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Crystal joins Cross and Crescent
Courtesy of the BBC Online

Israel could use the new symbol to operate as an ICRC member
A diamond-shaped red crystal on a white background is to join the Red Cross and the Red Crescent as an emblem for ambulances and relief workers.


Geneva Convention member states voted by a two-thirds majority for the symbol, ending a decades-old disagreement and opens the way for Israel to join.

Israel had been denied entry because its Red Shield was not approved.

Relief workers and ambulances bearing the Red Cross or Red Crescent symbols are protected under international law.

A spokesman for the Swiss government told reporters it was unfortunate that the crystal had not been adopted by consensus.

The Red Shield of David - or Magen David Adom - was not recognised by the 1949 Geneva Conventions, and Arab states had blocked attempts to find an alternative symbol.

Syrian objections

The new "crystal" - a hollow red diamond on a white background - is regarded as being free from religious, national or cultural connotations.

Israel has said it is ready to use it for missions outside the country's borders - as set down by the Geneva Conventions.

The vote in Geneva was delayed by wrangling between Syria and Israel over access for Syrian medical staff to the Golan Heights.

Syria said it was prepared to approve the crystal but wanted Israel to allow the Syrian Red Crescent access to the plateau, which Israel seized in the closing stages of the 1967 Six-Day War.

Syrian Minister of State Bashar al-Shaar told reporters that Syrians in the Heights "suffered terribly through lack of medical services".

Israel's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Itzhak Levanon, ruled out letting Syria have access because there were no diplomatic relations with Damascus.


October 24, 2005 410-624-2081, 443-829-7321

FOR Wilma

The American Red Cross of Central Maryland has put at least 200 local volunteers on standby as Hurricane Wilma rolls over the southern part of Florida. Most of the volunteers are newly trained by the Red Cross during the weeks since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and prompted an outpouring of compassion here.

More than 360 local volunteers have been deployed to the Gulf Region since late August and hundreds more will be trained within the coming months to continue the relief operation.

Learning to be ready for any emergency situation is everyone's responsibility.

If you would like to help support disaster relief efforts and provide vital necessities to tens of thousands of victims each year, please donate today online

  Be wary of any and all solicitations for money to help disaster victims. We recommend you first visit Charity Navigator to check the authenticity of each charity's site and then link to those sites from Charity Nav. Many email requests look very, very real but are actually just copies.  


Red Cross On the Scene of Three Alarm Fire in Baltimore -- Seven families have been displaced after a 3-alarm fire swept through their row homes late last night. Staff and volunteers from the Central Maryland Red Cross brought immediate disaster relief supplies to all who were impacted, including blankets, food and water, and other vital necessities. The Red Cross then found accommodations for all the affected families left temporarily homeless due to the fire. Nursing and mental health are also providing assistance.

After a flood, cleanup begins

Residents mop up and officials in northeastern Maryland call for federal assistance in the wake of Monday's freakish storm.

By Ariel Sabar and Gus G. Sentementes
Sun Staff

When Patricia Brooks, 40, arrived at her Havre de Grace hair salon yesterday morning, she found a coating of mud, water-logged hairstyle books, ruined dye, soppy hair extensions and marks that suggested the floodwaters had covered the seats of her dryer chairs.

In Port Deposit, where about 20 homes were flooded, one couple played a game of Dude, where's my house?

"Hey, this is part of our deck," said Judith Fisher as she pointed to two boards that had come to rest against a bridge over Rock Run.

"There's more down there," said Michael Fisher as he spied some lumber downstream.

In North East, the storm struck during the busiest season, when boaters head to marinas and tourists to Elk Neck State Park and the row of quaint shops on Main Street.

Terry Dunn cast an eye around the dream antique store she had opened a few months before. Ceiling tiles had tumbled down, mud streaked an Oriental rug, and, to judge by the smell, mildew was afoot.

The few people with any hope of a profit were a three-man sales force from an out-of-town company. Fred Weidner wore a green shirt emblazoned "Sunbelt Rentals" and handed out glossy brochures.

"If you see anyone looking for dehumidifiers, carpet fans, water extraction units, wet-dry vacs -- you name it, we've got it," he said.

A red "condemned" sign hung on the doorpost at 511 Main St., where water swept away part of the foundation and turned the driveway into a jumbled jigsaw puzzle. Robin Kaznaier, 36, a single mother of three who lived there, spent yesterday salvaging belongings, the floor creaking beneath her feet.

If people found any consolation, it was that that the flood had not killed or seriously injured anyone.

Pat Moore of Havre De Grace spent Monday night in a hotel after a swollen creek washed away her front lawn, tipped over a basement wall and swept across her first floor.

"When I first saw the house I was like, 'Oh, my God,'" she said, in ront of the muddy remains of her lawn. "But we are all healthy, no one was hurt and a building is replaceable."

In North East, Carol England had worried that her cat, Moocher, would fail to find high ground as floodwaters rose ankle deep in her nautical-themed gift shop. But Moocher was fine. England followed muddy paw prints to the main display window, where Moocher had found shelter beneath a model of the Chesapeake Light, which marks the mouth of the bay.

Sun staff writers Lynn Anderson, Andrew A. Green, Jennifer McMenamin, Scott Waldman, Joe Nawrozki, Seth Rosen and Ted Shelsby contributed to


What you can do to help:

Donate Funds:
· Because the Red Cross is on the scene as the tragedy unfolds and providing assistance before the full extent of the catastrophe has been tallied, we need cash donations so that we can respond to each situation and each need accordingly.
· We cannot accept donations of material goods because our mission is to provide vital necessities on the spot according to the disaster, so we do not maintain facilities to sort, store or transport material goods.
· The Red Cross responds to a disaster every eight minutes. In central Maryland, the Red Cross responds to two to three disasters daily.
· Most disasters don’t make the news, but are equally devastating to someone who loses everything.
· Funds are urgently needed so that the Red Cross is able to respond to every disaster at the time of the disaster.
· Donate online at or send your contribution to P. O. Box Disaster Relief, Baltimore, MD 21263-0550.

Give Blood:
· Visit for a list of blood drives in your area.
· Each donation of blood helps save three lives.
· Red Cross donation centers are open extended hours to accept your donation. Call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE to schedule a donation.

· Without volunteers emergency disaster relief could not be provided to those in crisis. Volunteers are the reason the Red Cross is able to be there on the scene as the disaster unfolds. Email us at or call 624-2023 to schedule an appointment.

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Tips for safe charitable giving:

  • Don't give your credit card number or your bank account number out in response to phone solicitations.
  • Do not respond to letters that say you have pledged money unless you are sure that you did.
  • Be aware when giving cash. Write checks in the name of the charity, not an individual. Always ask for a receipt.
  • Be suspect of organizations that offer to send a courier or messenger to your home to pick up your donation.


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One Red Cross Volunteer's Work Highlights Good in People
by Loni Ingraham, Towson Times

While most of us were watching the devastation from the hurricanes on television, Pat Shaw, a 67-year-old Red Cross volunteer from Towson, was in the very wet proverbial trenches.

Shaw flew into Florida just as Charley flew out of Florida and Francis was lowering its landing gear. And just days later she was slogging through Ohio and West Virginia during the flooding caused by Ivan.

Like the thousands of other Red Cross volunteers who responded, she was there to provide emergency assistance to help people help themselves get back on their feet.

"The damage in West Virginia was terrible," she says. "The water was 12 to 14 feet over normal, trailers had been washed away, water was up to the rooftops, and the houses were full of mud. Florida was the same thing, but without the mud."

In West Virginia, they met the man with the snake stick when they had to get across a flooded creek to his house.

"Wait a minute," he called to them as he brandished a long stick. "I want to make sure the snakes don't get you. They really come up in high water."

Wading across a rushing creek, skirting snakes, lugging 40-pound bags of supplies, handling the eternal paperwork and sleeping on the floors of hot, muggy shelters „ sometimes too busy to get back to the shelter for a meal before 10 p.m. lights out „ it's pretty demanding.

But "most of us are in pretty good shape," Shaw says.

Shaw's Red Cross duties after the hurricanes had little to do with her professional background. A retired St. Joseph Medical Center nurse, she spent much of her time after the hurricanes or between them walking door to door or traveling in a Red Cross emergency response vehicle, delivering water, bags of ice and snacks.

The snacks were vital for people who were working on their houses with no time to get a meal, and the water and ice were critical when water supplies were contaminated and there was no electricity.

So many people were devastated and crying.

"When you saw them, you couldn't just cut off your feelings," she says.

She remembers the 70-year-old man who saw for the first time the damage that had been done to his home.

"He broke down in tears like a little child and fell into a volunteer's arms," she says. "Sometimes a hug is all a person needs."

And then when it would begin to rain hard again, she remembers the look of fear on the faces of children whose homes already had been flooded out.

"They had lost so much already," she says.

She remembers her own fear when she thought the roof of their shelter was going to blow off during Francis.

"But that just gave us a better feel for what people went through," she says. "It made you identify with them and understand better."

The big story for Shaw, however, was not the destruction, it was the way communities came together.

"People who didn't know their neighbors suddenly did know them," she says. "And there was this outpouring of love.

"Most of the people did not feel sorry for themselves. They had lost everything but they were going forward to begin anew „ and they would tell us to go help somebody else who needs it."

It was, and is, often dirty, sweaty hard work.

"But I'm as happy as a lark," Shaw says. "I do it because I really love it. I feel God has been good to me and I need to give something back."

People during the disaster asked if they should pay the volunteers. "But we emphasize to them that this is not a loan, and we don't expect you to pay us back. This is a gift from the American people, we tell them. We wouldn't even take a dollar."

Shaw makes herself available to the Red Cross "24/7 when she's in town."

This year to date, in addition to her hurricane stints, she has responded to 60 local emergencies „ most of them fires in Baltimore during which she made sure people had temporary food, clothing and shelter.

"You have to like people," Shaw says. "If you like people, you will want to help somebody down and out.

E-mail Loni Ingraham at [email protected].


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