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Positive Trends
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India to set up $350 million fund to finance solar projects
21 January 2018 - India will set up a $350 million fund to finance solar projects, Power Minister R.K. Singh said, as the country steps up efforts to achieve its ambitious target of adding 175 gigawatts (GW) in renewable energy by 2022. The country, which receives twice as much sunshine as European nations, wants to make solar central to its renewable expansion. It expects renewable energy to make up 40 percent of installed power capacity by 2030, compared with 18.2 percent at the end of 2017. (more)

UK: Most new cars must be electric by 2030, ministers told
17 January 2018 - Three-fifths of new cars must be electric by 2030 to meet greenhouse gas targets, ministers have been warned. Homes also need to be built to a higher standard, the Committee on Climate Change -- the official watchdog -- says. The government says the UK is cutting emissions faster than any other G7 nation -- and the committee agrees there has been a big shift under [Prime Minister] Theresa May. (more)

British Prime Minister Theresa May proposes plastic-free supermarket aisles in green strategy
11 January 2018 - Theresa May has announced a war on plastic waste, with proposed policies including plastics-free aisles in supermarkets and a tax on takeaway containers. The Prime Minister set out her ambition to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste within 25 years in a speech on Thursday (11 January) in which she promised the UK would lead internationally on environmental issues. (more)

Clean energy sources manage to cut electricity bill in Chile
9 January 2018 - A 75 per cent drop in electricity rates, thanks to a quadrupled clean generation capacity, is one of the legacies to be left in Chile by the administration of Michelle Bachelet, who steps down in March. The Atacama desert in northern Chile has the highest solar radiation on the planet, one of the country's advantages when it comes to developing solar energy. (more)

Plastic microbeads ban enters force in UK
9 January 2018 - Plastic microbeads can no longer be used in cosmetics and personal care products in the UK, after a long-promised ban came into effect on Tuesday. The ban initially bars the manufacture of such products and a ban on sales will follow in July. Pressure is now mounting for action on plastic bottles. (more)

Regulations proposed to end use of asbestos in Canada
8 January 2018 - Activists in Sarnia, a city in Southwestern Ontario, Canada, deserve much of the credit for the federal government's long-awaited move to ban asbestos and asbestos-containing products in Canada, says a veteran workplace health researcher. 'This is something so long overdue, it's not funny,' researcher Jim Brophy said about proposed regulations Science Minister Kirsty Duncan and other federal cabinet ministers announced recently to meet the government's promise to enact a ban by 2018. (more)

Six nations that consistently rank highest
8 January 2018 - From Canada to Botswana, these six nations consistently rank highest for their progressive social policies, trust in government, and effective justice system. What makes a country well-run? Whether minimizing corruption or spearheading educational and medical initiatives, governments around the world use different policies to facilitate a high-functioning society. To quantify the effectiveness of these policies, indexes like the World Justice Project's Rule of Law Index, the World Bank's Governance Index, and the Social Progress Index survey residents, compile publicly available statistics and rank countries based on their performance across different categories. While each index varies in their precise ranking, certain patterns emerge across all three . . . (more)

Companies in Iceland now required to demonstrate they pay men, women fairly
3 January 2018 - Starting this week, companies in Iceland are required to demonstrate that they pay male and female employees fairly -- without gender discrimination. Failing to do so can result in daily fines. The law, which was passed last year and went into effect on Monday, is believed to be the first of its kind in the world and covers both the private and public sectors. (more)

US: Washington achieves top sustainability certification for cities
3 January 2018 - In August, Washington, DC was the first to receive the top 'platinum' certification under a global sustainability program called LEED for Cities, which tracks performance on energy use, waste management, water, transport, and even quality of life. Washington was joined by Phoenix in December. LEED for Cities tracks changes in how a city is performing across 14 metrics. It uses an online platform allowing cities to analyze and compare their progress, focusing on outcomes rather than pledges. (more)

China, moving to cut emissions, halts production of 500 car models
2 January 2018 - China is suspending the production of more than 500 car models and model versions that do not meet its fuel economy standards, several automakers confirmed Tuesday, the latest move by Beijing to reduce emissions in the world's largest auto market and take the lead in battling climate change. The move was expected to affect a small share of car manufacturing in China, where 28 million vehicles were produced in 2016. (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


U.S. rivers getting saltier, drinking water at risk: study
8 January 2018 - U.S. rivers and streams have become saltier and more alkaline over the last 50 years, posing risks to drinking water by damaging pipelines and other infrastructure, according to a study released on Monday [8 January]. As municipal workers dump salt on roads to combat ice and farmers put fertilizer on fields, the runoff has made U.S. waterways saltier and more alkaline, according to the study ... Salt can also be released by floods that reach sewage systems and spill the contamination into waterways, as well as from brines at hydraulic fracturing -- or fracking -- operations and oil and gas sites. (more)

Venezuelans scour polluted river for lost treasure, survival
8 January 2018 - Angel Villanueva waded into the dirty brown water of the Guaire River, the putrid channel snaking through Venezuela's capital, where he hoped to scavenge for a bit of treasure. He raked his hands across the bottom of the shallow waterway, turning his face away from the foul smell. Then he stood up, letting gravel and rocks fall through his fingers, scanning for an earring backing, lost rings, or any other bits of precious metal to cash in for food. ... Images of poor Venezuelans eating from garbage piles in Caracas have come to symbolize the deepening economic crisis in what was once one of Latin America's wealthiest countries. Less visible are the young men and boys who comb the Guaire's dirty waters for any sliver of metal that might help feed their families. (more)

US: California set for New Year's buzz with recreational marijuana sales
29 December 2017 - California adults not content to ring in the New Year with the traditional fizz of champagne can look forward to celebrating with the buzz of marijuana, purchased for the first time from state-licensed retailers of recreational pot. Dozens of newly authorized marijuana stores are due to open for business across California on Jan. 1, launching yet another chapter in America's drug culture and the largest regulated commercial market for cannabis in the United States -- one valued at several billion dollars. (more)

US: California preps for marijuana-infused fare, from wine to tacos
26 December 2017 - Move over, pot brownies. The world's largest legal recreational marijuana market kicks off Monday [1 January 2018] in California, and the trendsetting state is set to ignite the cannabis culinary scene. Cannabis-laced dinners with celebrity chefs at private parties have flourished across Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego in recent years, but a medical marijuana card was required to attend. With that requirement gone, the edibles market is expected to boom, though manufacturers face a host of regulations, and doctors fear the products could increase emergency room visits and entice youth. Marijuana industry analysts predict edibles for the recreational marijuana market will top $100 million in sales in 2018. (more)

Mexico murders hit record high, dealing blow to President
23 December 2017 - Mexico has this year registered its highest murder total since modern records began, according to official data, dealing a fresh blow to President Enrique Pena Nieto's pledge to get gang violence under control with presidential elections due in 2018. A total of 23,101 murder investigations were opened in the first 11 months of this year, surpassing the 22,409 registered in the whole of 2011, figures published on Friday night by the interior ministry showed. The figures go back to 1997. (more)

Desperate Venezuelans peddle wares door-to-door in Colombia to survive
20 December 2017 - Thousands of impoverished Venezuelans are crossing the border to Colombia every day to sell cheap basics, from oranges to candles, in a desperate attempt to earn hard currency amid their country's worsening economic collapse. ... Hundreds of vendors are sleeping in the streets of the Venezuelan border town of San Antonio, while the surge in hawkers on the Colombian side is stoking anger among local shopkeepers. (more)

US: Amtrak train on new route hurtles onto highway, kills 3
18 December 2017 - An Amtrak train making the first-ever run along a faster new route hurtled off an overpass south of Seattle on Monday and spilled some of its cars onto the highway below, killing at least three people, injuring more than 100 and crushing two vehicles, authorities said. Attention quickly turned to the train's speed. A website that maps location and speed using data from Amtrak's train tracker app showed the train was going 81.1 mph (129 kph) about a quarter of a mile from the point where it derailed, where the speed limit is significantly lower. (more)

US: Lakewood mayor had predicted new higher-speed Amtrak rail line would lead to fatalities
18 December 2017 - Well before Monday's Amtrak derailment, a Pierce County mayor had raised safety concerns and recently predicted that the new higher-speed rail spur would lead to fatal accidents. Lakewood Mayor Don Anderson said his city had fought against the new rail line, which moved fast passenger trains onto what had been a less-used freight line. The city of Lakewood sued the Washington State Department of Transportation in 2013 seeking to halt the project, arguing it had not undergone sufficient environmental review. The city lost its case in part because the law preempts cities and towns from regulating rail lines. (more)

Defector says thousands of Islamic State fighters left Raqqa in secret deal
7 December 2017 - A high-level defector from Kurdish-led forces that captured the Syrian city of Raqqa from Islamic State has recanted his account of the city's fall, saying thousands of IS fighters -- many more than first reported -- left under a secret, U.S.-approved deal. Talal Silo, a former commander in the Syrian Democratic Forces ... told Reuters in an interview that the number of fighters who were allowed to go was far higher and the account of a last-ditch battle was a fiction designed to keep journalists away while the evacuation took place. At the time there were conflicting accounts of whether or not foreign Islamic State fighters had been allowed to leave Raqqa. The BBC later reported that one of the drivers in the exodus described a convoy of up to 7 km (4 miles) long made up of 50 trucks, 13 buses, and 100 Islamic State vehicles, packed with fighters and ammunition. (more)

West Coast crisis leads to rise in US homeless population (+ AP video)
6 December 2017 - The nation's homeless population increased this year for the first time since 2010, driven by a surge in the number of people living on the streets in Los Angeles and other West Coast cities. Increases are higher in several West Coast cities, where the explosion in homelessness has prompted at least 10 city and county governments to declare states of emergency since 2015. City officials, homeless advocates and those living on the streets point to a main culprit: the region's booming economy. Rents have soared beyond affordability for many lower-wage workers ... The numbers in the report back up what many people in California, Oregon and Washington have been experiencing in their communities: encampments sprouting along freeways and rivers; local governments struggling to come up with money for long-term solutions; conflicts over whether to crack down on street camping and even feeding the homeless. (more)

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