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Colombia rebels to free general, opening door to resume peace talks
21 November 2014 - Colombian Marxist rebels agreed to release an army general captured by their comrades over the weekend, a move that may lead to a resumption of peace talks and defuse a crisis that threatened to extend five decades of war. President Juan Manuel Santos's office responded immediately to the announcement, pledging to resume talks as soon as the hostages are free. (more)

Russia says North Korea ready for renewal of nuclear talks
21 November 2014 - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday North Korea was ready to resume stalled international talks on its nuclear programme. Russia's Lavrov told a news conference on Thursday: 'We got assurances from the high representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea that Pyongyang is ready for the restart of six-party talks, without pre-conditions.' North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, and the United States began talks in 2003 to rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons but they were suspended after Pyongyang tested nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009. (more)

Muslim, Christian, Jewish leaders unite to condemn jihadi violence
19 November 2014 - Senior Muslim, Christian, and Jewish leaders condemned violence by jihadi militants such as Islamic State (IS) at a Saudi-backed conference on Wednesday in a rare display of inter-faith unity aimed at promoting tolerance and diversity. (more)

Cypriot foes unite to save ancient religious site
12 November 2014 - On a remote outcrop in divided Cyprus, Greeks and Turks have put aside decades of enmity to restore their shared cultural heritage, battered by war and neglect. Every day for the next 16 months, Greek and Turkish Cypriots will be working on the Apostolos Andreas monastery. Cyprus was partitioned after a 1974 war. Cypriots have been making the pilgrimage to Apostolos Andreas -- which is closer to Syria, 60 miles (100 km) across the Mediterranean, than to the island's capital Nicosia, a three-hour trip by road -- for centuries. While mainly Orthodox Christian Greek and Muslim Turkish Cypriots share many common traditions, Apostolos Andreas is the one site where religious boundaries are blurred. (more)

China's Xi and Japan's Abe hold landmark meeting
10 November 2014 - Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held formal talks on Monday for the first time since the two leaders took office, a breakthrough in ending a two-year row between Asia's biggest economies over history and territory. China and Japan, the world's second- and third-largest economies, have sparred over disputed islands, regional rivalry, and the bitter legacy of Japan's wartime occupation of China. (more)

China's Xi says hopes North Korea nuclear talks can resume
10 November 2014 - Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Monday that China hopes all sides can show sincerity and flexibility to resume six country talks on North Korea's nuclear programme and find a mutually acceptable solution, state news agency Xinhua said. Xi made the comments while meeting South Korean President Park Geun-hye in Beijing on the sidelines of a meeting of Asia Pacific leaders (APEC). (more)

China, Viet Nam willing to handle maritime issues through dialogue
10 November 2014 - China and Viet Nam have agreed to handle maritime disputes through dialogue, Chinese state media reported on Monday, months after ties between the two countries hit a three-decade low in a row over a Chinese oil rig in disputed waters. The two countries agreed to 'address and control' maritime disputes, state media reported last month, in the wake of the row sparked by China's May 2 deployment of a $1 billion-oil rig to disputed waters that straddle a key shipping lane. Territorial disputes in the potentially oil-rich South China Sea have roiled ties between China and many neighbours. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Viet Nam also have claims in the waters, crossed by $5 trillion of ship-borne goods every year. (more)

FBI: Violent crime down in US in 2013
10 November 2014 - The FBI says the number of violent crimes reported to law enforcement last year dropped by 4.4 per cent from 2012. The crime statistics released by the FBI on Monday also showed a longer-term decline, over the last five years, in both violent crime and property crime. (more)

US: Violent crime drops again, reaches 1970s level - FBI
10 November 2014 - US violent crimes including murders fell 4.4 per cent in 2013 to their lowest number since the 1970s, continuing a decades-long downturn, the FBI said on Monday. The law enforcement agency's annual Crime in the United States report showed the country the lowest number of violent crimes last year since 1978. In an analysis, the non-profit Pew Charitable Trusts said the drop in crime coincided with a decline in the prison population, with the number of US prisoners down 6 per cent in 2013 from its peak in 2008. (more)

5 things to know about the Berlin Wall
9 November 2014 - The Berlin Wall fell 25 years ago on Sunday, a key event in the collapse of communism and the preface to Germany's reunification in 1990. The anniversary is being celebrated in Berlin great festivities. Here are five things to know about the Berlin Wall: (more)


Success of Maharishi's Programmes
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Protecting Turkey: How to confidently achieve and maintain Middle East stability
19 October 2014 - Dr David Leffler, Executive Director at the Center for Advanced Military Science (CAMS) in Fairfield, Iowa writes that 'a statistical guarantee of stability, based on empirical evidence, is only attainable with the advanced military technology, Invincible Defence Technology (IDT).' He adds, 'a scientifically-validated defence strategy would protect Turkey by preventing hostility and conflict before they arise both within and outside the country.' (more)

Creating national invincibility through individuals creating a 'beautiful, coherent, harmonious, evolutionary influence' - Maharishi
4 October 2014 - In the continuation of an address given in Seelisberg, Switzerland, on 21 October 1977, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi explained further how invincibility can be structured on the level of whole societies and nations. This can be achieved, Maharishi said, through education that gives individuals the ability to awaken and function from the deepest level of their consciousness, which he describes as the 'home of all the laws of nature', and from there create only an evolutionary influence of coherence and harmony in society. Maharishi's historic address, 'Celebrating invincibility to every nation', was featured recently during an international conference at Maharishi European Research University (MERU) in Holland on 3 October. (more)

Celebrating invincibility to every nation: Harmony, coherence, freedom from fear - Maharishi
3 October 2014 - Today organizations of the Global Country of World Peace in many countries participated in the festival of Victory Day, which celebrates the victory of administration based on total natural law to promote peace, happiness, good health and prosperity for every individual and the whole society. Nearly 40 years ago, on Victory Day in October 1977, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi announced that the assembly was 'celebrating invincibility to every nation', on the basis of news reports of reduced crime rate in many parts of the world. The decrease, Maharishi said, reflected rising coherence in world consciousness generated by many people practising Transcendental Meditation and its advanced programmes. 'A coherent, integrated, orderly society will emanate the influence of coherence, integration, life-supporting value, orderliness, evolution. When a nation radiates evolutionary influence, that will be a joy to the whole family of nations,' Maharishi said. (more)

A group of grieving mothers hope to rediscover inner peace with Transcendental Meditation
27 September 2014 - Mothers grieving for children lost to inner city violence connected with the David Lynch Foundation to learn Transcendental Meditation. 'The Chicago mothers, just beginning to see the potential meditation has to bring order to their lives, stumbled into TM,' writes Erin Meyer in an article about the group--'they rediscovered an inner peace thought to have died with their children'. (more)

21 new Maharishi Vastu architects complete training
25 September 2014 - Earlier this summer 21 architects from 13 countries graduated from an intensive, two-month training programme as fully certified Maharishi Vastu architects. Their country affiliations, contact information, and pictures are featured on the Maharishi Vastu page on Facebook, organized according to their region of the world. (more)

The Expansion of Happiness: New book on Transcendental Meditation published
24 September 2014 - The Expansion of Happiness, a new book by Mack Travis, takes us on his personal journey as he discovers how practising Transcendental Meditation, twice a day for the past forty years, has balanced and enhanced the quality of his life. The book is subtitled: A common-sense look at the Transcendental Meditation technique founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Travis presents Maharishi's scientifically validated, effective meditation technique in a compelling, easy-to-understand way that shows how regular practice enables people to achieve peacefulness, purpose, and happiness in their lives. (more)

International Vedic association holds conference at Maharishi University of Management
20 September 2014 - More than 100 Vedic scholars and thought leaders assembled at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, USA this summer for an international conference on 'Vedic Living in a Modern World' cosponsored by the World Association for Vedic Studies. The conference brought together 'a diverse group of people who share a profound respect for and love of the holistic knowledge and life-supporting culture of ancient India', said co-chair Dr Peter Scharf. Among those presenting were 75 scholars from out of town, including India and Canada, and another 20 from India via Skype. (more)

US: Village of small, modular Vastu homes planned
16 September 2014 - A village of small, modular homes of various sizes, designed according to Maharishi Vastu Architecture, is now being planned for Fairfield, Iowa, USA. This 'micro-village' will have both homes and multi-unit buildings. All units so far are in the 400-800 square foot (37-48 square metre) range, and studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom configurations are planned. (more)

US: More Maharishi Vastu homes using modular construction
9 September 2014 - Maharishi Vastu Architecture reports that another Vastu home built using modular construction has just been delivered and set on its foundation in Iowa. This latest Vastu modular is modern in style, with verandahs and screened porches on front and rear. The open, central living area has clerestory windows just below its high ceilings to allow light to flood in from above--a feature recommended for all Vastu buildings. (more)

US: Vastu modular construction taking hold in Fairfield, Iowa
6 September 2014 - In the past few months the Maharishi Vastu Architecture website has featured the modular construction methods on a house being built in Fairfield, Iowa, USA, in the Abundance Eco Village community. The home was inaugurated over the summer after being delivered from the factory and set on its foundation in May. (more)


Flops
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Pakistan Taliban splinter group vows allegiance to Islamic State
17 November 2014 - A splinter group of Pakistan's Taliban has pledged support to Islamic State (IS), a spokesman said on Monday, in another indication of the appeal of the Iraq- and Syria-based jihadist group in a region traditionally dominated by al Qaeda and local insurgencies. Jundullah is one of several Pakistani groups exploring relations with IS, whose fighters have captured swathes of Iraq and Syria in a drive to set up a self-declared caliphate. They share an aim to kill or drive out religious minorities and establish a hardline Sunni theocracy. Analysts say that so far IS has mainly attracted sectarian groups rather than anti-state militants like the Taliban. Pakistan has a ready supply of hardened fighters and a population often receptive to sectarian hatred. (more)

Nigeria: Militants seize hometown of kidnapped schoolgirls
14 November 2014 - Islamic extremists in Nigeria have seized Chibok, forcing thousands of people to flee the northeastern town where insurgents kidnapped nearly 300 schoolgirls in April, a local official said Friday. The Boko Haram insurgents entered the town Thursday, shooting from pickup trucks and motorcycles, Bana Lawan, chairman of the Chibok local government, told The Associated Press. 'Nobody can tell you what is happening there today because everybody is just trying to escape with their lives,' he said. In a separate development, a bomb exploded Friday night in northern Kano city, the second largest population center in Nigeria, killing an unknown number of people. (more)

Ukraine redeploys troops, fearing new rebel offensive
12 November 2014 - Ukraine said on Wednesday it was redeploying troops in the east because of fears that separatists will launch a new military offensive, despite Russia's denials it has sent troops to reinforce the rebels. A ceasefire agreed by the pro-Russian rebels and government forces more than two months ago is now all but dead, and Western fears of a return to all-out conflict are growing. US General Philip Breedlove, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, said the alliance had seen Russian troops and tanks entering Ukraine in the past few days, confirming reports by international observers. (more)

Ukraine says rebels get reinforcements, shelling batters truce
11 November 2014 - Kiev accused separatists of preparing for renewed conflict in east Ukraine on Tuesday by bringing in 'Russian mercenaries' and rearming as heavy shelling increased strains on a crumbling ceasefire. Shelling around Donetsk, the main rebel stronghold, and artillery exchanges elsewhere punctured a truce that has been violated by what Kiev says are armed Russian incursions, and what the rebels call a new offensive by government forces. Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said the rebels had beefed up positions around the port city of Mariupol in the southeast, control of which would open up roads to territory in southern Ukraine that some Western leaders say Russian President Vladimir Putin hopes to claim. The ceasefire agreed on 5 September was intended to end a conflict that has killed more than 4,000 people since the separatists rose up in the mainly Russian-speaking east against the Western-looking government in Kiev. Russia has denied providing the rebels with military support. A Reuters correspondent saw a convoy of about 50 military trucks without insignia on Tuesday carrying equipment such as artillery guns and missile-launchers near Makiivka, on the eastern outskirts of Donetsk. The OCSE also reported a sighting of what appeared to be the same convoy. (Organization for Security and Cooperation, a body that includes Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and Western European countries) (more)

Drug cartels find Argentina attractive transit way
10 November 2014 - The interception of a drug shipment earlier this year called attention to a worrying trend in Argentina, the increasing use of its roads and ports as a trade route for cocaine and other drugs bound for markets in the US, Europe, and beyond. Bordered by long stretches of sparsely developed land to its north and west, and 3,100 miles (nearly 5,000 kilometers) of Atlantic coastline on the east, Argentina is proving attractive for traffickers exporting cocaine from neighbouring Bolivia and from nearby Peru, which in 2012 surpassed Colombia to become the world's biggest cocaine producer. The rising use of Argentina as a passageway is also leading to greater consumption within the country, fuelling growing violence between gangs battling to control turf and markets. (more)

Worst east Ukraine shelling for month; ceasefire looks in doubt
9 November 2014 - East Ukraine's rebel stronghold Donetsk was pummelled on Sunday by the heaviest shelling in a month, and the OSCE said it spotted an armoured column of troops without insignia in rebel territory that Kiev said proved Moscow had sent reinforcements. A two-month-old ceasefire to end a war that has killed 4,000 people has appeared shakier than ever in the past few days, with each side accusing the other of having violated the terms of the peace plan. Ukraine's military said its standoff with the Russian-backed separatists in the east had intensified in the past week, which saw the rebels swear in new leaders after elections the government says violated the terms of the truce pact. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) operates in East Ukraine with the blessing of all sides and is widely seen as neutral. Its statement that it spotted an unidentified armoured column in rebel territory helps support Kiev's position that Moscow has been sending in reinforcements to protect separatist enclaves the Kremlin now refers to as 'New Russia'. Although Russia blames the crisis on Kiev and the West, NATO has said it has overwhelming evidence that Russia has aided the rebels militarily in the conflict. (more)

Sexual violence rampant among El Salvador gangs
6 November 2014 - In a country terrorized by gangsters, it is left to the dead to break the silence on sexual violence. Rather, to the bodies of women and girls pulled from clandestine graves. They attest to the abuse committed by members of street gangs. Those who gather statistics say there are no reliable numbers on sexual violence in El Salvador. Threats prevent many from reporting attacks. Others who have grown up amid rampant abuse may not even recognize rape as a crime. Still others flee the country for safety rather than seek justice from a system that more often delivers impunity. US immigration attorneys say there has been a dramatic increase in the number of women and girls from Central America seeking asylum in the United States after having been kidnapped and raped. 'We are seeing an exponential increase,' said Lindsay Toczylowski, a lawyer with Catholic Charities in Los Angeles. The official numbers show just 239 women and girls among the murdered so far this year, about a tenth of the number of men, with 201 others reported missing. But the statistics don't begin to tell the story. 'All of the gang members victimize women. All of the cliques behave this way,' said Silvia Juarez, a lawyer with the Gender Violence Observatory. 'If there are 60,000 or 70,000 gangsters, imagine how many women they have abused.' El Salvador's 6 million people also suffer the second highest per capita homicide rate in the world after neighbouring Honduras. (more)

Acid attacks in Iran sharpen row over Islamic dress and vigilantism
5 November 2014 - It is a question all Iranians are asking: who is stalking the streets of Isfahan, throwing acid into women's faces? The crimes coincided with the passage of a new parliamentary bill that allows private citizens to enforce 'morality' laws. The bill has sparked a clash between hardline politicians, who overwhelmingly support it, and moderates including President Hassan Rouhani. The split is an illustration of the wider political challenges Rouhani faces from his hardline opponents. cid attacks are rare in Iran and authorities, including conservative clerics, were quick to condemn them. Suspicions have fallen on religious vigilante groups. (more)

Afghan troop deaths up; called 'unsustainable'
5 November 2014 - Afghan security forces have suffered more battle casualties this year than last year, rising to a level that cannot be sustained in a successful fight against the Taliban, the second-ranking American commander in Afghanistan said Wednesday. The toll increased even though the number of attacks by Taliban fighters has decreased to about 18,000 this year from about 24,000 last year. Afghan government forces, on the other hand, have initiated more attacks on the Taliban this year. (more)

Ukraine peace plan in tatters, 'frozen conflict' takes shape
5 November 2014 - Kiev said on 5 November it would halt payment of state funds in areas controlled by pro-Moscow rebels, as both sides hardened positions in what is rapidly becoming a 'frozen conflict': a long-term stalemate that the West believes is Russia's aim. Russia seized and annexed Ukraine's Crimea region in March. Kiev appears to be aiming now to isolate the separatist leadership rather than break it. The message on 5 November was that the rebel leaders may have to turn to Moscow now for cash handouts and subsidies to finance their breakaway aspirations. This is a risky strategy as it could be seen as Kiev abandoning Ukrainians living in rebel-held areas. (more)

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