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Colombia's war victims ask country to support peace talks
17 August 2014 - Victims of Colombia's 50-year-old war pleaded with peace negotiators to reach a deal and said they were willing to forgive acts of cruelty, urging Colombians to unite behind the effort to end the bloodshed. Twelve victims from all sides in the Colombian conflict addressed peace negotiators in Havana on Saturday, marking the first time victims have been given an official voice in peace talks to end a war that has killed 200,000 people. (more)

Pope makes biggest gesture yet to China, eyes ties
17 August 2014 - Pope Francis made his strongest gesture yet to reach out to China on Sunday, saying he wants to improve relations and insisting that the Catholic Church isn't coming in as a 'conqueror' but is rather a partner in dialogue. Francis outlined his priorities for the Catholic Church in Asia during a meeting of about 80 of the region's bishops, urging them to engage with people of different cultures empathetically. (more)

Ukrainian, Russian officials to meet in Berlin
17 August 2014 - The foreign ministers of Ukraine and Russia are meeting in Berlin on Sunday to resume diplomatic talks on a political solution to the crisis in eastern Ukraine. The meeting between Pavlo Klimkin of Ukraine and Russia's Sergey Lavrov will also be attended by their German and French counterparts Frank-Walter-Steinmeier and Laurent Fabius. (more)

UN nuclear chief upbeat after 'useful' Iran visit
17 August 2014 - Iran has given a firm commitment to cooperate with a UN nuclear watchdog investigation into suspected atomic bomb research, the head of the agency said after what he described as a 'useful' visit to Tehran on Sunday. (more)

Renewed Gaza truce holds after rocky start
14 August 2014 - A new, five-day truce between Israel and Hamas appeared to be holding on Thursday despite a shaky start, after both sides agreed to give Egyptian-brokered peace negotiations in Cairo more time to try to end the Gaza war. The second extension of the ceasefire, this time for five days rather than three, has raised hopes that a longer-term resolution to the conflict can be found, although the way ahead remains fraught with difficulty. (more)

Syria: Sarin gas chemicals destroyed
14 August 2014 - The international chemical weapons watchdog says that all the precursor chemicals for sarin gas removed from Syria have been destroyed. The 580 tonnes of chemicals were neutralized on board a specially built American ship in the Mediterranean Sea. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said the ship's crew have now begun to neutralize 22 tonnes of sulphur mustard. (more)

Japan: Tragic past of Hiroshima atomic bombing must inspire future free of nuclear weapons - Ban
6 August 2014 - Remembering all those who died in the bombing of Hiroshima and, later, Nagasaki, some 69 years ago, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the atrocious memories of that tragedy must inspire new generations to work towards a world free of nuclear weapons. 'Hiroshima's many messages of peace and hope have educated the world about the devastating humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, inspiring a global campaign focused on the unacceptability of using these arms under international humanitarian and human rights law,' said Mr Ban through a statement delivered by his High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane at this year's Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima. (more)

Germany: Berlin's 'House of One' to bring three religions together under one roof
4 August 2014 - A pastor, a rabbi, and an imam walk into a holy space. This may sound like the beginning of a potentially charged religious joke, but it's actually happening in Berlin, where plans for a new kind of religious space are under way. Called The House of One, the project was started by a small group of Muslims, Jews and Christians to create a new space for interfaith prayer and learning. (more)

Europe is turning the Iron Curtain into a cycling path to boost bike tourism and promote peace
30 July 2014 - European Union officials are planning to turn a symbol of the Cold War - the Iron Curtain - into a bicycle path that will boost tourism and promote unity on the continent. The $2.4 million 'Iron Curtain Trail' project will stretch 4,225 miles from the Barents Sea on the Norwegian-Russian border to the Black Sea at the border between Bulgaria and Turkey. The cycling route passes through 20 countries, including 14 EU members, along the former death strip that divided Warsaw Pact countries and NATO members from 1945 to 1991. (more)

Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars sing to heal wounds of war
29 July 2014 - It's a long way from the refugee camps of Africa to Poland's balmy Baltic coast, but for Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, the message is still the same. With his socially-conscious lyrics, band leader Ruben Koroma hopes that his music can help uplift people and detraumatize them. Appearing at Poland's Globaltica World Cultures Festival last weekend, they delivered a typically vibrant, energetic, and uplifting show. It has been a remarkable journey for the band formed in a Guinean refugee camp during Sierra Leone's 1991-2002 civil war. Their first album was recorded in tin-roofed shacks in a Freetown shantytown -- a process depicted in a 2005 documentary film. Koroma's message is one of peace. (more)

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

Silence and dynamism - The basis of progress
21 August 2014 - Maharishi Mahesh Yogi explains that Transcendental Meditation is a process to 'bring the mind back to silence, and from there release the thought. Bring the mind back to silence, and then you have a lively basis for the projection of a thought, lively basis for the sprouting of a thought. Then the thought will be promoted by the infinite creative intelligence of Natural Law. That is the theme. Let the thought be promoted from a lively field at the basis of all evolutionary process, which is the field of silence.' (more)

Netherlands: 21 architects complete advanced training in Maharishi Vastu Architecture
14 August 2014 - Twenty-one architects recently completed a post-graduate, professional training course on Maharishi Vastu architecture, held in the Netherlands. The participants, who are based in 13 countries around the world, came to Maharishi European Research University (MERU) in Holland to take the Maharishi Vastu Architect Training Course. The two-month intensive course was part of a comprehensive programme of training in Maharishi Vastu architecture, offered in three phases over the last several years by the Institute for Vedic Architecture and City Planning. (more)

An outsider's view of how to calm Middle East - Gaza tension: Mangalorean reports on Invincible Defence Technology
5 August 2014 - The Hamas arsenal of rockets keeps on coming as the Israeli military continues its offensive by hitting the Gaza Strip with its artillery fire and air strikes. . . . Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warns that the Israeli military is hitting Hamas ''with growing force,'' and he guesses there is no end in sight. . . . Yet the mounting misery could end quickly and age-old tensions could be rapidly reduced if PM Netanyahu added a proven, advanced military technology to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) arsenal, writes Dr David Leffler in today's Mangalorean (India). Invincible Defense Technology (IDT) has been field-tested by foreign militaries, and scientifically validated by 23 peer-reviewed studies carried out in the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. . . . The IDT approach has been used during wartime, resulting in reduction of fighting and in number of deaths and casualties, and in progress toward resolving the conflict peacefully. (more)

Vedic Living in a Modern World: International conference at Maharishi University, USA, 31 July - 3 August
30 July 2014 - The Eleventh World Association for Vedic Studies (WAVES) conference is coming to Maharishi University of Management (MUM) in Fairfield, Iowa, USA on Thursday, 31 July through Sunday, 3 August. This is the first time such a large and diverse group of Vedic scholars has come together on the campus to explore the relevance of ancient Vedic knowledge in today's world. Topics will include Yoga, natural medicine, higher states of consciousness, and reflections on the various Vedic texts. The main plenary talks will be webcast live. (more)

World Association for Vedic Studies to hold 11th international conference at Maharishi University of Management, USA
21 July 2014 - The World Association for Vedic StudiesĀ (WAVES) conference is the largest and most prestigious academic conference on Vedic Studies, and they have chosen to host their 11th international conference at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, USA. More than 100 Vedic scholars and thought leaders from around the world will come together at MUM, 31 July - 3 August, for a seminal conference, 'Vedic Living in a Modern World'. (more)

The ancient art of nourishing life from the inside
18 July 2014 - Why do people meditate? Those who practise Transcendental Meditation know it's not just for the experience they have during the 20-minute practice of the technique, as enjoyable as this can be. It's because the practice brings substantial rewards--after meditation. Transcendental Meditation is a preparation for more successful activity, for the development of consciousness, and for greater fulfilment in life. (more)

Celebrating the Vedic tradition of knowledge: 'The world is my family' - Maharishi
12 July 2014 - On 12 July, the organizations of the Global Country of World Peace in many countries participated in the festival of Guru Purnima, the full moon day in July which honours the great teachers of the Vedic tradition of knowledge--the source of the many programmes and technologies of consciousness, including Transcendental Meditation, brought to the world over 50 years by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. On this occasion in July 2007, Maharishi said, 'The world is my family has been the inspiration from all time, and we are experiencing today, the world is my family on the highest level, on the pinnacle level of invincibility characterizing real lasting freedom in affluence, integrity, coherence, all positivity, perfect health, long life.' (more)

Women invited to join third 'virtual meeting' in 2014 conference call series - 29 June
28 June 2014 - Sunday, 29 June is the date of the third in a series of six telephone conferences for women being held throughout this year. All women are invited to join in this bimonthly 'virtual global assembly' and learn how women can become a powerfully nourishing agent for positive change in the world by awakening the nourishing power of consciousness within. The next women's conference call will feature a discussion on the topic of shifting our world view in order to redesign our destiny. (more)

Interview in Algerie Patriotique: 'Three experts explain post traumatic stress disorder from terrorism and war'
27 June 2014 - An extensive, wide-ranging interview was published today in Algerie Patriotique, in which three experts discuss post-traumatic stress (PTS), its causes and devastating physical and emotional effects in many millions of people across Africa, including in Algeria. Dr David Leffler, Dr Atmane Kouider, and David Shapiro also bring out findings of recent published research showing rapid, substantial decreases in PTS symptoms in African war refugees who have learned the Transcendental Meditation technique. The interview probes deeply the timely implications of this research--in particular the potential of large-scale adoption of Transcendental Meditation as a simple, cost-effective, evidence-based solution--not only to alleviate individuals' suffering, but also to reduce and ultimately prevent societal stress from erupting in violence and war. This is the aim of an initiative sponsored by the David Lynch Foundation and African PTSD Relief. (more)

Proven approach to stop sectarian violence in Iraq
23 June 2014 - With regard to growing sectarian violence in Iraq, President Barack Obama recently said, 'I don't rule out anything,' and 'my national security team is looking at all the options.' He should consider Invincible Defense Technology (IDT), a scientifically-validated approach to effectively, efficiently, and quickly end the turmoil, writes Dr David Leffler in an editorial published today in The Hill, a top US political website widely read by Washington policymakers. This IDT approach to reducing stress and violence is already part of the training of America's future commanders at Norwich University, and has been field-tested by foreign militaries. It is validated by 23 peer-reviewed studies carried out in both developed and developing nations in the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. Independent scientists and scholars endorse it, based on 25 years of research. (more)

10 Short Summaries of Top Stories

Afghanistan orders New York Times reporter to leave country
21 August 2014 - Afghanistan ordered a New York Times journalist Wednesday to leave the country in 24 hours and barred him from returning over a story he wrote saying that a group of officials were considering seizing power because of the impasse over who won its recent presidential election, the attorney general's office said in a statement. The attorney general's office called Matthew Rosenberg, 40, into their office Tuesday and asked him to reveal his sources, which he refused to do, the Times reported. On Wednesday, the attorney general's office said the story threatened Afghanistan's stability and security, announcing that he was being expelled. The statement suggested that the reporting, which relied largely on unnamed sources, was fabricated. The Afghan Foreign Affairs Ministry and security agencies had been notified of the expulsion, the statement said. The Afghan Foreign Affairs Ministry and security agencies had been notified of the expulsion, the statement said. A story on the newspaper's website Wednesday said it was 'appalled' by the government's decision to expel Rosenberg and stood by his story. (more)

Dozens die in Ukraine in street battles, Donetsk shelling
20 August 2014 - Heavy shelling hit residential neighbourhoods in Ukraine's rebel stronghold of Donetsk and government forces fought street battles in other towns on Wednesday as they sought to crush a four-month-old separatist rebellion. The forces of the Western-backed Kiev government are steadily gaining the upper hand over the separatists in Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine and are tightening the noose around the main rebel bastions of Donetsk and Luhansk. The government in Kiev and its allies have accused Moscow of orchestrating the separatist rebellion and equipping the rebels with tanks, missiles, and other heavy weaponry. Moscow denies this and accuses Kiev of waging a war against its own people and shelling civilians. The conflict has plunged relations between Russia and the West to their worst level since the end of the Cold War in 1991. As well as worsening conditions for people on the ground, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said the fighting was draining the potential of the economy by the day, with attacks damaging mines, power stations, rail lines, and bridges. 'Russia is aware that rebuilding the Donbass (the industrial east) will cost not millions but billions of hryvnia,' he said. (more)

Institute for Economics and Peace draws maps of world conflict zones
19 August 2014 - With the crisis in Gaza, the rise of Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria and the international stand-off ongoing in Ukraine, it can sometimes feel like the whole world is at war. But experts believe this is actually almost universally the case, according to a think-tank which produces one of the world's leading measures of 'global peacefulness' -- and things are only going to get worse. It may make for bleak reading, but of the 162 countries covered by the Institute for Economics and Peace's (IEP's) latest study, just 11 were not involved in conflict of one kind or another. Worse still, the world as a whole has been getting incrementally less peaceful every year since 2007 -- sharply bucking a trend that had seen a global move away from conflict since the end of the Second World War. (more)

India calls off diplomatic talks with Pakistan
18 August 2014 - India called off on Monday peace talks with Pakistan, giving a jolt to renewed diplomatic efforts between the two nuclear-armed neighbours and adding to the troubles of Pakistan's beleaguered government. The move came nearly three months after Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attended the inauguration of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the pair shaking hands in a gesture that had raised hopes of warmer ties between the two nations. India said it would not attend talks involving the foreign secretaries of the two countries, which had been set to take place on 25 August in Islamabad, because of plans by Pakistan to consult Kashmiri separatists ahead of the meeting. India's foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin called the invite an 'unacceptable' attempt to 'interfere' in domestic affairs, adding that the talks had been 'cancelled'. Pakistan deplored India's move, calling it a 'setback' in efforts to promote good neighbourly relations. (more)

US: Police deploy tear gas to impose Ferguson, Missouri curfew
17 August 2014 - The first night of a state-imposed curfew in Ferguson, Missouri, ended with tear gas and seven arrests, after police dressed in riot gear used armoured vehicles to disperse defiant protesters who refused to leave a St. Louis suburb where a black, unarmed teen had been shot by a white police officer a week earlier. Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson said protesters weren't the reason for the escalated police reaction early Sunday morning after the midnight curfew took effect, but a report of people who had broken into a barbecue restaurant and a man who flashed a handgun in the street as armoured vehicles approached the crowd of protesters. Also overnight, a man was shot and critically wounded in the same area, but not by police; authorities were searching for the shooter. Someone also shot at a police car, officials said. The protests have been going on since 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed 9 August by a white Ferguson officer, Darren Wilson. The death heightened racial tensions between the predominantly black community and mostly white Ferguson Police Department, leading to several run-ins between police and protesters and prompting Missouri's governor to put the Highway Patrol in charge of security. The US Department of Justice also has deepened its civil rights investigation of the shooting, as Johnson said Saturday that 40 FBI agents were going door-to-door in the neighbourhood gathering information. On Saturday, some residents said it appeared the violent acts were being committed by people from other suburbs or states. 'Who would burn down their own backyard?' asked Rebecca McCloud, a local who works with the Sonshine Baptist Church in St. Louis. 'These people aren't from here. They came to burn down our city and leave.' (more)

Islamic State executed 700 people from Syrian tribe - monitoring group
16 August 2014 - The Islamic State militant group has executed 700 members of a tribe it has been battling in eastern Syria during the past two weeks, the majority of them civilians, a human rights monitoring group and activists said on Saturday. The conflict between Islamic State and the al-Sheitaat tribe, who number about 70,000, flared after the militants took over two oil fields in July. Proclaiming a 'caliphate' straddling parts of Iraq and Syria, Islamic State has swept across northern Iraq in recent weeks, pushing back Kurdish regional forces and driving tens of thousands of Muslims, Christians, and members of the Yazidi religious minority from their homes, prompting the first US air strikes in Iraq since the withdrawal of American troops in 2011. The insurgents are also tightening their grip in Syria, of which they now control roughly a third, mostly rural areas in the north and east. Islamic State was condemned on Friday in a UN Security Council resolution for 'gross, systematic and widespread abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law.' (more)

UN food body says Gaza farms devastated by fighting
14 August 2014 - The conflict in Gaza has caused serious damage to crops, herds, and fishing as well as greenhouses and irrigation systems, bringing food production to a halt and sending prices sharply higher, the United Nations food body said on Thursday. The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in a statement that virtually the entire local population of about 1.8 million was dependent on food aid and significant long term help would be needed for local farms to recover. Ciro Fiorillo, head of FAO's office in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, said specialists had been able to make a series of field visits to the coastal Palestinian enclave to prepare a detailed assessment of the damage during the latest ceasefire. He said bomb damage, water, and electricity shortages and financial problems, as well as the uncertainty about a possible resumption of military activities had caused major problems. (more)

Islamic State carves jihadist hub in heart of Middle East
12 August 2014 - Ridiculed at first, the new power which has seized a third of Iraq and triggered the first American air strikes since the US troop withdrawal in 2011 -- has carved itself a powerful and possibly lasting presence in the Middle East. The bombing of fighters of the Sunni Islamic State is unlikely to turn around Iraq and its fragmented condition has given the self-proclaimed caliphate the opportunity to establish a hub of jihadism in the heart of the Arab world. To confront the Islamic State storming through the villages of eastern Syria and western Iraq, an international coalition sanctioned by the United Nations would need to be set up, analysts in and outside the Gulf region said. The jihadist army, whose ambition for a cross-border caliphate between the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers was not initially taken seriously by their opponents, is now brimming with confidence. The warriors of the new caliphate are exploiting sectarian and tribal faultlines in Arab society, petrifying communities into submission, and exploiting the reluctance of Washington and the West to intervene more robustly in the civil war in Syria. Unlike Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda, which set its sights on destroying the West, the Islamic State has territorial goals, aims to set up social structures and rages against the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 that split the Ottoman empire and carved borders across the Arab lands. Its rapid advances are made possible by the disintegration of Syria and Iraq, alienation of Sunni communities willing to ally even with IS to resist governments they see as under the thumb of Shi'ite Muslims and their sponsor in Iran, and Sunni rage at US and Western policy in the Middle East. (more)

FARC chief says Colombia peace deal unlikely this year
11 August 2014 - Colombia is unlikely to sign a peace accord with Marxist rebels this year as the remaining items on the negotiating agenda are complex and time consuming, FARC guerrilla leader Rodrigo Londono said. President Juan Manuel Santos had expressed hope that talks to end a half century of war with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) could be concluded as soon as this year though he acknowledged they could run on longer. In an interview published on the rebels' website on Monday, Londono said there would not be time in the next four months to complete discussion on reparation to victims and how to bring a definitive end to the conflict. Dozens of FARC and government negotiators have reached agreement in talks -- taking place in Cuba -- on land reform, how to end Colombia's illegal drugs trade and rebel participation in politics. In an apparent response to Santos' recent warnings that talks could collapse if the FARC continue to attack civilian and economic targets, Londono insinuated that the killing of any member of its seven-member secretariat would disrupt talks. (more)

After month of war, Gaza's disabled face shortages, isolation
10 August 2014 - Authorities in tiny, densely populated Gaza say 1,890 Palestinians have been killed and at least 9,000 wounded by Israeli air strikes and shelling, a toll worse than the last two bouts of war combined, dating to 2008-09. Israel says 64 of its soldiers and three civilians have been killed. Israel says Hamas, which controls the narrow coastal enclave, is to blame for the plight of Palestinians because it uses residential districts as launch pads and arms depots. With limited access to rehabilitation facilities and prosthetic limbs, life as a physically disabled person in the impoverished and blockaded Gaza Strip is especially bleak. The territory's crowded, uneven streets are no place for a wheelchair, there are few jobs for people with disabilities, and little psychiatric support. The majority stay in bed, they have bedsores, they do not have sufficient medical care. They need physical and psychological rehabilitation,' said Rafeek Zant, manager of a private company supplying medical equipment like prosthetics and wheelchairs in Gaza and the West Bank. The Israeli-Egyptian blockade on goods into Gaza led to severe shortages of medical supplies even before the current, month-old war, humanitarian organisations say. (more)

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