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Central African Republic, armed groups sign deal in Rome
20 June 2017 - Representatives of most of the armed groups in Central African Republic on Monday [19 June] signed an agreement to honor an immediate cease-fire, after more than three years of sectarian conflict that have left thousands dead. The announcement in Rome followed negotiations between Central African Republic's nascent government and 13 of the 14 armed groups currently active in the country . . . (more)

On World Refugee Day, UN urges support, solidarity for displaced people
20 June 2017 - United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres today called on the international community to provide support and solidarity for the record number of refugees. 'We reflect on the courage of those who fled and the compassion of those who welcome them,' the Secretary-General said in his video message for World Refugee Day, marked annually on 20 June. Despite the hardships of fleeing with nothing, 'they never lose their dreams for their children or their desire to better our world,' he said. (more)

Room in the middle: the Africans repopulating Spain's dying villages
11 June 2017 - Native population in the Spanish interior is shrinking but new arrivals are helping keep village schools and farms running. With its abandoned houses, empty streets and ageing, shrinking population, Visiedo in northern Spain could be the poster village for European rural decline. But salvation may be at hand, and from an unlikely quarter. (more)

Open Sesame: Science centre unveiled in Jordan
16 May 2017 - In a rare show of unity in the Middle East, an advanced research centre to be shared by the troubled region has opened in Jordan. Despite political tensions and rows, countries usually hostile to each other are jointly supporting the venture. Its name is SESAME -- Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East. The facility hosts a synchrotron, a particle accelerator that acts as a powerful microscope. Sesame is a play on the famous phrase 'Open Sesame' and is meant to signal a new era of collaborative science. There are some 60 synchrotrons in use around the world but SESAME will be the first in the Middle East. (more)

Nature conservation as a bridge to peace in the Middle East
27 March 2017 - Loss of biodiversity is a major challenge in today's world as is the quest for peace in regions engaged in conflict. But scientists writing in a Review published 22 March in Trends in Ecology and Evolution say that efforts to conserve natural resources present an opportunity to find common ground between communities at odds, building trust and renewed hope for peace. (more)

Former Burundi street child helps heal civil war divisions
20 March 2017 - In northern Burundi a group of 90 young people are harvesting their first crops --beans, maize, and potatoes -- but this is no ordinary smallholding. The farmers come from both sides of the country's ethnically charged civil war; some were orphaned by the conflict, while others are the children of those who were the killers. Forty percent of the farmers at the project in Gasorwe in Muyinga province are Hutu, 40 percent Tutsi, and 20 percent Batwa pygmies, Burundi's most marginalised people. (more)

Roman citizens help migrants
10 March 2017 - Volunteers served macaroni in marinara sauce to dozens of migrants outside one of Rome's biggest train stations this week, offering help to travelers largely ignored by institutions on the frontline of Europe's migrant crisis. . . . volunteers cook meals at home and bring them to a bare plaza outside Tiburtina station where tents are set up at 9 p.m. and taken down in the early morning. The Baobab Experience group of volunteers...saw between 500 and 1,000 migrants per day last summer, and volunteers have helped almost 63,000 migrants over the past two years with no state funding -- only donations. (more)

Q and A: Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal, the vegan Saudi prince investing his millions in sustainable solutions
24 February 2017 - Saudi Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed is the son of one of the wealthiest men in the world and comes from a country of billionaire elites who have amassed great fortune from oil reserves. But the 38-year-old businessman, an avowed vegan and animal lover, is determined to leave a cleaner, greener mark on this earth than other members of the Saudi royal family. (more)

Morocco rejoins African Union after more than 30 years
2 February 2017 - Morocco has been readmitted to the African Union more than three decades after it left when the continental body recognised the independence of the disputed territory of Western Sahara. Hopes that the move could pave the way for peace-building were bolstered after Western Sahara - regarded by Morocco as part of its historic territory - welcomed the readmission. Morocco's King Mohammed VI, who had been campaigning since last year to join the bloc, told African leaders at the AU summit in Addis Ababa: 'Africa is my home, and I am coming back home.' (more)

Israeli minister advances plan to take in Syrian war orphans
26 January 2017 - Israel's interior minister has approved a plan to take in 100 Syrian children orphaned by the civil war. If carried out, it would be the first time Israel absorbs refugees from the ongoing war. According to the plan, first reported by Israel's Channel 10, Israel would initially house the orphans in boarding schools, and would seek Arab families in Israel to adopt them. The orphans would eventually receive permanent citizenship, and first-degree relatives would be allowed to join them in Israel. (more)

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

Afghanistan: 'Transcendental Meditation could be the answer to ending war'
21 June 2017 - War and terrorism in Afghanistan could quickly end if a minimum of 578 of Afghanistan's troops were trained in Invincible Defense Technology (IDT), writes Dr David Leffler in The purpose of this IDT group would be to practise the non-religious Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique and its advanced programmes in groups twice a day. Extensive peer-reviewed research and military field-tests worldwide show that proper application of these programmes brings about measurable decreases in crime, terrorism and war and improvements in quality of life, resulting from the reduction of societal stress. (more)

Global Peace Summit in Kiev - Conference report
19 June 2017 - More than 600 scientists, Nobel Laureates, foremost educators, and political leaders from 21 countries converged in Kiev on 14-15 June to explore innovative solutions to the mounting problems of war and social conflict, and new approaches to national security and global peace. The global peace summit, entitled Science and Peace: Proven Solutions to Violence and Global Conflict, was hosted by the Global Union of Scientists for Peace. Renowned scientific, educational, political, cultural, and military leaders of Ukraine listened intently to presentations by former Presidents and other leading representatives of nations, who presented compelling evidence for successful solutions that have markedly reduced crime and terrorist incidents, or in some instances have lifted their countries out of civil war and restored peace and prosperity to their nations. (more)

US: Kennedy Center benefit for 10,000 veterans and at-risk youth to learn Transcendental Meditation - 5 June
3 June 2017 - Stars gather to help bring inner peace and relief to the nation's capital: Jerry Seinfeld will headline the David Lynch Foundation benefit concert on Monday, 5 June, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Concert Hall in Washington, D.C. The benefit will support teaching Transcendental Meditation to 10,000 at-risk veterans and youth in Washington. Co-hosted by Hugh Jackman, Deborra-Lee Furness Jackman, and Katie Couric, the lineup at the 'National Night of Laughter and Song' features comics Jay Leno and Margaret Cho, and musical artists Kesha, Ben Folds, Angelique Kidjo, and Sharon Isbin. (more)

Global Peace Summit: Invitation to Scientists and Governmental Leaders of All Nations - Kiev, Ukraine, 14-15 June
2 June 2017 - The Global Union for Scientists for Peace (GUSP) is hosting a high-level global peace summit this month in Kiev, Ukraine. This conference, entitled SCIENCE AND PEACE: Proven Solutions to Violence and Global Conflict, will showcase innovative, evidence-based solutions to the ongoing problems of violence and conflict in Ukraine, Europe, and throughout the world. Among those confirmed or expected to speak are President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, who applied innovative GUSP-inspired programmes to end that nation's civil war; Ecuadorian General Jose Villamil, who applied similar peace-creating methods to end the longstanding war between Ecuador and Peru; Dr Rajendra Pachauri, former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize; and distinguished Ukrainian leaders in anti-terrorism and scientific research. GUSP encourages all scientists and leaders committed to the cause of peace to attend this historic conference. (more)

Listening to others, listening to ourselves
28 May 2017 - Recalling the 'respectful listening' accorded to her as a teen by a friend's mother, writer Cynthia Johnson says, 'her listening to me helped me to find, and listen to, my own inner wisdom, my own guidance system, . . . and this helped me to make wiser decisions down the road.' She continues, 'One of the things that I value so much from the Transcendental Meditation practice is that it allows me to go beyond the noisy surface of awareness and settle into inner quietness, where awareness is clearer. Within our settled state of awareness, we sense or feel wisdom.' This is the 'fine feeling level' described by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the TM programme. 'Listening to others is grounded in the ability to listen to ourselves,' Ms Johnson writes. 'And this ability is grounded in silence, calmness and inner peace, where we touch and feel gentle sources of wisdom and of creative springs. From this experience comes quiet confidence and true strength.' (more)

A mother's greatest gift
14 May 2017 - Author Linda Egenes tells the beautiful story of her parents' lives and how her mother found happiness in any situation. When both parents developed dementia, Linda took on major responsibility for managing their home and their care. 'At this point', she says, 'I was incredibly grateful for my daily practice of Transcendental Meditation. . . . as I sank into the soft, blissful state of my own pure awareness each morning and evening, my body let go of the stresses of the day and my mind let go of the worries. When I came out of meditation, I felt fresh, rested. Suddenly solutions would appear.' She also enjoyed meditating with her mother. As circumstances progressed, Linda realized that her mother was making the choice to be happy every single day. 'Through her joy and gratitude, she turned darkness into light. Ever my teacher, she also became my hero.' (more)

Nepal: Army schools implement Transcendental Meditation technique
5 April 2017 - Nepal's army schools are finishing their first stage implementation of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique. The army school in Bhaktapur, Nepal was the first military school to implement the practice. Three hundred of its teaching staff and 2,700 students there have greatly benefited from practising TM for the past three years. Teachers have noticed many positive changes in the students, who are the schoolchildren of military personnel. Many students improved their academic performance. 'It has been the best tool to maintain discipline and a healthy environment in the premises of the army school,' said the school's former Principal. (more)

Maharishi Vastu Architecture: Celebrating the stages of building
31 March 2017 - The current Maharishi Vastu Architecture newsletter explains that the familiar ribbon-cutting ceremonies, ground-breaking by officials, and house-warming parties to mark significant steps in the building process are reflections of the traditions of many ancient cultures. In the construction of a Maharishi Vastu building, three significant points - ground-breaking, laying the foundation stone, and inaugurating the new home - are celebrated, as in a new Vastu home in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. This 'stunning' home also showcases principles of Maharishi Vastu design, including 'abundance of natural materials, natural light and airflow, and a refinement of decorative elements that result in a coherent, exquisitely beautiful wholeness while remaining comfortable.' Since moving in, the owner says, 'I sleep better. I feel more at home. . . . I am more creative and fulfilled being there.' (more)

Followup study suggests group Transcendental Meditation practice reduced murder rates in large US cities
30 March 2017 - Following up on a 2016 study on group meditation that found a 21.2% reduction in the US national homicide rate during the period 2007-2010 - a new study focusing on 206 large US urban areas found an even greater decrease of 28.4% in the murder rate in the same period, compared to the baseline period 2002-2006. The study, published in the Journal of Health and Environmental Research, is the fourth in a series evaluating the impact of large groups practising an advanced Transcendental Meditation programme on US quality of life and public health. During 2007-2010, the size of the group located at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, was above or near 1,725 participants, the square root of 1% of the US population at that time - the threshold predicted to create a positive effect in society, leading to reduced societal stress, reflected in reduced rates of murder and violence. (more)

Group practice of Transcendental Meditation reduces drug-related deaths in general population
14 March 2017 - The rate of US drug-related fatalities fell 30.4 per cent nationwide from 2007 to 2010 due to the reductions in societal stress and increased alertness in the individuals in society created by a large group practising the Transcendental Meditation technique and its advanced programme, the TM-Sidhi programme, a new study shows. During 2007 to 2010, the size of the TM-Sidhi group located at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, was above or near 1,725 participants, the size predicted to have a positive influence on the US quality of life. 'It's a bold claim,' said lead author Dr Michael Dillbeck, 'but there are now 14 peer-reviewed published studies that suggest that one's individual consciousness is directly connected to an underlying, universal field of consciousness, and that by collectively tapping into that universal field through Transcendental Meditation, we can have a positive effect on the environment.' This analysis of stress-related public health indicators also found that during the same period the rate of infant mortality was reduced by 12.5 per cent. (more)

10 Short Summaries of Top Stories

CNN Exclusive: US suspects Russian hackers planted fake news behind Qatar crisis
7 June 2017 - US investigators believe Russian hackers breached Qatar's state news agency and planted a fake news report that contributed to a crisis among the US' closest Gulf allies, according to US officials briefed on the investigation. ... Intelligence gathered by the US security agencies indicates that Russian hackers were behind the intrusion first reported by the Qatari government two weeks ago, US officials say. Qatar hosts one of the largest US military bases in the region. (more)

AP Analysis: Qatar crisis exposes a long Gulf family fight
6 June 2017 - Gulf Arab nations often get considered one giant family, as many ruling tribes intermarried and have long ties stretching back to the days before oil turned dusty fishing villages into skyscraper-studded metropolises. But if the last day has proven anything, it's that every family fights. The diplomatic standoff between Qatar and its neighbors has exposed longstanding faults running just under the surface of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a regional body meant to serve as a counterbalance to Iran. None of the key countries -- Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates -- appears to be backing down, calling into question the unity of the council just as it seeks to portray itself as standing up to Iran. (more)

Qatar's crisis is impacting business and millions of people
6 June 2017 - The political storm surrounding Qatar is impacting life in one of the world's biggest natural gas producers and travel hubs that relies on food imports. Millions of people have already been affected, with many Arab residents in Qatar unsure of their fate. Years of tensions in Gulf relations burst to the surface on Monday when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt severed ties with Qatar. The four Arab countries shut down land, sea, and air links with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terror groups in the region, interfering in their sovereign affairs, and backing groups that undermine political stability. (more)

Qatar row: Saudi and Egypt among countries to cut Doha links
5 June 2017 - A number of Arab countries including Saudi Arabia and Egypt have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing it of destabilising the region. They say Qatar backs militant groups including so-called Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda, which Qatar denies. The Saudi state news agency SPA said Riyadh had closed its borders, severing land, sea, and air contact with the tiny peninsula of oil-rich Qatar. ...The unprecedented move is seen as a major split between powerful Gulf countries, who are also close US allies. comes amid heightened tensions between Gulf countries and their near-neighbour, Iran. The Saudi statement accused Qatar of collaborating with 'Iranian-backed terrorist groups' in its restive eastern region of Qatif and in Bahrain. [The BBC looks at:] What has happened? Why has this happened? What has been the reaction? (more)

Qatar row: What's caused the fall-out between Gulf neighbours?
5 June 2017 - On Monday 5 June 2017, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, the UAE, and the internationally recognised Yemeni government severed their diplomatic relations with Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism. In addition, the states announced that they were suspending air, sea, and land transport with Qatar, while Qatari citizens are required to return home within two weeks. Qatar's support of the Saudi and UAE-led operations in Yemen is also suspended. This might seem familiar. These states (aside from Yemen) withdrew their diplomats from Doha in 2014 over a similar set of concerns. That spat was resolved within nine months. But the core issues remain. On this occasion, though similar motives fuel the dispute, the fact that Qatar's land border with Saudi Arabia -- its only land crossing -- will be suspended shows a severe escalation, given just how critical this border is for Qatar's imports, including food. (more)

AP Interview: France warns of risk of war in cyberspace
1 June 2017 - Cyberspace faces an approaching risk of 'permanent war' between states and criminal or extremist organizations because of increasingly destructive hacking attacks, the head of the French government's cybersecurity agency warned Thursday [1 June]. 'With what we see today -- attacks that are criminal, from states, often for espionage or fraud but also more and more for sabotage or destruction --we are getting closer, clearly, to a state of war, a state of war that could be more complicated, probably, than those we've known until now,' he said. (more)

Conflict forces more people to flee homes in Congo than in Syria
22 May 2017 - Conflict has forced at least 1.5 million people to flee their homes within the Democratic Republic of Congo this year -- more than triple the number uprooted within Syria and five times the number within Iraq, an aid group said on Monday, 22 May. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) warned that ethnic violence was escalating in the central African country, which saw the world's highest level of new displacement last year. (more)

Chicago police department struggles with officer suicide
4 May 2017 - The Chicago Police Department's suicide rate ... stands 60 percent higher than the national average according to a recent U.S. Department of Justice report. The pressure on Chicago's police officers has intensified as the city has dealt with a surge in murders and increased scrutiny around tactics . . . In 2016, the number of murders in the city jumped nearly 60 percent to over 760, more than New York and Los Angeles combined. There were more than 4,300 shooting victims in the city last year, according to police. ... 'Chicago is a war zone,' said Alexa James, the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Chicago. 'They (officers) are seeing the worst day of everybody's life every day.' (more)

Armed attacks on ships in West African waters rise: report
2 May 2017 - Armed attacks on ships in West African waters nearly doubled in 2016, with pirates increasingly focused on kidnapping their crew for ransom off Nigeria's coast, a report said on Tuesday (2 May). A recent spate of attacks off Somalia, meanwhile, may also indicate a resurgence of piracy in East Africa as a result of less vigilance, the Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP) project said. OBP . . . recorded 95 attacks in West Africa's Gulf of Guinea in 2016, up from 54 the previous year. Cargo theft, once the main focus of piracy in the region, has given way to an increase in kidnappings, with 96 crew members taken hostage compared to 44 in 2015. (more)

Yemen at 'point of no return' as conflict leaves almost 7 million close to famine
16 March 2017 - Aid agencies have warned that Yemen is 'at the point of no return' after new figures released by the UN indicated 17 million people are facing severe food insecurity and will fall prey to famine without urgent humanitarian assistance. Taiz and Hodeidah governorates, home to almost 25 per cent of Yemen's 28 million-strong population and the scene of intense conflict since the outbreak of civil war in 2015, are at particularly heightened risk of famine. (more)

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