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No alcohol, no violence: life inside the Bolivian community led by women
17 February 2017 - Visually, there is little to distinguish the barrio of Maria Auxiliadora from the other barrios of the working-class southern periphery of Cochabamba, Bolivia. Despite its innocuous appearance, a remarkable history sets this neighbourhood apart: since 1999, Maria Auxiliadora has worked to create a safe environment free from domestic violence, under the leadership of women. Families wishing to live there have to abide by the rules established in the community: no sales of alcohol, and no gender-based attacks. [Its success] has been recognised on an international level. The community was a finalist in the 2008 World Habitat Awards, run by Building and Social Housing Foundation in partnership with UN Habitat. The nomination explicitly recognised the project's success in reducing domestic violence and promoting female leadership in a traditionally patriarchal culture. (more)

Dutch get creative to solve a prison problem: Too many empty cells
12 February 2017 - The Netherlands has a problem many countries can only dream of: a shortage of prison inmates. While countries like Belgium, Britain, Haiti, Italy, the United States and Venezuela have grappled with prison overcrowding, the Netherlands has such a surplus of unused cells that it has rented some of its prisons to Belgium and Norway. It has also turned about a dozen former prisons into centers for asylum seekers. About a third of Dutch prison cells sit empty, according to the Ministry of Justice. Criminologists attribute the situation to a spectacular fall in crime over the past two decades and an approach to law enforcement that prefers rehabilitation to incarceration. . . . Recorded crime has shrunk by about a quarter over the past nine years, according to the country's national statistics office, and that is expected to translate into a surplus of 3,000 prison cells by 2021. The government has shuttered 19 of nearly 60 prisons over the past three years. (more)

UK changes tack with help for renters, not just homebuyers
7 February 2017 - Britain set out plans on Tuesday to make renting more affordable, protect tenants and punish developers for not building quickly enough, in a shift away from decades of policy almost solely promoting home ownership. In a white paper entitled 'Fixing our broken housing market', the government laid out proposals to build more homes for rent, extend the length of tenancies and change planning laws to encourage developers to boost supply for renters. The measures, including support for smaller developers, are designed to increase the number of new homes coming onto the market in England from 190,000 units a year to at least 250,000, after decades of falling short. (more)

Inside India's first department of happiness
30 January 2017 - A village in India's Madhya Pradesh state was recently the venue for a government-sponsored programme to ''spread cheer and happiness''. . . . The fun and games were part of a week-long Happiness Festival in India's second largest state, home to more than 70 million people. They also provided a glimpse of the rollout of the country's first state-promoted project to ''to put a smile on every face''. . . . ''We are trying to get people out of homes, come together, and be happy. The aim is to forget the worries of life and enjoy together,'' said Shobhit Tripathi, a senior village council functionary. At the heart of this project is the newly-formed Department of Happiness - the first of its kind in India - helmed by the state Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The yoga-loving three-term 57-year-old leader of the ruling BJP believes the ''state can help in ensuring the mental well being of its people''. A newly formed State Institute of Happiness [is] tasked with the responsibility of ''developing tools of happiness'' and creating an ''ecosystem that would enable people to realise their own potential of inner well being''. The department also plans to run some 70 programmes and develop a Happiness Index for the state. (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)

Australia: Melbourne tram network to use solar energy by end of 2018, government says
21 January 2017 - A new solar energy plant to be built in regional Victoria will run Melbourne's entire tram network by the end of 2018, the State Government has said. About half of the energy produced by the farms will offset the amount of electricity needed to run 401 trams on Melbourne's network. Energy Minister Lily D'Ambrosio said the plan was a world first. (more)

In latest move, China halts over 100 coal power projects
17 January 2017 - China's energy regulator has ordered 11 provinces to stop more than 100 coal-fired power projects, with a combined installed capacity of more than 100 gigawatts, its latest dramatic step to curb the use of fossil fuels in the world's top energy market. Putting the power projects on hold is a major step towards the government's effort to produce power from renewable sources such as solar and wind, and wean the country off coal, which accounts for the majority of the nation's power supply. (more)

U.S. makes $500 million grant to climate change fund: State Department
17 January 2017 - The United States has made a $500 million grant to the Green Climate Fund, meant to help developing nations combat climate change, the State Department said on Tuesday, 17 January. (more)

Zambia tries new way to beat drought: solar grain mills
17 January 2017 - Across Zambia, drought that swept across the region last year, leading to widespread crop failure, has sent cereal prices soaring. the result of lack of rainfall hitting hydropower -- mean many small grain mills are charging higher prices for milling, or don't have sufficient capacity. But Zambia's government hopes it has an answer: Since 2015 it has been installing hundreds of small solar-powered mills in rural areas as a way to help hold down the price of producing food. (more)

US: President Obama celebrates World Series champion Chicago Cubs (+ videos)
16 January 2017 - President Barack Obama celebrated the World Series champion Chicago Cubs on Monday and spoke about the power sports has to unite people. 'Throughout our history, sports has had this power to bring us together even when the country is divided,' Obama said at a White House ceremony for his hometown team. 'Sports has changed attitudes and culture in ways that seem subtle but that ultimately made us think differently about ourselves.' (more)


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


'Results inside correctional facilities with Transcendental Meditation have been simply astounding'
4 February 2017 - In an editorial published this week accompanying two studies on Transcendental Meditation with male and female prison inmates, Dr. Charles Elder, a clinician and researcher with Kaiser Permanente, called for wider use of evidence-based mind-body interventions for prisoners. 'Mind-body interventions can provide the patient with a simple self-help tool that can effectively reduce anxiety, help treat substance abuse, reduce inmate recidivism, and help address a range of medical conditions,' Dr Elder wrote, citing research on Transcendental Meditation that supports these benefits. Rebecca Pak of The Women's Prison Association agrees: 'The results inside correctional facilities . . . with Transcendental Meditation have been simply astounding. If we shifted our focus from punitive responses to interventions designed to improve mental and physical health, we would have much greater impact.' The article reviews research results on Transcendental Meditation in prisons over the last four decades. (more)

Can Blacks and Police Find Inner Peace? Afro.com reports
22 November 2016 - 'If war refugees with PTSD can find rapid relief from stress through Transcendental Meditation practice, how much easier will it be for both police and inner city African-Americans to find inner peace?', write the authors of an article in Afro.com. TM is described as an evidence-based strategy to address the underlying buildup of stress in communities 'that inevitably erupts into violence'. According to recent research, more than 50% of people with PTSD who learn TM are symptom-free in 30-105 days. Police practising TM have found increased stability in stressful situations, better health, and greater resiliency to stress. It is a 'well-documented protocol for reducing stress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) . . . . that will prevent and help neutralize this buildup of stress, anger, and violence in individuals and in society as a whole.' (more)

Transcendental Meditation: A resource for reducing stress among law enforcement professionals
19 November 2016 - Dr Martha Batorski, a recognized speaker on the topic of leadership development and stress reduction, calls for the use of healing strategies like Transcendental Meditation to 'reduce the effects of stress on those who serve and protect - male and female - so they may better draw upon inner resources of calm to de-escalate situations and serve as true role models in our society.' 'Policewomen,' she writes in TM for Women, 'have naturally contributed to a new paradigm in law enforcement, bringing qualities to the field . . . that include greater empathy and ability to defuse situations and a larger field of awareness during stressful situations.' With as many as 18 per cent of police officers suffering from PTSD, and a higher rate among policewomen, there is increasing interest in the scientifically proven effectiveness of TM in greatly reducing PTSD symptoms and increasing resiliency to stressful situations. (more)

Transcendental Meditation significantly helps ease trauma symptoms, stress among inmates
8 October 2016 - Researchers have found that Transcendental Meditation significantly reduced trauma symptoms and stress in male prisoners. The study, funded by the David Lynch Foundation and conducted by a team led by Dr Sanford Nidich, was a randomized, controlled trial of 181 Oregon state correctional inmates categorized as 'moderate to high-risk'. One inmate expressed his experience after learning TM: 'As I entered the 24th year behind bars I had come to grips with most of the demons of the past but still felt fragmented. Recently I was given the chance to learn TM. . . . As the weeks passed that sense of fragmentation started to flow into something deeper and new. A quiet that feels so natural and restful that I feel like I've finally come home. To a place where things make sense and I'm just happy. The pains of my life haven't gone away . . . just feels like I've grown beyond them.' The study was published yesterday in The Permanente Journal. (more)

Federal employees learn about 'next generation PTSD relief strategy' that really works
22 September 2016 - On 22 September, the founding president of African PTSD Relief, David Shapiro, and Dr. Katie Grose, a teacher of Transcendental Meditation, gave presentations to some of the employees at a large federal complex in the Washington, D.C. area. The PTSD Relief team presented results of scientific research studies conducted on-site with refugees in Africa who learned TM and experienced dramatic relief from post-traumatic stress. The presenters are invited to participate in a charity fair for federal employees in October. (more)

Rio de Janeiro's elite police learning Transcendental Meditation in preparation for 2016 Olympics
24 November 2015 - With Olympic Games just a year ahead, the pressure is mounting on Rio de Janeiro police. Security has remained a major challenge in preparation for the grand international event. To prevent stress-induced burnout, last week a group of 400 Rio police officers started a course of Transcendental Meditation. An official explained that a policeman who is less stressed will have a better capacity to make decisions. If TM is proven to reduce the stress, the goal is to expand teaching the technique to the whole troop. The courses are supported by the David Lynch Foundation, which was founded to prevent and eradicate the effects of traumatic, toxic stress among at-risk populations. (more)

US: Women's Prison Association brings Transcendental Meditation to women with criminal justice involvement
28 October 2015 - The Women's Prison Association, a social service organization based in New York City that works with women at all stages of criminal justice involvement, has partnered with the David Lynch Foundation to offer Transcendental Meditation to clients and staff. One participant says, 'I meditate everyday, twice a day. I see the benefits everyday when dealing with my child or anyone else. I have more patience and understanding. I have more energy. Since meditation, my sugar levels have regulated (I am diabetic). It seems like everything has fallen into place. . . .' (more)

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.
(more)

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)


Flops
10 Short Summaries of Top Stories


Thousands of Fukushima evacuees face hardship as subsidies to be slashed
17 January 2017 - Nearly six years after Noriko Matsumoto and her children fled Japan's Fukushima region, fearing for their health after the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, they confront a new potential hardship -- the slashing of vital housing subsidies. Matsumoto is among nearly 27,000 people who left areas not designated as mandatory evacuation zones, spooked by high levels of radiation after nuclear meltdowns unleashed by a powerful earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. Now, as the Fukushima local government prepares to slash unconditional housing assistance on March 31, many face the painful choice of returning to areas they still fear are unsafe, or reconciling to financial hardship . . . (more)

The end of a People: Amazon dam destroys sacred Munduruku 'Heaven'
6 January 2017 - Four dams are being built on the Teles Pires River -- a major tributary of the Tapajós River -- to provide Brazil with hydropower, and to possibly be a first step toward constructing an industrial waterway to transport soy and other commodities from Mato Grosso state, in the interior, to the Atlantic coast. Those dams are being built largely without consultation with impacted indigenous people, as required by the International Labor Organization's Convention 169, an agreement which Brazil signed. A sacred rapid, known as Sete Quedas, the Munduruku 'Heaven', was dynamited in 2013 to build the Teles Pires dam. A cache of sacred artifacts was also seized by the dam construction consortium and the Brazilian state. The Indians see both events as callous attacks on their sacred sites, and say that these desecrations will result in the destruction of the Munduruku as a people -- 3,000 Munduruku Indians live in 112 villages, mainly along the upper reaches of the Tapajós River and its tributaries in the heart of the Amazon. (more)

Hungry Venezuelans flood Brazilian towns, as threat of mass migration looms
1 January 2017 - Survival for Venezuelans is becoming a matter of flight. About 10,000 Venezuelans are streaming into Brazil every month in search of food and medicine, authorities say, camping out on the streets and swamping government services in Amazon frontier towns ill-prepared to receive them. Oil-rich Venezuela has been an immigrant destination for much of its history. Now it is a place to flee. Chronic food shortages, rampant violence and the erratic and often paranoid behavior of President Nicolás Maduro have turned the country's border crossings and beaches into escape valves. (more)

World: Illegal logging shows little sign of slowing
30 December 2016 - A report released in December presents the most comprehensive scientific analysis of illegal logging ever published. Its findings indicate a third of the tropical timber traded globally comes from illegal deforestation, and that regulation loopholes along with an uptick in organized criminal networks are bolstering the illicit activity. (more)

More than one-third of schoolchildren are homeless in shadow of Silicon Valley
28 December 2016 - The tech economy is drawing new inhabitants and businesses but is contributing to dislocation, leaving families, teachers, and even principals with housing woes. Little more than a strip of asphalt separates East Palo Alto from Palo Alto, with its startups, venture capitalists, Craftsman homes, and Whole Foods. Remarkably, slightly more than one-third of students -- or 1,147 children -- are defined as homeless here, mostly sharing homes with other families because their parents cannot afford one of their own, and also living in RVs and shelters. The district is being squeezed from every side: teachers, administrative staff, and even principals have housing woes of their own. (more)

'Outrageous': Coal mine gets expansion nod despite secret, incomplete studies
26 December 2016 - The Baird government has approved the expansion of the most aggressive coal mine in the Special Areas of Greater Sydney's catchment despite not knowing the compounding impact it will have on water supplies. Approval was granted despite South32 commissioning a report on groundwater impacts in 2012 -- when it was seeking the go-ahead for the five excavation lines -- but then declining to make the findings available even to the government. (more)

Smog engulfs cities in northern China for fourth day
20 December 2016 - A plane carrying the chief executive of the world's biggest oil exporter was prevented from landing in the Chinese capital of Beijing on Tuesday because of thick smog blanketing large swathes of northern China. China declared a 'war on pollution' in 2014 amid concern its heavy industrial past was tarnishing its global reputation and holding back its future development. But it has struggled to reverse the damage done by decades of breakneck economic growth, much of it based on the coal-burning power sector. Despite months of efforts to hone its rapid response systems, air quality deteriorated in parts of the region on Tuesday, with the environment ministry warning that firms were flouting emergency restrictions. (more)

Air pollution in northern Chinese city surpasses WHO guideline by 100 times
19 December 2016 - Concentrations of airborne pollutants in a major northern Chinese city exceeded a World Health Organisation (WHO) guideline by 100 times on Monday as north China battled with poor air quality for the third straight day. Pollution alerts have become increasingly common in China's northern industrial heartland, especially during winter when energy demand -- much of it met by coal -- skyrockets. (more)

Americans' odds of earning more than parents have plunged
8 December 2016 - The likelihood that young adults will earn more than their parents has plummeted in recent decades, a study has found, fueling concerns that the American dream of steady upward mobility is foundering amid a widening wealth gap. ...Anxieties about status and economic opportunity formed a backdrop to the 2016 election campaign, with many voters concerned that their children wouldn't fare as well as they had. Conversely, many younger voters worry that they won't do as well as their parents, largely because of sluggish income growth and higher costs for housing, health care, and student debt. Chetty's research suggests that those concerns are well-founded. (more)

In Macedonia's fake news hub, teen shows AP how it's done
2 December 2016 - On the second floor of a noisy sports center in the Macedonian town of Veles, a teenage purveyor of fake news cracked open his laptop and laid out his case for why lying is more lucrative than the truth. Real news gets reported everywhere, he argued. Made-up stories are unique. 'The fake news is the good news,' the 18-year-old said, pointing to a graph showing his audience figures, which reached into the hundreds of thousands, a bling watch clasped firmly around his wrist. 'A fake news article is way more opened than any other.' (more)

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