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Sweden launches campaign to spread peace, love, and democracy - through videogames
18 April 2014 - The Swedish government has launched an initiative which it claims will spread values of democracy and creativity throughout the world -- via the medium of video games. The crowd-sourced ideas have been boiled down to a brief which, with the help of a team of Swedish developers, will be turned into the new -- and maybe even commercially viable -- game of the future. (more)

Canada: Ontario commits $25 million for cycling lanes
17 April 2014 - Ontario Transportation Minister Glen Murray has announced $25 million for cycling facilities on provincial highways and municipal roads over the next three years in an effort to make Ontario Canada's premier cycling province. It means cycling will be automatically incorporated into road works, Murray said Monday at the Ontario Bike Summit. (more)

EU seeks to cut plastic bag use by 80 per cent by 2017
17 April 2014 - The European Parliament passed a directive on Wednesday aimed at cutting the use of thin single-use plastic carrier bags by 50 per cent by 2017 and 80 per cent two years later. The directive leaves it to individual states to choose their strategy, for example taxing bags or banning them. EU ministers are due to debate the law in June and the parliament will take it up again later this year following elections in May. (more)

UN chief commends Guinea-Bissau people for orderly, peaceful elections
17 April 2014 - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has applauded the people of Guinea-Bissau for their orderly and peaceful participation in Sunday's presidential and legislative elections, and called on all candidates to respect the upcoming results. 'By participating in high numbers, they have clearly expressed their desire for the full return to constitutional order in their country,' said Mr Ban's Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric in a statement. (more)

US Energy Dept plans $4 billion in loan aid for renewable energy
17 April 2014 - The US Energy Department on Wednesday unveiled a plan for up to $4 billion in loan aid for renewable energy companies to help rejuvenate a programme that faced harsh political attacks over past failures of federally subsidized projects. The Obama administration's draft plan would provide loan guarantees for innovative projects that limit or avoid greenhouse gas emissions. (more)

US: Jill Biden promotes Post-9/11 GI Bill website
16 April 2014 - Jill Biden is promoting a new website designed to make it easier for service members, veterans, their spouses, and dependents to calculate their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits at thousands of schools and job training programmes. 'In just a couple easy steps they can figure everything out,' Mrs Biden told The Associated Press before she appeared Wednesday on a television programme to show off the GI Bill Comparison Tool. Previously, service members had to consult multiple sources to find the same information, said Mrs Biden, a military mom and English professor. The website launched in February, but Vice President Joe Biden's wife is highlighting its existence as she and First Lady Michelle Obama mark this month's third anniversary of Joining Forces. (more)

US: Obama, Biden to announce $600M for job grants
16 April 2014 - President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are hitting the road to trumpet $600 million in new competitive grants to spur creation of targeted training and apprenticeship programmes that could help people land well-paying jobs. Administration officials say they hear from too many businesses that they cannot find skilled workers for jobs they need to fill. (more)

US: Vermont steps closer to passing GMO food-labelling law
16 April 2014 - The Vermont Senate passed a bill that would make it the first US state to enact mandatory labelling of foods made with genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Unlike bills passed last year in Maine and Connecticut, which require other states to pass GMO labeling laws before they can be enacted, Vermont's contains no such trigger clause. Vermont's bill, approved 28-2 by the Senate, has already passed the state House of Representatives. It now goes back to the House to see whether members will approve changes made by the Senate. If passed, the law would take effect 1 July 2016. (more)

China set to elevate environment over development in new law
15 April 2014 - Smog-hit China is set to pass a new law that would give Beijing more powers to shut polluting factories and punish officials, and even place protected regions off-limits to industrial development, scholars with knowledge of the situation said. Long-awaited amendments to China's 1989 Environmental Protection Law are expected to be finalized later this year, giving the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) greater authority to take on polluters. (more)

French parliament bans cultivation of genetically modified maize
15 April 2014 - France's lower house of parliament adopted a law on Tuesday prohibiting the cultivation of any variety of genetically modified maize, saying it posed a risk to the environment. France adopted a decree last month to halt the planting of Monsanto's insect-resistant MON810 maize, the only GM crop allowed for cultivation in the European Union. 'It is essential today to renew a widely shared desire to maintain the French ban,' Jean-Marie Le Guen, the minister in charge of relations with parliament, told the National Assembly. 'This bill strengthens the decree passed last March by preventing the immediate cultivation of GMO and extending their reach to all transgenic maize varieties,' he said. (more)

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

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)

Can meditation change the world? 'Meditating president' Joaquim Chissano brought peace, prosperity to Mozambique - Psychology Today
10 December 2012 - A recent article in Psychology Today explores the case study of the 'meditating president', Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique. After the country's long, devastating civil war ended in 1992, 'Chissano treated the rebel forces who had been trying to overthrow his government with respect. . . . Rather than trying to crush the rebels, he began to work with them,' writes Steve Taylor. '[He] set about the task of establishing lasting peace by reducing poverty' and child mortality, and increasing primary education. 'Mozambique was brought back from the brink of self-destruction and has instead become one of Africa's most stable and peaceful countries.' Taylor asks, 'What was it that made Chissano so rational and compassionate as a leader? In 1992, he learned Transcendental Meditation.' (more)

Co-operation and environmental progress hallmarks of Canada's international reputation
29 November 2012 - In good news from Canada, the manufacturing sector is beginning to rely more heavily on clean and environmental technology. Also, Canada's international reputation is on the rise. Transcendental Meditation teachers in the country say that these and other positive trends reported in the news media are expressions of rising coherence in the collective consciousness of the nation, resulting from a 100 per cent increase in the number of people learning Transcendental Meditation in the past 18 months. (more)

10 Short Summaries of Top Stories

Armed mob under guise of peaceful protest attacks UN in South Sudan
17 April 2014 - A mob of armed civilians pretending to be peaceful protesters delivering a petition to the United Nations in South Sudan forced their way into a UN base sheltering some 5,000 civilians on Thursday and opened fire, the world body said. A UN source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said at least 20 people had been killed and 60 wounded in the attack on the base in Bor in northern Jonglei state, where there are Indian and South Korean UN peacekeepers. The source warned that the death toll was likely to rise. More than 1 million people have fled their homes since fighting erupted in the world's youngest country in December between troops backing President Salva Kiir and soldiers loyal to his sacked vice president, Riek Machar. Thousands of people have been killed and tens of thousands have sought refuge at UN bases around the country. (more)

UK Ministers 'covering up secret meetings with GM food lobby'
17 April 2014 - Ministers are trying to cover up secret briefings with GM companies hoping to push 'Frankenfood' on to dinner tables. Owen Paterson has refused a Freedom of Information Act request to supply details about talks with the GM industry trade body. The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary has led the charge to encourage a sceptical public to accept genetically modified crops being grown on UK farms and sold in supermarkets. He has also been lobbying the EU to let Britain grow crops such as GM maize even if they are banned in other countries. The revelations come weeks after it was revealed that a group of scientists behind an official government study backing GM all had links to the industry. Now there is evidence of meetings and briefings involving ministers and the ABC and its industry backers. There have been no such meetings with groups worried about the impact of GM on human health and the countryside. (more)

Chinese court dismisses water pollution lawsuit
15 April 2014 - A Chinese court has rejected a lawsuit filed by five residents from a major northwestern city after authorities said a cancer-inducing chemical had been found in tapwater at 20 times above national safety levels, state media reported on Tuesday. Levels of benzene, a cancer-inducing chemical, in Lanzhou's tap water rose 20 times above national safety levels on Friday, forcing the city to turn off supplies in one district and warn other residents not to drink tap water for the next 24 hours. Monday's ruling is a setback for environmentalists, who have argued that courts need to accept pollution lawsuits for proper environmental reform to occur. The lawsuit, filed on Monday afternoon, sought civil damages, a public apology and data from water quality testing in the past year from Lanzhou Veolia Water Co., a local unit of French firm Veolia Environment, according to the Modern Jinbao newspaper, citing Wu Tianying, one of the Lanzhou residents who filed the suit. The newspaper said a court in Lanzhou dismissed the lawsuit, saying that the litigants did not qualify to sue, under Article 55 of the Civil Procedure Law. The article states that 'only agencies and organizations that are stipulated by the law' are allowed to file pollution-related lawsuits. (more)

Deforestation, drought push Amazon toward destruction by fire
15 April 2014 - Deforestation in the Amazon is increasing the region's vulnerability to droughts and fires, pushing it toward a 'tipping point' that could cause rapid, large-scale destruction during dry years, according to a study published Monday. The eight-year study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the largest, longest-running experiment investigating the effects of fire on tropical forests. It is also the first to show how fire and drought could lead to significant forest die-back in the Amazon, said Jennifer Balch, an assistant professor of geography at Penn State University who co-led the study. 'It's only in the past couple of decades that fire has even been recognized as a major disturbance in Amazon forest,' Balch said. 'Fire scientists are catching up with a phenomenon that's happening so quickly as a result of frontier expansion and land use changes.' Large areas of tropical forest, particularly in the southeastern Amazon, are being logged and cleared for crops. Such practices thin the forest canopy, promote growth of invasive, quick-burning grasses, and cause warmer air to move in from cleared lands, drying the forest floor during times of little rain, according to the study. (more)

Gunmen abduct Afghan deputy minister in Kabul
15 April 2014 - Gunmen abducted the Afghan deputy public works minister in Kabul on Tuesday, officials said, a grim reminder of the insecurity plaguing Afghanistan as most foreign troops prepare to withdraw from the country at the end of the year. Wahid, who is in his mid-50s, studied engineering and road construction in Italy and has been deputy minister for four years. Before that, he worked in the ministry overseeing road reconstruction, Kakar said. 'He is a very professional man and had no disputes with anyone,' Kakar added. Kidnappings for ransom and abductions by Taliban insurgents are relatively common in Afghanistan, but Wahid is the highest-ranking government official abducted in years. Criminal gangs also target wealthy Afghans in the capital to collect ransoms, though it's impossible to know how common abductions are because most go unreported to police. (more)

Violence surges from Islamic uprising in Nigeria
15 April 2014 - Suspected Muslim extremists kidnapped about 100 girls Tuesday from a school in northeastern Nigeria, less than a day after militants bombed a bus station and killed 75 people in the capital -- a surge of violence that raised new doubts about the military's ability to contain an Islamic uprising. With an 11-month-old state of emergency in three northeastern states failing to bring relief, the attacks are increasing calls for President Goodluck Jonathan to rethink his strategy in confronting the biggest threat to the security of Africa's most populous nation. The attacks by the Boko Haram terrorist network have killed more than 1,500 people in this year alone, compared with an estimated 3,600 dead between 2010 and 2014. Islamic extremists have been abducting girls to use as cooks and slaves. Transforming Nigeria into an Islamic state is Boko Haram's stated mission. It says that establishing Shariah law will halt the endemic corruption that keeps 70 per cent of Nigerians impoverished while an elite lives in obscene luxury off oil proceeds. (more)

Britain says China calls off human rights talks at last minute
14 April 2014 - China has called off talks with Britain on Beijing's human rights record, the British government said on Monday, four days after Britain published a list of concerns. Chinese and British officials had been due to hold a round of the bilateral Human Rights Dialogue in London on Wednesday after they agreed to restart the regular meetings during a trip to China by British Prime Minister David Cameron in December. Cameron's visit was aimed at spurring closer trade and business links between Britain and the world's second biggest economy and at drawing a line under a dispute involving Tibet's spiritual leader which had led to a diplomatic freeze. But Britain's Foreign Office said Beijing had pulled out of the first round of the talks, the resumption of which Cameron had hailed at the time as a significant achievement. 'We are disappointed that the Chinese government last week unilaterally postponed the Dialogue, which was due to take place on 16 April,' a Foreign Office spokeswoman said in a statement. (more)

Waiting for water: Myanmar villages left behind
12 April 2014 - Myanmar only recently emerged from a half-century of military rule. Nascent democratic reforms implemented by the new civilian government since 2011 have resulted in a development boom, with the World Bank and others pouring billions of dollars into the country of 60 million as it starts to open up to the world. But so far, it is the big cities that are seeing the benefits. Even places like Dala township -- just a 20-minute boat ride from the city of Yangon -- have so far been left out. Authorities tell residents that maybe next year the government will start installing pipes so that water can be delivered straight to their homes. The water shortages began with a population boom in the 1980s, with the number of inhabitants jumping from a few dozen to more than a thousand in part because they wanted to be close to the big city. With no restrictions on how much water each family could take, the natural, fresh-water pond started running low. Eventually, just a decade ago, it dried up entirely. Now, villagers have only one hour to get their water during dry season to limit its use. They are charged a tiny sum -- 10 kyat for each bucket, or 10 US cents. People walk for up to five kilometres (three miles) with their empty buckets. They are allowed to fill up two each. If they need more, they can get back in line. When they are ready they begin the long, hard trek home. (more)

437,000 people murdered worldwide in 2012, UN crime agency reports
11 April 2014 - Almost half a million people across the world lost their lives in 2012 as a result of intentional homicide, with the highest murder rates logged in the Americas and Africa, and the lowest in Europe, Asia and Oceania, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reports. 'Too many lives are being tragically cut short, too many families and communities left shattered. There is an urgent need to understand how violent crime is plaguing countries around the world, particularly affecting young men but also taking a heavy toll on women,' said Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Director for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs at UNODC, during the launch of the agency's 2013 Global Study on Homicide today in London. Globally, men represent some 80 per cent of homicide victims and 95 per cent of perpetrators. While almost 15 per cent of all homicides stem from domestic violence (63,600), more than two thirds of domestic violence fatalities are women (43,600, almost 70 per cent). The study also spotlights that the consumption of alcohol and/or illicit drugs increases the risk of perpetrating homicide, revealing that, in some countries, over half of homicide offenders acted under the influence of alcohol. Although the effects of illicit drugs are less well documented, cocaine and amphetamine-type stimulants have also been associated with violent behaviour and homicide. (more)

China's $5 billion pollution clean-up won't be nearly big enough
11 April 2014 - China has announced its first pilot projects to treat metal pollution in soil and prevent farmland from further contamination, but critics say the government's overall efforts are underfunded and inefficient. The Ministry of Finance will subsidise soil pollution prevention and treatment in three cities in the central province of Hunan, state media reported, as pilot efforts to halt developments that have rendered 3.33 million hectares (8 mln acres) of Chinese farmland too polluted to grow crops on. But government efforts to protect agricultural and urban soil fall massively short of what is needed, said Lan Hong, a professor at Renmin University's School of Environmental and Natural Resources. In the current five-year plan, the Ministry of Finance has budgeted 30 billion yuan ($4.8 bln) in spending on soil pollution prevention efforts, but Lan said it would cost at least 140 billion yuan, nearly five times above the budget, to solve the problem. 'The funding is based on data from the Ministry of Environmental Protection, but it is at the lower end of estimates. Decades of unrestrained economic growth has hit China's environment hard, and news of hazardous pollution levels in food has become common in recent years. (more)

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