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Friday, February 21, 2014

Obama to meet Dalai Lama on Friday as U.S. urges talks with China

(Reuters) - President Barack Obama will meet exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama at the White House on Friday in a show of concern about China's human rights practices.
Obama's midmorning session with the Dalai Lama may well draw a reprimand from China, which views him as a violent separatist because he seeks more autonomy for Tibet.
In what appeared to be a small concession to the Chinese, Obama will see the Dalai Lama in the White House Map Room, a historically important room but of less significance than the Oval Office, the president's inner sanctum.
But the fact the meeting is taking place at all reflects U.S. concerns about a wide range of Chinese activities from human rights practices to territorial tensions in the East China Sea. Obama's U.S. strategic pivot, or rebalancing, toward Asia is seen as a reaction to the growing clout of China.
The White House views the Dalai Lama as "an internationally respected religious and cultural leader" and noted Obama had met with him twice before, in February 2010 and July 2011.
A senior Chinese official vowed this week to ignore foreign pressure on human rights, and said foreign leaders who meet with the Dalai Lama should "pay a price" for it.
The United States recognizes Tibet as part of China and does not support Tibetan independence, but supports the Dalai Lama's approach for more autonomy, said Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council.
"We are concerned about continuing tensions and the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibetan areas of China," Hayden said.
"We will continue to urge the Chinese government to resume dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives, without preconditions, as a means to reduce tensions," Hayden said in a statement announcing the 10 a.m.(1500 GMT) meeting.
The United States has also been concerned about a territorial dispute between China and Japan over a remote chain of islands in the East China Sea. Washington has vowed to ignore an air defense zone declared over the area by Beijing.
The White House is expected to issue a statement about the meeting after it takes place.

The Dalai Lama was in Washington on Thursday meeting with the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative organization.
Source Credit: The Reuters

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Blaze destroys ancient Tibetan town dubbed 'Shangri-La'

A ten-hour inferno has destroyed the ancient Tibetan town which, according to the Chinese government, was the earthly incarnation of the lost paradise of Shangri-la.
The blaze, which began in the early hours of Saturday morning, swept through the narrow alleys of Duzekong, a 1,300-year-old village high up in the mountains of Tibet which was once a stop on the southern Silk Road.
Thousands of firefighters, soldiers and police were mobilised to fight the blaze, but were unable to save hundreds of the traditional wooden buildings that helped create a boom in tourism since 2001, when China officially renamed Duzekong - and the modern Chinese town that has sprung up around it - as Shangri-la.
“The fire was huge, the wind was blowing hard and the air was dry,” said He Yu, one of the town’s 3,000 or so residents, to the Associated Press. “It kept burning and the firefighters were there but there was little they could do because they could not get their fire engines into the narrow streets.”
Investigators said the fire began at the Ruyi Inn, and that it was unlikely to be arson. One tourist who visited in 2012 said that electrical wires in the old town were a chaotic tangle and that a shop had caught fire during her visit, causing a mini-blackout.
Source Credit: The Telegraph

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Health Kalon calls on more Tibetans to avail Tibetan medicare

DHARAMSHALA: Health Kalon Dr Tsering Wangchuk has appealed to Tibetans to enrol in Tibetan medicare system to avail the benefits of health care services, as the third year of the programme commences from 1 April.
In an exclusive interview with Tibet TV yesterday, Health Kalon said since the Tibetan medicare system was launched on 1 April 2012, it has been able to enrol 8,000 Tibetans in the first year and 10,000 in the second year. A total contribution of around Rs 79 lakh has been collected in the second year.
He said the health department has provided health care services to over 435 members enrolled in the second year and over 200 members need to be covered before the commencement of the next programme from 1 April 2014. 
Health Kalon said the medicare system launched by the 14th Kashag is aimed at creating a more sustainable financing source for poor Tibetan families as well as those in need of urgent medical attention.
“More Tibetans need to join the medicare programme to reach the target of 20,000 members set by the health department,” health kalon said, adding, “the success of the health insurance depends solely on the participation of the general public.
“As many Tibetans are in different cities for the winter garment business before the third year of the medicare system starts from 1 April,” he said, “the health department will dispatch staff to these areas to raise awareness programme on medicare system and collect insurance fund from the enrolled members in January. Similar programmes will be organised in the Tibetan settlements and cluster areas from February till mid-March.”
“Therefore, we appeal to Tibetans to enrol in the medical system to avail an insured health care services when faced with urgent medical problem,” Health Kalon Dr. Tsering Wangchuk said.
Emphasising that Tibetans based overseas could a vital role in encouraging their family members and relatives living to enrol in the medicare system by providing financial assistance to them, health kalon requested the Offices of Tibet and Tibetan Associations to raise awareness programmes among the public.
The health kalon wished Tibetans good health in 2014.
Who are eligible to receive the benefits? 
All Tibetan people in exile in India can enrol in the Tibetan Medicare System (TMS) and are eligible to receive the benefits.
How much to pay and what is covered?
For a family up to five, you would have to pay INR 3565 and INR 713 for each additional member on yearly basis as contribution, which will cover up the family floater for hospitalisation with reimbursement benefit up to INR 100,000. This includes the cost of the medicines prescribed and bought within one month of the discharge from the hospital. Individuals who are without a family can opt for individual coverage by paying a contribution of INR 950 for a year. For this contribution, an individual would get a reimbursement benefit up to INR 50,000 for hospitalisation expenses at referred hospitals. This includes the cost of the medicines prescribed and bought within one month of the discharge from the hospital. 
How to enroll?
You can enroll at the hospital or the health care center of the Department of Health, CTA, in your settlement. If there is no health care center, enrollment can be done at the office of the Representative or Welfare Officer. A TMS member has the following responsibilities:•    Attend meeting or get information on Tibetan Medicare System•    Make a decision on enrollment•    Fill the enrollment form with help of enrollment officer who could be any one of (Representative, Welfare officer, Doctor, Executive secretary, Health worker, camp leader etc.) •    Submit the form with contribution amount and ID card charge to the enrollment officer•    Verify the accuracy of the information given on your ID card and inform to the enrollment officer if there’s any mistake•    Sign the “Received ID Card” sheet.
How to claim for benefits?
In case of sickness, approach the hospital or health care center of the Department of Health, CTA, or traditional Tibetan medical center in the settlement. If there is no health centers at the settlement, then go to a designated primary care provider In case there is a referral, take the referral slip from the first health care center or hospital and must go only to the referred hospital. After discharge from the hospital, all the original documents should be submitted to the Representative/Welfare officer/Executive secretary of the settlement for the reimbursement of the claim. The claim will be considered only to the enrolled patient who are hospitalised for more than 24 hours.
Claim will not be entertained in the following cases: 1. Submission of unnecessary or excess bills.  2. Any treatment related to alcohol and substance abuse. 3. Cost related to birth control or pregnancy prevention.  4. Vaccination (Included in primary health care services).  5. Cost of injuries related with fighting. 6. Treatment after attempting suicide. Any other health cost not covered under the TMS. 7. Treatment for cosmetic related surgeries.

    Submit your name before 15 March 2014 to your Settlement Office or Hospital under the Department of Health.
    For further information: visit
    Source Credit:

    Sunday, November 17, 2013

    Oldest big cat fossil found in Tibet

    The oldest big cat fossils ever found - from a previously unknown species "similar to a snow leopard" - have been unearthed in the Himalayas.
    The skull fragments of the newly-named Panthera blytheae have been dated between 4.1 and 5.95 million years old.
    Their discovery in Tibet supports the theory that big cats evolved in central Asia - not Africa - and spread outward.
    The findings by US and Chinese palaeontologists are published in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B.

    They used both anatomical and DNA data to determine that the skulls belonged to an extinct big cat, whose territory appears to overlap many of the species we know today.
    "This cat is a sister of living snow leopards - it has a broad forehead and a short face. But it's a little smaller - the size of clouded leopards," said lead author Dr Jack Tseng of the University of Southern California.
    "This ties up a lot of questions we had on how these animals evolved and spread throughout the world.
    "Biologists had hypothesised that big cats originated in Asia. But there was a division between the DNA data and the fossil record."
    Surprising find
    The so-called "big cats" - the Pantherinae subfamily - includes lions, jaguars, tigers, leopards, snow leopards, and clouded leopards.
    DNA evidence suggests they diverged from their cousins the Felinae - which includes cougars, lynxes, and domestic cats - about 6.37 million years ago.
    But the earliest fossils previously found were just 3.6 million years old - tooth fragments uncovered at Laetoli in Tanzania, the famous hominin site excavated by Mary Leakey in the 1970s.
    They found over 100 bones deposited by a river eroding out of a cliff, including the crushed - but largely complete - remains of a big cat skull.The new fossils were dug up on an expedition in 2010 in the remote Zanda Basin in southwestern Tibet, by a team including Dr Tseng and his wife Juan Liu - a fellow palaeontologist.
    "We were very surprised to find a cat fossil in that basin," Dr Tseng told BBC News.
    "Usually we find antelopes and rhinos, but this site was special. We found multiple carnivores - badgers, weasels and foxes."
    Among the bones were seven skull fragments, belonging to at least three individual cats, including one nearly complete skull.
    The fragments were dated using magnetostratigraphy - which relies on historical reversals in the Earth's magnetic field recorded in layers of rock.
    They ranged between 4.10 and 5.95 million years old, the complete skull being around 4.4 million years of age.
    "This is a very significant finding - it fills a very wide gap in the fossil record," said Dr Manabu Sakamoto of the University of Bristol, an expert on Pantherinae evolution.
    "The discovery presents strong support for the Asian origin hypothesis for the big cats.
    "It gives us a great insight into what early big cats may have looked like and where they may have lived."
    However, Prof William Murphy of Texas A&M University, another expert onthe evolutionary relationship of big cats, questioned whether the new species was really a sister of the snow leopard.
    "The authors' claim that this skull is similar to the snow leopard is very weakly supported based on morphological characters alone, and this morphology-based tree is inconsistent with the DNA-based tree of living cats," he told BBC News.
    "It remains equally probable that this fossil is ancestral to the living big cats. More complete skeletons would be beneficial to confirm their findings."
    Dr Tseng and his team plan to return to the fossil site in Tibet next summer to search for more specimens.
    Source Credit: BBC News

    Wednesday, October 16, 2013

    The Dalai Lama Supports Medical Marijuana Use

    The Dalai Lama isn't that keen on recreational marijuana use, but the spiritual leader told supporters in Mexico on Tuesday that he supports legal, medicinal marijuana when the drug has been shown to have value. The comments, in the middle of a debate on the drug in the country as Mexico City considers legislation to legalize pot, came at an event hosted by former president Vicente Fox. Fox supports the legalization of pot for a different reason: because it could cut off a valuable stream of revenue for the country's drug cartels
    Here are the comments, via the AFP, which came in response to a question from the audience:
    The Tibetan spiritual leader, speaking at an event hosted by former Mexican president Vicente Fox, said that "the exception" for smoking marijuana would be if it has pharmaceutical virtues.
    "But otherwise if it's just an issue of somebody (using the drug to have) a crazy mind, that's not good." 
    The Tibetan Buddhist leader, interestingly, didn't get an official welcome from the Mexican government during his five-day visit to the country. That's because the government of current president Enrique Pena Nieto would like to keep building friendlier relations with China. China considers the Dalai Lama to be a dangerous separatist — he's lived in exile for decades. And the country has been known to punish countries, including Mexico, who give the leader an official greeting. 
    Source Credit: the Atlantic Wire

    Saturday, September 14, 2013

    Dalai Lama says China's Tibet policy now 'more realistic'

    The Dalai Lama said Friday he believed China was being "more realistic" about Tibet after decades of what he termed failed hard line policy.
    Beijing has long accused Tibet's exiled spiritual leader of encouraging separatism and violence, but the Nobel Peace laureate said Friday he is only seeking "meaningful autonomy" for Tibetans within China and accepts Chinese rule.
    "China's hardliner policy completely failed (...)," the 78-year-old said after a lecture in Vilnius, capital of current EU president Lithuania.
    "(Chinese) leaders are really now trying to approach (it) more realistically. So that's a hopeful sign."
    "I am quite optimistic," he added, saying he saw some signs of change including more and more Chinese intellectuals and Buddhists showing solidarity with Tibet.
    The statement, which appears to signal a slight change in the tone of the Dalai Lama, follows reports earlier this year suggesting Beijing was considering relaxing its stance on the Buddhist leader.
    The reports said authorities in some Tibetan areas were allowing locals to worship him as a religious leader. However, in July China denied there had been any change in policy.
    The Dalai Lama fled Tibet following a failed uprising against Chinese occupation in 1959 and later founded the Tibetan government-in-exile in India.
    He enjoys a good reputation in Lithuania, having been among the first public figures to welcome the Baltic state's independence in 1990 after a half-century of Soviet rule.
    Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite met privately with him on Wednesday, calling it an "honour" and risking China's ire.
    He wraps up the four-day visit, during which he also visited parliament, on Saturday.

    Read more:

    Source Credit: The Fox

    Wednesday, August 14, 2013

    Quake in Tibet leaves 87 injured

    At least 87 people were injured and over 45,000 houses damaged when a 6.1 magnitude earthquake jolted parts of Tibet on Wednesday.
    The quake was followed by several aftershocks, official media said, adding that about 87 people were injured.
    Traffic is expected to resume in the affected areas as rescuers have cleared most of the roads, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
    Over 100 km of roads linking villages in Ringo, a mountainous town located at the epicentre of the quake, were damaged, affecting more than 3,400 villagers, said Wei Huakui, deputy engineer-in-chief of the armed police team responsible for clearing the roads.
    The earthquake damaged 45,000 houses, as well as multiple highways, bridges and some water conservancy facilities, Wei said.
    Source Credit: The Hindu