s coastal areas are covered by “a forest of oil platforms”, most of which leak oil because of their decrepit nature.
Pourgholam added that leakage from offshore and onshore wells and the plying of Azerbaijan oil tankers are main culprits in the pollution of Caspian Sea.
Pointing to industrial pollutants threatening the Caspian Sea from Russia, the official said 80 percent of Caspian Sea waters are supplied by Volga River, which is very polluted.
“Volga dumps industrial pollutants, including heavy metals such as cadmium and lead into the Caspian Sea,” he said.
He added that lab examinations conducted on fish species has shown that the amount of heavy metals in Caspian Sea has exceeded the standard level.
Pourgholam said the three northern provinces of Iran, namely Mazandaran, Gilan and Golestan, have been obliged to use biological pesticides to help reduce pollution in the sea.
“Tehran Convention, signed by all Caspian Sea littoral states to improve the condition of Caspian Sea, have obliged all states to implement environmental plans to reduce Caspian Sea pollution,” he said, regretting that some states are not meeting their obligations in this regard.
Pourgholam noted that Iran is most affected by the Caspian Sea pollution among all littoral states because the natural flow of water is toward Iran.
Be Happy, Make Others Happy
Making other people happy is the highest expression of success, but it’s almost impossible to make others happy if you’re not happy yourself.
According to a Yahoo report, the following small changes that you can make to your daily routine will immediately increase the amount of happiness in your life:
1. Start each day with expectation.
If there’s any big truth about life, it’s that it usually lives up to (or down to) your expectations. Therefore, when you rise from bed, make your first thought: “something wonderful is going to happen today.” Guess what? You’re probably right.
2. Take time to plan and prioritize.
The most common source of stress is the perception that you’ve got too much work to do. Rather than obsess about it, pick one thing that, if you get it done today, will move you closer to your highest goal and purpose in life. Then do that first.
3. Give a gift to everyone you meet.
I’m not talking about a formal, wrapped-up present. Your gift can be your smile, a word of thanks or encouragement, a gesture of politeness, even a friendly nod. And never pass beggars without leaving them something.
Peace of mind is worth the spare change.
4. Deflect partisan conversations.
Arguments about politics and religion never have a ‘right’ answer but they definitely get people all riled up over things they can’t control.
When such topics surface, bow out by saying something like, “Thinking about that stuff makes my head hurt.”
5. Assume people have good intentions.
Since you can’t read minds, you don’t really know the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ that people do. Imputing evil motives to other people’s weird behaviors adds extra misery to life, while assuming good intentions leaves you open to reconciliation.
6. Eat high quality food slowly.
Sometimes we can’t avoid scarfing something quick to keep us up and running. Even so, at least once a day try to eat something really delicious, like a small chunk of fine cheese or an imported chocolate. Focus on it; taste it; savor it.
7. Let go of your results.
The big enemy of happiness is worry, which comes from focusing on events that are outside your control. Once you’ve taken action, there’s usually nothing more you can do. Focus on the job at hand rather than some weird fantasy of what might happen.
8. Turn off ‘background’ music or TV.
Many households leave their stereos and TVs on as “background noise” while they’re doing other things. The entire point of broadcast TV is to make you dissatisfied with your life so that you’ll buy more stuff. Why subliminally program yourself to be a mindless consumer?
9. End each day with gratitude.
Just before you go to bed, write down at least one wonderful thing that happened. It might be something as small as a making a child laugh or something as huge as a million dollar deal.
Whatever it is, be grateful for that day because it will never come again.
Muslims Encouraged to Foster Children
An Islamic center in North Texas is sponsoring a new campaign to encourage Muslims to foster kids and overcome difficulties children might face if they were raised in a non-Muslim house.
“It’s a service to humanity,” Dr. Basheer Ahmed, who founded the Richland Hills clinic, sponsored by the Muslim Community Center for Human Services, told The Dallas Morning News, Muslim Village reported.
“There’s definitely a bad need in the community”.
There are about 6,000 children in foster care in North Texas every year, according to Child Protective Services (CPS).
However, there were few Muslims in the area who are willing to take care of fostering children.
A local spokesperson for CPS said there are far fewer Muslim foster families in North Texas than families of other religions, or of no religion.
Of the 4,000 families approved to foster and adopt children in one national database, only five are identified as Muslim, according to AdoptUSKids, a federally funded project that raises awareness about adoption and helps recruit and connect families with children who need homes.
“It’s really a disservice to children…to be in a home that has different traditions, with which the children are either uncomfortable or disagree,” Kathy Ledesma, the national project director for AdoptUSKids, said.
To place a Muslim child in a non-Muslim home is “really violating their religious freedom or their beliefs”, she said.
Ahmed, the founder of the Texas clinic, has voiced hope that the problem will be addressed by the community center.
He wants to enlist at least a few Muslim families from North Texas to undergo training with CPS.
Turkey Natural Habitats Under Threat
Turkey’s important natural areas are under threat of destruction and many species endemic to the country are under threat of extinction due in large part to erroneous water policies, according to the head of the Ankara-based Nature Association (Doga Dernegi).
Doga Dernegi General Director Engin Yilmaz released a statement on Dec. 29-- formerly celebrated as World Biodiversity Day, which has since been changed to May 22--noting that one out of every two endemic plant species in Turkey, two out of three freshwater fish species, one out of three bird species in Turkey and almost all endemic frog species are currently endangered, Todayszaman reported.
Yilmaz said in his message that the destruction of natural habitats and risk of species loss are linked to the increased demands on nature that result from technological development and modernization, an inclination to see nature as a source of raw materials and a lifestyle of insatiable greed.
The environmental group director included in the statement a statistic that every 13 minutes another species is lost on Earth.
“In other words,” he said, “There is an apocalypse every 13 minutes for a different species on our planet. What is more striking is that the speed of extinction today is 1,000 times faster than the extinction timeline for dinosaurs. This rapid destruction brings life on the planet closer to the edge of a cliff every day.”
India Urged to Protect Women
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged the Indian government to take action to protect women after a 23-year-old student died of injuries sustained during a gang rape in Delhi.
“Every girl and woman has the right to be respected, valued and protected,” Ban said in a statement in which he welcomed efforts by the government but called for “further steps and reforms to deter such crimes and bring perpetrators to justice”.
The UN intervention takes the fallout from the incident two weeks ago to a new level and underlines the damage it has done to India’s international image, already battered by corruption scandals, a huge power failure earlier this year and slowing economic growth, Guardian reported.
The body of the still unnamed victim was cremated according to Hindu rites in Delhi shortly after dawn on Sunday. More details have emerged about her: the eldest of three children, she was reportedly a bright and funny, independent woman from a humble background who impressed her tutors at medical college and taught schoolchildren in the family home, a one-bedroom flat, to help with finances. Her father is reported to be a loader at Delhi’s airport.
Friends quoted by local media said she had been planning to marry the 28-year-old male friend she was with when the attack took place.
Senior Indian politicians have been heavily criticized for their slow and high-handed response to the incident, which has generated outrage, grief and anger across the country.
“It’s been a huge challenge to all of them. They have seen the whole affair as basically a law and order problem. There has been no conversation,” said Swapan Dasgupta, a Delhi-based analyst.
Argentine Bike Program To Expand
A program launched in Buenos Aires three years ago to encourage the use of bicycles has already brought results: the use of this environment-friendly means of transport has increased fivefold in the Argentine capital.
“Buenos Aires, mejor en bici” (Buenos Aires, Better by Bike) is the name of the project that emerged in 2009 in the Healthy Mobility Office of the Transport Subsecretariat of the Argentine capital, with the aim of extending protected bike lanes in the city.
“When we started to work on the idea of making bicycles an alternative means of transportation here, they only accounted for 0.4 percent of all trips. That has now gone up to 2 percent,” the director of Healthy Mobility, Paula Bisiau, told IPS.
To achieve this, work was carried out on three fronts: the creation of a network of bike lanes; the establishment of a free, public bicycle sharing system; and a campaign to encourage bicycle use. In a survey carried out by the government of center-right Mayor Mauricio Macri, 61 percent of respondents said they were prepared to use the bicycle as a means of transport, as long as they could ride in safe bike lanes.
A total of 95 kilometers of two-way bike lanes have been built on the left shoulder of roads that are free of bus traffic, set off by a raised yellow concrete curb.
The public bicycle sharing service was later put into effect, with three stations and 50 bicycles. Users can borrow bikes for an hour, after leaving their address and identification card number. Today there are 28 stations, 1,000 bicycles and 60,000 registered users, who generally use the service to commute to and from work or school, according to the Healthy Mobility Office. The program’s goal is to reach 100 stations and 2,000 bicycles in the free bike hire system, and 130 km of bike lanes by the end of 2013.
Researchers at India’s Dev Sanskriti University say that a holistic way involving yoga and herbal medicines can help combat psychological disorders.