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US: Tribes hope for renewal in solar eclipse; Navajos will not watch
19 August 2017 - While much of America gawks at the solar eclipse, Bobbieann Baldwin will be inside with her children, shades drawn. In Navajo culture, the passing of the moon over the sun is an intimate moment in which the sun is reborn and tribal members take time out for themselves. No talking. No eating or drinking.... Many American Indian tribes revere the sun and moon as cultural deities, great sources of power and giver of life. U.S. Bureau of Indian Education spokeswoman Nedra Darling said the agency's schools, most of which are on the Navajo Nation, were given the option of closing Monday. Navajo Nation employees have Monday off, and other schools on and off the reservation that extends into Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah earlier decided to close in respect of the culture that teaches that looking at the sun during an eclipse can be harmful not only to one's eyesight but for overall well-being. (more)

17 lesser-known island gems offer hidden treasures
17 August 2017 - Let's be honest: Islands are rarely a hard sell, but some of these pretty places ... get a little more love than others. From the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean, and a spot in the literal middle of nowhere, here are 17 less-boasted paradises worth adding to any travel list: (more)

Project aims to attract tourists to remote Albanian villages
14 August 2017 - An ambitious project is aiming to open up remote villages in the highlands of southern Albania to the outside world and to tourists wanting to discover the spectacular natural beauty and rural way of life of the more isolated parts of the Balkan country. (more)

US: Santa Fe Indian Market fuses tradition with contemporary art
14 August 2017 - For nearly a century, American Indian jewelers, potters, and other artists have been gathering in the heart of northern New Mexico to show off their creations at one of the nation's most prestigious art markets. The annual Santa Fe Indian Market begins Saturday [19 August] as organizers push ahead with raising the bar for showcasing what they say are the best examples of art that has evolved from centuries-old traditions. Events related to Native film, literature, and fashion are scheduled throughout the week leading up to the market. [The Associated Press tells readers] some more things to know. (more)

In a remote Irish town, a goat reigns supreme
10 August 2017 - For a few days this week a goat will be king of a small town in Ireland's rural south west. Billed as one of Ireland's oldest festivals, the Puck Fair sees locals in the town of Killorglin pluck a wild mountain goat from its habitat and crown him 'King Puck' for the duration of the event. Organizers say historical references to the festival date back to the early 17th century. (more)

Undaunted by tensions, Chinese tourists flock into North Korea
10 August 2017 - Undeterred by escalating tensions between Pyongyang and Washington rattling nerves globally, a steady stream of tourists from China each morning passes through the immigration checkpoint at the border trading hub of Dandong. Greeting them on the North Korean side are dozens of tour buses, collecting them for itineraries ranging from a day in neighboring Sinijiu to a week visiting North Korea's main cities, including the capital Pyongyang. (more)

Afghan boy known as 'Little Picasso' shows works in Serbia
9 August 2017 - A 10-year-old migrant from Afghanistan, who has been nicknamed 'Little Picasso,' is using his first ever exhibition to help another boy in need. Farhad Nouri's drawings and photographs were put on display Wednesday (9 August) in what was also his charity event to raise money for a Serbian boy recovering from surgery. 'Thank you all for coming here!' Nouri told dozens of visitors as he opened the exhibition organized with the help of aid groups and supported by Serbia's government. (more)

India: Poet Laureate Kuvempu's Kuppalli house comes alive at Lalbagh Flower Show
6 August 2017 - Marking 50 years of the first Jnanpith Award (1967) to Rashtrakavi Kuvempu, this year's Annual Flower Show at Lalbagh has a major attraction -- a replica of Kavimane, the Poet Laureate's house in Kuppalli, Shivamogga. Governor Vajubhai R. Vala inaugurated the show yesterday. (more)

Scotland: How Edinburgh became comedy's 'spiritual home'
6 August 2017 - Comedy did not feature at all when the Edinburgh Fringe [the world's largest arts festival] began, but over the past three decades it has become the 'spiritual home' of Britain's funny folk. ... It was the Scottish capital where the new generation of comics received their education before transforming British humour. The Edinburgh Fringe has continued to be a unique showcase for comedy talent over more than 30 years. This year's Fringe features more than 3,000 shows and more than a third are comedy. That means more than 1,000 comedy acts from all over the world will be in the city during August. (more)

Israel National Library launches digital manuscript archive
2 August 2017 - Israel's National Library launched an online database on Wednesday (2 August) aggregating tens of thousands of digitized Jewish manuscripts belonging to collections from across the globe. Scholars and laypersons can access almost half of the known handwritten Jewish texts from Spain to Afghanistan, which have been digitized and catalogued online. (more)


Success of Maharishi's Programmes
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Music DVD Review: Change Begins Within: A Benefit Concert for the David Lynch Foundation highlights Paul McCartney - Ringo Starr Beatles reunion
17 August 2017 - Yes! Finally, the 2009 Change Begins Within: A Benefit Concert for the David Lynch Foundation arrives on DVD via Eagle Rock Entertainment on 1 September 2017. The show was a benefit to provide Transcendental Meditation as an all-natural way to help at-risk kids. This 86-minute programme of highlights from the full concert features Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Cheryl Crow, Donovan, Eddie Vedder, Moby, Bettye LaVette, Jerry Seinfeld, and others. Paul and Ringo make up the lion's share of the running time. And they even perform together, the concert's highlight! (more)

Beach Boys' Mike Love on tour: 'Transcendental Meditation is the one thing I take with me everywhere'
8 August 2017 - Since the band's founding in 1961, the Beach Boys have taken their unique sound around the world, including this year's nationally televised 4 July celebration on the steps of the US Capitol in Washington, DC. In a recent interview, original band member Mike Love was asked, 'Is there anything that you always make sure to have with you that makes life easier when you're on the road?' He replied, 'Well, the one thing I do that keeps me energized and positive is that I meditate. I do Transcendental Meditation, which I learned from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in December of 1967. . . . meditation is great because it has no negative side effects. So that's the one thing I take with me everywhere - it's portable!' (more)

Transcendental Meditation and fame: Five famous practitioners
4 August 2017 - 'I believe that there is a reason why so many celebrities practise Transcendental Meditation,' writes renowned psychiatrist, researcher, and author Norman Rosenthal, M.D. 'They are highly successful and ambitious people, who want to function at their best as much as possible.' Dr Rosenthal is the author of Super Mind: How to Boost Performance and Live a Richer and Happier Life Through Transcendental Meditation. 'To illustrate how TM not only reduces stress, but also expands a person's mental abilities', Dr Rosenthal draws from his interviews with 'five famous TM practitioners - classical guitarist Sharon Isbin, radio host Howard Stern, principal ballet dancer Megan Fairchild, legendary hedge fund founder Ray Dalio, and actor Hugh Jackman - to explore the role TM plays in their lives and the many gifts they feel they've derived from the practice. (more)

Mother Nature's emissaries
12 July 2017 - 'Intuition, patience, wisdom, love - all the blessed qualities associated with motherhood and caregiving - often are obliterated when we are exhausted and not aligned with our own internal voice and source of nourishment,' writes Susan Linden, a mother, psychologist, and certified teacher of the Transcendental Meditation programme. 'During TM practice, our mind effortlessly settles to quieter, softer levels of thinking, transcending the pressures, worries and agitation of our active mind. This easily accessed experience of inner silence restores our energy, happiness, and ability to extend our selves to others in a relaxed, compassionate, vibrant way. . . . We are the kind of mother, caregiver, sister and friend we want to be. We are sustained by the silent fullness within us.' (more)

Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr set for David Lynch charity concert DVD: Rolling Stone reports
30 June 2017 - A concert DVD documenting the 2009 'Change Begins Within' charity concert benefiting the David Lynch Foundation will be released 1 September. The concert notably featured a Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr reunion, as well as performances from Eddie Vedder, Sheryl Crow, Donovan, Bettye LaVette and more. The show took place 4 April 2009 at New York's Radio City Music Hall. Filmmaker David Lynch launched his foundation in 2005 with the aim of promoting efforts to eradicate trauma and stress among at-risk populations through Transcendental Meditation. (more)

Transcendental Meditation for everyone - Wall Street Journal reports
30 June 2017 - Bob Roth, CEO of the David Lynch Foundation (DLF) and longtime teacher of Transcendental Meditation, works with a wide-ranging clientele that includes celebrities such as Katy Perry and Jerry Seinfeld, hedge-fund managers, inner-city students, prisoners, and veterans, the Wall Street Journal reports. Bridgewater hedge fund founder Ray Dalio is quoted as saying that his TM practice has been 'integral to whatever success I've had in life'. DLF is dedicated to teaching Transcendental Meditation, particularly to at-risk populations, 'to improve their health, cognitive capabilities and performance in life'. In addition to opening the nonprofit's first office in Washington, D.C., in June, DLF has been participating in prison studies recently, in which researchers have found greater reductions in anxiety, depression, and trauma symptoms in an inmate group practising TM, compared to controls. (more)

'Transcendental Meditation is the best friend for Moms'
29 June 2017 - Lina Trujillo, an engineer and mother of two teenage sons, is 'first of all a mom'. She combines this 24/7 job with running a clothing export business. She's also starting a career as a speaker, 'to inspire and empower women to live a balanced life'. Lina says, 'Transcendental Meditation is the best friend for moms. Life as a mom is very stressful, and regular TM practice gives us clarity, energy, and serenity.' When she learned Transcendental Meditation, she says, 'My life changed completely . . . . I just describe TM as exponential everyday growth.' (more)

'Celeb-studded' benefit concert at Kennedy Center for David Lynch Foundation: Washington Post reports
5 June 2017 - 'With Washington at what feels like peak stress ... Monday night [5 June] was a moment for its antidote: relaxing meditation. The David Lynch Foundation - a nonprofit started by the ''Twin Peaks'' director aimed at spreading the use of Transcendental Meditation to poor children in urban areas, veterans and victims of violence - held its first D.C. fundraiser, a celeb-studded concert at the Kennedy Center that drew an audience including first daughter/White House adviser Ivanka Trump and her husband and fellow West Winger, Jared Kushner,' The Washington Post reported. 'The foundation is opening an office on Capitol Hill, and organizers said the sold-out show would bring meditation training to 10,000 Washingtonians.' Performances were by comedians Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno and Margaret Cho, actor Hugh Jackman, and music by Ben Folds, Kesha, and Angelique Kidjo. (more)

Katy Perry on Transcendental Meditation: 'When I meditate, I get to the real well of creativity'
5 June 2017 - 'Life can get a little crazy, and I am always juggling a thousand balls at once,' said Katy Perry in a recent E! News interview. The 32-year-old pop superstar credited Transcendental Meditation as the 'biggest help in my life' when it comes to disconnecting from the chaos. She explained that she learned TM while in India for her wedding to comedian Russell Brand, who is an avid meditator. 'When I meditate, I get to the real well of creativity. It stirs up all of these creative juices and I get my best ideas,' she added. (more)

Seinfeld and Hugh Jackman headline 'National Night of Laughter and Song' at the Kennedy Center: DCist reports
4 June 2017 - It's not often that Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Hugh Jackman, Margaret Cho, Katie Couric, Kesha and Ben Folds are in the same room together - much less in Washington D.C. But they're just some of the luminaries who will gather at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall on Monday for the first-annual 'National Night of Laughter and Song'. The cavalcade of live performances doubles as a benefit for the David Lynch Foundation - a non-profit founded by the co-creator of the beloved, recently revived TV series Twin Peaks - which seeks to connect underprivileged populations to Transcendental Meditation. Given the city's high-stress professional environment, it's little surprise that meditation is in high demand in D.C., and has been on the upswing in recent years, according to the foundation's CEO Bob Roth. (more)


Flops
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Key radical Islamist groups in Bangladesh
3 July 2016 - The hostage crisis at a restaurant in Bangladesh's capital that left 28 dead, including 20 hostages and six militants, has focused attention on the radical Islamist attacks occurring in the moderate, mostly Muslim country in the past few years. Most have been claimed by the Islamic State group or by al-Qaida's local branch, but the government vehemently denies these transnational jihadi groups have any presence in the country. Instead, the government blames domestic militants and its political opponents of trying to destabilize the country. Authorities have cracked down on extremist groups by banning them from operating and arresting many of their members. The opposition parties deny the allegation that they're involved. A look at some of the main Islamic political parties and radical groups in the country: (more)

Hostage crisis leaves 28 dead in Bangladesh diplomatic zone
2 July 2016 - The dramatic, 10-hour hostage crisis that gripped Bangladesh's diplomatic zone ended Saturday morning with at least 28 dead, including six of the attackers, as commandos raided the popular restaurant where heavily armed attackers were holding dozens of foreigners and Bangladeshis prisoner while hurling bombs and engaging in a gunbattle with security forces. The victims included 20 hostages, mostly foreigners, and two Bangladeshi police officers. The attack marks an escalation in militant violence that has hit the traditionally moderate Muslim-majority nation with increasing frequency in recent months, with the extremists demanding the secular government set up Islamic rule. (more)

U.S. families struggling with teens' phone addiction: report
3 May 2016 - Half of teenagers in the United States feel addicted to their mobile phones, with most checking the devices at least every hour and feeling pressured to respond immediately to messages, a survey released on Tuesday found. The majority of parents concurred. The findings from the nonprofit group Common Sense Media, which focuses on the effects of media and technology on children, highlighted the tension such close ties to devices can cause, with it disrupting driving, homework, and other time together. 'It is causing daily conflict in homes,' Common Sense Media's founder and CEO James Steyer said in a statement. (more)

Retaking Syria's Palmyra reveals more shattered antiquities
28 March 2016 - The recapture of Syria's ancient city of Palmyra from the Islamic State group has brought new revelations of the destruction wreaked by the extremists, who decapitated priceless statues and smashed or looted artifacts in the city's museum. Experts say they need time to assess the full extent of damage in Palmyra, a UNESCO world heritage site which once attracted tens of thousands of tourists every year. The Sunni extremist group, which has imposed a violent interpretation of Islamic law across the territory it controls in Syria and Iraq, claims ancient relics promote idolatry. But it is also believed to have profited from looted antiquities. (more)

'Here we go again' -- Americans' lament after Oregon shooting
2 October 2015 - The news from Oregon was grim enough in isolation -- nine people shot dead at a community college. For many Americans it was all the sadder as a reminder of how frequent, how depressingly routine, mass shootings have become -- in malls, at churches, and so often at schools and colleges. (more)

Horrific stampede at hajj in Saudi Arabia kills 717 pilgrims
24 September 2015 - A horrific stampede killed at least 717 pilgrims and injured hundreds more Thursday on the outskirts of the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the deadliest tragedy to strike the annual hajj pilgrimage in more than two decades. At least 863 pilgrims were injured in the crush, said the Saudi civil defense directorate, which provided the death toll. The tragedy struck as Muslims around the world marked the start of the Eid al-Adha holiday. It was the second major disaster during this year's hajj season. Two survivors interviewed by The Associated Press said the disaster began when one wave of pilgrims found themselves heading into a mass of people going in another direction. (more)

Unsupervised teens more likely to use tobacco, pot, and alcohol
18 September 2015 - A small U.S. study appears to confirm adult fears that teens who spend more than the average amount of unsupervised time 'hanging out' with peers have higher odds of smoking cigarettes and marijuana and drinking alcohol. Unfortunately, greater than average involvement in structured school and after-school activities did not seem to offer a protective effect. Organized time, such as arts classes at school, religious activities outside school, or community volunteer work had a very modest protective effect. (more)

Islamic State magazine blasts Muslims fleeing to Europe as sinners
10 September 2015 - Hundreds of thousands of people have fled wars in the Middle East this year, often from areas seized or threatened by Islamic State militants. They have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe on flimsy boats that have sometimes capsized, killing hundreds, in one of the biggest waves of migration since World War Two. Most of the refugees come from Syria, Iraq, and Libya -- states ravaged by conflict frequently involving Islamic State. But the magazine of Islamic State, which controls territory in Iraq and Syria where some 10 million people live, said those who leave its domain were committing a 'major sin'. (more)

UN: Satellite images show Temple of Bel in Syria 'destroyed'
31 August 2015 - A satellite image on Monday shows that the main building of the ancient Temple of Bel in the Syrian city of Palmyra has been destroyed, a United Nations agency said. The image was taken a day after a massive explosion was set off near the 2,000-year-old temple in the city occupied by Islamic State militants. It stood out among the ruins not far from the colonnades of Palmyra, which is affectionately known by Syrians as the 'Bride of the Desert.' Palmyra was an important caravan city of the Roman Empire, linking it to India, China, and Persia. Before the outbreak of Syria's conflict in March 2011, the UNESCO site was one of the top tourist attractions in the Middle East. (more)

Islamic State images purport to show destroyed Syrian temple
25 August 2015 - The Islamic State group released propaganda images Tuesday that purport to show militants laying explosives in and then blowing up the 2,000-year-old temple of Baalshamin in Syria's ancient caravan city of Palmyra. A resident of Palmyra had told the Associated Press the temple was destroyed on Sunday, a month after the group's militants booby-trapped it with explosives. The temple, a structure of giant stone blocks several stories high fronted by six towering columns, was dedicated to a god of storm and rain -- the name means literally 'Lord of the Heavens.' (more)

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