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Canada: Prime Minister Harper's surprising speech to the UN -- full of children, free of ISIL
29 September 2014 - In a year of violence and geopolitical chaos, Prime Minister Stephen Harper used a surprising speech to the United Nations General Assembly to emphasize themes of peace and optimism. The Prime Minister's third address to the chamber was remarkable for what it did not include: the words 'Iraq' or 'Russia'. He did, however, refer to Tanzania and Senegal. He called for a birth certificate for every child. And he did this while speaking at length about newborns' health, which he has identified as his Number 1 foreign-development priority. (more)

India's and Israel's Prime Ministers meet for the first time in over a decade
29 September 2014 - Prime minister Narendra Modi met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday and discussed Iran, ISIS, West Asia and an entire range of issues. But more important than what they discussed was the fact that they met at all -- the first meeting of the Prime Minsters of the two countries in over a decade, 11 years precisely. (more)

Malaysia: Kinta River water now cleaner, safer under water quality index
29 September 2014 - The Kinta River water is now recognised as cleaner and safer after it recorded improved quality under the Water Quality Index. The River Carnival is a biennial event to encourage and educate the local and business communities on the importance of river conservation, and to recognise and celebrate local champions for their contributions in river and environmental conservation. (more)

United States: Indiana boosts use of renewable energy
29 September 2014 - Indiana is using significantly more energy from renewable sources than they were just 10 years ago, a Purdue University expert told lawmakers. In 2002, less than 2 per cent of the state's energy use came from renewable resources. By 2012 -- the last year for which objective statistics are available -- the rate increased to more than 5 per cent, said Doug Gotham, director of the State Utility Forecasting Group, which is housed at Purdue. (more)

India's leader calls for genuine global partnership for peace and prosperity at UN Assembly
28 September 2014 - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaking in the name of 1.25 billion compatriots, issued a fervent plea from the podium of the United Nations General Assembly on 27 September for genuine global partnership to further peace, inclusive development, and an environmentally sustainable world. 'No one country or group of countries can determine the course of this world,' he told leaders of 193 nations on the fourth day of the Assembly's 69th annual high-level meeting. Turning to environmental issues he highlighted the ancient Indian tradition of Yoga, embodying unity of mind and body, thought and action, restraint and fulfilment, as an active symbol of harmony between man and nature. 'It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature,' he said. (more)

Thailand, in UN address, urges 'strong global partnership' for development goals
28 September 2014 - Sustainable development must go 'hand in hand' with democracy, human rights, and peace and security, Deputy Prime Minister Tanasak Patimapragorn of Thailand told the United Nations General Assembly today while adding that ensuring human security should be at the heart of each nation's sustainable development programme. (more)

Tiny Spanish Island nears its goal -- 100 per cent renewable energy
28 September 2014 - The Spanish island El Hierro, off the west coast of Africa, is now a model for the future, within months of running on 100 per cent renewable energy. The ancient island, the most remote of Spain's Canary Islands, is now billing itself as the world's first energy self-sufficient island that has never been hooked up to a power grid. El Hierro is also already planning its next energy project. It wants all the island's cars to be electric by the year 2020. (more)

European Union: Regulators seek to limit emissions of non-road engines
26 September 2014 - The European Commission on Thursday published draft law to reduce emissions from non-road engines as part of efforts to clean up the air and improve human health. The law would cover anything from lawn mowers to snowmobiles to diesel locomotives. The Commission has already introduced the world's toughest law on the fuel efficiency of cars to lower emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. (more)

India: Greenpeace lauds India court ruling on illegal coal allocations
26 September 2014 - Greenpeace India has lauded a landmark ruling by the country's top court to scrap 214 coal blocks given by the government to various companies after the allocations were deemed to be illegal and arbitrary. The Supreme Court verdict is a victory for the environment over corruption in the mining industry, said Greenpeace India, urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government to reverse 'its excessive reliance on coal power as the engine of economic growth'. (more)

Canada: Prime Minister Stephen Harper earmarks $200M for fund on maternal and child health
25 September 2014 - Prime Minister Stephen Harper has told the United Nations General Assembly that saving the lives of the world's most vulnerable mothers and their children is not only a global priority, but an issue 'closest to his heart'. Harper announced that Canada has earmarked $200 million toward a credit fund. Canada's pledge is part of the five-year $3.5-billion commitment Harper announced in May. (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

United States may keep secret prisoners in custody after Afghan war exit
29 September 2014 - The fate of a group of prisoners held in near-total secrecy by US forces at a prison in Afghanistan is hanging in limbo, the facility's commander said, as Washington gropes for options after its legal right to hold them there expires in December. The inmates -- all foreign nationals captured on battlefields around the world -- could be transferred to the US court system or, as a last resort, to the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, Brigadier General Patrick J. Reinert told Reuters. The quandary over what to do with the detainees held in a prison near Bagram airfield, north of Kabul, has rekindled the outrage over the US policy of rendition in the early phases of the Afghan war. Almost nothing is known of the detainees' identities. The United States has declined to disclose their nationalities, where they were captured, and how many are still in its custody. President Obama's 2008 vow to close the prison in Cuba has gone unfulfilled, and there are 155 detainees still held there because they are either considered too dangerous to release or the United States cannot find another country to take them. (more)

Mexican cartels steal billions from oil industry
25 September 2014 - Mexico overcame 75 years of nationalist pride to reform its flagging, state-owned oil industry. The brutal drug cartels that rule the Gulf Coast region are stealing billions of dollars' worth of oil from pipelines. Figures released by Petroleos Mexicanos last week show the gangs are becoming more prolific and sophisticated. So far this year, thieves across Mexico have drilled 2,481 illegal taps into state-owned pipelines, up more than one-third from the same period of 2013. Pemex estimates it's lost some 7.5 million barrels worth $1.15 billion. Pemex director Emilio Lozoya called the trend 'worrisome'. Two rival gangs, the Zetas and the Gulf cartel, long have used Tamaulipas as a route to ferry drugs and migrants to the United States and, in recent years, diversified their business: stealing gas and crude and selling it to refineries in Texas or to gas stations on either side of the border. (more)

US: Proposal would require permit for media filming
24 September 2014 - The US Forest Service is proposing permanent new rules that would require media organizations to obtain a permit to film and shoot photographs in more than 100 million acres of the nation's wilderness. The rules exclude breaking news situations, defined as 'an event or incident that arises suddenly, evolves quickly, and rapidly ceases to be newsworthy'. Mickey H Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, said such rules would be a clear violation of the First Amendment and raises concerns about press freedom, including whether denying a permit would amount to prior restraint. 'What if they deny you a permit because they don't like the story you're working on?' he asked. Mr Osterreicher said the agency ignores big distinctions between editorial and commercial use and also should not be allowed to define what constitutes breaking news. 'This isn't even about fees,' said Steve Bass, president and CEO of Oregon Public Broadcasting, whose employees have run into permit issues. Ed Jahn, a producer and reporter with Oregon Field Guide, a programme of Oregon Public Broadcasting, said he and his colleagues have been asked about a dozen times over the past several years to get a permit to film in wilderness. In each case, he said, they tell the agency they're doing the story and do not get a permit. (more)

US: Homelessness increases among school children
22 September 2014 - The number of homeless school children is rising in US schools. New Education Department statistics say 1.3 million homeless children were enrolled in US schools in the 2012-2013 school year. That's an 8 per cent increase from the previous school year. The statistics likely underestimate the true number of homeless kids. (more)

USDA grants approval to Dow's Enlist GMO corn and soybeans
17 September 2014 - The US Department of Agriculture on Wednesday gave final approval to new genetically modified corn and soybeans developed by Dow AgroSciences, heavily criticized by environmentalists and some farmers. Heavy use of Roundup has triggered an explosion of herbicide-resistant 'super weeds' that are hard for farmers to fight and which can choke off crop yields. The prevalence of resistant weeds has more than doubled since 2009 and so-called 'super weeds' now infest roughly 70 million acres of US farmland, according to Dow. Enlist combines a 60-year-old herbicide component known as 2,4-D with glyphosate, the chief ingredient in long-used Roundup. Opponents say the use of 2,4-D can cause potential health and environmental problems, including increasing weed resistance. And they fear the chemical will damage neighbouring farm fields. Fruit and vegetable farmers are particularly concerned that 2,4-D drift will lead to crop damage. (more)

As many as 700 migrants feared drowned in Mediterranean
15 September 2014 - More than 700 people fleeing Africa and the Middle East may have drowned in shipwrecks in the Mediterranean over the last week, bringing the death toll this year to almost 3,000, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said on Monday. In the worst incident, as many as 500 migrants are believed to have died after traffickers rammed their ship off Malta's coast last week, an event that only came to light this weekend in testimony from two of nine survivors. The survivors said the traffickers ordered the migrants to change vessels in the middle of the Mediterranean. The migrants refused, leading to a confrontation that ended when traffickers rammed the ship carrying the migrants, causing it to sink, IOM spokeswoman Christiane Berthiaume told Reuters in Geneva. 'Some 500 people were on board -- Syrians, Palestinians, Egyptians, and Sudanese. They were trying to reach Europe,' Berthiaume said. 'That means that 700 people perished at sea these last days in the Mediterranean, the deadliest incidents in the space of a few days,' she said. (more)

Peru: Assassinations in the Amazon
13 September 2014 - 'Martyrs', 'true guardians of the Amazon', 'defenders of the rainforest. . .' These are just some of the terms used to describe four Peruvian indigenous leaders who were assassinated earlier this month, but 'Dead Friends of the Earth', a term used by NGO Global Witness for people killed defending their land or the environment, might be another. The four men -- Edwin Chota Valera, Leoncio Quincima Melendez, Jorge Ríos Perez, and Francisco Pinedo, from the Asheninka people -- are widely believed to have been killed by loggers, although regional indigenous organisation Orau acknowledges 'narco-traffickers' may have been responsible. Led by Chota Valera, the Asheninkas had been fighting for years to gain legal recognition of their territory and had repeatedly denounced illegal logging and logging concessions on land claimed by their community, Alto Tamayo-Saweto. Several recent reports by European NGOs -- Global Witness, Friends of the Earth, Front Line Defenders -- have highlighted the rise in the number of people being killed for defending their land or the environment, or the risks associated with doing so. As of 31 December 2013 Global Witness placed Peru in fourth position globally, with almost 60 such killings since 2002, behind Brazil way out in first place, Honduras in second, and the Philippines in third. (more)

Scottish kestrel numbers in rapid decline
12 September 2014 - Conservationists are calling for urgent investigations as a new survey shows kestrels are disappearing from Scotland more rapidly than any other birds. Numbers of the raptors have plummeted by two thirds in under 20 years, according to the latest annual Breeding Bird Survey from the conservation charity RSPB. Early research suggests intensification of farming could be partly to blame, with changing agricultural practises affecting populations of smaller creatures the birds feed on. Climate change, competition for nest sites, and a rise in the use of some rat poisons are other possible causes. (more)

Why the Kashmir floods have been so deadly
12 September 2014 - The latest floods in Kashmir have already cause the deaths of an estimated 200 people on the Indian side and another 250 on the Pakistani side. As rescue operations continue, the number is only going up. How can there have been so many fatalities in a region long known to be flood-prone? It happened because of a combination of urban policy and program failures, says Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator at the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People. The flood zones surrounding the waterways that run through the Kashmir region are not clearly demarcated. Because of this, no clearly defined rules or regulations exist about where it's safe to build. The result is what Thakkar calls 'encroachment' of the river bed-residential and government buildings (even hospitals) have been cropping up on vulnerable areas near the Jhelum River. The river 'embankments,' meant to stop the flooding, only give a 'false sense of security,' he says. Local water bodies such as lakes have also been neglected, and so their water-holding capacity is negligible. Existing and future hydropower projects are partly responsible. (more)

Brazil confirms Amazon deforestation sped up in 2013
10 September 2014 - The destruction of the world's largest rainforest accelerated last year with a 29 per cent spike in deforestation, according to final figures released by the Brazilian government on Wednesday that confirmed a reversal in gains seen since 2009. Fighting the destruction of the Amazon is considered crucial for reducing global warming because deforestation worldwide accounts for 15 percent of annual emissions of heat-trapping gases, more than the entire transportation sector. Besides being a giant carbon sink, the Amazon is a biodiversity sanctuary, holding billions of species yet to be studied. Preliminary data released late last year had indicated deforestation was on the rise again. The largest increases in deforestation were seen in the states of Para and Mato Grosso, where the bulk of Brazil's agricultural expansion is taking place. More than 1,000 square km (390 square miles) has been cleared in each state. Other reasons for the rebound in deforestation include illegal logging and the invasion of public lands adjacent to big infrastructure projects in the Amazon, such as roads and hydroelectric dams. (more)

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