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Australia, Indonesia hope to heal rift with pact
19 August 2014 - Australia and Indonesia have reached an agreement that will heal a bilateral rift sparked last November by accusations that Australia had tapped the cellphones of the Indonesian President, his wife, and eight Indonesian ministers and officials in 2009, an official said Tuesday. Outgoing Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono withdrew his ambassador from Australia in protest. Relations have been gradually proving since then, and Indonesian Ambassador Nadjib Riphat Kesoema returned to Canberra in May. (more)

Australia: Gumbaynggirr people celebrate Nambucca Heads claim after 17-year fight
17 August 2014 - The Federal Court has approved a 17-year-old native title claim by the Gumbaynggirr people on the New South Wales mid-north coast. More than 100 people stood and cheered after Judge Jayne Jagot handed down her ruling during a special open-air sitting at Nambucca Heads, south of Coffs Harbour. The claim extends over a six-square-kilometre piece of coastal land within the Gaagal Wanggaan National Park, just south of the town. (more)

US President Obama to visit Estonia in September
15 August 2014 - The White House says US President Obama will visit Tallinn, Estonia before heading to Wales for a NATO summit. The NATO meeting is expected to focus in part on the alliance's posture in member nations closest to Russia's border. The White House says in addition to his meetings with Estonian officials, Obama will also meet with the presidents of Latvia and Lithuania. The leaders also took part in meetings with Obama in Poland earlier this year when he convened talks with representatives from Central and Eastern Europe. (more)

Scotland: Pesticide ban call to save bees
14 August 2014 - Members of the Scottish Parliament have called on ministers to ban certain pesticides during a Holyrood debate on the plight of bees. The Scottish Wildlife Trust believes pesticides known as neonicotinoids are partly to blame for a 60% decline in the bumblebee population. 'The trust hopes this debate converts words into action from the Scottish government,' Head of policy, Dr Maggie Keegan, said. (more)

US commends Iraq's al-Maliki for stepping aside
14 August 2014 - The Obama administration commended Iraq's incumbent Prime Minister Thursday for stepping aside, calling it a milestone that sets the stage for a peaceful transition of power that could unite Iraqis against the security threat from Islamic State militants. After initially struggling to stay in power, Nouri al-Maliki relinquished his post late Thursday to a fellow Dawa Party member, Haider al-Abadi, which Secretary of State John Kerry called an 'important and honourable decision'. (more)

China urges public to walk, ride bikes to help cut smog
13 August 2014 - China has issued a 'behavioural standards' guide to combat pollution and reduce environmental damage, urging people to do everything from walking and riding bicycles to buying goods with less packaging. The Chinese government has identified public participation as a key element in its efforts to reverse some of the environmental damage done by more than three decades of breakneck economic growth. (more)

China: Beijing cuts coal use by 7 per cent in first half of year
13 August 2014 - China's capital Beijing cut total coal consumption by 7 per cent in the first half of 2014 as part of its efforts to tackle smog, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing data from its environmental protection bureau. Beijing is at the front line of a 'war on pollution' declared by the central government earlier this year in a bid to head off public unrest about the growing environmental costs of economic development. (more)

Germany shatters record by producing 31% of its electricity from renewables in the First Half of 2014
13 August 2014 - When it comes to the production of renewable energy, Germany is well ahead of the game -- villages regularly break records by producing more energy than they need, and the country has met up to 74% of its energy demand with renewable sources. Now Germany has shattered another record: In the first half of 2014, 31% of the entire country was powered by renewables. (more)

US: Endangered Florida butterflies to get federal protection
12 August 2014 - Two species of butterflies that live in South Florida will be listed as endangered under federal law, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced Monday. The official listing of the Bartram's scrub-hairstreak and Florida leafwing butterflies under the Endangered Species Act, expected on Tuesday, will make it illegal to capture or harm the butterflies, and their larvae. The agency also designated a total of 11,539 acres in seven separate parcels in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties as critical habitat for the butterflies. Most of the acreage -- 85 per cent -- is in federal or state hands. (more)

US: State bans on ivory trade gather steam
12 August 2014 - New York's new ban on the trade in elephant ivory was signed into law Tuesday -- World Elephant Day -- on the heels of a call by a major conservation group for a total global clampdown. The New York restrictions, signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, make it illegal to sell elephant and mammoth ivory or rhino horns within the state with only a few exceptions, such as for 'antiques demonstrated to be at least 100 years old and containing only a small amount of ivory.' New Jersey's even tougher ban was signed into law last week. (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.

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)

10 Short Summaries of Top Stories

Gaza ceasefire efforts collapse in heavy fighting
19 August 2014 - Egyptian attempts to broker an end to a monthlong war between Israel and Hamas collapsed in heavy fighting Tuesday, with Palestinian militants firing dozens of rockets and Israel responding with airstrikes across the Gaza Strip. At least three Palestinians were killed. The burst of violence, which erupted in the hours before a temporary truce was set to expire, left the Egyptian mediation efforts in tatters and raised the likelihood of a new round of fighting in a war that has already claimed more than 2,000 lives, most of them Palestinians. The fighting broke out when Gaza militants fired several rockets into Israel Tuesday afternoon. Israel quickly withdrew its delegation from the Cairo cease-fire talks and resumed its campaign of airstrikes, and fighting continued into the night. In Cairo, Palestinian negotiators declared the cease-fire talks over, and said they would leave Egypt on Wednesday. Azzam al-Ahmad, leader of the delegation, blamed Israel for the failure, but held out hope that the talks could be resumed. (more)

Dozens killed in attack on convoy, Ukraine says; rebels deny firing rocket
18 August 2014 - Dozens of people, including women and children, were killed as they fled fighting in eastern Ukraine on Monday when their convoy of buses was hit by rocket fire, military spokesmen said. Ukraine accused pro-Russian rebels of targeting the convoy, which it said was bearing white flags when it was hit near the eastern city of Luhansk. The separatists denied responsibility for the attack and one rebel leader suggested the incident might never have taken place. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, who was at the Berlin talks, said in comments posted by the ministry on Twitter: 'Russia must close the border and stop shelling. If you have mercenaries and weaponry coming through the border from the Russian federation, how can you reach a ceasefire?' In a further sign that the rebel leadership may be facing deep problems in its ranks, it said it was setting up military tribunals and bringing in the death penalty for a string of offenses including desertion, espionage, attempts on the lives of the leadership and sabotage. (more)

US: CDC scientist kept quiet about flu blunder, report says
17 August 2014 - A government scientist kept silent about a potentially dangerous lab blunder and revealed it only after workers in another lab noticed something fishy, according to an internal investigation. The accident happened in January at the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A lab scientist accidently mixed a deadly strain of bird flu with a tamer strain, and sent the mix to another CDC lab and to an outside lab in Athens, Georgia. No one was sickened by bird flu. But unsuspecting scientists worked with the viral mix for months before it was discovered. CDC officials have called the incident the most worrisome in a series of lab safety problems at the government agency, long regarded as one of the most respected public health agencies in the world. Earlier this summer, a lab mishandled anthrax samples and both the bird flu and anthrax labs were shut down. (more)

Indonesia to continue deforestation despite emissions pledge
16 August 2014 - The government will maintain its deforestation targets despite its pledge to control emissions. Forestry Ministry secretary-general Hadi Daryanto said on Tuesday that the government would proceed with plans to clear 14 million hectares (ha) of degraded forest from 2010 to 2020. Indonesia currently contains 180 million ha of forested land. According to Hadi, the degraded forest would be transformed into convertible forest as the country's growth has forced the government to provide more space for development needs, such as infrastructure, energy, and food supply. Data published in the Nature Climate Change journal indicated that between 2000 and 2012, Indonesia lost over 6.02 million ha of primary forest. The study also revealed that by 2012, Indonesia began recording losses of 0.84 million ha a year, almost twice Brazil's annual primary forest loss of 0.46 million ha. (more)

Boko Haram abduct dozens of boys in northeast Nigeria - witnesses
15 August 2014 - Suspected Islamist Boko Haram fighters have abducted dozens of boys and men in a raid on a remote village in northeast Nigeria, loading them onto trucks and driving them off, witnesses who fled the violence said on Friday. The kidnappings came four months after Boko Haram, which is fighting to reinstate a medieval Islamic caliphate in religiously mixed Nigeria, abducted more than 200 schoolgirls from the village of Chibok. They are still missing. Several witnesses who fled after Sunday's raid on Doron Baga, a sandy fishing village near the shores of Lake Chad, said militants clothed in military and police uniforms had burned several houses and that 97 people were unaccounted for. Boko Haram, seen as the number one security threat to Africa's top economy and oil producer, has dramatically increased attacks on civilians in the past year, and what began as a grassroots movement has rapidly lost popular support as it becomes more bloodthirsty. Its tactic -- kidnapping boys and forcing them to fight and abducting girls as slaves -- is a chilling echo of Ugandan rebel Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army, which has operated in Uganda, South Sudan and central Africa for decades. (more)

US: Violence erupts again after killing of black Missouri teen
13 August 2014 - Violence again erupted in the St. Louis area near the site of the police shooting death of an unarmed black teenager, according to local police, despite calls by US President Barack Obama and activists for a measured response. Early on Wednesday, a police officer shot and critically wounded a man who drew a handgun near the site of protests over the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, a St. Louis County Police Department officer said. Police responded about an hour after midnight to reports of four or five men with shotguns and wearing ski masks. They encountered multiple suspects running, one of whom pulled a gun on an officer, who fired at him, the county officer said. The man was taken to an area hospital. Shortly after midnight, police fired tear gas into protesters who had confronted a line of officers after a far larger crowd dispersed, St. Louis County Police Department spokesman Brian Schellman said. A photograph in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch showed a protester wearing a shirt with an American flag printed on it throwing a tear gas container back at the police. There were other media reports of bottles thrown at police. The incidents followed two nights of violent protests, looting, and arrests in Ferguson, the largely black St. Louis suburb where the shooting of Brown took place. (more)

Asbestos pushed in Asia as product for the poor
12 August 2014 - At a conference in the Indian capital, executives say the asbestos industry saves lives and brings roofs, walls, and pipes to some of the world's poorest people. A largely outlawed scourge to the developed world, asbestos is still going strong in the developing one, and killing tens of thousands of people each year. In India, the world's biggest asbestos importer, it's a $2 billion industry with double-digit annual growth, at least 100 manufacturing plants and some 300,000 jobs. The International Labour Organization, World Health Organization, the wider medical community and more than 50 countries say the mineral should be banned. Asbestos fibers lodge in the lungs and cause many diseases. The ILO estimates 100,000 people die every year from workplace exposure, and experts believe thousands more die from exposure outside the workplace. But one could say manufacturers have gone back in time to defend their products. The Indian asbestos lobby's website refers to 1998 WHO guidelines for controlled use of chrysotile, but skips updated WHO advice from 2007 suggesting that all asbestos be banned. The lobby also ignores the ILO's 2006 recommendation to ban asbestos, and refers only to its 1996 suggestion of strict regulations. (more)

Burkina Faso -- heading for a showdown?
11 August 2014 - Burkina Faso's next elections are not due until November 2015, but political tensions have risen in the past year owing to suspicions that President Blaise Compaore is looking to prolong his 27-year rule by contesting the polls. An expanding coalition of opposition groups and civil society organizations has staged rallies calling for Compaore's departure and promising to build momentum and force a change. Compaore has not explicitly said he will seek re-election, but plans for a constitutional referendum to scrap the two-term limit for the presidency are seen as a sign of his intention to run. Compaores critics say he has monopolized power for far too long. They contrast Burkina Faso's experience with that of neighbouring countries like Benin and Ghana -- all far from perfect, but at least now used to leaders being peacefully voted out. There is also concern that Compaore will try to install his brother, François, a highly influential adviser with extensive and controversial business interests, as successor. 'Blaise Compaore wants to be king of the country and it is just not possible,' said Smockey, a rapper-turned-political-campaigner. 'We will use all the legal means we have to stop him.' Smockey, real name Serge Bambara, is now a leading figure in the Balai Citoyen (Citizens' Broom movement) formed in July 2013 to highlight the grievances of ordinary citizens and turn up the pressure on the president. (more)

Pakistan's juniper forest sacrificed for fuel, fruit orchards
11 August 2014 - One of the world's largest and most ancient juniper forests in southwestern Pakistan, already stressed by water shortages, faces a further threat as its trees are cut down for fuel and to clear land for orchards. Some of the trees in the juniper forest in the picturesque Ziarat valley of Balochistan province are believed to be as much as 7,000 years old. The forest covers an area of around 280,000 hectares (700,000 acres), of which around a third belongs to the state. Protecting forests is crucial to curbing extreme weather and other problems associated with climate change, as trees absorb carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. But persuading local residents not to fell them is difficult due to the profits to be made from selling timber, and because many people lack other sources of energy to heat their homes and cook food. (more)

Pakistani police and protesters clash, four dead, 500 arrested
9 August 2014 - Violence flared in several towns and cities in Pakistan on Saturday between police and supporters of an anti-government cleric, killing at least four people and injuring scores, police and witnesses said. Activist cleric Tahir ul-Qadri called off a large protest rally planned in Lahore on Sunday. Following a police crack down, he urged supporters to hold smaller protests in their home towns instead. The violence, which started on Friday, exacerbated tensions ahead of the Lahore demonstration. Qadri had planned to protest against deadly clashes between his supporters and police in June. Shopkeeper Muhammad Hussain said those clashes began when police tried to stop Qadri supporters from travelling to Lahore. (more)

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