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Positive Trends
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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)

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)

Colombia ELN rebels agree to free captive, start peace talks
18 January 2017 - Colombia's second-largest rebel group has agreed to free a prominent politician held captive for almost a year, clearing the way for repeatedly postponed peace talks to begin next month. The agreement worked out during months of backchannel talks with the National Liberation Army was announced at a news conference Wednesday in Quito, Ecuador. The two sides have been holding exploratory peace talks for more than three years. President Juan Manuel Santos praised the breakthrough from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. (more)

The Canadian who spent C$1.5m to rescue more than 200 Syrian refugees
6 January 2017 - Appliance firm CEO Jim Estill is behind an ambitious scheme to resettle 58 families in Guelph, Ontario, and galvanised hundreds of residents to help. ... The result is a full-scale operation -- staffed by volunteers and bolstered by a deluge of donations -- that offers the refugees everything from job training to English-language classes. (more)

Syrian band brings music of Aleppo to Berlin
2 January 2017 - Instead of bombs there were beats. Guitars took over for guns. And there were cheers, not screams. But Aleppo was never far from the minds of the band Musiqana and the crowd at its record release concert in Berlin. 'I didn't know if I should cry or be happy,' said Samaa Hijazi, a 20-year-old medical student has been in Germany about five years but grew up in Syria. 'I was thinking about the times my father sang these songs. I sang them together with my brother. And they are all still in Syria.' Lead singer Abdallah Rahhal, 28, is an Aleppo native, and the band's music is the city's version of Arab Tarab, a traditional Arab music often referred to as 'musical euphoria,' with emotional and poetic lyrics. (more)

Eight charts that show 2016 wasn't as bad as you think
30 December 2016 - Deaths in conflict have fallen (slightly), emissions have not risen for a third year, and fewer people are dying from disease. Carbon is flatlining, and our planet has breathing space. . . . What is more, this plateau in emissions is taking place against a background of quickening economic growth, showing that increasing prosperity and lifting people out of poverty need not come at the expense of the climate. (more)

How to fight Boko Haram? Open a school
16 December 2016 - Religious leaders fearful of Islamist threat believe giving girls free weekend lessons will counter spread of militancy. As a military campaign against Boko Haram continues in northern Cameroon, leaders of the country's biggest mosques in the south are deploying another weapon to ensure that the Islamist insurgency doesn't spread: education for girls. (more)

Afghan brothers develop drone to clear landmines
14 December 2016 - As young boys growing up on the outskirts of the Afghan capital, Mahmud Hassani and his brother Massoud [were] inspired ... to develop a drone prototype to detect and destroy landmines. Their invention was on Wednesday (14 December) featured in the NT100, a list by Britain-based charity Nominet Trust of innovations that use technology to tackle major world problems. Mahmud Hassani, who lives in the Netherlands along with his brother, said their drone prototype was up to 120 times cheaper and 20 times faster than traditional mine clearing techniques. (more)


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


Group practice of Transcendental Meditation reduces drug-related deaths in general population
26 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)

Women's History Month through the lens of feminine values
8 March 2017 - 'The contribution of women throughout history is not necessarily marked by a specific achievement in time and space. It is marked by a progressive society in which integrity, compassion and creativity are displayed by its citizens,' said Dr Candace Badgett, International Trustee, Transcendental Meditation for Women, about the celebration of Women's History Month. 'Our greatest accomplishment has been, and will always be, our ability to most fully reflect the more tender, more merciful impulses of our own nature and to infuse those values into the world around us. . . . Ultimately, every one of us must take the journey to our innermost Self,' she said, and TM for Women offers every woman 'the opportunity to experience the innate strength and happiness that forms the bedrock of our self-sufficiency, which in turn is the foundation from which we give and nourish and heal ourselves and the world around us - a world that needs us now more than ever.' (more)

World media on Transcendental Meditation
5 March 2017 - A selection of recent news media reports about Transcendental Meditation includes the Danish magazine IN interviewing Dr Charlotte Bech, a medical doctor who has been teaching the technique in Denmark for over 20 years; Bridgewater Associates hedge fund founder Ray Dalio's comments to Business Insider about introducing TM to 735 employees; and New York Times articles about Saturday Night Live actress Vanessa Bayer, and George Stephanopoulos of ABC's Good Morning America, who starts his day with an early morning TM session. Forbes magazine reported, 'TM has been having a renaissance in recent years: Celebrities, businesspeople, and regular folk are practicing it in record numbers.' (more)

New study published: Group practice of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program reduced US accidental fatalities
28 February 2017 - Can group practice of meditation help reduce the rate of accidental fatalities? A new study published in the February 2017 issue of the Journal of Consciousness Studies found that group practice of Transcendental Meditation and its advanced programmes by participants at Maharishi University of Management (MUM) was associated with a 20.6% reduction of US motor vehicle fatalities over the four-year period 2007-2010. The rate of all other accidental deaths was also reduced by a total of 13.5% over the same period. During that time the size of the group was above or near 1,725 participants, the threshold (representing the square root of 1% of the US population) predicted to have a positive influence on the US quality of life. Authors Dr Kenneth Cavanaugh and Dr Michael Dillbeck note that 12 peer-reviewed articles have now been published validating the prediction by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Founder of MUM, that an advanced TM group of this size would lead to reduced societal stress, as reflected in reduced crime, violence, and accidents, and increased positive trends in society. (more)

Transcendental Meditation helps get rid of stress: Seacoast Online reports
23 February 2017 - People worldwide are turning to Transcendental Meditation to alleviate stress, writes Anne M. Mozingo in SeacoastOnline.com, reporting on an introduction to TM given by teachers Bill and Joan Rist in New Hampshire, USA. Doctors routinely recommend the technique to patients, based on hundreds of scientific studies showing it reduces stress, anxiety, and cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association conducted its own research on the effects of various forms of meditation and concluded that Transcendental Meditation is the only technique that works to reduce high blood pressure. While many learn for health reasons, said Bill Rist, 'some people learn TM because they want to realize more of who they are deep inside, they want to reach their full potential.' (more)

Transcendental Meditation wasn't what I expected
28 January 2017 - A contributor to a women's blog wasn't sure what to expect when she signed up for a course to learn Transcendental Meditation some years ago. 'And would I even be able to meditate successfully?' writes Janet Hoffman, now executive director of the TM programme for women professionals, USA. 'Within minutes during my instruction, I felt the weight of the world lift from my shoulders. I felt relaxation so deep that I was almost immobile. After, I was so refreshed that it was as if my life and the world were all new and shiny.' Noting the extensive, peer-reviewed research on Transcendental Meditation, Ms Hoffman says that the benefits of the effortless technique 'are tangible and are both immediate and cumulative. . . . you'll become your friends' best friend when you recommend it to them.' (more)

How the Transcendental Meditation technique can make the new year even better
23 January 2017 - The Transcendental Meditation organization in the USA answers some of the questions they're most often asked about the technique, including how it's unique among all meditations. Practised by millions of people worldwide, regardless of background, religion, or political viewpoint - 'TM', as it's commonly known, is described as a simple, effortless technique that naturally and easily recharges mind and body. Scientific research documents the profound state of rest produced during the practice, resulting in a wide range of benefits including decreased stress and anxiety, improved brain functioning, and reduced blood pressure and cortisol. In Transcendental Meditation, the mind effortlessly experiences 'a profound state of inner silence . . . . a deep universal calm [that] exists deep within all of us. The TM technique is the most effective way to experience that inner calm and to integrate it, naturally and effortlessly, into life.' (more)

A small number of people practising Transcendental Meditation can produce an orderly, harmonious influence for the whole society - Maharishi, 1975
12 January 2017 - Today organizations teaching Transcendental Meditation in many countries held an annual conference celebrating the achievements of the worldwide programmes founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. On this day in 1975, Maharishi inaugurated the dawn of a new era of harmony and peace in society that would come to full fruition through the adoption of his technologies of consciousness by even a small percentage of the population. 'The personal advantages of Transcendental Meditation are so enormous,' Maharishi said, noting the growing body of scientific research validating these effects including more orderly brain functioning, reduced stress, and better health. Now researchers had found that in cities where only 1% of the population practised TM, this orderly, harmonious influence was reflected in improved social trends, particularly decreased crime. 'There are enough intelligent people in the world who will start Transcendental Meditation for their own individual benefit, even not believing in the process,' Maharishi said. But when they begin the practice, brain functioning begins to become more orderly, 'and that influence will radiate in society, and the whole society will become better and better and better'. (more)

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's comments to the press - Christmas, 2002
25 December 2016 - Maharishi Mahesh Yogi replies to a question from the world press on the Vedic nature of Christ's words, 'Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven and all else will be added unto you.' - 25 December 2002, MERU, Netherlands. (more)

Maharishi Vastu architecture: New, ground-breaking books
22 December 2016 - Enlightened Real Estate, written by successful real estate investor Barry B. Scherr, is one of two new books related to Maharishi Vastu architecture. It challenges the contemporary wisdom as to the purpose of real estate, proposing that the built environment should re-establish the lost connection between inner consciousness and the world around us. 'Although we are becoming more alert, aware, and connected, the environment is lagging far behind,' states a review in the current Maharishi Vastu newsletter. 'This book presents a new way to live in and think about the built environment.' The author comments that the book 'gives a new vision for the potential of real estate to help people improve their daily routine, reduce stress, traffic, and pollution, and ultimately gain the time needed to focus on more meaningful priorities like interpersonal relationships and enlightenment'. (more)


Flops
10 Short Summaries of Top Stories


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)

Chile battles devastating wildfires as international help pours in
25 January 2017 - The worst wildfires in Chile's modern history are ravaging wide swaths of the country's central-south regions . . . Forest fires are a regular feature of Chile's hot, arid summers, but a nearly decade-long drought combined with historically high temperatures have created tinder-dry conditions. The country last week declared a state of emergency. (more)

U.N. warns of famine risk in Somalia amid worsening drought
17 January 2017 - Somalia risks slipping back into famine, the United Nations, said on Tuesday, as worsening drought has left millions without food, water, or healthcare in a country crippled by decades of war. ... Famine last struck pockets of Somalia in 2011, killing 260,000 people. It was caused by drought, conflict, and a ban on food aid in territory held by [the Islamist militant group] al Shabaab . (more)

Turkey's tourism takes big hit after extremist attacks
7 January 2017 - The once bustling Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is astonishingly quiet. The shops and restaurants in the city's trendy Istiklal Street are all but empty of foreign customers and the hotels in the upscale Nisantasi district are nearly deserted. Turkey's economy is suffering in the face of a string of extremist attacks -- including the nightclub massacre of New Year's revelers, most of them foreigners -- and uncertainty following the failed coup in July against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that saw more than 270 people killed. There was a time when tourism in Turkey was red hot, climbing from 10.5 million visitors in 2000 to 36.2 million people in 2015, making it the sixth-most visited destination in the world. Istanbul, the country's most popular tourist destination for foreigners, has been the biggest target for extremists. (more)

Turkey faces more turmoil as violence continues
2 January 2017 - The deadly New Year's attack on a ritzy Istanbul nightclub has brought more turmoil to Turkey and shown how the conflict in neighboring Syria easily can spill over to threaten Europe's stability. The assault that happened in the second hour of 2017 bookended another holiday season terror in Europe -- the December 19 attack at a Christmas market in Berlin. Both IS-linked assaults were carried out with the simple, low-tech approach that seems to be gaining favor with extremists. This is the reality facing Europe as the Islamic State group loses territory in Syria and Iraq, but maintains followers, returning fighters and sleeper cells in the West eager to launch attacks. Turkey, which shares a large, porous border with Syria, is an appealing target because it is a NATO ally of the United States that has attacked IS positions in both Syria and Iraq. And it is relatively easy for IS sympathizers to infiltrate Turkey and to move around in densely populated urban areas. (more)

Russia, Pakistan, China warn of increased Islamic State threat in Afghanistan
27 December 2016 - Russia, China, and Pakistan warned on Tuesday that the influence of Islamic State (IS) was growing in Afghanistan and that the security situation there was deteriorating. . . . Officials in Kabul and Washington have said that Russia is deepening its ties with Taliban militants fighting the government, though Moscow has denied providing aid to the insurgents. (more)

A look at Palmyra, the historic Syrian city retaken by IS
11 December 2016 - A look at Palmyra, the archaeological gem that Islamic State fighters retook Sunday from Syrian troops in a major advance after a year of setbacks in Syria and neighboring Iraq. A desert oasis surrounded by palm trees in central Syria, Palmyra is also a strategic crossroads linking the Syrian capital, Damascus, with the country's east and neighboring Iraq. Located 155 miles (215 kilometers) east of Damascus, the city was once home to 65,000 people before the Syrian civil war began. . . . (more)

Militants retake ancient city of Palmyra from Syrian forces
11 December 2016 - Islamic State militants recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra from Syrian troops Sunday, according to both sides in the battle, scoring a major advance after a year of setbacks in Syria and neighboring Iraq. In winning back Palmyra, the extremist group appeared to be taking advantage of the Syrian and Russian preoccupation with Aleppo, timing its attack to coincide with a major government offensive to capture the last remaining opposition-held neighborhoods in the northern city. (more)

Fears for refugees health in Kenya as food aid rations halved
6 December 2016 - Food rations to more than 400,000 refugees in Kenya have been halved due to severe funding shortages, and existing supplies will run out completely at the end of February, the United Nations said on Tuesday. Kenya hosts 434,000 refugees from 21 countries, mainly from war-torn neighbouring South Sudan and Somalia, in two overcrowded camps on its northern borders. (more)

In Sudan, austerity and protest as economy crumbles
2 December 2016 - Inflation approaching 20 percent and government austerity have fuelled growing discontent and rare protests in Sudan in recent weeks. Protests have so far been small but, mindful of popular anger that swept away several Arab autocrats in 2011, the government of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has been quick to silence media criticism over its handling of the crisis. Sudan's economic problems have been building since the south [now South Sudan] seceded in 2011, taking with it three-quarters of oil output, the main source of foreign currency and government income. (more)

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