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Colombia embarks on path to peace with historic accord
27 September 2016 - After a half-century of combat . . . Colombians have embarked on a new, but difficult path to settle their political differences with the signing of a historic peace accord between the government and leftist rebels. President Juan Manuel Santos removed from his lapel a pin shaped like a white dove that he has been wearing for years and handed it over to his former adversary, who fastened it to his own shirt. (more)

Colombia, FARC sign historic peace deal ending long conflict
26 September 2016 - Colombia's government and its largest rebel movement signed a historic peace accord Monday in an emotional ceremony that seeks to put an end to a half-century of combat and put the war-weary nation on the path to reconciliation. President Juan Manuel Santos and Rodrigo Londono, leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, signed the agreement before a crowd of 2,500 foreign dignitaries and special guests, including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. (more)

Hopes high about 'once in a lifetime' chance to reunify Cyprus
24 September 2016 - The prospect of a breakthrough ending the decades-old division of Cyprus could be delivered at a much-anticipated meeting between the leaders of the island's two estranged communities. Reunification hopes are expected to be reinvigorated on Sunday when the president, Nicos Anastasiades, who heads Greeks in the south, and Mustafa Akıncı, who heads Turks in the north, hold talks in New York with the United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon. That the meeting is taking place at all is a breakthrough in itself. (more)

The American diplomat who helped bring an end to Colombia's war
24 September 2016 - When the Colombian government and Marxist rebels ink a final peace accord Monday to end a 52-year guerrilla war, an American envoy will be one of the special guests at the signing ceremony. Last year, the Obama administration dispatched veteran U.S. diplomat Bernard Aronson to Havana, Cuba, the site of the Colombian peace talks. The negotiations had turned contentious and had dragged on for nearly three years. But Aronson was a reassuring presence and helped the two sides overcome numerous roadblocks as they moved toward a final accord. He called the peace treaty 'the final chapter of a very, very long drama.' The war ... began in the 1960s as the rebels pushed for land reform and social justice. But over the years, the FARC became deeply involved in drug trafficking, extortion, and illegal gold mining. The fighting ... uprooted more than 5 million from their homes. In a recent interview with NPR, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos expressed his gratitude. 'The personal participation of Bernie Aronson has been a great contribution, not only to the process but to me, personally,' President Santos said. (more)

Unity gives Jerusalem a prayer: Jews, Muslims, and Christians join for worship
24 September 2016 - Last week, and for just eight days, a music school in the lowest valley of Jerusalem was transformed into a communal house of prayer, named Amen, bringing together Jewish, Muslim, and Christian religious leaders and their congregations to worship together in one room. It was a sight rarely seen in this segregated city. The eight religious leaders all met again on Wednesday for a special ceremony to mark International Peace Day. (more)

Colombia rebels unanimously approve peace accord with govt
23 September 2016 - Leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia pledged their unanimous support on Friday to a peace agreement reached last month with the government. In ... conferences on the FARC's care for the environment and interviews with international media who were invited to attend the normally clandestine conference for the first time, rebel leaders largely shunned the antagonizing, ideological rhetoric Colombians have grown to expect from them to embrace a softer, more inclusive image. President Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC leader known as Timochenko are expected to sign the agreement Monday in the Caribbean city of Cartagena. (more)

Colombia's FARC rebels ratify peace accord to end 52-year war
23 September 2016 - Colombia's FARC rebel group voted unanimously to approve a peace deal with the government on Friday, declaring an end to the five-decade war as it prepares to transition into a new political party. The peace accord is due to be signed on Monday by President Juan Manuel Santos and rebel leader Rodrigo Londono, who uses the nom de guerre Timochenko. Colombians will vote on the deal in an October 2 plebiscite, the final go-ahead for rebels to demobilize. (more)

Once little known, Colombia's peacemaker hailed as hero
20 September 2016 - Younger Colombians knew almost nothing about Humberto De la Calle in 2012 when he was named the government's chief peace negotiator for talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Many older ones were all but sure his mission to end a half-century of bloodshed would fail. Now the Bogota attorney is being roundly hailed as a hero over last month's historic peace deal with the rebels. He all but disappeared from politics until Santos tapped him for the talks. (more)

Colombian rebels trade guns for shovels ahead of peace meeting
13 September 2016 - Hundreds of FARC rebels are converging on a camp in southern Colombia to pour cement, shore up dirt roads, and set up communications ahead of the group's congress this week, where delegates will ratify a peace deal to end 52 years of war. Representatives from each unit of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) will debate and vote on the accord reached last month after years of talks with the government. (more)

Syria truce largely holds as aid preparations begin
13 September 2016 - A new ceasefire in Syria brought a full day with no combat deaths in the war between President Bashar al-Assad and his opponents, a monitoring body said on Tuesday, as efforts to deliver aid to besieged areas got cautiously under way. Twenty-four hours after the truce took effect, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura declared the situation had improved dramatically, saying U.N. aid access should be possible soon including to eastern Aleppo, the rebel-held half of the city that is under blockade. (more)

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

Stacey Hurlin reports from Greek refugee camps - TM could help give peace of mind
21 September 2016 - Stacey Hurlin, a Greek American, mother, educator, artist, and an activist; could not sit by while the refugee crisis escalated with boat arrivals to the Greek islands, which started in early 2015. She left for Greece where she facilitates donations, supplies, and often simply listens to the stories told by refugees. As asylum seekers go through the complex, and mostly discouraging, process of delays, misinformation, and paperwork, stress levels are high in the camps. To date, 60,000 are waiting. Stacey says, ' . . . these camps are filled with educated, intelligent, skilled people. Everyone I have met sincerely wants to get on with their life - to be productive, to provide for their family.' She calls for Transcendental Meditation to be made available in the camps, citing extensive research showing relief from traumatic stress and the peace-keeping qualities of people practicing the technique together, saying that 'peace of mind is the basis of all peace.' (more)

Transcendental Meditation: A solution for peace in South Sudan
9 September 2016 - Transcendental Meditation is an 'innovative science-based tool available to produce inner peace as a means of reducing the anger and violence ravaging South Sudan, Africa and other highly stressed regions worldwide. Inner peace is contagious. It spreads and has the potential to create societal peace . . . ' write scientists, concerned by the UN vote to send in more troops in an attempt to quell violence in South Sudan. They conclude that initiatives employing TM as a method to reduce PTSD and violence as peacemaking tool are the only solutions producing results. Presenting these evidence-based research findings in their OpEDNews article are Dr David Leffler, executive director at the Center for Advanced Military Science, Dr R Keith Wallace, founding president and professor of physiology at Maharishi University of Management, and David Shapiro, founding president of African PTSD Relief. (more)

Maharishi Vedic Architecture: The sun's early light
3 September 2016 - Not only did the ancient Vedic texts of Sthapatya Veda, which detail how to create ideal structures, stipulate an east-facing main entrance as the most auspicious and life-supporting direction for a dwelling to face, but ancient Egyptian structures, North American Indian structures, and even the oldest Christian religious structures stipulated the east and the rising sun as the proper direction for building orientation. When the sun is rising in the east its influence dispels darkness and brings a fresh wave of nourishing light as it falls on the front entrance of a Maharishi Vastu house. This is an important aspect of living 'in Vastu' and homeowners speak of the nourishing, 'silent harmony' of their lives: 'I have lived here now for four years and each day it is a blessing to be here. The happiness I feel is like no other I have ever experienced - deep, unshakable and contagious.' (more)

Transcendental Meditation: The organizing power of cosmic intelligence
24 August 2016 - Janet Hoffman, executive director of TM for Women Professionals in the US, examines human consciousness and just what creates order in society. She upholds that 'by continually enlivening the infinite wholeness of inner consciousness, we can continually expand our outer vision's breadth and depth.' She says that in light of the scientific fact: 'a small percentage of orderliness creating orderly fields', one percent of a community's population practicing Transcendental Meditation will enliven 'the deep mechanics of nature that will disallow or dissolve these problems with the organizing power of the cosmic intelligence of Nature itself.' (more)

Invincible Defense Technology: A powerful, proven tool for police and military
7 August 2016 - High satisfaction rates seems to be the norm in police and military forces when reporting results from their practice of Transcendental Meditation. Members of high-stress professions find that TM provides an inner armor to protect their members from the noxious effects of stress and negative experiences. In a study conducted by Ecuadorian army psychologists, over 96 percent of the military police officer cadets found the TM technique to be a highly practical activity. Ninety-two percent found their performance in activity had improved and they were better able to deal with stress; 96 percent declared their relationships with others had improved; and 95 percent said their practice of the TM technique was completely satisfying. New York City's police force found that officers diffused situations with more calm, creative solutions. The practical and cost-effective nature of the technique attracts many police and military agencies, most recently, these findings were reported in Opinion Nigeria, Nigeria Politics Online, Nigeria Nation, World Stage Group, The Seoul Times, and Global Village Extra of Nigeria. (more)

An approach to lasting peace in South Sudan that works
24 July 2016 - Dr David Leffler, Executive Director at the Center for Advanced Military Science, often takes time to write to publications from the stance of Maharishi's Invincible Defense Technology (IDT). Some articles concerning international conflict resolution positively call for his response, such as the New York Times: 'How Do You Stop a Future Terrorist When the Only Evidence Is a Thought?' After he explains research on the powerful coherence-creating properties of adding Transcendental Meditation to the daily routine of a defence force, Dr Leffler goes on to say, 'IDT is totally unlike any other defence technology in that it does not use violence in an attempt to quell violence. Not only is this a more civilized approach, but also the IDT defence technology supersedes all other known defence technologies (which are based on electronic, chemical, and/or nuclear forces). Therefore, militaries that deploy it gain the ultimate strategic advantage. And it has the added advantage of being extremely cost-effective, requiring minimal time and training to utilize.' (more)

Transcendental Meditation: A solution to violence
20 July 2016 - Vanessa Vidal, the U.S. National Director of TM for Women, emphasizes that violent or impulsive behavior originates in the brain, and therefore this is where violent tendencies must be prevented. Highlighting research selected from over 380 scientifically-validated studies on Transcendental Meditation, she points out that the experience of transcending activates the brain's prefrontal cortex and creates more efficient, integrated functioning by neutralizing the stress that negatively impacts the brain. 'Let's not only treat the problem,' she says, 'lets get to the root on the problem. . . . With the large body of evidence from research among prison inmates, students in at-risk schools, veterans with PTSD and in the laboratories of neuroscientists, the TM program has proven to be more than worthy of consideration and implementation as a preventive and therapeutic solution.' (more)

Media interest toward Invincible Defense Technology as means for peace
9 July 2016 - Dr. David Leffler, director of the organization for Invincible Defense Technology (IDT), recently asked selected publications if they would be interested in an article about IDT. The scientifically-validated technology organizes groups - and specifically for IDT, military groups - to incorporate Transcendental Meditation and its advanced programmes into their daily routine to create a powerful influence of peace and coherence in areas of the world. Dr. Leffler said, 'We see a universal concern in the media about the grave dangers faced in various high-tension areas of the world . . . they are now open to the great potential that Maharishi's Invincible Defense Technology provides to quickly save many lives and prevent great suffering, at nominal cost.' Not only were there positive replies, but three media outlets reprinted his letter: Valuewalk in New York City, Masterweb in Nigeria, and The Seoul Times of South Korea. (more)

The brain-based approach to peace
9 July 2016 - The Brain-Based Approach to Peace restores balanced neurological functioning through Transcendental Meditation, and thereby promotes balanced, harmonious behavior on the individual and societal scale. Individual creativity and entrepreneurship increase as well. With greater civic calm, citizens' aspirations rise and a more productive and balanced society emerges. Such a society naturally disallows violence as a means for change, or as an expression of discontent. This is currently being featured on the Excellence In Action page of Global Good News. (more)

The United State of Women: A perspective from a teacher of Transcendental Meditation
6 July 2016 - Ann Purcell, author and teacher of Transcendental Meditation, upholds the need for change, and speaks highly of a recent video that featured such luminaries as Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Meryl Streep, and Tina Fey. They are, Ann says, 'admirable women [who] are speaking out to bring much-needed justice around the world on every level'. Ann says, 'Women's issues definitely unite women . . . ,' then asks, 'Is there something deeper that unites women and also men? Is there a field, or a state, of unity itself?' She explains that every person has quieter levels of the mind. 'There is a state that exists beyond all thoughts and feelings. It is simply a state of pure silence.' She describes the orderliness that comes into a person's thinking and actions through Transcendental Meditation, documented in many studies as a simple technique that allows easy access to the powerful level of silence within. Ann further explains that when enough people practise the 'coherence-creating' technique of TM and its advanced programmes, then positive trends automatically spread into society. (more)

10 Short Summaries of Top Stories

US: FBI data show increase in murder, violent crime in 2015
26 September 2016 - The number of murders reported by local law enforcement agencies jumped by more than 10 percent in 2015 from the year before, according to crime data released by the FBI on Monday. Violent crime overall rose by 3.9 percent, though the total was still lower than levels from five and 10 years ago, in 2011 and 2006, the FBI said. (more)

Syria diplomacy: A US-Russia deal unravels and war revs up
23 September 2016 - In a New York hotel room earlier this week, Russia thought it was close to a deal with the U.S. to revive a cease-fire deal for Syria. Regardless of the differing accounts, the fallout from the failure was severe. By Thursday afternoon, as [U.S. Secretary of State John] Kerry and [Russian Foreign Minister Sergey] Lavrov met with more than a dozen European and Arab foreign ministers, Russia was helping Syria's government launch a fresh offensive on the already besieged city of Aleppo. The week's breakdown in the diplomacy on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly occurred as violence in Syria accelerated. Several high-profile and deadly attacks suggested the war could be entering a darker phase. First, an errant U.S. strike on a Syrian military contingent killed dozens. Then, four medics were killed in a bombing raid, presumably by Syria or Russia. The 5 1/2-year war has killed as many as a half-million people, contributed to Europe's worst refugee crisis since World War II, and allowed IS to emerge as a global terror threat. (more)

Documentary charts the dangers of deforestation
20 September 2016 - A new documentary thriller, Death by A Thousand Cuts, explores how the fate of forests in two neighbouring countries has exacerbated social conflict, xenophobia, poverty, and even resulted in multiple murders. '[Haiti and the Dominican Republic] share the island of Hispaniola, but have starkly different trajectories, in large part, related to how they have managed their natural resources,' said Jake Kheel, co-director of the documentary, which won the Jury's best documentary prize at the Seattle film festival. (more)

US: Donald Trump Jr compares Syrian refugees to poisoned Skittles
20 September 2016 - Donald Trump Jr has used a Twitter post to liken Syrian refugees to poisoned Skittles [a candy] and suggest that America should not accept any. (more)

Aid trucks hit by air strikes as Syria says ceasefire over
19 September 2016 - Air raids hit aid trucks near the city of Aleppo on Monday, a monitoring group reported, as the Syrian military declared that a week-long ceasefire was over. The attacks were carried out by either Syrian or Russian aircraft, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that there had been 35 strikes in and around Aleppo since the truce ended. (more)

From independence to starvation in the world's newest nation, South Sudan
13 September 2016 - Tens of thousands of people in conflict-ridden South Sudan are at risk of dying from starvation with many living in swamps and surviving on water lilies following renewed violence, a senior aid worker has warned. The hunger crisis comes amid continuing instability and violence in the African country that attained independence from Sudan five years ago with renewed fighting hampering relief supplies. Here are some key facts and figures about the on-going conflict which is nearly three years long despite a formal peace accord last year, and has resulted in as many as 100,000 deaths and the displacement of 2.5 million people. (more)

How Libya is slowly becoming 'Somalia on the Mediterranean'
13 September 2016 - On 15 September 2011 David Cameron flew into a newly liberated Tripoli with the then President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, to be mobbed by rebels grateful for NATO airstrikes that had helped them secure victory over Muammar Gaddafi. Back then, optimism was in the air. In rebel camps, coffee bars, hotels already jammed with foreign businesspeople -- even amid the shattered concrete ruins of Gaddafi's giant Bab al-Azizia compound -- the talk was of progress. Back-of-the-envelope calculations showed Libya would undoubtably have the brightest future of any of the emerging Arab Spring states. It had Africa's largest oil reserves and only 6 million souls to share it. Democracy was on the way. What could go wrong? As it turned out, everything. (more)

US: Chicago homicides hit 20-year high as gun violence spikes
1 September 2016 - Chicago recorded its deadliest month in two decades in August, part of a sharp rise in gun violence in the nation's third-largest city this year. Chicago police said Thursday that 90 people were killed last month, a 66 percent increase over August 2015. There were 472 shooting victims -- an average of more than 15 people per day. The city once had some of the nation's strictest gun-control laws, but many are no longer on the books. Last year, the police department said it confiscated nearly 7,000 illegal guns. Here's a look at what's happening in Chicago: (more)

Factbox - Colombia takes grim count of war that drove millions from homes
25 August 2016 - Colombia's government and rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) announced late on Wednesday (24 August) they had reached a final peace accord to end a 52-year-old guerrilla war, bringing an end to one of the world's longest conflicts. The deal still needs to be voted on in a plebiscite. More than a quarter of Colombia's 47 million people have suffered in some way as a result of the war involving rebels, right-wing paramilitary groups, and government troops. Here are eight humanitarian consequences of Colombia's war. (more)

Child bomber in Turkey not the only violent use of children
21 August 2016 - The suicide attacker who detonated his explosives amid an outdoor Kurdish wedding party in southeastern Turkey, killing at least 51 people, was an Islamic State group child as young as 12 years old. The extremist group has a history of using children as weapons, sending them to their death strapped with explosives and putting them on front lines in Iraq and Syria. But the practice is not restricted to the Islamic State group and has been used by other militant groups. Here's a look at some: (more)

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