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Positive Trends
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Switzerland: Nations meet in Geneva to make mercury history
25 September 2017 - Signatories to the first global treaty to rein in mercury pollution are gathered in Geneva this week to discuss how to seek further progress. Switzerland, a trader of mercury, is mulling over how to implement the convention. Mercury is a highly toxic heavy metal considered by the World Health Organization to be one of the top ten chemicals of major public health concern. (more)

Quiet energy revolution underway in Japan as dozens of towns go off the grid
19 September 2017 - A northern Japanese city's efforts to rebuild its electric power system after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami mark a quiet shift away from the country's old utility model toward self-reliant, local generation and transmission. The city's steps illustrate a massive yet little known effort to take dozens of Japan's towns and communities off the power grid and make them partly self-sufficient in generating electricity. (more)

US: Washington state to spend $1M on electric-vehicle charging stations
8 September 2017 - The state of Washington will spend $1 million to help construct 15 new charging stations for electric vehicles on some of the busiest highways. The $150 annual registration fees on electric cars will fund the project. The money will be matched by about $1.5 million in private spending to build the charging stations. The charging stations are expected to be completed by June 2019. (more)

France plans to end oil and gas production by 2040
6 September 2017 - France plans to pass legislation this year to phase out all oil and gas exploration and production on its mainland and overseas territories by 2040, becoming the first country to do so, according to a draft bill presented on Wednesday. President Emmanuel Macron wants to make France carbon neutral by 2050 and plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions by leaving fossil fuels, blamed for contributing to global warming, in the ground. (more)

Netherlands: If you build it, the Dutch will pedal
6 September 2017 - Utrecht, with 330,000 residents, is the Netherlands' fourth-largest and fastest-growing city. It is also one of the most bike-friendly places in one of the world's most bike-friendly countries. Elsewhere in the Netherlands, more than a quarter of all trips are made by bicycle, and the federal government has been building up the country's bike infrastructure over the last decade, despite cuts in other sectors. (more)

US: After its dams came down, a river is reborn
4 September 2017 - Downstream, where the Elwha Dam once formed Lake Aldwell, the forest that marked the reservoir's edge is creeping back over its now-dry bed. While the river is reshaping the landscape, people are working to restore an intact ecosystem on the lakebeds. Researchers from the tribe and park botanists have seeded over 400,000 native plants in the footprints of Lake Mills and Lake Aldwell, from Douglas fir to crabapple and dogwood. Plants have started to come back on their own, too, carried by the critters reoccupying this spot. (more)

Kenya brings in world's toughest plastic bag ban
28 August 2017 - Kenyans producing, selling or even using plastic bags will risk imprisonment of up to four years or fines of $40,000 (£31,000) from Monday, as the world's toughest law aimed at reducing plastic pollution came into effect. The east African nation joins more than 40 other countries that have banned, partly banned or taxed single use plastic bags, including China, France, Rwanda, and Italy. (more)

China launches 8,000 water clean-up projects worth $100 billion in first half of 2017
24 August 2017 - China launched nearly 8,000 water clean-up projects in the first half of 2017 with projected total investment of 667.4 billion yuan ($100 billion), the environment ministry said on Thursday, 24 August. Large amounts of China's water have been rendered unusable as a result of poorly regulated industrial expansion, overmining, and the uncontrolled use of pesticides and fertilizers. (more)

Chile rejects iron mine to protect penguins
22 August 2017 - The Chilean government has rejected plans for a billion-dollar mining project because it would disrupt sea life, including endangered penguins. A Chilean company, Andes Iron, had wanted to extract millions of tonnes of iron in the northern Coquimbo region as well as building a new port. Ministers said the project did not provide sufficient environmental guarantees. The area is home to 80% of the world's Humboldt penguins as well as other endangered species, including blue whales, fin whales, and sea otters. (more)

US: Once homeless, Iraq War veteran moves into unique new home (+ AP video)
18 August 2017 - A homeless Iraq war veteran in California has a unique place to finally call home. Vernon Poling moved into an apartment made of shipping containers. The complex built for homeless veterans is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation. 'There's been a couple nights that I've been surprised I've slept so long,' Poling said. 'It's a load off.' (more)


Success of Maharishi's Programmes
10 Short Summaries of Top Stories


New study: Transcendental Meditation helps women reduce trauma in prison, gain 'self-care for life'
24 August 2017 - Research finds that women are the fastest growing population in U.S. prisons, nearly double the rate of men, and enter prison with high rates of abuse and proportionally more trauma. Fortunately, a 2017 randomized controlled study published in The Permanente Journal found that the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique significantly reduced trauma symptoms in female inmates at an Oregon prison. 'Meditating twice a day has helped lessen my stress levels, allowed me to connect to and centre myself at deeper levels, and to retreat, reflect, and problem-solve,' said one inmate. Another said, 'I no longer feel imprisoned. I now feel my freedom from the inside of me.' The TM technique has critical advantages as a mind-body intervention for underrepresented populations, according to Charles Elder, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.P., author of a companion editorial in The Permanente Journal. (more)

Post-Traumatic Growth: 'Transcendental Meditation has given me the opportunity to live a life that is truly full of purpose, meaning, connection, and service'
1 August 2017 - Suffering from post-traumatic stress (PTS), and finding no relief through treatments provided by the U.S. Veterans Administration, Marine Corps veteran Paul Downs went to Boulder Crest Retreat Facility for veterans in Virginia, which partners with the David Lynch Foundation to offer Transcendental Meditation as part of its programme. One of only five witnesses testifying before the recent U.S. House Committee on Veterans Affairs' hearing on PTS, Downs said that after just a few weeks of practising TM, he felt less anxious, less angry, more focused, more energized, more directed. 'I gained a connection to self that I didn't have before. I found peace with my past. I realized who I am - and there's no pill for that. . . . It is hard to believe that 20 minutes, twice a day, is exactly what we require. But it is. It works for me, and for thousands of my brothers and sisters. It has given me the opportunity not just to survive on earth, but thrive here - and to live a life that is truly full of purpose, meaning, connection, and service.' (more)

US: Veterans are using Transcendental Meditation to treat PTSD
22 July 2017 - Thousands of veterans have turned to Transcendental Meditation to treat their PTSD [post traumatic stress disorder]. The David Lynch Foundation has worked with US Veterans Administration centres, Army and Marine bases, and veterans' organizations to bring TM to vets and active-duty soldiers, Mother Jones reports. Research has found TM to be effective in reducing PTSD. One veteran, a former Army nurse in Iraq who has been practising TM for four years, says painful memories are still there, but increasingly they seem like a thing of the past. 'Very recently,' she says, 'I've started to feel happiness, which I hadn't felt in years.' (more)

UK Parliament marks International Yoga Day - Prof Tony Nader, MD, PhD honoured with special award
16 July 2017 - The third International Yoga Day was celebrated in the House of Commons, Palace of Westminster, hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Indian Traditional Sciences, its Secretariat Amarjeet S Bhamra and the High Commission of India. The event on 10 July was designed to explore the value of introducing Yoga in the NHS (National Health Service). Chief Guest of the event, H.E. High Commissioner Y K Sinha paid tribute to the work of the APPG in introducing Yoga, Ayurveda and other disciplines into the mainstream of public life. Prof Tony Nader, MD, PhD, MARR, head of the worldwide Transcendental Meditation organization, was honoured with a special award, and presented five volumes of Scientific Research on the Transcendental Meditation Programme to Members of Parliament. In his keynote address Prof Nader explained that 'every one of us has within us, built into our very physiology, the essential quality of Yoga, which is unifying.' (more)

U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan gives Maharishi University of Management commencement address: 'We are living in a moment that calls out for you'
4 July 2017 - U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan from Ohio's 13th District delivered the commencement address at Maharishi University of Management, USA, on 24 June. Congressman Ryan has taken a national leadership role in improving access to healthcare, promoting ways to make college more affordable, and expanding renewable energy. He challenged the graduates to find innovative solutions to the seemingly intractable problems facing the world: 'Graduates, we are living in a moment that calls out for you, because you are those rare positive disruptors - creative, open, smart, self-driven, resilient, fearless. You are the modern-day explorers. Your meditation practice will assist you in navigating the turbulent waters of modern society. Your Consciousness-Based Education has prepared you to take your place among those leaders who are redefining the rules and changing the way we all see things. Our nation and the world desperately need you now.' (more)

Maharishi School grad posted at US Embassy in Liberia
15 May 2017 - Colette 'Coco' Clark, a 2011 graduate of Maharishi School in Fairfield, Iowa, USA, has recently been hired by the U.S. State Department as a Foreign Service Officer. Her first posting will be at the U.S. embassy in Liberia, beginning in June. Ms. Clark received a Bachelor of Science in foreign service, summa cum laude, from Georgetown University in 2015 and a Master of Arts in security studies the following year, also from Georgetown. She is proficient in Arabic and has worked for the past two years at the U.S. Department of Justice on legal negotiations between the U.S. government and Middle Eastern countries. (more)

'Results inside correctional facilities with Transcendental Meditation have been simply astounding'
1 February 2017 - In an editorial published this week accompanying two studies on Transcendental Meditation with male and female prison inmates, Dr. Charles Elder, a clinician and researcher with Kaiser Permanente, called for wider use of evidence-based mind-body interventions for prisoners. 'Mind-body interventions can provide the patient with a simple self-help tool that can effectively reduce anxiety, help treat substance abuse, reduce inmate recidivism, and help address a range of medical conditions,' Dr Elder wrote, citing research on Transcendental Meditation that supports these benefits. Rebecca Pak of The Women's Prison Association agrees: 'The results inside correctional facilities . . . with Transcendental Meditation have been simply astounding. If we shifted our focus from punitive responses to interventions designed to improve mental and physical health, we would have much greater impact.' The article reviews research results on Transcendental Meditation in prisons over the last four decades. (more)

Can Blacks and Police Find Inner Peace? Afro.com reports
22 November 2016 - 'If war refugees with PTSD can find rapid relief from stress through Transcendental Meditation practice, how much easier will it be for both police and inner city African-Americans to find inner peace?', write the authors of an article in Afro.com. TM is described as an evidence-based strategy to address the underlying buildup of stress in communities 'that inevitably erupts into violence'. According to recent research, more than 50% of people with PTSD who learn TM are symptom-free in 30-105 days. Police practising TM have found increased stability in stressful situations, better health, and greater resiliency to stress. It is a 'well-documented protocol for reducing stress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) . . . . that will prevent and help neutralize this buildup of stress, anger, and violence in individuals and in society as a whole.' (more)

Transcendental Meditation: A resource for reducing stress among law enforcement professionals
19 November 2016 - Dr Martha Batorski, a recognized speaker on the topic of leadership development and stress reduction, calls for the use of healing strategies like Transcendental Meditation to 'reduce the effects of stress on those who serve and protect - male and female - so they may better draw upon inner resources of calm to de-escalate situations and serve as true role models in our society.' 'Policewomen,' she writes in TM for Women, 'have naturally contributed to a new paradigm in law enforcement, bringing qualities to the field . . . that include greater empathy and ability to defuse situations and a larger field of awareness during stressful situations.' With as many as 18 per cent of police officers suffering from PTSD, and a higher rate among policewomen, there is increasing interest in the scientifically proven effectiveness of TM in greatly reducing PTSD symptoms and increasing resiliency to stressful situations. (more)

Transcendental Meditation significantly helps ease trauma symptoms, stress among inmates
8 October 2016 - Researchers have found that Transcendental Meditation significantly reduced trauma symptoms and stress in male prisoners. The study, funded by the David Lynch Foundation and conducted by a team led by Dr Sanford Nidich, was a randomized, controlled trial of 181 Oregon state correctional inmates categorized as 'moderate to high-risk'. One inmate expressed his experience after learning TM: 'As I entered the 24th year behind bars I had come to grips with most of the demons of the past but still felt fragmented. Recently I was given the chance to learn TM. . . . As the weeks passed that sense of fragmentation started to flow into something deeper and new. A quiet that feels so natural and restful that I feel like I've finally come home. To a place where things make sense and I'm just happy. The pains of my life haven't gone away . . . just feels like I've grown beyond them.' The study was published yesterday in The Permanente Journal. (more)


Flops
10 Short Summaries of Top Stories


Britain: Portland prisoners 'developing drug problem in jail'
20 September 2017 - Prisoners have developed drug problems behind bars prompting a rise in violence at a jail, a report says. One in five inmates have a drug habit they did not have before their jail term began at HMP/YOI Portland, HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) found. It said violence was high against staff as well as inmates at the Dorset jail. (more)

Brazilian President Temer charged with obstruction of justice and racketeering
14 September 2017 - Brazil's prosecutor general's office has filed charges of racketeering against President Michel Temer and six other leading politicians from his party, three of whom are already in jail. Temer and two other men are also accused of obstructing justice. 'They practiced illicit acts in exchange for bribes by way of diverse public organs,'' prosecutors said. 'Michel Temer is accused of having acted as the leader of the criminal organisation since May 2016.' Prosecutors said the group, all politicians from Temer's Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), pocketed $188m in bribes. (more)

EU report on weedkiller safety copied text from Monsanto study
14 September 2017 - EU's food safety watchdog recommended that glyphosate was safe but pages of report were identical to application from pesticide maker. The European food safety authority (Efsa) based a recommendation that a chemical linked to cancer was safe for public use on an EU report that copied and pasted analyses from a Monsanto study, the Guardian can reveal. Franziska Achterberg, Greenpeace EU's food policy director, said: Whether this is a question of negligence or intent, it is completely unacceptable. It calls into question the entire EU pesticide approval process. If regulators rely on the industry's evaluation of the science without doing their own assessment, the decision whether pesticides are deemed safe or not is effectively in the industry's hands.' (more)

EU rules Italian ban on GMO crop unlawful
13 September 2017 - Europe's top court ruled on Wednesday (13 September) that Italy had been wrong to ban cultivation of an EU-approved genetically modified (GMO) maize as it had failed to show there was a serious risk to public health or the environment. The European Union approved use of the GMO maize, Monsanto's MON 810 in 1998, but the Italian government asked the European Commission in 2013 to ban it after two Italian scientific studies questioned its safety. (more)

For Chinese millennials, despondency has a brand name
4 September 2017 - Chinese millennials with a dim view of their career and marriage prospects can wallow in despair with a range of teas such as 'achieved-absolutely-nothing black tea', and 'my-ex's-life-is-better-than-mine fruit tea'. While the drink names at the Sung chain of tea stalls are tongue-in-cheek, the sentiment they reflect is serious: a significant number of young Chinese with high expectations have become discouraged and embrace an attitude known on social media as 'sang', after a Chinese character associated with the word 'funeral' that describes being dispirited. It's a reaction to cut-throat competition for good jobs in an economy that isn't as robust as it was a few years ago and when home-ownership -- long seen as a near-requirement for marriage in China -- is increasingly unattainable in major cities as apartment prices have soared. While 'sang' can be a pose or affectation, despondency among a segment of educated young people is a genuine concern for President Xi Jinping and his government, which prizes stability. ... The average starting salary for college graduates dropped by 16 percent this year to 4,014 yuan ($608) per month amid intensifying competition for jobs as a record 8 million graduate from Chinese universities -- nearly ten times the number in 1997. (more)

Harvey dilemma: Stay as water rises or risk flooded roads?
28 August 2017 - As floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey keep rising, some Houston-area residents must decide between two dangerous choices: staying in homes with water coming in or venturing out on potentially deadly flooded roads. It's a no-win situation. There's nowhere for the rain or these people to go. And it matters, because water kills. Even though wind is fierce, water is responsible for nearly 90 percent of the deaths in hurricanes, according to a 2014 study by acting U.S National Hurricane Center director Ed Rappaport. (more)

Local leaders say 1,000 dead from Sierra Leone mudslides
27 August 2017 - More than 1,000 people have died from the mudslide and flood that hit Sierra Leone's capital nearly two weeks ago, a local leader and a minister said Sunday (27 August) during services honoring the disaster's victims. Thousands of people living in areas at risk during heavy rains have been evacuated. Aid groups are delivering supplies and helping provide clean water to prevent a health crisis. Some critics accuse Sierra Leone's government of failing to learn from past disasters in Freetown, where many poor areas are near sea level and lack good drainage. The capital is also plagued by unregulated construction on its hillsides. (more)

US: Houston told people to stay for Harvey, now they can't get out
27 August 2017 - Houston is slowly being submerged by a natural disaster some are saying could now rival Hurricane Katrina [August 2005]. Even after 2 feet of rain in 24 hours, Tropical Storm Harvey shows no sign of letting up until Wednesday [30 August] at the earliest. When the storm previously known as Hurricane Harvey made landfall on Friday [25 August], it was the strongest storm to batter the U.S. coast in 13 years. The National Weather Service said on Sunday afternoon that the flooding is 'unprecedented'... FEMA administrator Brock Long said Sunday, 'FEMA is going to be there for years. This disaster is going to be a landmark event.' One-quarter of Texas' population, 7 million people, resides in the disaster area declared by President Donald Trump. Already . . . thousands are homeless. (more)

US: Rescuers pluck hundreds from rising floodwaters in Houston
27 August 2017 - Tropical Storm Harvey sent devastating floods pouring into the nation's fourth-largest city [Houston, Texas] Sunday as rising water chased thousands of people to rooftops or higher ground and overwhelmed rescuers who could not keep up with the constant calls for help. The flooding was so widespread that authorities had trouble pinpointing the worst areas. As the water rose, the National Weather Service issued another ominous forecast: Before the storm that arrived Friday as a Category 4 hurricane is gone, some parts of Houston and its suburbs could get as much as 50 inches (1.3 meters) of rain. 'The breadth and intensity of this rainfall is beyond anything experienced before,' the National Weather Service said in a statement. Rescuers had to give top priority to life-and-death situations, leaving many affected families to fend for themselves. ... The deteriorating situation was bound to provoke questions about the conflicting advice given by the Governor and Houston leaders before the hurricane. Governor Greg Abbott urged people to flee from Harvey's path, but the Houston mayor issued no evacuation orders and told everyone to stay home. (more)

US: Flimsy evidence behind many FDA approvals
15 August 2017 - Many drugs granted accelerated approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lack clear evidence of safety and effectiveness, and the same is true for most high-risk medical devices, according to two new reports in the Journal of the American Medical Association. (more)

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