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Canada: Ottawa reverses stand on health risks of asbestos in 'landmark shift'
4 July 2015 - Health Canada has strikingly revised its position on the health risks of asbestos exposure, bringing the federal government more in line with other developed countries. Among the shifts, the site no longer says one form of asbestos -- chrysotile, the type that Canada mined and exported for years that is still most commonly used -- is 'less potent' and does less damage than other types. To read about other changes see: (more)

Vietnam Communist Party chief to make first US visit
3 July 2015 - The powerful head of Vietnam's Communist Party will travel to the United States for the first time next week, and said he expects President Barack Obama will visit Vietnam later this year. Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong said he hopes to build trust and create more opportunities to improve relations. Trong's visit comes as the former battlefield foes mark the 20th anniversary of normalized diplomatic ties. The White House said Trong would arrive on July 7, but did not confirm a visit by President Obama to Vietnam, which would be his first. (more)

President Obama: US embassy in Havana marks 'new chapter' in Cuba ties
1 July 2015 - President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that the U.S. and Cuba will reopen their embassies in Havana and Washington, heralding a 'new chapter' in relations after a half-century of hostility. Cuban television broadcast Obama's statement live, underscoring the new spirit. The embassy agreement marks the biggest tangible step toward normalizing relations since the surprise announcement in December that the U.S. and Cuba were restarting diplomatic ties. (more)

US, Brazil pledge to raise renewable energy in power output
30 June 2015 - The United States and Brazil pledged on Tuesday to increase their share of renewable energy in electricity generation from sources other than hydro-power to 20 percent by 2030 in an effort to show commitment to fighting climate change. (more)

US: New York formalizes ban on fracking, ending 7-year review
29 June 2015 - New York formalized its ban on high-volume hydraulic fracturing for natural gas on Monday, concluding a seven-year environmental and health review that drew a record number of public comments. 'After years of exhaustive research and examination of the science and facts, prohibiting high-volume hydraulic fracturing is the only reasonable alternative,' Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said in announcing the decision. 'High-volume hydraulic fracturing poses significant adverse impacts to land, air, water, natural resources and potential significant public health impacts that cannot be adequately mitigated.' (more)

Bangladesh to get $505 mln in loan from ADB for railway improvements
28 June 2015 - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the government of Bangladesh on Sunday signed agreements for $505 million in loans to further improve the country's railways that will help the national economy and boost subregional trade. (more)

Donors pledge $4.4 billion for earthquake-hit Nepal
25 June 2015 - Donor nations and agencies announced $4.4 billion in aid for Nepal on Thursday, covering about two-thirds of what the Himalayan nation says it needs to rebuild from devastating earthquakes that killed more than 8,800 people and made millions homeless. Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat said the amount was pledged by donors that attended a one-day conference in Kathmandu. The biggest pledge came from Nepal's large southern neighbor, India, which offered $1 billion in grants and low-interest loans. (more)

Donors pledge $4.4 billion in Nepal quake aid
25 June 2015 - Earthquake-hit Nepal received pledges of aid worth $4.4 billion on Thursday, or two-thirds of the amount needed over five years for reconstruction after a devastating earthquake two months ago, Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat said. India offered $1 billion. 'The relationship between India and Nepal is as old as history itself. We share ties of culture, religion, tradition, language, literature, and mythology,' India's Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said. (more)

White House: Putin calls Obama, discuss Ukraine, Islamic State, Iran
25 June 2015 - Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Barack Obama spoke by telephone Thursday and discussed continued tensions in eastern Ukraine and the fight against the Islamic State in the Middle East. The last time the men spoke was in February, the White House said. Both the White House and the Kremlin offered similar statements descibing the conversation, Thursday evening. (more)

South Korea, Japan mark 50 years of ties with push to overcome strains
22 June 2015 - East Asian neighbors South Korea and Japan marked the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties on Monday, 22 June with a push to mend relations strained for years by feuds over the legacy of Japan's wartime past. (more)

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

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.

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)

10 Short Summaries of Top Stories

North Korean defector lifts lid on world's most secret state
6 July 2015 - As a schoolgirl in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee was forced to watch executions, denounce her friends for fabricated transgressions, and dig tunnels in case of a nuclear attack. It wasn't until she left North Korea at the age of 17 that she began to discover the full horror of the government that had fed her propaganda since birth. (more)

Special Report: The rifts behind Nigeria's mass kidnap
6 July 2015 - When local people warned that hundreds of Islamist militants were heading towards his remote town of Chibok in northeastern Nigeria, Danuma Mphur hurried to summon help. As chairman of the Parent Teachers Association at the town's school, Mphur feared for the safety of children who were staying there to take exams. Mphur says he called the police and the local government chairman. In turn the local government chairman also called the police and contacted the military commander in Chibok between 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. on that evening, according to Kashim Shettima, the governor of Borno state, which includes Chibok. Backup never arrived. The military said in a statement that it received no warning about the attack. Either way, about three hours after Mphur rang for help, Boko Haram militants swept into Chibok and abducted 276 girls from the school. The mass kidnap on the night of April 14 sparked headlines worldwide -- but it was far from the first misstep in Nigeria's war against Boko Haram. Divisions, low morale, and corruption within the military have allowed the Islamist militants to take over large swathes of Nigeria's northeast. (more)

Blacklist warnings spread on websites in North Korea
2 July 2015 - North Korea, already one of the least-wired places in the world, appears to be cracking down on the use of the Internet by even the small number of foreigners who can access it with relative freedom by blacklisting and blocking social media accounts or websites deemed to carry harmful content. The move won't be noticed by most in the North since hardly anyone has access to the Internet. But it could signal increasing concern in Pyongyang over the flow of real-time photos, tweets and status updates getting out to the world and an attempt to further limit what the few North Koreans able to view the Internet can see. (more)

New USGS report: Coastal erosion threatens northern Alaska
1 July 2015 - A new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) report says erosion is eating away at Alaska's northern coast at some of the highest rates in the nation, threatening habitat and infrastructure. (more)

Greeks hit by closed banks, warnings from eurozone
29 June 2015 - Anxious pensioners swarmed closed bank branches Monday and long lines snaked outside ATMs as Greeks endured the first day of serious controls on their daily economic lives ahead of a July 5 referendum that could determine whether the country has to ditch the euro currency and return to the drachma. Following a breakdown in talks between Greece and its creditors, the country is in the midst of the one of the most acute financial crises seen anywhere in the world in years. It's running out of time to get the money it needs to stave off bankruptcy. (more)

Unchecked pollution befouling majestic Lake Titicaca
25 June 2015 - Lake Titicaca is South America's largest body of fresh water. As human and industrial waste from nearby cities increasingly contaminate the famed lake that straddles the border between Bolivian and Peru, the native Aymara people who rely on it for food and income say action must be taken before their livelihoods die off. Locals fear the tourism industry is next. Each year, some 750,000 tourists visit the 12,470-foot-high (3,800 meter-high) Lake Titicaca for its reed boats, pre-Columbian ruins, and majestic views of snowcapped Andean peaks. (more)

Ebola could hit again and we would hardly do better: MSF
14 June 2015 - The Ebola epidemic could flare up again in West Africa and health authorities are no better equipped to control it than they were a year ago, the head of medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres said on Saturday. 'The reality today is if Ebola were to hit on scale it did in August and September, we would hardly do much better than we did the last time around,' Joanne Liu said on the sidelines of a meeting on Ebola in Dakar. Leaders of the Group of Seven industrial nations vowed this week to wipe out the epidemic that has killed more than 11,100 people across West Africa, but offered little concrete action. (more)

Ghana's government faces tough questions amid deadly flooding
10 June 2015 - The flooding in Accra last week not only devastated many homes but caused fuel from a gas station to ignite, killing at least 160 people. As the country mourned the victims at a national service Wednesday, the Ghanaian government is facing allegations that poorly managed city planning contributed to the tragedy. Residents and experts agree that the capital, with its rapid population growth, lacks a proper system to deal with annual rains. This city has grown by more than half a million people in just the last 15 years to an estimated 2.3 million. Many areas lack sufficient gutters and where they do exist, they quickly fill with garbage that accumulates in the absence of public trash cans. The drainage and sewage system is antiquated and dates back to a time when the city held just fraction of its current population. (more)

US: History of violence plagues New York prison where breakout occurred
9 June 2015 - The maximum-security prison where two killers pulled off an escape on 6 June has a reputation for brutality that belies the reform-minded ideals it was founded upon when it opened on an Adirondack mountainside in 1845. Back then, the Dannemora state prison a few miles from the Canadian border was supposed to be the beacon of a new reform movement that advocated humane treatment of prisoners instead of the torture practiced downstate at Sing Sing. State Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell visited Clinton Correctional Facility (in Dannemora) last September and was told repeatedly by inmates that brutality inflicted by both guards and fellow inmates was a problem. (more)

5 pilots report encounters with lasers over NY, New Jersey
29 May 2015 - Local and federal law enforcement officials launched an investigation Friday after five commercial airline pilots reported that green lasers were pointed at their planes as they flew over New York and New Jersey. Green lasers appear 'almost like a flashbulb' in the cockpit, said Michael Canders, a retired military pilot and aviation professor at Farmingdale State College, on Long Island. 'It blinds the pilot, which can obviously interfere with control of the aircraft,' he said. (more)

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