Our Little Earth – March 28, 2008

March 28, 2008
Our Little Earth
The Electronic Newspaper for Kids
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WHAT’S GOING ON
Conflict in Tibet for independence

Photo of Dalai Lama On March 10th, Buddhist monks started protests in Tibet, China, because they feel Tibetans are not being treated fairly and they want Tibet to be a separate country. Over the last few days, the protests have increased and more of the Tibetan people have become involved.

The history between Tibet and China goes way back. Around 700AD, Tibet was an independent kingdom. Over the centuries, Tibet has sometimes been an independent country and sometimes been part of China. In 1950, China took over Tibet, and called it an “autonomous region” of China. The Dalai Lama was the political and spiritual leader of the Tibetans. Nine years later he fled with a large number of his followers to India and has been living there since. He believes in peacefully fighting for his people’s rights, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.

Tibet is a geographic wonder. Imagine 3 million people living in an area that is greater than France, Greece and Italy put together, at a height taller than the highest peaks of the Alps in Europe or the Rockies in North America! That’s Tibet for you – it’s no wonder it is called the “Roof of the World”!

Bhutan becomes world’s newest democracy

Monastery in Bhutan Bhutan, a country the size of Switzerland nestled in the Himalayas, just had elections for its first democratic government ever. Bhutan had so far been a monarchy – it was governed by a king.

The elections were quite a success. 80% of the population voted, and many people traveled for days in order to cast their first ever vote. The election was won by Jigmi Thinley and his party. The current head of Bhutan, King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, is still going to play an important role in the country.

Bhutan is very scenic, with lots of mountains, rivers, gorges, and forests. One of its most famous landmark’s is the Tigers’ Nest Monastery which literally hangs from a cliff (see photo).

Bhutan has a fascinating culture. It is one of the last countries to introduce television – they didn’t have it until 1999. It is also the only country that has a ban on selling cigarettes. There are no traffic lights and fast-food chains in Bhutan. Education and healthcare are free. There is a strong emphasis on traditions – the Bhutanese are required to wear their national dresses in many public places and events. Bhutan actually measures something called Gross National Happiness – a way to keep track of how happy and satisfied its citizens are. Perhaps the world’s newest democracy has some important things to teach to some of the world’s oldest!

Olympic torch starts run towards Beijing

Olympic Torch The Olympic torch was lit at a ceremony in Olympia, Greece on March 24, and began its journey to Beijing, China where the 29th Olympic Games will begin on August 8.

The torch was lit in the traditional way of using a parabolic mirror to focus the sun’s rays. It’ll be carried by a few thousand runners through 20 countries, and will travel 136,800 km (85,000 miles) before arriving in Beijing for the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. This will be the longest distance an Olympic flame has traveled before the Games.

Before each Olympics, the flame is lit in Olympia, the home of the modern Olympics, and is carried to the place hosting the games that year. This tradition has been going on since 1936 – the Olympic flame itself was introduced a few years earlier in 1928. The flame is sometimes transported using means such as planes and boats, and has also been carried on camels, canoes and even under water! In 1976, the flame was carried by a radio signal, when it jumped from Greece to Canada using a radio-triggered laser. This year’s relay will also try to achieve something new for the Olympic flame – it will climb to the top of Mt. Everest!

SOMETHING FAMOUS
Potala Palace

Let’s visit the Potala Palace! This used to be the home of the Dalai Lama in Tibet until the 1950s, and is now a museum. It has thirteen stories, is on top of a hill 12,000 feet high, has more than 1000 rooms and 200,000 statues, took more than 7000 workers and 1500 artists to build, and is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and lakes. For over two hundred years, it was the world’s tallest occupied building. The Potala Palace is the greatest monument in Tibet and one of the most outstanding ones in the world! In its 450 years of existence, the Potala Palace has served both religious and administrative purposes.  As home of the Dalai Lama, it was a place of pilgrimage and a school for monks. Some pilgrims even make the journey to the Potala by laying themselves on the ground and moving one step at a time for hundreds of miles! In addition, the palace was also the seat of the Tibetan government. As the picture shows, the Palace is actually made up of two palaces – the white palace and the red palace – that were built about 50 years apart.

DID YOU KNOW
The Olympic flag has a white background with five interlaced rings with different colors – blue, yellow, black, green, and red. At least one of these colors appears on every national flag of the world at the present time.
The fastest backwards marathon was run by Xu Zhenjun from China in the Beijing International Marathon in 3 hr 43 min 39 sec on October 17, 2004.
FUNNY BONE
Young Johnny walked in the door, a smile on his face. “Say, Dad, I have good news. Remember you promised to pay me ten dollars if I passed the math exam?”
Johnny’s father looked up from his newspaper and nodded.
“Well, ” said Johnny, “I saved you the money.”
GO FIGURE
I’m mentioned in this edition. The letters of my name can be rearranged to spell “Employs magic”. What am I?
The blanks in the following sentences will be filled in with three different words that are spelled differently but sound alike. The dashes indicate the number of letters in the words. Can you fill in the blanks?

:”The wound on his _ _ _ _  won’t _ _ _ _ in time for the relay race, so _ _ ‘_ _ have to drop out.”

FIGURED OUT
Puzzle from last edition:
In my country we have a very fast train,
I border a nation that rhymes with grain.
One of my neighbors looks like a boot,
The other has castles and cars with repute,
Another I touch is famous for chocolate and cheese,
I am mentioned in this edition, you will guess me with ease!
Solution:
France. The other countries are Spain, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland.
Puzzle from last edition: Two fathers and two sons breakfasted on three eggs. Each person ate a whole egg. How is that possible?
Solution:
Three people were seated at the breakfast table: a grandfather, his son, and his grandson. The grandfather and his son are fathers, and the son and grandson are sons.
ETCETERA
Credits: BuddhaNet for Bhutan photo, Budhismus for Dalai Lama photo, SacredSites for Potala Palace photo.
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