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Positive Trends
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Serbia: Kosovo minister Enver Hoxhaj makes historic visit
23 October 2014 - Enver Hoxhaj has become the first minister from Kosovo to officially visit Serbia since his country unilaterally seceded in 2008. The Kosovan foreign minister hailed warmer ties between the two sides, and urged his hosts to agree to a peace treaty that would recognise Kosovo's independence. (more)

US returns dozens of stolen artifacts to Peru
22 October 2014 - Dozens of artifacts are on their way back to Peru after being seized in the United States during investigations into the smuggling of cultural relics. Investigators from US Immigration and Custom Enforcement's Homeland Security department held ceremonies in Denver, San Antonio, and Boston on Wednesday to repatriate more than 40 items. US Homeland Security helps investigate the illegal importation and distribution of artifacts. Since 2007, it says more than 7,150 items, including paintings, manuscripts, and other artifacts, have been returned to 27 countries. (more)

Cyprus sees smaller 2014 contraction, growth next year
21 October 2014 - Cyprus's economy will shrink this year by less than previously expected and a three-year-long recession seems to be nearing its end, Finance Minister Haris Georgiades said on Friday. A surge in tourist arrivals, a revival of business activity by new start-ups, and improved real estate sales compared to 2013 have all helped ease economic conditions, Georgiades said. Cyprus was forced to seek a rescue when its outsized banking sector collapsed under the weight of bad loans to Greece. On Friday, Georgiades said Cyprus expects to return to growth in 2015. (more)

Nigeria declared Ebola-free, holds lessons for others
20 October 2014 - Nigeria was declared free of the deadly Ebola virus on Monday after a determined doctor and thousands of officials and volunteers helped end an outbreak still ravaging other parts of West Africa and threatening the United States and Spain. Caught unawares when a diplomat arrived with the disease from Liberia, authorities were alerted by Doctor Ameyo Adadevoh, who diagnosed it, kept him in hospital despite protests from him and his government, and later died from Ebola herself. This year's outbreak of the highly infectious hemorrhagic fever thought to have originated in forest bats is the worst on record. (more)

China, Viet Nam patch ties after territory disputes
18 October 2014 - China and Viet Nam agreed to resume military ties and better manage their maritime disputes in the first signs that tensions over territorial claims could be easing. Despite fraternal ties between their ruling Communist parties, relations between the two countries grew tense this year after China deployed an oil rig near the Paracel Islands, which are also claimed by Hanoi. The vessels of the two sides rammed each other near the rig, and there were deadly anti-China riots in several industrial parks in Viet Nam, leading to an exodus of thousands of Chinese workers. (more)

India launches index to measure air quality
17 October 2014 - The country's top environment official unveiled a government programme Friday that will eventually measure air quality across India, home to some of the most polluted cities in the world. Over the next five years, the government will begin measuring eight major pollutants that affect respiratory health in cities with populations above 1 million, and then gradually expand the air quality index to the rest of the country, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters. The index will warn residents when pollution levels rise past dangerous levels. (more)

Ukrainian, Russian leaders sound optimistic note
17 October 2014 - Russian and Ukrainian leaders sounded optimistic after marathon, Europe-brokered talks Friday, signalling progress on both a definitive peace settlement in Ukraine and a gas dispute that threatens to disrupt supplies to Europe this winter. While Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko stopped short of declaring a breakthrough, they both spoke with renewed confidence. The fighting in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian rebels and government troops began a month after Russia annexed the peninsula of Crimea, killing more than 3,600 people, according to the UN. The West, in return, imposed economic sanctions, which Putin is eager to see lifted. (more)

India tightens rules on cigarettes, tobacco branding
15 October 2014 - Tobacco companies in India will have to stamp health warnings across 85 per cent of the surface of cigarette packs and other products, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday, joining nations such as Thailand and Australia with stringent marketing rules. Up to 900,000 Indians die every year of diseases related to tobacco use, the government said in 2010. That number could reach 1.5 million by 2020 if users cannot drop the habit, the International Tobacco Control Project estimates. (more)

Berlin plans people's party to mark 25 years since fall of Wall
14 October 2014 - The German capital will mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with a huge street party around the Brandenburg Gate celebrating the part ordinary people played in bringing down communism in eastern Europe. The Berlin Wall, which divided the island of West Berlin from the communist East after it was built in 1961, was the most potent symbol of the Cold War. Momentous images of emotional Germans from the East surging through the newly opened border stunned the world in 1989 and the following year, when the two Germanys became one. (more)

Irish unveil growth budget, end 6 years' austerity
14 October 2014 - Ireland unveiled its first expansive budget Tuesday since the collapse of the Celtic Tiger economy six years ago, ending an era of austerity earlier than expected thanks to the return of Europe-leading growth. Tuesday's budget represents a stunning turnaround for Ireland. Confidence has soared since Ireland's December 2013 exit from its bailout support. Ireland also sought to shore up its international image by announcing plans to end a corporate accounting rule that permitted hundreds of US multinationals with European bases in Ireland to shift their non-American profits between two Irish-registered companies and avoid tax. (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.
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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)

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)


Flops
10 Short Summaries of Top Stories


Mexico: Mayor linked to deadly attack on students
22 October 2014 - Officials said Wednesday that a drug gang implicated in the disappearance of 43 students in a southern city essentially ran the town, paying the mayor hundreds of thousands of dollars a month out of its profits from making opium paste to fuel the US heroin market. The statements painted the fullest picture yet of the control that is exercised by gangs over a broad swath of Mexico's hot lands in Guerrero state. The Guerreros Unidos cartel's deep connections with local officials in Iguala came to a head 26 September when the mayor ordered city police to detain protesting students, who were then turned over to the drug gang. The students, who attended a radical rural teachers college, had gained the enmity of Iguala Mayor Jose Luis Abarca because of a previous demonstration in the city. Investigators have found a total of nine mass graves containing 30 sets of human remains during the hunt for the missing students. Officials are waiting for a second round of DNA tests after a first round determined they weren't the bodies of the students. (more)

Afghan opium poppy cultivation hits all-time high
21 October 2014 - Opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan grew to an all-time high in 2013 despite America spending more than $7 billion to fight it over the past decade, a US report showed on Tuesday. Federal auditors SIGAR reported that Afghan farmers grew an unprecedented 209,000 hectares of the poppy in 2013, blowing past the previous peak of 193,000 hectares in 2007. One factor for the surge was affordable deep-well technology, which over the past decade turned 200,000 hectares of desert in southwestern Afghanistan into arable land much of which is now being used for poppy cultivation. Nangarhar province in the east, and other provinces, once declared 'poppy free', have seen a resurgence in cultivation. An Afghan government official says that Taliban and opium smugglers are fighting for the income of opium in different parts of the country, while cultivation takes place mostly in the south and southwest where insurgents are highly active and the government has little influence. (more)

Despite costly US effort, Afghan poppy cultivation hits new high
21 October 2014 - Opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan hit an all-time high in 2013 despite years of counter-narcotics efforts that have cost the United States $7.6 billion, the US government watchdog for Afghanistan reconstruction spending said on Tuesday. Afghan farmers grew an 'unprecedented' 209,000 hectares (516,000 acres) of opium poppy in 2013, surpassing the previous high of 193,000 hectares (477,000 acres) in 2007, said John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction. Afghanistan produces more than 80 per cent of the world's illicit opium, and profits from the illegal trade help fund the Taliban insurgency. United States government officials blame poppy production for fueling corruption and instability, undermining good government, and subverting the legal economy. (more)

Thai scholar faces royal insult charge over medieval king
20 October 2014 - A prominent Thai intellectual has been accused of insulting a medieval king, a government spokesman said on Monday, and faces up to 15 years in jail if convicted. Thailand has a strict lese-majeste law which makes it a crime to defame, insult or threaten the king, queen, heir to the throne, or regent. The law does not apply to past or deceased monarchs but is often loosely interpreted for political ends. Thailand's army seized power in a 22 May coup saying it needed to restore order after months of street protests that helped overthrow an elected government. 'Cases that would have been shelved under the previous government are being fast-tracked into military courts,' said David Streckfuss, a Thailand-based scholar who monitors lese-majeste laws. Last year, the Supreme Court sentenced a man to two years in prison over a comment he made in 2005 about King Mongkut, known outside Thailand as the king in the play and film 'The King and I'. (more)

Mission Unaccomplished: Containing Ebola in Africa
18 October 2014 - Looking back, the mistakes are easy to see: Waiting too long, spending too little, relying on the wrong people, thinking small when they needed to think big. Many people, governments and agencies share the blame for failing to contain Ebola when it emerged in West Africa. Now they share the herculean task of trying to end an epidemic that has sickened more than 9,000, killed more than 4,500, seeded cases in Europe and the United States, and is not even close to being controlled. Many of the missteps are detailed in a draft of an internal World Health Organization report obtained by The Associated Press. It shows there was not one pivotal blunder that gave Ebola the upper hand, but a series of them that mounted. (more)

In Hong Kong, no endgame for chaotic protests
17 October 2014 - Three weeks ago, students at a rally stormed a fenced-off courtyard outside Hong Kong's government headquarters, triggering unprecedented mass protests for greater democracy in the semiautonomous Chinese city. Since then, the movement has spiraled into a volatile and dangerous crisis with no clear endgame. A government offer to negotiate with students appears highly unlikely to resolve the largest uprising since the former British colony returned to Chinese control 17 years ago. Here are three key questions as the democracy protests continue to unfold: (more)

US: Malpractice laws that favour doctors fail to cut health costs: study
15 October 2014 - For decades, it's been the conventional wisdom that US healthcare costs are high because doctors order expensive tests to protect themselves from malpractice lawsuits, but new evidence says that assumption is wrong. The study from the RAND Corporation found that in three states where the laws were rewritten to make it virtually impossible to sue a doctor for mistakes, the cost of care did not go down in hospital emergency departments. (more)

South Korea identity thefts forces ID overhaul
14 October 2014 - After an avalanche of data breaches, South Korea's national identity card system has been raided so thoroughly by thieves that the government says it might have to issue new ID numbers to every citizen over 17 at a possible cost of billions of dollars. The admission is an embarrassment for a society that prides itself on its high-tech skills and has some of the fastest Internet access. (more)

Ebola deflating hopes for 3 poor African economies
13 October 2014 - Just as their economies had begun to recover from the man-made horror of coups and civil war, the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone have been knocked back down by a terrifying force of nature: the Ebola virus. The outbreak has paralyzed economic life. Across the Ebola zone, shops are closed, hotels vacant, flights cancelled, fields untended, investments on hold. (more)

More Bangladeshis found in Thailand on human trafficking route
13 October 2014 - Thai police found scores of sick and exhausted boat people hiding on a remote island on Monday, and all but one of the 79 suspected human-trafficking victims were from Bangladesh, according to local officials. The high proportion of Bangladeshis cropping up on smuggling routes once plied mainly by Rohingya is consistent with what a leading Rohingya advocacy group says is an alarming rise in 'forced departures' from Bangladesh. Chris Lewa of the Arakan Project, which plots migration across the Bay of Bengal, said the group had learned that brokers in Bangladesh were abducting men and boys, or luring them by false promises of work, then shipping them to Thailand and Malaysia. Reuters reported last year how thousands of Rohingya were held and sometimes tortured by traffickers at jungle camps in southern Thailand until their families secured their release with ransoms of $2,000 or more. The discovery of the boat people, along with the detention of dozens more Rohingya last month, suggests that smuggling routes are still thriving in Thailand. (more)

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