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'Indigenous peoples' must feature in new global development agenda, stress UN experts
23 July 2014 - The new global sustainable development agenda that Members States are currently working on must include specific references to indigenous peoples and the challenges they face, a group of United Nations experts stated on 21 July. Indigenous peoples can contribute significantly to achieving the objectives of sustainable development because of their traditional knowledge systems on natural resource management which have sustained some of the world's more intact, diverse ecosystems up to the present -- the experts stated in a news release. (more)

Britain sticks with tough carbon target despite opposition
23 July 2014 - Britain's government said it would stick with a goal to curb emissions by 2027 to 50 per cent of 1990 levels, a target that has led to political opposition and that its own advisers have said will be hard to meet. 'By sticking to its guns on carbon targets, the coalition government will help bring some much-needed investor confidence, and more importantly capital, into funding the transition to a low carbon economy,' said Jon Williams, partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers. (more)

Cambodia opposition drops boycott after Prime Minister makes rare deal
23 July 2014 - Cambodia's opposition on Tuesday agreed to drop a parliamentary boycott following talks with Prime Minister Hun Sen, ending a year-long deadlock and easing political tension stemming from a disputed 2013 election. The decision came during a four-hour meeting between Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy, leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), after the Prime Minister guaranteed his longtime adversary a greater political stake in two crucial institutions. 'From now on, there's a balance of power between the ruling party and the other party that has seats in parliament,' CNRP lawmaker-elect Yim Sovann, told a news conference. (more)

Denmark's near-zero-waste wonder
23 July 2014 - When we look closely at systems in nature -- coral reefs or rainforests, for instance -- we see something we don't often see in human systems: mutually beneficial relationships and energy flows among the various elements, such as air, water, rocks, soil, and plant and animal life. If we emulate these relationships in our cities and in our industrial infrastructure, we can vastly improve the sustainability of natural resources and energy use. That's exactly what the municipality of Kalundborg, 64 miles west of Copenhagen, is doing. In fact, for over 50 years, Kalundborg has been home to the first -- and still the most advanced -- example of this concept: the Kalundborg Symbiosis. (more)

Finland is the world's least fragile country
23 July 2014 - Finland has placed last in The Fragile States Index, which rates nations based on their brittleness through factors of risk. The indicators used by the list compiled by the Fund for Peace include demographic pressures, human flight, economic decline, and public services, among others. Finland's last place in the list means it has the lowest total points, making it the least fragile country in the world. Finland also is the only country in the 'Very Sustainable' category of the ranking. (more)

France backs 30 per cent energy efficiency goal: letter
23 July 2014 - France's energy minister threw her weight behind an energy savings goal of at least 30 per cent for 2030 ahead of talks in Brussels on Wednesday to thrash out a target. Energy efficiency has gained popularity in the context of the Ukraine crisis as EU member states seek to do all they can to reduce the need for imported Russian energy. The letter, dated 17 July, is addressed to European Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard and European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger, who will discuss an EU energy efficiency goal with all the other commissioners on Wednesday. (more)

New South Wales to be 'Australia's answer to California'
23 July 2014 - New South Wales aims to be 'Australia's answer to California', accelerating the use of renewable energy and finding new ways to curb waste. 'We are making NSW number one in energy and environmental policy,' Environment Minister Rob Stokes told the Clean Energy Week gathering in Sydney. (more)

Thailand: Every sector of Thai society provided with opportunities to achieve reconciliation and reform
23 July 2014 - The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has provided opportunities for citizens in every sector of Thai society to express their opinions, as a starting point for national reconciliation and reform. Head of NCPO General Prayut Chan-o-cha said this moment is a critical time for all Thais, a time for them to be united and help reform the country in a progressive and sustainable way. (more)

UN rights expert praises Cambodia's political agreement, urges promised reforms
23 July 2014 - The United Nations expert on the situation of human rights in Cambodia have welcomed the agreement reached between the two main political parties in the country, which was followed by the release of the opposition party members arrested last week. 'The two parties have finally found common ground, in the best interests of the Cambodian people. They deserve our congratulations, and the Cambodian people to enjoy a moment of celebration,' said Special Rapporteur Surya P Subedi. (more)

UN working group proposes ambitious future development agenda
23 July 2014 - Member States have forwarded to the United Nations General Assembly a set of proposed goals that consider economic, social, and environmental dimensions to improve people's lives and protect the planet for future generations. Concluding its thirteenth and final session in New York on 19 July, the Assembly's Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals proposed 17 goals with 169 targets, covering a broad range of sustainable development issues, including ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, making cities more sustainable, combating climate change, and protecting oceans and forests. (more)

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

Guardian Liberty Voice: Research shows group meditation can reduce crime rates
11 April 2014 - A recent article in the US publication Guardian Liberty Voice took an in-depth look into scientific research on the coherence-creating effect of group meditation, detailing how it 'was not only able to reduce the crime rate, but also can save cities millions of dollars'. Noting more than 50 research studies on this phenomenon, known as the Maharishi Effect, the article explains that it is produced by a specific form of meditation--the Transcendental Meditation Sidhi Programme, an advanced practice of Transcendental Meditation. In one study in Merseyside, England, 'During periods when a meditating group slightly larger than the square root of one percent of the population held sessions the monthly data showed a 13.4 percent drop in crime. This was very significant in contrast to the national crime rate, which had actually increased by 45 percent.' (more)

Belgium: Peace Assemblies in Brussels create harmonious atmosphere for EU leaders' summits
10 March 2014 - European Union Summit meetings bring together heads of state in Brussels, Belgium, every few months to make important decisions for the whole EU. Brussels is also the seat of the European Commission, European Council, and European Parliament. A few hundred metres away, special Peace Assemblies of advanced Transcendental Meditation practitioners have been held coinciding with the summits, with the aim of creating a coherent, harmonious atmosphere for EU leaders' deliberations, so that they will have the most life-supporting effect for all of Europe. (more)

Hundreds in Albania and Kosovo learn Transcendental Meditation
9 September 2013 - Dr Bevan Morris, President of Maharishi University of Management in Iowa, USA, toured Kosovo and Albania in the past year to present the latest developments and research regarding the Transcendental Meditation programme around the world. At the time of Dr Morris's visit, for the past few months a foundation started by a wealthy businessman had sponsored about 700 people to learn Transcendental Meditation in Albania and Kosovo. Because of this, several officials and educators Dr Morris met with had already heard of the technique. (more)

Fiji receives a visit from President of Maharishi University of Management
20 July 2013 - Dr Bevan Morris, President of Maharishi University of Management in the USA, visited Fiji this year, meeting with government and education officials, presenting the wide range of scientifically verified applications of the Transcendental Meditation programme to improve all areas of society. (more)

US: Senator supports MUM's substantive research on cardiovascular health
12 July 2013 - In a recent review of the past year's developments, Dr Bevan Morris, President of Maharishi University of Management, described the appreciation, help and support given to the university through the years by Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, the home state of MUM in the USA. Senator Harkin, a member of the United States Senate for 28 years, gave the 2013 commencement address at the MUM graduation ceremonies last spring. He has assisted the university particularly in the area of its substantive research on alternative approaches to treating and preventing heart disease. (more)

Study at military academy finds Transcendental Meditation improves cadets' resilience
23 April 2013 - In a study conducted at Norwich University, America's first private military college, researchers found that practising Transcendental Meditation quickly increased resilience among cadets in training. 'Very quickly we saw a huge shift in increase in resilience,' said Marguerite Meyer, Ed.D. Dr Meyer is the director of the Academic Achievement Center at Norwich University. (more)

US Senator Harkin to deliver 2013 commencement address at Maharishi University of Management
3 April 2013 - Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, who has served in the United States Senate since 1985 and in the House of Representatives from 1975-1985, will deliver the 2013 commencement address at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, on 25 May. Known for his strong interest in alternative medicine and sustainability, Senator Harkin has visited the MUM campus twice. In 2004, when he was working on health care legislation, he came to learn more about the university's prevention-oriented wellness programme and the National Institutes of Health-funded research in natural medicine. He also visited the new Sustainable Living Center last August.

Coherence-creating conference of advanced meditators convenes in Brussels 'to support unity and stability in Europe' during EU summit
6 March 2013 - A four-day conference of advanced Transcendental Meditation practitioners is in progress in Brussels, Belgium--'to support unity and stability in Europe' during the current summit of European Union leaders, organizers said. Scientific research has found that large groups practising these advanced technologies of consciousness reduce social stress and create a measurable influence of coherence and harmony in the surroundings. Similar conferences held during EU summits last year had 'remarkable' effects, said Dr Stijn van den Bosch, director of the Transcendental Meditation programme in Belgium. The first was held in June during an important EU summit meeting about the financial crisis. 'Although expectations for a good outcome were very low, heads of state came to an agreement on the first day.' A news article commented, 'After 20 failed EU summits, here is finally one that has some good results.' (more)

Belgium: Transcendental Meditation group established to create coherence, harmony for EU
21 January 2013 - In Brussels, Belgium, where many key institutions of the European Union are based, a group of advanced Transcendental Meditation practitioners dedicated to supporting unity and stability in Europe has been established nearby in two adjacent, dignified city-centre buildings. The group's purpose is to create through their daily meditation practice an influence of coherence and harmony in the collective consciousness of Europe--one of many initiatives of Maharishi's Invincible Defence programmes in Belgium and other countries around the world. (more)

Great Britain most powerful, positively influential nation in the world, newspaper reports
19 January 2013 - A recent article in The Independent newspaper in Great Britain reported that the country is now considered to be the most powerful nation in the world. But this power is distinct from the military power that dominated in the past. The article states, 'For the first time, Britain has beaten the US to the top spot in an annual survey of global soft power. Coined by a Harvard academic in 1990, the term describes how countries use attraction and persuasion, rather than coercion or payment, to change behaviour.' (more)

10 Short Summaries of Top Stories

Minority Biharis under pressure in Bangladesh
22 July 2014 - The recent violent attack on Urdu-speaking Biharis in the Bangladeshi capital highlights this minority's ongoing protection needs: Community leaders allege political collusion in the attack. Clashes broke out on 14 June between Biharis and Bengalis, who make up the majority of Bangladesh's population, in Mirpur on the outskirts of Dhaka. Ten Biharis were killed and houses were torched; no arrests have been made to date. Anwari Begum, 50, told IRIN she was injured during the clash when a police officer hit her with his baton; she believes the police did too little to stop the violence. There are 300,000 Muslim Biharis scattered across 116 squalid camps in Bangladesh today. Many came from the Indian state of Bihar, and moved to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) during and after partition in 1947. The West Pakistan-based government's preferential treatment of Urdu speakers seeded tensions between Biharis and Bengalis, which were further stoked when many Biharis sided with the Urdu-speaking Pakistani army in the bloody 1971 war of liberation. A 2008 landmark High Court decision recognized Biharis as Bangladeshi nationals, but citizenship rights have yielded minimal gains, and most remain on government-owned land, leaving them vulnerable to abuse and political manipulation. (more)

Armed bandits demand water in dry northern India
21 July 2014 - Armed bandits in drought-stricken northern India are threatening to kill hundreds of villagers unless they deliver 35 buckets of water each day to the outlaws in their rural hideouts. Since the threats were delivered last week, 28 villages have been obeying the order, taking turns handing over what the bandits are calling a daily 'water tax,' police said Monday. 'Water itself is very scarce in this region. Villagers can hardly meet their demand,' officer Suresh Kumar Singh said by telephone from Banda, a city on the southern border of central Uttar Pradesh state and caught within what is known in India as bandit country. Though the number of bandits has declined drastically in recent decades, they are still common in the hard-to-reach forests and mountains of the Bundelkhand region. Banditry dates back some 800 years in India to when emperors still ruled. The area is cut off from supply lines, leaving the bandits reliant on surrounding villages. Since 2007, it has been starved for rain, with the yearly monsoon bringing only half the usual number of 52 rainy days a year. But while the bandits were once admired as caste warlords with a touch of Robin Hood about them, as they fought to protest feudal orders or to avenge personal wrongs, today's bandits are considered mostly opportunistic thugs seeking personal wealth and power. (more)

Bolivian president vows to expand coca crops
21 July 2014 - Bolivian President Evo Morales has been re-elected head of the country's largest union of coca growers and promises to expand crops if he wins a third term as the nation's leader. Morales told union members Sunday that Bolivia needs a new law regarding coca production. Current law allows nearly 30,000 acres of coca leaf to be grown for traditional use. One proposal would expand the permitted acreage, including in the Chapare region that is Morales' political base, to more than 49,000 acres. The United Nations, however, has estimated Bolivia already grows more than that, with nearly 57,000 acres believed dedicated to the crop last year. (more)

Migration spotlights Mexican 'coyote' smugglers
21 July 2014 - Judging by the dramatic increase in the number of minors apprehended in the United States in recent months, it seems the human smuggling business from Central America is booming. The vast majority of migrants who enter the US illegally do so with the help of a network of smugglers known as 'coyotes', so named for the scavengers that prowl the border. It is a high-risk, often high-yield business estimated to generate $6.6 billion a year for smugglers along Latin America's routes to the US, according to a 2010 United Nations report. The migrants pay anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000 each for the illegal journey across thousands of miles in the care of smuggling networks that in turn pay off government officials, gangs operating on trains, and drug cartels controlling the routes north. The exact profit is hard to calculate, though some experts estimate it's $3,500 to $4,000 per migrant if the journey goes as planned. Smuggling organizations may move from dozens to hundreds of migrants at a time. (more)

Anti-Russia sentiment running deep in Malaysia as burial rites violated
20 July 2014 - Many Malaysians are urging their government and world leaders to take a tough stance against Russia after pro-Russia rebels allegedly shot down a Malaysia Airlines jet, with some calling for economic sanctions and a boycott of Russian goods. While the rebels and Ukraine blame each other for Thursday's downing of Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine, near the Russian border, Russia's government is being accused of not doing enough to ensure that authorities have proper access to the crash site. Much of the Malaysian anger toward Russia stems from the inability for family members of Muslims who were aboard the plane to perform burial rites as quickly as possible, according to Islamic custom. Of the 298 people aboard the plane, 43 were from Muslim-majority Malaysia and 12 were from Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country. The plane crashed in rebel-held territory, and the separatists -- who are being blamed for shooting down the plane by much of the international community, including the United States -- have been accused of preventing emergency workers from retrieving the victims' bodies. The issue has caused deep resentment in Malaysia, where many have blasted Russian President Vladimir Putin. Even politicians, who on Friday were careful not to point any fingers, seem to be losing patience. (more)

After US deportation, Honduran families face a bleak and uncertain fate
18 July 2014 - A Mother and daughter, who had fled rampant violence in the Honduran city of Tegucigalpa, were caught crossing int the US, held at a detention centre, and returned to a situation even more precarious than the one they had left. Their story is emblematic of a wider problem that has been little reported: threats, debts. and despair often lie in wait for migrants deported back to violence-racked Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Deported migrants often become targets of the gangs they tried to escape, and their jobs prospects are grim. They face stigmatization upon return, being lumped in with people deported for more serious offenses than crossing the border illegally. Many of the young Hondurans flocking to the border are fleeing gangs like 'Calle 18' and 'Mara Salvatrucha' formed in the 1980s in the United States by Central American migrants. 'Some of the teenagers who were being recruited by gangs and narcotraficantes are now back in the crosshairs of those people who were wanting to recruit them and maybe now they'll get penalized for having tried to leave,' said Luis Zayas, dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin. (more)

Flattened mountains, poisoned rivers: China's engineers face off against engineer-created problems
18 July 2014 - The city of Lanzhou lies in the heart of China. Surrounded by vast mountains and arid deserts, the ancient Silk Road city with its abundance of natural mineral resources has flourished over thousands of years. It is here that 700 mountain tops are being bulldozed to create a new megacity. Hundreds of square kilometres of mountain are being flattened by the authorities to rapidly generate vast quantities of rock, which can then be transported to valleys and gullies to serve as infill. It is shaping the environment on an unprecedented scale. The destruction of long-standing geological features will have untold consequences on the surrounding region -- from the ground to the sky, the geography of the province will be altered in ways we can't even begin to predict. Scientists are adamant that moving mountains is not something humans are ready to do. 'The consequences of these unprecedented programmes have not been thought through -- environmentally, technically or economically,' wrote Chinese academics Peiyue Li, Hui Qian and Jianhua Wu in an article protesting the engineering project in Nature in June. 'There has been too little modelling of the costs and benefits of land creation. Inexperience and technical problems delay projects and add costs, and the environmental impacts are not being thoroughly considered.' (more)

Camp Lejeune and the US military's polluted legacy
16 July 2014 - Camp Lejeune, in Jacksonville, North Carolina, is a toxic paradox, a place where young men and women were poisoned while in the service of their nation. They swore to defend this land, and the land made them sick. And there are hundreds of Camp Lejeunes across the country, military sites contaminated with all manner of pollutants, from chemical weapon graveyards to vast groundwater deposits of gasoline. Soldiers know they might be felled by a sniper's bullet in Baghdad or a roadside bomb in the gullies of Afghanistan. They might even expect it. But waterborne carcinogens are not an enemy whose ambush they prepare for. That toxic enemy is far more prevalent than most American suspect, not to mention far more intractable. That the Department of Defence is the world's worst polluter is a refrain one often hears from environmentalists, who have long-standing, unsurprising gripes with the military-industrial complex. But politics aside, the greenies have a convincing point. Dive into the numbers, and the Pentagon starts to make Koch Industries look like an organic farm. (more)

Italy's public debt hits record 2.2 trillion
15 July 2014 - Italy's public debt rose in May by 20 billion euros over the previous month to hit a record high of 2.166 trillion euros, the Bank of Italy said Monday. Public debt rose by 96 billion euros or 4.7 per cent since the beginning of the year. Because the economy almost certainly didn't grow as fast, this means the debt-to-GDP ratio will probably increase, the central bank said. The increase was made up of 5.5 billion euros in public administration spending and a 14.9 billion euro increase in Treasury cash reserves to 92.3 billion euros at the end of May,up from 62.4 billion euros in May 2013. (more)

Four rhinos killed in Kenya's worst poaching attack in years
13 July 2014 - Two armed gangs killed four rhinos for their horns in rural Kenya this week in possibly the worst rhino poaching incident in the country in more than 25 years, the spokesman for Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said on Friday. Poaching across sub-Saharan Africa is on the rise as armed criminal gangs kill elephants for tusks and rhinos for horns, usually to be shipped to Asia for use in ornaments and medicines. The poaching on Wednesday night took place at the private Ol Jogi ranch near Nanyuki, about 200 km (120 miles) north of Nairobi. Paul Muya, a spokesman for KWS which has overall responsibility for wildlife in Kenya, told Reuters the rhino bodies were found on two separate sites on the 58,000-acre ranch and the poachers escaped with three of the animals' eight horns. One conservationist said the Ol Jogi raid was the worst poaching incident in Kenya since five white rhinos were killed in one swoop in Meru Park in 1988. Muya said he also believed it to be the biggest attack since then. 'They've got high levels of security there, so the implications are that really rhino are not safe anywhere,' said the conservationist. (more)

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