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India, Bangladesh swap border enclaves, settle old dispute
1 August 2015 - At the stroke of midnight Friday, tens of thousands of stateless people who were stranded for decades along the poorly defined border between India and Bangladesh will finally get to choose their citizenship, as the two countries swapped more than 150 pockets of land to settle the demarcation line dividing them. The boundary dispute has been lingering since British colonialists carved Pakistan out of India in 1947, and granted independence to the two countries. None from Bangladeshi enclaves within India opted for Bangladesh, while 979 people from Indian enclaves living inside Bangladesh applied for Indian citizenship, (more)

AP-GfK poll: Americans on board with Cuba diplomacy
21 July 2015 - The restoration of diplomatic ties between the United States and Cuba seems to sit well with Americans. An Associated Press-GfK poll found the vast majority of respondents favour the move. Five things to know about U.S. public opinion on Cuba: (more)

New era in ties begins as Cuba raises flag at embassy in US (+ AP videos)
20 July 2015 - Cuba's blue, red, and white-starred flag was hoisted Monday at the country's embassy in Washington, signaling the start of a new post-Cold War era in U.S.-Cuba relations. Earlier, without ceremony, the Cuban flag was added in the lobby of the U.S. State Department alongside those of other countries with which the U.S. has diplomatic ties. In Havana, meanwhile, a carnival atmosphere reigned around the new U.S. Embassy overlooking Havana's Malecon seaside promenade. The U.S. and Cuba severed diplomatic relations in 1961 and since the 1970s have been represented in each other's capitals by limited-service interests sections. President Obama has sought engagement with communist Cuba since he first took office and has progressively loosened restrictions on travel and remittances to the island. (more)

Report: Iran, Germany to hold major economic conference
20 July 2015 - Closer ties between Iran and Germany will help bridge the gap between Europe and the entire Middle East, Iran's president said as Iran and Germany announced plans to hold their first joint economic conference in a decade, the official IRNA news agency reported on Monday. Iran and the Germany have a history of economic ties dating back to the 19th century. Germany was a major trade partner in the 1990s and more than 200,000 Iranians live there. (more)

U.S., Cuba quietly open historic new chapter in post-Cold War ties (+ Reuters video)
20 July 2015 - The United States and Cuba quietly ushered in a new era of post-Cold War relations on Monday, formally restoring diplomatic ties severed more than five decades ago and re-establishing embassies in each other's capitals. Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez will preside around 10:30 a.m. over the raising of the Cuban flag for the first time in 54 years over a mansion that will again serve as Havana's embassy in Washington. (more)

US, Cuba restore full diplomatic ties after 5 decades
20 July 2015 - More than a half century of Cold War and lingering enmity came to an abrupt but quiet end on Monday as the United States and Cuba restored full diplomatic relations. The new era began with little fanfare when an agreement between the two nations to resume normal ties on July 20 came into force just after midnight Sunday and the diplomatic missions of each country were upgraded from interests sections to embassies. Monday's events cap a remarkable change of course in U.S. policy toward the communist island under President Barack Obama. (more)

US: New York politicians seek ban on microbeads in cosmetics, cite water pollution
20 July 2015 - New York political leaders on Monday renewed their push to outlaw microbeads, the personal care plastic additives blamed for polluting waterways, and urged a statewide ban even as Congress considers prohibiting them across the US. At least seven states have banned the beads, found in toothpaste and facial scrubs. Several others, including New York, are considering legislation that would have the same effect. The synthetic plastic microbeads are too small to be captured by wastewater treatment plants. They have been found in large bodies of water where fish can confuse them for food. (more)

US, Cuba set to reboot relations over 5 decades after split
19 July 2015 - Cuba's blue, red, and white-starred flag is set to fly outside the country's diplomatic mission in the United States for the first time since the countries severed ties in 1961. While no formal ceremony is planned Monday for the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, it too will become a full-fledged embassy just after midnight as the Cold War foes formally enter a new era of engagement despite what remains a deep ideological gulf. Cuba plans a solemn morning ceremony at its stately mission in Washington with some 500 guests. (more)

South Africans celebrate International Nelson Mandela Day
18 July 2015 - South Africans honored the 67 years of former President Nelson Mandela's service to the country with 67 minutes of charity and community action around the country on his birthday Saturday. (more)

Russia says no to GMO seeds; aims for food supply that's 'cleanest in the world'
15 July 2015 - The future of agriculture in Russia won't involve genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), says the country's Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich. In order to preserve the quality and integrity of its food supply, Russia plans to stick with growing methods that protect the soil and boost yields naturally, a move that Dvorkovich says will make his country's food among the 'cleanest in the world'. (more)


Success of Maharishi's Programmes
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1001 Benefits of Transcendence
11 January 2015 - For the past five years, Blaze Compton and colleagues have been teaching inmates in several major US state prisons to practise Transcendental Meditation. 'Just 16 weeks of transcending is enough to begin a major reordering of the brain and nervous system to a more normal style of functioning that dramatically supports pro-social thinking and behavior,' he says. Mr Compton presents an extensive collection of research articles on TM ('1001 Benefits of Transcending'), 211 research institutions that have investigated TM, and 176 medical and scientific journals that have published research on the technique. (more)

Meditation sessions a hit in US Congress
25 October 2014 - The success of programmes for veterans and other at-risk groups has inspired a congressional leader to organize meditation sessions for people working in Washington, DC at the US Congress. Rep Tim Ryan began the meditation sessions, which he calls, 'Quiet Time Caucus' two years ago and the New York Post is calling the sessions 'wildly popular' with members of Congress and staffers.
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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.
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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)


Flops
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US data: Nearly 5 dozen give a third of all 2016 campaign cash
1 August 2015 - An Associated Press analysis of fundraising reports filed with federal regulators through Friday found that nearly 60 donations of a million dollars or more accounted for about a third of the more than $380 million brought in so far for the 2016 presidential election. The review covered contributions to outside groups that can accept checks of any size, known as super PACs, and to the formal campaigns, which are limited to accepting no more than $2,700 per donor. That concentration of money from a small group of wealthy donors builds on a trend that began in 2012, the first presidential contest after a series of court rulings and regulatory steps that created the super PAC. 'We have never seen an election like this, in which the wealthiest people in America are dominating the financing of the presidential election and as a consequence are creating enormous debts and obligations from the candidates who are receiving this financial support,' said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a Washington-based group that wants to limit money in politics. No one has capitalized on the new era of big money like former Florida governor Jeb Bush. He's not alone in the use of super PACs to fuel a presidential run. 'There are a handful of billionaires that are making viable individuals whose campaigns never would have gotten off the ground' said Paul S. Ryan, senior counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, which wants to tighten limits on money in politics. (more)

By nearly any measure, sunny South Florida is tops in fraud
29 July 2015 - By almost any measure, South Florida is America's organized fraud capital, although authorities say it's not entirely clear why. Need a phony ID? A fraudulent tax refund? Insurance money from a sham car crash? Florida may have just what you're looking for. Over the past decade or so, the three most populous South Florida counties -- Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach -- have become renowned for scammers stealing hundreds of millions from the government, banks, and individuals by using laptops, stolen identities, and fake medical procedures. The endlessly creative crooks come up with fake Jamaican lotteries, false marriages for immigration purposes, mediocre seafood marketed as better seafood, insurance rip-offs from fake accident, and fires -- even foreign substandard cheese passed off as domestic top shelf. But the big money is in a trio of major fraud trends: Medicare, mortgage, and identity theft-tax refunds. (more)

In rise of U.S. vape shops, owners eye new marijuana market
29 July 2015 - When Matt and Jen Osmun opened their vape (electronic cigarette) shop in Bethel, Connecticut, last December, they didn't expect to get a boost from the local medical marijuana outlet. As the number of U.S. vape shops soars, shop owners seek to capitalize not only on the vaping trend but on the more widespread, and legal, use of medical marijuana. (more)

AP Exclusive: AP tracks slave boats to Papua New Guinea
27 July 2015 - From space, the fishing boats are just little white specks floating in a vast stretch of blue water off Papua New Guinea. But zoom in and there's the critical evidence: Two trawlers loading slave-caught seafood onto a massive refrigerated cargo ship. The trawlers fled a slave island in Indonesia with captives of a brutal Southeast Asian trafficking ring whose catch reaches the United States. Hundreds of men were freed after they were discovered there earlier this year, but 34 boats loaded with workers left for new fishing grounds before help arrived -- they remain missing. (more)

5 things: US House bill would prevent mandatory GMO labeling
23 July 2015 - States could no longer require labels on genetically modified foods under legislation the US House of Representatives is considering. The legislation scheduled for a vote Thursday is backed by the food industry, which has fought state labeling efforts around the country. A December Associated Press-GfK poll found that two-thirds of Americans support labeling of genetically modified ingredients on food packages. The food industry says about 75 percent to 80 percent of packaged foods contain genetically modified ingredients. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has been supportive of genetically modified crops. (more)

US: House passes bill to prevent mandatory GMO labeling
23 July 2015 - Food companies would not have to disclose whether their products include genetically modified ingredients under legislation passed by the US House of Representatives Thursday, 23 July. The House bill is backed by the food industry, which has fought mandatory labeling efforts in several states around the country. The legislation, which passed 275-150, would prevent states from requiring package labels to indicate the presence of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. The food industry says about 75 percent to 80 percent of packaged foods contain genetically modified ingredients. A December Associated Press-GfK poll found that two-thirds of Americans support labeling of genetically modified ingredients on food packages. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has been supportive of genetically modified crops. (more)

U.S. House committee approves anti-GMO labeling law
14 July 2015 - U.S. food companies and other opponents of genetically modified food labeling notched a key victory on Tuesday as the House Agriculture Committee approved a measure banning mandatory labeling as well as local efforts to regulate genetically engineered crops. (more)

Germany struggles to cope with growing number of migrants
13 July 2015 - The number of people applying for asylum in Germany more than doubled to almost 180,000 in the first half of the year, officials said Monday, acknowledging that police are struggling to keep tabs on everyone who enters the country. Many Syrians, Iraqis, and Afghans who arrive on Europe's shores by boat try to continue their journey to Germany or Scandinavia. (more)

US: Crime up 13 percent in Los Angeles, reversing declines
8 July 2015 - Crime increased by 13 percent in Los Angeles the first six months of the year, ending more than a decade of declines in the nation's second-largest city, according to statistics released Wednesday. Only homicides saw a decrease -- about 7 percent. And while murders fell in the first six months of this year in Los Angeles, they've risen drastically in other cities. In Houston, murders rose by 53 percent the first five months of this year compared to last. Baltimore has had a 48 percent increase over the same time last year. St. Louis, New York City, Cincinnati, and New Orleans also have seen homicides increase. (more)

Deforestation drives worsening flooding in Kashmir
7 July 2015 - In April, scores of hillside homes in Fraswad and Shalnand villages in Jammu and Kashmir collapsed in a landslide amid heavy rains. Eighteen people died. Not long ago, those same sloping hills had been covered in forest. But illegal tree harvesting by timber smugglers denuded the area, making it ripe for conversion to homes, local people say. Despite substantial spending to protect its once-thick forests, Jammu and Kashmir is fast losing them to urban expansion, corruption, fires, and lack of planning. (more)

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