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China considering $16 billion for electric-vehicle chargers
1 September 2014 - China is considering providing as much as 100 billion yuan ($16.25 billion) in government funding to build electric-vehicle charging facilities and spur demand for clean cars, according to two people familiar with the matter. Increased state funding would be a tailwind for carmakers coping with consumer concerns over the price, reliability and convenience of electric vehicles. It would also build on efforts by China, the world's biggest carbon emitter, to fight pollution and cultivate its local EV industry, which includes BYD Company and Kandi Technologies Group Inc. (more)

Iran President urges clerics to tolerate Internet
1 September 2014 - Iran's President Monday urged the country's clerics to be more tolerant of the Internet and new technologies, which are often the target of criticism by influential hard-liners in the Islamic Republic. Hassan Rouhani made the appeal during a meeting with clerics in Tehran, where he said that the Internet is important for aspiring students and experts trying to access new knowledge and science. (more)

Ontario, Canada: Fear of crime decreasing in Waterloo Region, report suggests
1 September 2014 - The Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council has published a report that says residents feel safer in their communities than they did in 2009. The two surveys were completed by 1,147 respondents, with between 86 and 91 per cent of residents feel very safe or somewhat safe walking in their area after dark. A similar survey conducted in 2009 found that only 79 per cent of respondents reported feeling safe or very safe. The survey also found fear of crime is declining among participants. The report also suggests survey respondents favour an emphasis on crime prevention, with just under 60 per cent saying governments should emphasize spending on crime prevention over law enforcement. (more)

Samoa: Small island developing states can lead transition to 'green' energy - UN
1 September 2014 - Despite being endowed with renewable energy sources -- like wind, sunshine and waves -- small island developing states (SIDS) remain heavily reliant on imported fossil fuels, a practice that the United Nations says can be reversed through durable partnerships. 'SIDS are creating opportunities and examples that, if replicated worldwide, could lead the transition from fossil fuel energy to renewable and sustainable energy,' said John Ashe, UN President of the General Assembly, in his opening address in Apia, Samoa, to the High-Level Event on Sustainable Energy For All. (more)

Samoa: Urging sustainable action, UN officials link small islands to global issues at conference opening
1 September 2014 - Calling small island developing nations a magnifying glass for vulnerabilities around the world, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday urged the international community to support sustainable development in these countries through multi-stakeholder partnerships. 'By addressing the issues facing SIDS we are developing the tools we need to promote sustainable development across the entire world,' Mr. Ban said at the opening session of the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States in the Samoan capital, Apia. (more)

Canada: Campbell River system in the midst of stunning rebound
31 August 2014 - The success story of the Campbell River is due in part to the work of habitat restoration specialists like federal fisheries biologist Shannon Anderson and her federal government colleagues at the Quinsam hatchery. But she's quick to point out this is a collaborative effort. 'It's all about collaboration,' Anderson says. 'If you look at the Campbell, it's collaboration with the community. This community has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for habitat restoration even in hard times.' (more)

India's Prime Minister Modi seeks Japan's help for 'inclusive vision' on first big trip
31 August 2014 - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Japan on Saturday seeking to capitalise on his affinity with Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe to strengthen security and business ties on his first major foreign visit since his landslide election victory in May. Modi is one of only three people that Abe follows on Twitter, while the Indian leader admires the Japanese premier's brand of nationalist politics. (more)

Thailand: Thirty-day extension of stay for visitors from 48 countries and one territory
31 August 2014 - The Immigration Bureau has allowed citizens of 48 countries and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to get a 30-day extension of their stay in Thailand after the expiry of their normal period of stay. The policy took effect on 29 August 2014, in another positive move to boost the Thai travel and tourism industry. (more)

California passes plastic bag ban, would be first such law in US
30 August 2014 - The California state legislature enacted a ban on plastic grocery bags on Friday near the end of its two-year session, a measure that if signed into law would become the first of its kind in America. 'Single-use plastic bags not only litter our beaches, but also our mountains, our deserts, and our rivers, streams, and lakes,' said state Senator Alex Padilla, who sponsored the bill. More than 10 billion plastic bags are used in California each year, according to an estimate by Californians Against Waste, an advocacy group supporting the bill. (more)

Canada budget in surplus for first quarter of fiscal year
30 August 2014 - Canada registered a C$1.57 billion ($1.45 billion) budget surplus in June, which moved the first three months of the fiscal year into surplus as well, with revenues up and programme expenses down, the Finance Department said on Friday. June's surplus compares with a C$157 million surplus in June 2013. April to June is now in the black by C$424 million, compared with a C$2.55 billion deficit for the same period in 2013. (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

Libyan government says has lost control of most Tripoli ministries
1 September 2014 - Libya's parliament reappointed Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni on Monday as the government lost control of ministries in the capital where armed groups have taken over and a separate parliament has claimed legitimacy. In another sign of the oil producer sliding deeper into anarchy, Islamist militants launched a new attempt to seize Benghazi's civilian and military airport from army forces allied to a renegade general. At least 13 soldiers from Haftar's forces were killed and 45 wounded, medics said. The parliament that was elected in June moved to the remote eastern city of Tobruk last month as rival armed groups battled for Tripoli. An alliance led by forces from the western city of Misrata seized control of the capital last week. The reappointment of Thinni, a former defence minister and career soldier who has been prime minister since March, sets him the challenge of reasserting government control over a country where many fear a descent into full-scale civil war. Late on Sunday, the government released a statement admitting it had lost its grip on many levers of power. 'We announce that most ministries, institutions, and state bodies in the capital Tripoli are out of our control,' it said, adding that armed groups had prevented staff entering some government buildings. (more)

South Sudan's child soldiers - a step backwards
31 August 2014 - The government of South Sudan signed an Action Plan with the UN in 2012 to end the use of child soldiers but there is evidence the ongoing conflict is eroding any gains achieved. 'The current conflict is threatening to erode all the gains so far made in ending the use of child soldiers in South Sudan. The use of child soldiers in South Sudan is something we will raise in our next meeting at the highest levels of the UN,' Leila Zerrougui, The UN special representative of the Secretary-General for children and armed conflict, told IRIN. On 21 August, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said: 'By the end of 2013, the UN secretary-general reported that before the current conflict, the SPLA [Sudan People's Liberation Army] had made tangible progress in ending its use of child soldiers. When the current armed conflict broke out, however, child recruitment increased.' In the statement, HRW quoted witnesses as saying the government had used children as combatants during recent clashes in Bentiu, capital of Unity State, and in the neighbouring town of Rubkona. (more)

Pakistan protesters march on Prime Minister's residence
30 August 2014 - Hundreds of people were injured as Pakistani police battled throngs of protesters demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with tear gas, batons, and rubber bullets outside the prime minister's official residence and the adjacent parliament building. With the daybreak Sunday, protesters started regrouping and made repeated attempts to make their way through heavy deployment of police and barricades to reach the premier's residence. Police strengthened their lines and responded by lobbing tear gas canisters. Islamabad police chief Khalid Khattak said the protesters were armed with big hammers, wire cutters, axes, and even a crane. Defence Minister Khwaja Mohammad Asif said police later managed to clear most of the protesters from the parliament building's parking area and lawns. More than 300 people -- including women, children, and police officers -- were admitted to two government hospitals in the Pakistani capital, medics and police said. (more)

Egg-throwing and road rage as Scotland campaign heats up
29 August 2014 - Insults, egg-throwing and rage: the campaign ahead of Scotland's independence referendum is heating up, even forcing an intervention by British Prime Minister David Cameron. The victim of the egg attack was Jim Murphy, an ex-Europe minister and formerly the Scotland secretary in the British government. Murphy said Friday he was temporarily suspending his grassroots tour, accusing the 'Yes' campaign of employing intimidation tactics. Pro-independence leader Alex Salmond also condemned the incident but said he too had been a victim of harassment, being chased by an angry driver brandishing a 'No' sign. Earlier this week, Douglas Alexander, a top Scottish Labour politician, said the referendum was dividing Scotland after being branded a 'liar' on a live radio phone-in. (more)

Silence surrounds Colombia's 92,000 disappeared - ICRC
29 August 2014 - More than 92,000 Colombians have disappeared during 50 years of war and at the hands of drug gangs, and the government needs to step up efforts to find missing people, the Red Cross said. Every day nine people are reported missing in Colombia. Of the total number of those registered as missing over the years, nearly 70,000 remain missing without trace, according to the government's official register. Many are victims of five decades of armed conflict between government troops, right-wing paramilitary groups and leftist rebels, while others are victims of ongoing drug-turf wars. 'The problem of missing people in Colombia is as widespread as it is silent,' Jordi Raich, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in Colombia said in a statement on Friday. The government must do more to find and identify the tens of thousands of people missing in Colombia, raise awareness about the largely invisible problem, and make it easier for relatives of the missing to seek and get help from authorities, the ICRC in Colombia said. All warring factions, including state security forces, have been responsible for forced disappearances, according to a report by Colombia's National Centre for Historical Memory published earlier this year. (more)

Ukrainian president dissolves parliament
25 August 2014 - Ukraine's president on Monday dissolved parliament and called for early elections in October as his country continues to battle a pro-Russian insurgency in its eastern regions. In a statement on his website, President Petro Poroshenko said snap elections would be held 26 October. Poroshenko said the dissolution, which was prefigured by the breakup of the majority coalition last month, was in line with 'the expectations of the vast majority of the citizens of Ukraine' and called it a move toward 'cleansing' the parliament. Many members of parliament 'are allies of the militants-separatists,' Poroshenko said, referring to the pro-Russian rebels who have battled government troops in the country's east since April. The Party of Regions, which is backed by much of the country's industrial, Russian-speaking east and was supported by pro-Russian ex-president Viktor Yanukovych, was the largest party in parliament before Yanukovych fled the country in the wake of massive protests in February and still has a substantial presence. It wasn't clear how it would be possible to conduct elections at such short notice in Donetsk and Luhansk, where hundreds of thousands have fled their homes and shelling between rebel and government forces continues daily. (more)

Boat with 170 Africans on board sinks off Libyan coast
23 August 2014 - A wooden boat with around 170 African migrants on board trying to reach Europe has sunk in rough seas off the Libyan coast, a spokesman for the Libyan navy said on Saturday. Migrants have been streaming out of North Africa in rickety boats in rising numbers for years. So far in 2014, the total number reaching Italian shores has passed 100,000, the Italian government said this week. 'The coast guards have rescued 17 of the illegal migrants,' navy spokesman Ayoub Qassem said. A search for the rest of the passengers was underway, he added. The boat sank late on Friday near Qarabouli, east of Tripoli, a common launchpad used by human traffickers smuggling people to Europe, Qassem said. Local coast guard official Mohammad Abdellatif told Reuters Television they had been alerted to the sinking by local fishermen at dawn on Saturday morning. Abdellatif said the coast guard in Qarabouli had no equipment and so is forced to borrow fishing vessels and tug boats to carry out their rescue missions. He said they had informed the hospital, ministry of health and the criminal investigations department of the accident and that all three had refused to collect the victims. (more)

Conservation of Amazon threatened by poor social conditions of its people: study
23 August 2014 - The conservation of Brazil's Amazon is threatened by the poor social conditions of its 24 million inhabitants, the first comprehensive study measuring the situation found on Saturday. Lack of access to clean water, violence, illiteracy. and limited opportunities to pursue a better life are among the problems highlighted in the Social Progress Index (SPI) for the Amazon, one of the world's most important ecosystems. The study paints a picture of social injustice and inequality by charting data from all but one of the region's 773 municipalities and nine states. Researchers hope it will become a tool for improving development policy as Brazil elects a new president in October. Beto Verissimo, one of the study's authors and lead researcher at the Amazon Institute of People and the Environment (Imazon), said the findings raise the question of whether the biodiversity of the Amazon can be protected if the people living there continue to struggle on the very basic measures. 'From access to clean water and basic education to personal choice and rights, the citizens of this region, on average, experience significantly lower social progress compared to people living in the rest of Brazil,' Verissimo said in a telephone interview. (more)

Mexico increases number of missing to 22,322
21 August 2014 - The Mexican government has increased its calculation of the number of people who have disappeared since the start of the country's drug war in 2006 and now lists 22,322 as missing, officials said Thursday. It had said in May that 8,000 people were missing. Assistant Attorney General Mariana Benitez said 12,532 people went missing during the 2006-12 administration of President Felipe Calderon, who declared war on drug traffickers. An additional 9,790 have disappeared since President Enrique Pena Nieto took office on 1 December, 2012. Benitez said that the list of people reported missing during Calderon's government had gone up to 29,707, but that authorities arrived at the figure of 12,532 still missing after finding the rest alive or confirming their deaths. She said a second list started with the Pena Nieto government showed 23,234 people reported missing between 1 December, 2012, and 31 July, 2014. She said 13,444 of those had been located, leaving 9,790 still missing. (more)

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)

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