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25 years on, Russians tell of how they defeated a coup
21 August 2016 - On August 19, 1991, a group of eight senior hard-line Communist leaders, including the KGB chairman, had seized power from Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, declaring that Gorbachev was unable to continue as head of the party due to illness. In fact, Gorbachev was under arrest and the 'Gang of Eight' intended to roll back his reformist policies of glasnost and perestroika, which they believed had set the Soviet Union on a path of disaster. For a few days, the fate of the superpower hung in the balance. As the 25th anniversary of the August Coup draws near this Friday, The Associated Press has talked to participants and witnesses of those critical days when Muscovites turned out to defend the spirit of democracy that Gorbachev had unleashed, and many Soviet officers defied their orders and sided with the people, ensuring that that the plotters failed. (more)

US: Obama administration to phase out some private prison use
21 August 2016 - The Obama administration is phasing out its use of some private prisons, affecting thousands of federal inmates. In a memo Thursday to the Bureau of Prisons, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates told the bureau to start reducing 'and ultimately ending' the Justice Department's use of private prisons. The announcement follows a recent Justice Department audit that found that the private facilities have more safety and security problems than government-run ones. (more)

China, Myanmar vow closer ties as Suu Kyi visits Beijing
20 August 2016 - China and Myanmar said Saturday that they have pledged to forge closer ties as 'blood brothers,' as Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi got set to wrap up a visit to Beijing, her first diplomatic trip since taking power in March. China has been on a diplomatic charm offensive in the past year toward its fast-growing neighbor, while Myanmar under Suu Kyi has shown a willingness to embrace its top trading partner and major investor. (more)

Foreign ministers of Japan, China, South Korea likely to meet next week: media
17 August 2016 - Japan, China, and South Korea are in talks to hold a meeting of their foreign ministers next week, despite rows between Tokyo and Beijing over China's maritime expansion in the South China Sea and the East China Sea, a Japanese daily said on Wednesday, 17 August. The foreign ministers' meeting is expected to lay the groundwork for a three-way summit Tokyo is set to host this year. (more)

US: Air Force to replace toxic fire fighting foam
16 August 2016 - The Air Force on Monday announced a move to replace firefighting foam -- the suspected source of chemicals that have contaminated area water supplies -- with more 'environmentally responsible' products. The move comes after harsh criticism from municipal officials and area residents about the military's response to water tainted by perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). (more)

Germany urges Russia and Ukraine to ease tension over Crimea, keep talking
15 August 2016 - Germany's foreign minister urged Russia and Ukraine on Monday to reduce tensions over Crimea and stick to the troubled Minsk peace accords as a way of ending hostilities in eastern Ukraine. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, at a news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the city of Yekaterinburg, said that even though the Minsk deal had stalled in places it should remain the focus of the peace process despite the alleged plot around Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Lavrov said Russia would play its part in ensuring the Minsk accords were honored. (more)

Zimbabwe plans to use drones to fight elephant poaching
15 August 2016 - Zimbabwe plans to deploy aerial drones in its biggest wildlife sanctuary in the west to combat poaching of elephants, a parks official said on Monday, as the country aims to protect one of its top tourist attractions. Tourism contributes 11 percent to Zimbabwe's $14 billion economy, according to Ministry of Tourism data, with the country's wildlife parks popular with overseas visitors. (more)

Germany's Chancellor Merkel to urge chiefs of big companies to hire refugees, Bild reports
13 August 2016 - Chancellor Angela Merkel has invited executives from some of Germany's biggest listed companies to attend a summit next month where she will urge them to hire more refugees, the newspaper Bild reported on Saturday, 13 August. More than one million migrants flooded into Germany last year, and the government wants to get as many as possible into the job market, which would reduce their dependence on the state and compensate for labor shortages as the workforce ages. (more)

Germany's new electric car discount scheme draws nearly 2,000 applicants
4 August 2016 - Nearly 2,000 people in Germany have applied for the government's electric car discount scheme, introduced on July 1, and a third of them are buyers of BMW models, a government agency said on Thursday, 4 August. The scheme is similar to those established in other European countries to spur electric car sales. (more)

US: Deal to bring electricity to over 1,000 on Navajo Nation
4 August 2016 - More than 1,000 Navajos who live without electricity in their homes soon could get power for the first time as the tribal utility buys a system of rural Utah substations and electrical lines under the terms of a decades-old deal with a power company. Across the 27,000 square-mile Navajo Nation, an estimated 15,000 people live off the grid of a utility considered among the most basic for most Americans. Navajo Tribal Utility Authority plans to connect about 1,200 people to the grid after they take ownership of the system of substations located 350 miles south of Salt Lake City early next year. (more)


Success of Maharishi's Programmes
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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)

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)


Flops
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US: Trump aides covertly fought freeing of Ukraine prisoner
23 August 2016 - For more than three years, lobbyist Jim Slattery worked in Washington to secure the release in Ukraine of the imprisoned political rival of the country's then-president. He said the work was sometimes harder than expected. 'I had a sense that there were people working on the other side,' he said, 'but they were doing it pretty secretively.' Slattery's hunch was right. His unknown opponent: The consulting firm run by Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his deputy Rick Gates, now the campaign's liaison to the Republican National Committee. (more)

US: Trump advisers waged covert influence campaign (+ AP video)
19 August 2016 - WASHINGTON (AP) - A firm run by Donald Trump's campaign chairman directly orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation on behalf of Ukraine's ruling political party, attempting to sway American public opinion in favor of the country's pro-Russian government, emails obtained by The Associated Press show. Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, never disclosed their work as foreign agents as required under federal law. The lobbying included attempts to gain positive press coverage of Ukrainian officials in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Associated Press. Another goal: undercutting American public sympathy for the imprisoned rival of Ukraine's then-president. At the time, European and American leaders were pressuring Ukraine to free her. (more)

Support for Libyan unity government 'crumbling': U.N. envoy
12 August 2016 - Support for the U.N.-backed unity government in Libya is 'crumbling' amid increased power outages and a weakening currency that is hitting crucial imports, the United Nations' envoy to the embattled north African country told a newspaper. The Government of National Accord (GNA) has been struggling to impose its authority on a country riven by political and armed rivalries, posing extra challenges as it tries to quash Islamic State jihadist militants. (more)

China backs GMO soybeans in push for high-tech agriculture
10 August 2016 - China will push for the commercialization of genetically modified soybeans over the next five years. China, which has spent billions of dollars researching GMO crops, has already embraced the technology for cotton but has not yet permitted the cultivation of any biotech food crops amid fears from some consumers over perceived health risks. The blueprint, published on the government's website on Monday, recommended 'pushing forward the commercialization of new pest-resistant cotton, pest-resistant corn, and herbicide-resistant soybeans'. (more)

Deadly election season for South Africa's candidates
2 August 2016 - South Africa's municipal election season has been deadly for candidates and party activists, with more than 12 killed ahead of Wednesday's vote. One motivation behind the killings is the chance of a steady job as a councillor in a country where more than 25 percent of people are unemployed, said Gareth Newham, head of the governance, crime, and justice division of the local Institute for Security Studies. 'These are people who go from literally being unemployed to suddenly being able to afford a much better lifestyle. So there is intense competition for those positions,' Newham said. The posts also come with the chance to control local resources and patronage. (more)

Rio's Olympic air: Dirty, deadly, and no cleaner legacy from Games
1 August 2016 - Rio de Janeiro's air is dirtier and deadlier than portrayed by authorities and the Olympics' promised legacy of cleaner winds has not remotely been met, an analysis of government data and Reuters' own testing found. Brazil declared in its official bid for the Olympic Games, which open on Friday, that Rio's air quality was 'within the limits recommended by the World Health Organization.' That was not true when Rio won the right to host the Games in 2009 and it is not true now. Thousands die annually in Rio's metropolitan area of 12 million people because of complications related to the air. People exposed to the pollution have higher risks of lung cancer, heart attacks, strokes, asthma, and other diseases. (more)

Flydubai airline pilots complain of dangerous fatigue in leaked documents
29 July 2016 - The Guardian has seen the air safety reports of 413 Flydubai flights written in the two-month period. In more than 40 reports, pilots describe concerns about fatigue. In some cases they complain about being urged to work overtime -- so-called 'discretion' flying -- when they have warned it could be unsafe to do so. Documents seen by the Guardian suggest some pilots feel they are being pushed too hard and are struggling to recover from punishing day and night flight schedules. The exasperation reflected in the documents is compounded when another pilot questions why Flydubai asks him for the names of crew members who refuse to extend their normal working hours into so-called discretion flying. Flydubai is a state-owned airline flying out of the UAE, whose chairman is His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum. He also runs the Emirates airline and is president of the Department of Civil Aviation. Set up in 2008, it is Dubai's first budget airline. (more)

Brexit shockwaves hit British jobs, banks, automobiles
28 July 2016 - Shockwaves from Britain's vote to leave the European Union rocked the economy on Thursday, with thousands of jobs lost at one of the country's biggest banks, big extra costs for Ford, and consumer confidence plunging. (more)

Britain's economy wilting fast after Brexit vote
22 July 2016 - Britain's economy is shrinking, the broadest survey of business confidence since last month's historic vote to quit the European Union showed on Friday, 22 July. The flash, or preliminary, Markit survey of purchasing managers -- executives who make spending decisions at 1,250 big firms -- fell by the most in its 20-year history. (more)

US: 8 years after hope and change, voters are angry, anxious
16 July 2016 - Less than four months before Election Day, [a] sense of anger and anxiety runs deep with voters across the country. Trump and Clinton will each try to paint a rosy picture of life under their leadership during their back-to-back conventions, but it seems unlikely either can quickly shake Americans out of their bad mood. A stunning 79 percent of Americans now believe the country is heading in the wrong direction, a 15-point spike in the past year, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll. Voters are strikingly unhappy with the candidates who will be on the ballot this fall, with only 22 percent saying they would be proud to see Trump win and 27 percent to see Clinton. (more)

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