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Share International magazine Jan/Feb 2008

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The Master's article for Share International magazine, January/February 2008

A call to the media

by the Master —, through Benjamin Creme, 12 January 2008

For many years men have awaited, impatiently to be sure, evidence that Maitreya does in truth exist, and carries out His work among us. Why this doubt should for so long persist is, perhaps, difficult to understand, given the vast transformations of our world which have clearly taken place, each one foretold by Maitreya, and made available to the public and world media. What prevents the acceptance – even as a hypothesis – that such a welcome event has indeed transpired?
The media of the world know every facet of this information, however little they inform the public of its nature. Many of its representatives have met Maitreya, have heard Him speak, and yet stay silent themselves.


Why should this be so? What inhibits the public announcement of this welcome news? In the main the problem is fear: fear of ridicule, fear of disbelief; fear of loss, of their status or jobs; fear that they are somehow beguiled, that they did not see what they saw or hear what they heard. It is easier to set their experiences aside and to leave it to Maitreya Himself – if He does indeed exist – to come forward and show the world His factual Presence.
This view, logical enough to those who thus wait silently, shows little understanding of the Laws which govern the appearance of a Teacher of Maitreya’s stature.
Many worthy Teachers come into our lives, do their work, and cause few ripples on the surface of men’s thought and action. They seldom need forerunners to prepare their way. Maitreya, however, is the World Teacher, Head of Hierarchy, and intends to serve as such for the next world cycle. His impact on humanity cannot be comprehended. His coming is a truly momentous happening, which must be prepared for beforehand, and adequately explained to men of every station.
The world’s media are ideally placed to acquaint men with the true happenings of our time. They are looked to for information, and often guidance, by millions of people thirsty for the truth, for knowledge and hope. It behoves the men and women of the media, men and women of goodwill, to acquaint themselves with this information, where necessary, and to serve the public by its serious introduction. Then will they see Maitreya openly, ready to show us all how to set to rights the world.

(Read more articles by the Master)

Questions & Answers - a selection

Q. Some scientists say that planting trees to combat climate change is a waste of time, since most forests don’t have an overall effect on global temperature; and those farthest from the equator could actually be making global warming worse. Whenever I travel by plane I choose to make a contribution to a tree planting project to offset carbon emissions. Is this all a waste of time? Could you please comment on this?
A. My information is that this ‘scientific’ assertion is simply not true. Equatorial forests do indeed have the greatest absorption factor of carbon, but forests everywhere have at least a 30 per cent absorption factor of carbon dioxide which they exchange with a similar percentage of oxygen.

Q. I read in one of your books that nuclear fusion is safe and will produce unlimited energy. How close are scientists to doing this on a big enough scale so that all the world will benefit?
A. There are several approaches to nuclear fusion and some progress has been made by isolated scientists to develop this process. However there is one simple way which has not yet been discovered: using a simple isotope of water, everywhere available. If the will were there, and if a fraction of the billions spent on nuclear fission reactors were directed to the task, it would not be long until nuclear fusion became everywhere available. The continuing presence of the nuclear bomb makes politicians and scientists continue their misguided use of atomic fission. They fear to fall behind in a nuclear ‘race’.

Q. How many years will it be before science manages to produce energy from the sun?
A. The Space Brothers in association with our Hierarchy are working now on preparations for the Technology of Light, as Maitreya calls it. It presupposes a world at peace, with war a thing of the past, abandoned for ever. Only then would it be safe to install such powerful forces which could be misused. A guess would be 10-20 years, probably nearer 20.

Q. I don’t know what my carbon footprint is. How do I find out?
A. You cannot, with any accuracy. You can only try to simplify your demands on life.

Q. Is recycling waste really helpful incombating climate change? Some experts say it takes more energy to recycle than to just incinerate.
A. The aim of recycling is to economize on the use of basic resources so on almost every occasion it is the way least destructive of the planet’s good.

Q. Is it worth doing all these little things like not using too much water, turning off lights, using special light bulbs and so on, or is that just a way of avoiding tackling the big problem?
A. The real problem is global and has to be tackled from a global agreement to reduce drastically our demands on the world’s resources. Developed nations, in particular, will have to simplify their way of life. This could be difficult to do for many people. To start in the ways you suggest is a very good way to train oneself from day to day. Look on these measures as good training for the future.

Q. More and more elections seem to be contested in various parts of the world. (1) Is this an indication that many elections are rigged? (2) Is it also indicative of the failure of politics as we know it to answer people’s real needs? (3) Has adverserial-style party politics had its day?
A. (1) Yes, and in major countries which take the greatest exception to ‘rigging’ in developing nations. (2) Yes. (3) Yes. The people want to see their needs being met above all.

Q. Why aren’t we all out on the streets all the time? I mean all people who can get out and march. There’s so much that appalls us in the news every single day. I live in a comfortable western country where there is very little (read ‘almost none’) popular protest; people seem to expect the authorities to solve all problems. I’ve written to politicians to ask for more action on their part; one replied that there’s no point to demonstrations. A relatively small number of members of Transmission Meditation groups here do join demonstrations.
A. Politicians certainly do not like demonstrations. They like to think that they are ‘in control’. People need to sense their power which will only happen if they do demonstrate enough.

Q. Many people hold The Gospel of Peace of Jesus Christ by the disciple John to be a very inspirational and valuable book. It is said to be a fragment of manuscripts in Aramaic from the library of the Vatican, dating back to the 1st century AD. The complete text is now published under the title The Gospel of the Essenes. (1) When was it written, and (2) could you comment on the healing practices The Gospel of Peace describes (like fasting, eating raw ‘living’ foods and colon cleansing) and say whether they can be profitably put to use today?
A. (1) 2nd century AD. (2) These have been largely incorporated into modern health regimes and practices.

Q. There is a lot of pollution about. Is using homoeopathic remedies, like “Air Pollution” tablets good unless you take too much medicine? Could you end up causing the symptoms, if you over-use the remedy?
A. I would certainly recommend homoeopathic remedies for the effects of pollution. A basic rule in homoeopathy is that if taking a remedy is too prolonged it can produce the symptoms it is trying to cure. So it requires proper timing and common sense.

Q. What does the Master Morya mean when he talks of “seeing without looking” and “hearing without listening” in the Agni Yoga book Hierarchy?
A. It means the use of the intuition, the developing of the inner psychic sense.

Q. In the Agni Yoga book Hierarchy the Master Morya says that in the era of Satya Yug people should attempt to give their attention to a number of different tasks or different directions simultaneously. This should be done without weakening the energy of the thought. A focus on only one thing at a time is characteristic of ‘Kali Yug’ (a dark period), according to the Master Morya. Could you comment on this please?
A. It is perfectly possible and of value to concentrate clearly and accurately on more than one thought, activity or problem at the same time. It requires an ability to concentrate the mind very accurately without being pulled by random thoughts. When this clarity of thinking is achieved it can then be enlarged to include another, and another, and another level of thought, which are simultaneously addressed. It is obviously of great benefit and saving of time for people who have much to do.

(More questions and answers)

Letters to the editor

Over a number of years, some of the Masters, in particular Maitreya and the Master Jesus, have appeared at Benjamin Creme’s lectures and Transmission Meditations. They also appear, in different guises, to large numbers of people around the world. Some of these recount their experiences to Share International magazine. If the experiences are authenticated by Benjamin Creme’s Master, the letters are published. These experiences are given to inspire, to guide or teach, often to heal and uplift. Very often, too, they draw attention to, or comment on, in an amusing way, some fixed intolerance to, for example, smoking or drinking. Many times the Masters act as saving ‘angels’ in accidents, during wartime, earthquakes and other disasters. They use a ‘familiar’, a thoughtform, who seems totally real, and through whom the Master’s thoughts can be expressed: They can appear as a man, a woman, a child, at will. Occasionally They use the ‘blueprint’ of a real person, but in most cases the ‘familiar’ is an entirely new creation. The following letters are examples of this means of communication by the Masters. Please note: In the absence of any indication to the contrary, the editors will assume that your name may be printed. Unless requested otherwise, some of these letters may be reproduced on the Share-International.org website. Only initials, town and country will be used.

Beach sign

Dear Editor,
On 20 November 2007, while out on a walk at the ocean, I noticed a sand drawing on the beach. It had a style similar to what we’ve come to think of as crop circles. It was comprised of three circles, each circle being about 10-15 feet wide. I was struck by the precision of it – the markings were very exact, which is hard to create in sand. Also the symmetry of it seemed perfect to my untrained eye. It also had a magnetic quality to it, where I felt as if I were drawn into meditation by simply looking at it.
In all my years of visiting the ocean I have never seen anything of this quality before. Can you comment?
M.A. S., San Francisco, USA.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the circles are a sign, manifested by Maitreya. In the esoteric teachings Maitreya is often written as \ . It is a signature, therefore.)

“Out of the mouths of babes”

Dear Editor,
Strolling through the park with my four-month-old daughter we were approached by an unusual young boy. He wore a casual sweatshirt and pants, and had a set of keys around his neck. Suddenly he said: “Let me see this little viola.” I was struck in disbelief, because how could he know that in the baby stroller I had a little girl, and even more that I call her my “little viola” (like the flower)! He gently touched her on the cheek and said something like: “I don’t have very clean hands so I won’t touch her too much.” Then he said that he loves little children, that he had a sister but couldn’t remember how much older she is. All the time he avoided talking about himself, and quickly shifted the conversation onto the baby. “What is her name?” he asked. “Aurora”, was my answer, he repeated it quietly – Aurora. When I asked him about his name he replied: “Egon,” and told me he was eight years old. Then he asked more about Aurora and was amused by the fact that she was only four months old. After that he politely excused himself and said he didn’t want to bother us any more so we could go about our business.
For some reason I cannot forget this beautiful brown-eyed boy. Was the boy a Master?
M.E., Osijek, Croatia.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that ‘Egon’ was the Master Jesus.)

Two letters from the same person:

Say it with roses

Dear Editor,
On 4 August 2007 our southern California Reappearance group sponsored a public presentation at a hotel in Santa Monica. The evening featured a video of one of Benjamin Creme’s recent talks in Japan followed by a panel question-and-answer session. Two ‘occurrences’ keep coming to mind and I would be interested if I am remembering them for good reason.
(1) I was standing inside the meeting room near the book table when I noticed a petite older woman wearing a white sweater and carrying a small bouquet of red roses and rose buds. Then I got distracted by something else and forgot about her. Later, my wife said the lady was accompanied by a younger man. Just after I had seen her they had approached my wife and the younger man had asked: ‘Is it okay if my mother puts her flowers on the table up front?” The table he referred to was where the panellists would later be seated. My wife said yes and thanked her for bringing the flowers. (The group did not have any flowers prepared for the stage.)
During the question-and-answer session I, as a panellist, noticed the small bouquet of roses in the middle of the white tablecloth. I thought of the lady and how special the flowers looked. They were not in a vase, but simply laid flat on the table. Earlier when I had first seen the lady with the flowers it seemed unusual, yet when seeing the flowers on the table, they were perfect. It was almost like a gift for the evening.
Were the nice lady and the man she was with anyone special?
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the ‘nice lady’ was the Master Jesus. The ‘younger man’ was Maitreya.)

Relevant questions

(2) Two other people in attendance were a young girl accompanied by a woman who I assumed to be her mother. The girl looked to be around eight years old. I seldom see children at these sorts of events, so when a young girl showed up it was quite noticeable. During the evening one of my co-panellists commented how sweet the little girl was.
At one point I saw the girl sitting on a couch in the hotel lobby writing on one of the pieces of paper that had been distributed for people to write their questions for the panellists. During the intermission audience members submitted their questions for the four panellists to choose which ones they wanted to answer. We could tell by the handwriting the questions from the little girl and they were very simple but straightforward. As far as I remember they were as follows: Why do people hurt other people? Why do people kill animals? Why are we hurting the environment? I’m not sure just how I answered them, but I did see the girl listening intently from the audience. I noticed the mother smiled a lot during the session and I was struck by how such a young girl was able to sit through a long evening and pay attention the whole time.
Were the little girl and the woman just interested people, or were they special visitors?
M. E., Los Angeles, USA.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the ‘little girl’ was the Master Jesus and her ‘mother’ was Maitreya.)

Statue at Medjugorje weeps oil

Dear Editor,
I would like to ask about a phenomenon on the towering bronze metal statue of Christ, located in a field not far from the church of Medjugorje, Bosnia, where I went in July 2007. A transparent liquid which looks like oil flows from the right knee of the statue; pilgrims come to collect the oil in either a piece of cloth or handkerchief.
Some people have doubts about the authenticity of the phenomenon. (1) Is the occurrence a “miracle” manifested by a Master? (2). Has the Blessed Virgin also appeared to Muslims, given that Mostar is only about 30 kilometres away? (3) Is the Master who was the Madonna still appearing at Medjugorje today? Or is it another Master? (4) What is the real meaning of these phenomena at Medjugorje?
J-C. L., Rittershoffen, France
(Benjamin Creme’s Master answers: (1) Yes. (2) Yes. (3) Yes, the Master Who was the Madonna, and the Master Jesus. (4) To draw the attention of the world to the reality of the Masters.


Dear Editor,
An extraordinary event happened in summer 2007 during our stay in Wiltshire, UK, where we came to visit crop circles.
We were surprised to meet Ruben again, a man we met in 2005 at the Silent Cafe, Cherhill. At the time, we wrote to Share International to ask who this man was. Benjamin Creme’s answer was that he was Maitreya [as a familiar].
On 29 July 2007 around 6pm we were walking with people attending the Glastonbury Symposium on crop circles. Suddenly a man came to hug us in a very cheerful mood, as though we were old, dear friends: it was Ruben. We did not recognize him immediately and had to look at his badge on his chest. He was with a very gentle lady called Helen. After the meditation was a lecture. Then we saw them again and they invited us to join them for a meal in a restaurant. We did not speak about the fact that the first time he was Maitreya, but we asked ourselves all the time whether this time again he was Maitreya. We experienced a deep joy in their company and it seemed so natural that he knew a lot about us.
We met Ruben and Helen again, unexpectedly, at the Silent Cafe on 1 August 2007 around 3pm. Ruben and Helen were with an extraordinarily impressive elderly sweet lady with white hair, called Nonie. Again it was like a reunion of old friends and we had the same questions, that we kept for ourselves.
Could this be that Ruben, like in 2005, was Maitreya? Who were the two ladies who were with him?
C. S. and N. W., Lausanne, Switzerland.

(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that ‘Ruben’ was a familiar of Maitreya, ‘Nonie’ was the Master Jesus, and ‘Helen’ was a disciple of the Master Jesus.)

Above ‘Ruben’ with C. S., at the Glastonbury Symposium on Crop Circles, 29 July 2007. Below with N.W.

Left to right: Noëlle, ‘Ruben’, ‘Nonie’ and ‘Helen’ at the Silent Circle Cafe, 1 August 2007

European Conference Questions and Answers

by Benjamin Creme

Extract from an edited version of the Question and Answer session with Benjamin Creme from the European Transmission Meditation Conference 2007, held at Kerkrade, the Netherlands, in September 2007.

Q. Is it because the media have difficulty relating our information to the facts that they do nothing? Is it a lack of facts or evidence or what?
A. It is a fact that Nelson Mandela, after 27 years incarceration, was suddenly released and became the President of the new South Africa. It is a fact and the prediction about it was published in Share International [September 1988].
When I held a press conference, speaking to a group of nearly a hundred journalists, on 14 May 1982 in Los Angeles, I gave the whole story and these journalists were very mixed. Some were complete fundamentalists in their own way. Some were totally against it, but many of them were open. They clapped several times about the need for sharing and justice in the world – hardheaded journalists who never clap for anybody. They clapped this story of mine, this simple story, and at the end I talked about journalists coming to London and going through the motions of looking for Maitreya, and that He would come forward to them if they did that.
The BBC had linked this press conference with a programme which was broadcast at the same time. They were there on the spot in London where I said Maitreya was living. When the American media asked the BBC what they were doing about it, the British media said: “Nothing.” The Americans said: “But why not? It is a fantastic story.” The BBC said: “We know it is a fantastic story but we are waiting for more tangible evidence.” The “more tangible evidence” they could only get by doing what I asked them to do: come to London and go through the motions of looking for Maitreya in the Asian community.
If these journalists had been men of clout who, having seen Maitreya would believe, they would speak to their colleagues and say: “Yes, it is true. The story is true. I met him. He is extraordinary.” Maitreya said that would have been enough in 1982. The media want the information put in their lap. We put the information in their lap, but that is not enough. They want to see Maitreya and as soon as He raises His head above the parapet they will act.
There are many journalists who met Maitreya at the Conference which He held in April 1990 in London. There were about 40 really important journalists present. They know it as well as I do. They will not take the responsibility of doing anything about it because their jobs are at stake. They have wives and family responsibilities. It is not easy. It was not easy for John the Baptist, either.

Service – a compilation

We present a selection of quotations on the theme of service – from Maitreya (Messages from Maitreya the Christ, and Maitreya’s Teachings – The Laws of Life), Benjamin Creme’s Master (A Master Speaks), and Benjamin Creme’s writings.

When you see Me, you will understand the reasons for your presence in the world.
You are here, My friends, to serve the Plan of God.
You are here, each of you, from love of your brothers.
You are here, too, to learn, to expand your knowledge of that Plan and to progress along the Path.
That is the truth of your existence at this time.
Take heed, then, of this opportunity which I present to you: to share with Me in My work of succour, to ease My burden, to unfold the God within you and to lead your brothers to the Light. (Maitreya, from Message No. 94)

A new world is in the making and requires the involvement of all: all have a part to play. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘The Voice of Maitreya’)

Be prepared to take hold of the future with both hands and fashion a world of beauty. Eschew despair and create with joy and love, knowing that the future stands ready for your embrace. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘The path to the future’)

As soon as a degree of contact with the soul is made, the person begins to desire to serve the world in some way. The purpose of the soul is to serve; that is why it comes into incarnation. (Benjamin Creme, Maitreya’s Mission Volume Three)

My aim is to make known My Presence in the world at the earliest possible moment, and so begin My Work in the full light of day.
This will mean strenuous work by those who now accept that I am among you.
Make known to all that I am here, and pave smooth My path.
My plan is to release into the world a certain Teaching, which will show men that there exists a new approach to living, a new way forward into the future time.
May you be among the first to recognize Me, and through you I may work.
Take upon yourselves this task.
There is none higher which you could do in this life. Commit yourself to this work and serve your brothers.
I am desirous that the world should know of My Presence, should quickly accept Me, and, hopefully, follow My lead.
I am sure that you will not fail Me.
I am certain that you will not reject this privilege, this gift of service; but will willingly take it upon your shoulders, to ease the burden of My Task. My Blessings are upon you all. (Maitreya, from Message No. 5)

One cannot place service too high as a path to gain spiritual enlightenment, because enlightenment itself is awakening to the role of service. The Masters call Their work the Great Service, and as we evolve to eventual Masterhood we come to realize that throughout cosmos there is really only one great law governing the whole activity of what we call divinity – that is service. God comes into incarnation, creates the manifested universe, and the units of God, of which we are the reflection, come into incarnation specifically to serve. There is no other motive. It is to serve the Plan, which itself is service. (Benjamin Creme, Maitreya’s Mission Volume One)

Service is getting down to it, doing the everyday jobs in a rhythm that you can sustain, which will engage your energy, strength and concentration, but not to the point of totally overtaxing it. That is finding the right rhythm – getting the maximum out of yourself with some conservation of energy.
To have a reasonable rhythm you have to recognize priorities and learn to choose between even major priorities. Nobody can do everything. You have to choose that which is the most valuable to the Plan, to the task at hand, and do that as the number one priority. At the same time you have the responsibilities of life. It is not in talking to the media or sitting in Transmission Meditation that you take initiation. It is in life, and only in life, that you undergo the transformations in character, the purification of both motive and bodies which allow you to take initiation. We are responsible for our duties – the human responsibilities of family life, professional life and so on. All of that has to be met as fully as we can. At the same time we have the duty of service.
The problem for the disciple is that he is in the world, and yet, in a sense, he is not of the world. He has to maintain this double relationship: both feet totally in life, relating with everything and everyone that comes his way, learning to cope with all of that and at the same time maintaining an isolation, an inner sense of himself as a disciple, in the midst of that maelstrom. For a disciple, life is more difficult than for everyone else. Imagine a great river in flood. Where the water goes between the supports of a bridge, it is unhindered, meets no obstacle. When it hits the supports, these take the full weight of the flood. The disciple is the support of the bridge and necessarily takes the impact, the strains and stresses of life itself. It is not easy to be a disciple. You have to find a balance. Nobody can tell you. You have to do it in your own way, from your common sense. (Benjamin Creme, Maitreya’s Mission Volume Two)

Clearly, many hands will be needed in the creation of the new society. Many are the tasks to be performed. Many are the adjustments which must be made. All who wish to serve will hear the call to service ringing in their hearts and from the heart will they respond. The united voice of the people of all lands calling for justice and sharing will set up an invocation which nothing can resist. Thus will the world be transformed. Thus, gradually, will the new forms be created, the new relationships forged, a new and happier era dawn for humanity under the guidance of the Christ and the Masters. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘A new era dawns’)

Service is the lever of the evolutionary path. Through service we learn to identify with that which we serve, and so a shift occurs in our centre of focus. It shifts from the personal, the selfish, to the impersonal, the unselfish. And, in doing that, we identify more and more with more and more. The way is through service. That is why it was instituted by the Christ in Palestine, as a lever for the evolutionary process, because, as we begin to serve, we become more and more decentralized, we identify with more and more, until we can identify with everything that is. And when we can identify with everything that is, we are everything that is. We are God. We release our Divinity. (Benjamin Creme, The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom)

There comes a time in the history of each nation when its soul quality begins to manifest itself more powerfully and to give rise to the appearance of major figures in the realms of art or science, politics or religion. When this happens, we see the emergence of influential men and women who give colour and coherence to a nation’s endeavours. Deeply creative, they inspire those around them with their vision, and help to create the culture of their time. They are the disciples and initiates who articulate for others the genius of their nation.
At the present time, we await the arrival of such powerful figures on the world’s stage. Trained by the senior members of the Esoteric Hierarchy, there now exists a group of spiritually oriented men and women equipped to deal effectively with the problems of the time. When the call sounds forth, which soon it will, they will take up the work for which they have been prepared: the reconstruction of our planetary life along entirely new lines.
Working in all fields, this group of dedicated disciples will show the way for humanity to follow. Coming as they do from many nations, they will be able to focus and channel the aspirations of all people for a world of peace and justice. They are, for the most part, unknown at present, but soon their names and work will bring a light to men’s eyes, inspiring them with hope and expectation of a better future. They work today unseen but are ready to put their gifts and training at the service of the race. They will be known for their altruistic love and wise judgement; for their sense of duty and dedication to their task. Trained by Masters, they will reflect something of Their detachment and knowledge, bringing a new rhythm and order into our chaotic world. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘The emergence of great servers’)

Signs of the time

Demands grow for investigation of UFOs

UFOs are one of the most popular subjects for Freedom of Information requests. Demand was so high when the French national space agency released its own UFO files in March 2007 that the website crashed. Now, a massive public response is expected when the British Ministry of Defence opens its archive of 7,000 UFO reports to the public in spring 2008.
Previously highly classified, the files almost never saw the light of day, as David Clarke, a lecture in journalism at Sheffield Hallam University and author of Flying Saucerers: A Social History of UFOlogy, discovered. After lodging hundreds of Freedom of Information requests, he was told by the MOD that it was considering destroying the files because they were contaminated with asbestos pollution. Fortunately the government department instigated a £3 million project to scan the files before they were destroyed.
The UK’s decision could lead the US government – long under pressure to open its UFO files – to follow suit. In November 2007 a panel of former high-ranking government, aviation and military officials from seven countries convened at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, to demand that the US government set up a new probe into UFO sightings. The former military pilots on the panel had seen some strange things in the sky during their flying careers, and most of the other panellists had witnessed a UFO or investigated sightings. A panellist from the British Defence Ministry noted that 5 per cent of UFO reports still have no official explanation – these being the ones that should be looked into.
Among the panellists were former Arizona Governor Fife Symington, who claims to have seen a delta-shaped craft with enormous lights float silently over Phoenix in 1997. “It’s a question of who are you going to believe: your lying eyes or the government?” asked former US Federal Aviation Administration investigator John Callahan, who accuses the CIA of trying to cover up the 1987 Alaska sighting of a huge lighted ball four times the size of a jumbo jet. The USA, however, scrapped its series of systematic UFO studies, Project Blue Book, in 1970. Since then, according to the US Air Force website, “nothing has occurred that would support a resumption of UFO investigations”.
The latest to join the UFO debate is Japan’s top government spokesman, chief cabinet secretary Nobutaka Machimura. “Personally, I absolutely believe they exist,” he said at a press conference on 19 December 2007. How else does one account, he added, for phenomena such as the Peruvian desert Nazca Lines – a vast ancient drawing in the desert, which can only fully be appreciated from the air.
His remarks – just after his government had announced that it had no official knowledge of alien craft – took the Japanese administration by surprise. “The government has not confirmed the existence of ‘unidentified flying objects believed to have flown from outside the Earth’,” it said in response to a question from lawmaker Ryuji Yamane of the opposition Democratic Party. Ryuji Yamane argues that the government should try to confirm what UFOs are, as many people have said they have witnessed them.
Three days after Machimura’s comments, Japanese Minister for Education and Science Kisaburo Tokai became the third member of the Cabinet to make public his views on UFOs, saying he hoped that aliens exist.
Public response on the internet to this debate indicates that most people would prefer their governments to be open about the obvious existence of spacecraft seen in skies throughout the world. (Source: The Observer, UK; CityNews.ca; AFP, France; Japannewsreview.com; Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan)

Recent reports of UFO activity

Cyprus – In November 2007 a local newspaper received numerous accounts from readers of UFO activity over the Mediterranean island, including:
An object observed for two minutes over Kyrenia by a witness who described it as being “an oblong shape, like a rugby ball on its end and was glowing very bright orange. It came inland from the coast near a village called Catalkoy, in small but rapid zigzags then stopped and hovered for approximately 30 seconds before making a smooth ascent at 45 degrees up to the east towards a very bright star. It then disappeared. A friend had sighted a similar event at the same spot a month previously.” The newspaper said that the reports were just the “latest in a series of incidents of unidentified objects in our skies”. (Source: The Famagusta Gazette, Cyprus)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that these sightings were genuine; the spacecraft were from Mars; the “very bright star” was in fact a Mothership)

UK – With its own archive of UFO reports due to be opened to the public in Spring 2008, the British Ministry of Defence responded in August 2007 to a Freedom of Information request with details of 52 UFO sightings in Sussex, England, between 1998 and 2006.
Since then, more were sighted in the area just before Christmas 2007, and a number have already been reported to local media in the New Year, including the following account of a UFO flying over the Sussex Downs near Lancing, West Sussex. Michelle Huggett was astounded to see an object moving very rapidly from east to west. “It was moving very fast east to west but then just suddenly stopping. There was absolutely no noise at all. It was spooky.” (Source: theargus.co.uk)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the spacecraft was from Venus.)

USA –Unusual lights in the sky just after midnight on 31 December 2007, were witnessed by dozens in San Diego, California. Ryan Keegan said that he and his wife Rachael and a group of their friends, “saw four orange lights in a square and right behind there were three orange lights in a triangle. There was no sound, no flashing lights, no vapour trail, just solid lights.” Four more lights appeared in the sky a few minutes later, travelled east to west, then disappeared. (Source: signsonSanDiego.com)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms these to be authentic sightings of spacecraft from the planet Mars.)
Meanwhile, in Stephenville, Texas, dozens of people – including a pilot, a policeman and local businessmen – reported seeing lights in the sky on the evening of 8 January, 2008. Some witnesses reported fighter jets chasing the craft. (Source: Telegraph TV, USA)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that this was an authentic sighting of spacecraft from the planet Mars. It was, indeed, chased by fighter planes.)

From our own correspondents

excerpts from articles and interviews

Water is key: a better future for Africa

Interview with Gil Garcetti
by McNair Ezzard

Gil Garcetti served as district attorney for the County of Los Angeles from 1992-2000. While photography had been an interest of his for over 35 years, it wasn’t until the failure of his re-election bid in 2000 that he decided to pursue it full-time. He now receives wide acclaim for his work and has had four books of photography published and held exhibitions at, among others, the National Building Museum in Washington, the Pasadena Museum of California Art, and most recently the UCLA Fowler Museum, Los Angeles. In 2003, American Photo magazine named Garcetti one of four master photographers in the US. He is also President of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission.
Garcetti’s latest book, Water is Key: A Better Future for Africa is the result of several trips to West Africa. As with two of his other books, Iron: Erecting the Walt Disney Concert Hall and Dance in Cuba, Garcetti is continuing his effort to raise public awareness about people who seldom receive, but could often benefit from, the world’s attention. Water is Key is about the plight of people in West Africa who have long lived without safe water. Garcetti’s photographs depict the hardships, optimism and economic successes of a people who have not only survived, but have thrived when they gain access to safe water.
McNair Ezzard interviewed Gil Garcetti for Share International.

Share International: How did your latest book project get started?
Gil Garcetti: I had just left office in December 2000 as district attorney. My wife was already scheduled to go to West Africa with the Hilton Foundation, who have been funding safe water projects in West Africa for a number of years. I tagged along with a camera, and that was my first exposure to the issue of safe water. I saw all the various problems – the poverty, the disease, the low income, but also the beauty, the hope there.
I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with these photographs, but after 9/11, I decided I had to try and do something worthwhile with my experience there.
These are primarily Muslim countries. We need to be seen as caring for others, including Muslims. I decided that not only is it the right and moral thing to do, but the politically right thing to do. That’s when I went to the Hilton Foundation and asked if they were interested in underwriting the book and providing it free of charge to NGOs [non-governmental organizations] working in West Africa.

SI: How exactly is your book intended to help?
GG: In two respects. Firstly, the Hilton Foundation is providing the NGOs with free copies of the book. It’s expected that the NGOs in turn will use the book to raise money for their work in West Africa on safe water. Secondly, I have volunteered to work with any NGO, at any event, and make a pitch for them to people, groups, and businesses to give money to the NGOs. If they want to use any of my artwork, then at least 50 per cent of the proceeds from the artwork go to that NGO.

SI: Do you personally make any money off the book?
GG: No.

SI: What was one of the surprising things you learned when first going to West Africa?
GG: It was learning that over 70 per cent of the people in these countries don’t have safe water. There is plenty of water in West Africa, but it is all underground. These countries, which are among the poorest in the world (Niger being the poorest), simply do not have the money or expertise to bring safe water to their people.

SI: Which countries have you visited in West Africa?
GG: Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast and Niger.

SI: I understand you’ve met with the President of Mali. What did he say regarding your work?
GG: He said it was the most important thing that I could be doing. If there were just one thing that he could do for his people in Mali, it would be to give them safe water because “everything good flows from safe water”. That’s a direct quote. But he simply doesn’t have the money. His country is one of the poorest in the world.

SI: Why is water such a major issue?
GC: It is one of the necessities of life. You can see what happens when there is dirty, unclean, unsanitary water. And water is scarce. The beauty about the water situation in West Africa is that there is plenty of it and it is replenishable. These are not wells that are going to be dug and then go dry in a few years.

SI: How have people traditionally got their water in West Africa?
GG: At watering holes, lakes and streams. They also dig ‘traditional’ wells where they can access water that is not too deep, maybe 30 to 40 feet, but they get contaminated very quickly, because people don’t cover the water or the well. They permit animals to defecate near the well, and that pollution seeps into the water table.

SI: What ill effects do people suffer?
GG: There is generally poor health; people suffer from stomach problems and babies die from diarrhea. Guinea worm is a parasite that enters the body through contaminated water. It grows as a very long worm that is incredibly debilitating. There is also river blindness. Virtually every ailment you can imagine comes from the bad water.

SI: What are some of the other repercussions for villages when there is little or no access to safe water?
GG: Girls don’t go to school because they have to fetch water, agriculture is greatly diminished, and husbands have to leave home to find work in other cities or countries.

SI: Why do women and girls serve in the role of fetching water? Is it their traditional role?
GG: Yes. That’s exactly it. Men will fetch water for their animals.

SI: Would you describe a typical day in the life of a woman before they have access to a well?
GG: They will start sometimes at five o’clock in the morning on their trek to get water. It may take several hours before they return with it, depending on how far they have to go. If necessary, they make two trips. They also have all the chores that women usually have – trying to keep the compound clean, washing the clothes, etc. But so much of their time is spent on simply going for water and then trying to filter it. It’s not atypical that women and girls will spend four, five, six hours a day on this alone.

SI: What is the man’s role?
GG: Agriculture primarily. They also build the huts and maybe the schools, and the storage for grain.

SI: I’ve heard you speak about a borehole well. What is the difference between that and a traditional well?
GG: A traditional well consists of digging a relatively shallow hole and spreading a little concrete around the rim. A borehole well is constructed by using a rig to drill for water, then bringing the water up in an encapsulated fashion: the pipe is capped, a pump installed, and a huge concrete pad laid out with a concrete wall around the circumference to keep animals away. The people are then trained to maintain the pump.

SI: After a new borehole well is constructed, how does life change for the women?
GG: It’s a phenomenon that I would never have expected. Women suddenly realize they’ve got plenty of time, which they use to focus on the family, on their children and on the betterment of the village. They start demanding schools and healthcare. They are empowered.
The women themselves often become the microcredit entrepreneurs of the village. I’ve seen incredible successes that benefit the entire village in terms of schools and in terms of a higher standard of living. They bring money to the village that they never had before: to provide medical services, to buy grain supplies for droughts and other emergencies. It gives everyone a different sense of their own worth.

SI: How does the microcredit process work in West Africa?
GG: Various organizations with the funds go into villages where safe water is being brought in, and offer the villagers microcredit loans – 50, 75, 100 dollars. It’s invariably the women who take up the offer to start small businesses. They have to pay the money back, but they have a phenomenal success rate in terms of the money being paid back. Over 95 per cent of the loans in West Africa get paid back fully within a year-and-a-half. The people really begin to prosper much more than before they had safe water. [End of excerpt]

“Walking my talk”

Interview with Dianne Lang, Samaritan extraordinary
by Gill Fry

Born in South Africa, Dianne Lang worked as a psychologist before making a life-changing decision in 2000 to help improve HIV and AIDS healthcare and education in her country. In her recently published book Saving Mandela’s Children she recounts her extraordinary story: starting from scratch to hold workshops and train carers in the economically-deprived township of Middleburg; rescuing abandoned children and forming a children’s home; and battling with the local authorities for the rights of those children.
The Dianne Lang Children’s Home offers support and shelter for neglected children, many with HIV and AIDS. It receives no government funding and faces a constant struggle to continue, relying mainly on private donations, especially sent from the UK. At the same time as winning prestigious awards for her work Dianne has faced on-going threats to remain silent on exposing corruption in the failing childcare system. In December 2006 she was forced to flee to the UK under threat of her life.
Gill Fry interviewed her for Share International.

Share International: What was it like growing up in South Africa?
Dianne Lang: I was born and bred in a part of South Africa called the Transkei so I was brought up in a tribal system: I have one foot in a very African world and one in a very white world. I can step into the western world but I also have a deep understanding of African tribal culture: the first language I spoke was Xhosa, not English. My parents were business traders and I was the sixth generation born in Africa. We were the only whites around, everybody else was black.
The Transkei was self-governing since 1964 so, as a self-governing tribal system, we were not affected by apartheid South Africa. When you live under tribal rule the headman and the paramount chief are the authority. Your parents don’t punish you if you are out of line. They send you to the headman and you have to explain your bad behaviour to him and he decides your punishment. It was very different and I only saw apartheid after moving to South Africa as an adult. I was horrified by it: about the separateness, because I hadn’t seen it before.

SI: What was it like to see the ending of Apartheid?
DL: When we had this new South Africa I was really happy because now we had what we wanted. I was filled with hope for this democratic, free South Africa. South Africans all had something to do with the drawing up of the constitution before Nelson Mandela was made President. We worked to make sure that everyone was going to have their rights. I attended many conferences, thrashed out ideas, looked at the Declaration of Human Rights. I believe our Constitution is the best in the world.
We looked at the Childcare Act and the Criminal Procedures Act. So much legislation was changed to make a fair situation for all concerned. The Constitutional Court became the highest court in the land and all lower courts would have to abide by the spirit of the Constitution making sure that people weren’t imprisoned for no reason. Everybody, even including those who had been quite racist prior to the ANC taking over, felt hopeful because of the Constitution. In the elections, when we all voted together, it was truly the most peaceful day. And in June 1995 when the Springboks won the rugby all of South Africa rejoiced because it epitomized a togetherness of a nation that had been through absolute hell. People felt joyous and hopeful for this beautiful country and for the things we were going to do. We would be different from the rest of Africa.

SI: So what happened after the new start for South Africa?
DL: When Mr Mbeki became President I started looking at this country and wondered where is it going. We have a huge AIDS situation with people dying like flies and a minister of health who won’t give us any medicine. Mbeki was saying that HIV didn’t cause AIDS, that it’s caused by poverty. The minister of health tells us we can cure ourselves with lemon juice, beetroot and garlic; that the medication is worse than the disease itself; and now our witch doctors are saying ‘rape a baby and you will be cured of AIDS’.
Now there are no jobs, and everyone, including white people are standing on the streets holding out their hand begging for food. If you are white and male you cannot get a job because of ‘affirmative action’, which has been wrongly implemented. Now it is only the previously disadvantaged people getting jobs. What is happening in government is that, due to affirmative action, people who are not qualified have positions of power. There is a huge brain drain out of the country with whites and educated blacks leaving in droves.

SI: How did you get involved in HIV/AIDS education?
DL: I was flying back from Edinburgh and thinking: “I don’t want to go home.” I had a panic attack and realized I’d had the most wonderful time and didn’t want to go back to that feeling of looking over my shoulder to check if I was going to be beaten, robbed, stabbed or shot.
Then I thought: I can’t do anything about the unemployment or crime, but I can do something about HIV and AIDS. Within two weeks of landing, my friend and I put together an AIDS awareness workshop to counteract what the government was telling people on posters, that “HIV and AIDS = death”. I thought: HIV and AIDS doesn’t lead to death, you can live quite a long time with it.
We started AIDS workshops in Port Elizabeth. Then I realized there were already quite a lot of NGOs there and I needed to go where the poverty was the worst, where nobody would go – and I found a place called Middleburg, in the Eastern Cape. I was using my own money; getting no help from anybody.
My dream was to put a home-based carer on every street in every township in the area and within two years I had a qualified home carer on every street in that area, fully equipped to look after people so they didn’t have to die alone and afraid. I also trained a group of people to teach HIV and AIDS awareness through drama, going from school to school teaching children. I trained peer groups in the school to be buddies to AIDS kids who were orphaned, and I trained the trainers to train other trainers.

SI: How did you begin looking after abandoned children?
DL: I bought a little house in Middleburg for the HIV trainers and the support groups to come to, and because HIV was still a bad word to use, we called it Dianne’s Friends Group. I stayed there one night when there was a knock at the door. I opened it and there were three little children there.

In her book Dianne recalls how a man who works with street children was standing on the doorstep saying: “I have found these three children in a chicken run and I can’t look after them because one is a baby and the other two are girls. Can you take them please?” And before I could say anything he was gone … and looking up at me were these three little children … I opened the door wider and said: “Ghena” (come in). In the light of the passage, I was appalled by what I saw. One girl had a nasty burn from a fire on her leg, and did not know her name or how old she was. She was dressed in rags with no shoes on her feet and was shivering from the cold. She said she could not remember how long she had been in the chicken run but that sometimes people would throw food at her … The other little girl told me that her name was Blou (blue) and that the little boy was her brother. He did not have a name so she called him Boetie (brother).” The children had not eaten for two days, when they had had a little bread; both girls had been raped many times; all three children had scabies and lice; and all were malnourished and extremely traumatized. Dianne fed and bathed the children, dressed them in her clothes and tucked them up in her bed for the night. Without planning it the children’s home was born.

SI: How many children are there now and how did others come to you?
DL: We have 42 children: the youngest is a baby of two and the oldest is 17. A lot of the children I got as tiny babies. They were either left on my doorstep still with their umbilical cord attached, or I found them. I would walk through the streets in the middle of the night and look under cardboard boxes or at the rubbish dump outside town. The children have a name for the rubbish dump: they call it ‘the restaurant’.

In Dianne’s book she describes visiting ‘the restaurant’ for the first time:
“There were children living in old broken cars, making fires to keep themselves warm, and scratching through rubbish looking for something to eat … There were about 20 children between the ages of 3 and 16, all living alone and without any adults. Most of them were sniffing glue from empty milk cartons. They told me it kept them from feeling cold and hungry. All of a sudden I heard a baby crying from inside one of the old cars.” An older boy brought her the screaming baby and explained how the baby was crawling along the road from the brickworks and the children had been looking after him. He was covered in a dirty towel, and had the “biggest mop of unruly black hair”. Dianne picked him up and asked the children if she could look after him.
Dianne continues: I would go there at night: look, call out, be quiet and listen. If I heard a sound I would follow it and find babies. Like Anele who is four now: I found him in the street under a piece of cardboard with not only his umbilical cord but the placenta still attached to him. There I was, in the middle of the night, thinking: “now how do I actually cut this thing?”

SI: How many abandoned children are there in South Africa?
DL: We have 2.8 million orphans that are not being taken care of, that are on the street. [End of excerpt]

Voice of the people

Join the march for peace

On 15 March 2008 peace marches will take place around the world in an event called ‘The World Against War’. It will mark the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq which was preceded by the largest co-ordinated demonstrations the world has seen – 12.5 million people in over 80 countries marching to oppose the invasion of Iraq. The 2008 marches were planned at the World Against War International Peace Conference in London in December 2007, which was attended by over 1,200 delegates from the peace movement across the world. Representatives from 26 countries addressed the conference and discussed future strategies.
The organizers of World Against War are asking for participants from all backgrounds and political persuasions to join in this huge display of people power and call for, according to US-based anti-war group ANSWER: “The creation of a powerful grassroots movement [which] is key to ending the war in Iraq and changing an overall political direction that threatens widening disaster.”
A massive turn-out is expected on this global day of protest, with marches taking place around the world “from Washington to Beirut, from Sydney to Seoul”, according to British organizers Stop the War Coalition. “We aim to show our rulers that the overwhelming majority here and around the world want to see an end to these immoral, irresponsible and frightening wars.”
The Iraq war is now the United States’ second-longest war in its history and has claimed the lives of 4,000 American soldiers and over 1 million Iraqis.
While many of the organizers are calling for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and against a future invasion of Iran, demonstrators are also using 15 March as an opportunity to call for an end to all war and demand peace and justice in the world.
Benjamin Creme’s Master calls the growing people power movement “the most important political event of our time”. In His article ‘The voice of Maitreya’ He says: “Add your voice to that gathering clamour for peace and justice and become aware of your place in history. A new world is in the making and requires the involvement of all: all have a part to play in this great undertaking; none should feel too young or too old to voice aloud their aspirations. Soon, Maitreya, Himself, will focus this demand for a new way of living, adding His insight and experience to the cry from men for justice and peace.”
Many Share International co-workers around the world will be marching with banners calling for sharing as the only way to justice and peace.
(For more information: www.stopwar.org, www.theworldagainstwar.org)

Protest to highlight crisis in Gaza

An emergency protest to end the siege on the occupied Palestinian territory of Gaza took place on 12 January 2008 outside the UK’s Prime Ministerial residence, in Downing Street, London. It was organised by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign as part of their International Campaign. 
The siege of Gaza began in June 2006 when the Israeli army closed all the border crossings, cutting supplies of food and medicine. Since Hamas won the Palestinian elections in January 2006 with 60 per cent of the vote, the USA and European Union (EU) have suspended all direct aid to the Palestinians, classing Hamas, who refuse to recognize the state of Israel, as terrorists even though they were democratically elected.
On 19 September 2007, the Israeli government declared Gaza a ‘hostile entity’, and on 28 October 2007, cut fuel shipments to Gaza’s only power plant from 360,000 litres a day to 213,000 litres – almost a 30 per cent reduction, according to Naharu al-Hismawy, the director of Gaza’s main fuel distribution centre. Israel controls the provision of all the fuel and two-thirds of Gaza’s electricity, and on 3 January 2008, the Israeli High Court of Justice rejected an appeal by human rights groups for an injunction against fuel cuts to the Gaza Strip. The Israeli High Court have been asked several times to restore the amount of fuel to pre-28 October levels. They have been presented with an affidavit from Hassan Khalaf, the general manager of Shjifa Hospital in Gaza City, who described severe electricity cuts of up to 12 hours a day, causing breakdowns in medical equipment.
The World Food Programme reported that only 41 per cent of Gaza’s food demand is being covered, causing hunger and malnutrition. 210,000 people have access to drinking water for only 1-2 hours a day and essential medical treatment inside Israel is being denied to Palestinians. 
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said: “These sanctions are collective punishment against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and without a doubt will lead to a further deterioration of our situation.”
Sources in Israel say that the army are preparing for further military action inside Gaza, causing untold misery to its citizens. The escalation of military action by Israel, and the sanctions by the USA and European Union, are systematically attempting to overturn the results of the last Palestinian parliamentary election, declared free and fair by the international community. (Source: www.endgazasiege.net; Jerusalem Post, Israel; Associated Press, The New York Times, USA)

Global demonstrations to halt climate change damage

Hundreds and thousands of people across the globe took to the streets to demand action on climate change during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, from 3-14 December 2007. Demonstrations took place in 86 countries on 8 December, the ‘Global Day of Action’, with protesters demanding urgent action from world leaders to do more to prevent the destabilization of the Earth’s climate.
Below is a selection of the many events that took place on that day:
Austria – A ‘lights out for five minutes’ was organized, with people switching off electricity at 8pm. The action was well publicized in the media and had a measurable effect on the Austrian power grid.
Belgium – In Brussels, 4,000 people demonstrated, and, as in many other cities around the world, braved heavy rain to make their point.
Bolivia – The Campaign for Quality of Life (lidema) organized a sustained campaign in 10 cities between October and December 2007, which included educational workshops, reading material, marches and tree plantings.
Bulgaria – A film screening and a ‘climate performance art’ show were held in Sofia to highlight the issue.
Canada – Thirty events took place, including 3,000 marching in Toronto and 600 in Vancouver, among others.
China – Around 1,000 students from 24 universities joined in protest, with a unified message: “One kilowatt saving, our future cooling.”
Costa Rica – In Santa Ana, students made a visit to President Oscar Arias to deliver letters from children from 40 primary schools. They returned to take part in a ‘Climate walk’, handing out leaflets to local residents about the issue.
Greece – Six thousand marched in Athens, where they had suffered catastrophic forest fires earlier in the year.
India – Over 1,000 people marched in Delhi, 400 in Bhopal, and hundreds of other events across the country. In Bangalore over a thousand ‘Greenpeace India’ volunteers used placards to spell out messages such as “climate change knows no boundaries” in the stands on the first day of the India-Pakistan cricket match, watched by millions. “I volunteered for this activity with Greenpeace because it’s my world to save. I don’t need to be a superhero and teaming up with others I will do what I can to collectively make a difference,” said Shams, a student who held a placard with the message “Climate Change is World Emergency”.
Philippines – In Quezon City, hundreds of students, bikers, runners, volunteers and supporters took part in a Renewable Energy Parade.
Senegal – 500 marched in Dakar.
Sweden – Over a thousand people marched in Stockholm. Some people dressed up in animal costumes – a polar bear or a homeless orangutan sitting at a bus stop – to highlight the plight of endangered species threatened by climate change.
Thailand – Thousands were involved in protests, and at Chatuchak weekend market, one of the world’s biggest weekend markets, there was a ‘Climate Clinic’ where solar energy was demonstrated and people calculated their carbon dioxide emissions.
Turkey – Hundreds marched in many cities, with protesters co-ordinating the setting-off of alarm clocks at 12pm as a ‘wake-up call’ on global warming.
Uganda – 2,000 people took to the streets of the capital Kampala.
UK – Over 10,000 demonstraters in London, UK, marched to the US Embassy in protest at President Bush’s reluctance to agree to emissions targets. They were joined by a ‘mass cycle’ of around 300 cyclists, and listened to speeches by politicians and activists. Although the event took place in pouring rain and driving wind, the march remained cheerful and upbeat. A letter to Prime Minister Gordon Brown calling for a tougher climate change bill was delivered to No 10 Downing Street.
USA – From coast to coast demonstrators demanded that state Representatives sign the Safe Climate Act, with farmers protesting alongside environmental activists for energy efficiency legislation and protection for their way of life. Displays of local portraits and messages made local feelings clear. Michigan protesters displayed huge banners on the shores of Lake Erie to draw attention to the shrinking of the Great Lakes, and in New York ‘Step It Up’ protesters braved hurricane-force winds to deliver hundreds of letters to Congress calling for radical action to cut US energy use. And in 30 locations, from Massachusetts Alaska, the ‘Polar Bear Plunge’ event saw demonstrators jumping into freezing waters to demand “Keep Winter Cold”. “We want our elected leaders – the congressmen, senators and the president – to realize that global warming is a serious problem that needs their leadership,” said organizer Roger Shamel. (Sources: The Independent, UK; greenpeace.org; globalclimatecampaign.org; campaigncc.org; indymedia.org; flickr.com)