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Colombia and ELN rebels move peace talks toward ceasefire
30 June 2017 - Colombia's government and Marxist ELN rebels agreed to work toward a ceasefire, both sides said on Friday, a move that would improve security in the country where a peace accord with another guerrilla group led to its disarmament last week. The government and the National Liberation Army (ELN), the second-largest insurgent group, began formal peace negotiations in February after more than three years of secret talks to draw up the agenda and logistics. The next cycle begins on July 24 in Quito. (more)

New Zealand pledges $1 million to help clear landmines in Colombia
30 June 2017 - New Zealand is giving $1 million in aid to help clear landmines in Colombia, one of the most mine-scarred countries in the world after a half century of war, officials said on Friday, 30 June. Most of the funds will go to a two-year program by the British-based Halo Trust, a demining group ... Colombia's FARC rebels handed over all their weapons this week to the U.N. as part of a peace deal signed last year with the government. The move helps pave the way to expand mine clearance as security improves in areas once under rebel control. (more)

Colombia takes big step to peace as rebels lay down guns
27 June 2017 - Colombia reached a major milestone on its road to peace Tuesday [27 June] as leftist rebels relinquished some of their last weapons and declared an end to their half-century insurgency. The historic step was taken as President Juan Manuel Santos traveled to [a] demobilization camp in Colombia's eastern jungles to join guerrilla leaders as they begin their transition to civilian life. In a short, symbol-filled ceremony, United Nations observers shut and padlocked the last containers storing some of the 7,132 weapons that members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia have turned over the past few weeks at 26 camps across the country. Yellow butterflies were released... (more)

President Macron orders French officials to show more humanity to migrants
22 June 2017 - France has instructed local officials to show more humanity toward migrants, the government spokesman said on Thursday [22 June], after a human rights watchdog said it bore responsibility for the ... conditions migrants face in the Calais region. 'Prefects have given instructions for more flexibility to be shown, in particular for more humanity to be shown,' government spokesman Christophe Castaner told reporters after a weekly cabinet meeting. 'We cannot treat women and men as if they are just numbers.' Castaner said that reforming France's asylum process was a priority for new President Emmanuel Macron. (more)

On World Refugee Day, UN urges support, solidarity for record number of 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)

Central African Republic, armed groups sign deal in Rome
19 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)

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)


Success of Maharishi's Programmes
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New Book: The Supreme Awakening maps new paradigm of human development
8 July 2017 - In his book The Supreme Awakening: Experiences of Enlightenment Throughout Time - and How You Can Cultivate Them, Dr. Craig Pearson breaks new ground by putting forward a theory of human development in which higher states of consciousness are accessible to anyone. Pearson connects descriptions of higher states of consciousness from the world's greatest philosophers, poets, writers, saints, scientists, and even athletes, to modern day personal development, drawing on his many years of experience with Transcendental Meditation (TM), both personally and as an educator. Medical and scientific research on TM shows that development of higher consciousness is genuine, authentic, measurable, quantifiable, and beneficial in the high-speed world of the new millennium. (more)

Global Peace Summit offers solutions to terrorism
2 July 2017 - Last month, the Global Union of Scientists for Peace (GUSP) hosted a Global Peace Summit in Kiev, Ukraine. The Summit, entitled SCIENCE AND PEACE: Proven Solutions to Violence and Global Conflict, explored cutting-edge, evidence-based approaches to preventing war, achieving national security, and promoting regional and global peace. One such approach is the Brain-Based Approach to Peace, which has been shown by extensive research to restore balanced neurological functioning and reduce individual and societal stress, through the widespread application of the Transcendental Meditation technique. Heads of state and other top government leaders presented striking examples of how the implementation of this approach put an end to decades of civil war and brought lasting societal peace and prosperity. The Summit drew more than 600 leading scientists, Nobel Laureates, foremost educators, and political and military leaders from 21 countries. (more)

Afghanistan: 'Transcendental Meditation could be the answer to ending war'
20 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 TOLOnews.com. 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
23 May 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
20 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)


Flops
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After woman's mysterious death at Mexico resort, tourists report similar incidents
23 July 2017 - Something sinister is happening at a handful of luxury Mexican resorts -- at least according to one lawyer and some tourists who've vacationed there. After a young woman died under mysterious circumstances at the Iberostar Paraiso Resort in Playa Del Carmen, her family and attorneys have been looking for a plausible explanation for what happened to her. Abbey Conner, 20, died in January within just a few hours of arriving at a resort with her family. ... An attorney hired by the Conner family to investigate the situation visited the resort and noticed numerous young tourists hanging out drinking at the bar. But he also noticed something else. ...The Conners were not the first to report mysterious events and ultimately, tragedy, during their time at a luxury resort in Mexico. An investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel revealed other tourists found themselves in unexplainable situations with no memory of what had occurred. (more)

Mexico murders up with deadliest month in at least 20 years
23 July 2017 - Mexico's spiraling violence reached new heights with 2,234 murders in June, the country's deadliest month in at least 20 years, according to government data. Killings rose in states ranging from the tourist haven of Baja California Sur to the Gulf coast state of Veracruz and even in Mexico City, long considered a relative oasis from drug gang violence. For the first six months of 2017, authorities nationwide recorded 12,155 homicide investigations, or 31 percent more than the 9,300 during the same period last year. (more)

East Congo militia violence forces 80,000 to flee home, U.N. says
11 July 2017 - About 80,000 people have fled fighting between the Democratic Republic of Congo army and a new rebel coalition, the United Nations said on Tuesday (11 July) joining the millions already uprooted in Africa's worst displacement crisis. Militia violence has intensified across Congo since President Joseph Kabila refused to step down at the end of his constitutional mandate in December, raising fears the country will slide back into the wars at the turn of the century that killed millions. The latest fighting broke out in South Kivu province's Fizi territory, in the eastern part of the country. (more)

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)

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