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Vatican and Rome's Jewish Museum team up for menorah exhibit
21 February 2017 - Rome's Jewish community and the Vatican have teamed up to produce an exhaustive exhibition on the menorah* . . . an enduring symbol of Jewish culture and religion, in a collaboration that leaders of the two communities described as a further step in solidifying their ties. 'This is a historic event,' Ruth Dureghello, the president of Rome's Jewish community, said at a news conference on Feb. 20. The menorah has connections to Rome, she added, 'so such an important exhibit could only start here.' Jews and Catholics have a long history of mutual suspicion and conflict, but relations between the two religions have been increasingly positive [in the last fifty years]. The exhibit, 'Menorah: Worship, History, Legend,' which includes about 130 artifacts, will open in May and will be presented at the Vatican Museums and at Rome's Jewish Museum. (more)

Argentina: The caterers with Down's syndrome - video
16 February 2017 - After years of facing social and work-related discrimination, four friends with Down's syndrome started their own pizza company in Buenos Aires in 2016. Los Perejiles now has 24 employees and caters for parties across the Argentine capital, supporting people with Down's syndrome to overcome social stigma. 'I started Los Perejiles so I could work, and to make people happy,' said one of the founders. (more)

Rare images shed light on a century of African-American life
9 February 2017 - Cornell University Library has just made its Loewentheil Collection of African-American Photographs - 645 rare images dating from the 1860s through the 1960s that show a slice of American life not widely visible or preserved - available online. Donated to the university by Stephan and Beth Loewentheil in 2012, the collection includes famous faces, like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Muhammad Ali, but mostly historical images of African-Americans going about their daily business or commemorating occasions like graduations and weddings. (more)

Arctic Samis celebrate their national day centenary
6 February 2017 - With chants, poetry and traditional dress, the indigenous Sami people of Europe's Arctic north, formerly nomadic reindeer herders in Lapland, celebrated their national day Monday with hundreds of events across the Nordic lands. The Sami settled with their reindeer herds 9,000 years ago in Europe's Arctic and now number 70,000 people spread across Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Monday's start to the weeklong festivities - attended by Norwegian King Harald and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg in Norway, and Finland's president, Sauli Niinisto, in Finnish Lapland - marked the centenary of the Sami people's first congress in the Norwegian city of Trondheim in 1917. (more)

The rare African park where elephants are thriving
31 January 2017 - Poaching has ravaged Africa's elephants, largely to feed the appetite for ivory in China and elsewhere in Asia. In 2002 Chad's Zakouma National Park was home to more than 4,000 elephants, but by 2010 that figure had plummeted to a mere 400 - a 90 percent drop. Experts predicted that Zakouma's remaining elephants would be gone within two or three years. Desperate for a solution, in 2010 the Chadian government called in African Parks, a South Africa-based nonprofit that specializes in rehabilitating failing protected areas around the continent. Rian and Lorna Labuschagne, who took over management of the park, have turned things around. Under their watch poaching has been dramatically reduced, and the elephant population is growing for the first time in years. Zakouma is now home to more than 500 elephants, believed to be the largest remaining herd in Africa. (more)

US: Ride-hailing service for women launches next week
27 January 2017 - An Uber-like service connecting female riders and drivers is launching in Boston following a rebranding and leadership change. Safr says it will start its service next week on an invite-only basis. It plans to open to the wider Boston-area public starting March 1. The concept . . . is also being developed by a New York City-based company . . . (more)

Turkey: Istanbul bookshop that transports young Syrians back home
23 January 2017 - Founder of city's first Arabic bookshop lets children read in their own language and escape the isolation of refugee life. Tucked in a corner across from Istanbul's Kariye museum is a haven for young Syrians who want to do one simple thing: read. Pages, a bookstore and cafe, represents one man's ambitious quest to change the lives of Syrian youth. More than three million refugees, the vast majority of them Syrian, live in Turkey. With Pages, Kadri hopes to create a space for young Syrians curious about the world, who want to escape the isolation of refugee life, and, for a fleeting moment, pretend they are back in their homeland. (more)

'Holland: Flowering the World' the theme for this year's Philadelphia Flower Show
18 January 2017 - There will be a lot of other types of plants and flowers, too, but when you go to this year's Philadelphia Flower Show, expect to see plenty of tulips. 'Holland has a huge history of flowers,' said Sam Lemheney, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's chief of shows and events. 'From towering windmills, wooden shoes, and delectable cheeses, to the whimsical bicycles, canals, and vibrant tulip fields of the iconic Dutch landscape, the 2017 Flower Show will share the diverse stories of horticulture, innovative eco-design, and modern urban greening and sustainability efforts of the Netherlands,' show information says. (more)

Inspired by Nepalese, UK architect rebuilds ancient temple
16 January 2017 - When a 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Nepal last year, villagers in Changu Narayan ran up the steep rocky path that cuts through their town to their renowned temple. Seeing the piles of rubble, they figured their lives were over. Less than two years later, the community is cleaning up their World Heritage Site themselves, and one of the world's leading architects has taken on the recovery as his pet project. British architect John Sanday, who led the World Monuments Fund restoration of Cambodia's Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world, fell in love with the place decades ago. (more)

US: President Obama celebrates World Series champion Chicago Cubs (+ videos)
16 January 2017 - President Barack Obama celebrated the World Series champion Chicago Cubs on Monday and spoke about the power sports has to unite people. 'Throughout our history, sports has had this power to bring us together even when the country is divided,' Obama said at a White House ceremony for his hometown team. 'Sports has changed attitudes and culture in ways that seem subtle but that ultimately made us think differently about ourselves.' (more)

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

Creativity and Transcendental Meditation: 'My silent awareness started to burst with creativity'
21 February 2017 - Where does creativity come from? 'The inner world of consciousness is the source of all creativity,' writes Ann Purcell, teacher of Transcendental Meditation and author. At the deepest level of the mind is a field of pure silence, or Being, which is beyond all the to-do lists, thoughts and feelings at the surface levels of our awareness, she explains. Anything can be created from this deepest level, in 'any field of expression - artistic, athletic, business. The more your awareness is open to the unbounded, limitless blank canvas of your mind, the more you can draw upon this field of infinite creativity.' Transcendental Meditation is a direct means to do this - a technique to 'go beyond the surface level of the mind until you transcend even the finest thinking level and experience the source of thought.' Not long after learning TM, she says, 'My silent awareness started to burst with creativity, with words and rhythms that were embedded in my soul.' (more)

Editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, Michele Promaulayko on Transcendental Meditation: 'I'm a huge proponent of it'
17 February 2017 - Before becoming editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, Michele Promaulayko worked in health journalism, with access to the greatest minds in the field of mental and physical well-being. So it's no surprise that as a spokesperson for an integrated approach to healthy living, she is an avid fan of Transcendental Meditation. With rigorous research backing up the effectiveness of the practice, TM for her is an all-round wellness tool. 'It's just good on a physiological level. Good for your body, good for your brain.' She feels that if TM 'became a universally accepted practice, it would have this incredible domino effect on the world. . . . for me to have gone from a sceptic to a passionate endorse, says a lot about how deeply I believe in it.' (more)

Muriel Nellis on 57 years of passion for publishing: 'Transcendental Meditation made my creative journey joyful'
10 February 2017 - In her long, prolific career in publishing, Muriel Nellis has worked with the White House and NIH, and launched her own top-selling agency, Literary and Creative Artists. 'Like many women today, I have had to fulfil so many roles at once,' she says, about managing the demands of business, family and civic life. 'I finally learned that juggling is much easier if you practise Transcendental Meditation. TM was life-saving to me.' It also 'made my creative journey joyful. . . . What I really gain, every time I meditate, is a whole new sense of myself. When I stepped out of a meeting to meditate, and came back newly alert and focused, I knew that I'd just gotten in touch with a source of energy and coherent strength always within me. It's a profound tool that every woman owns and it's all inside. It's uniquely yours.' (more)

Jennifer Lopez on Transcendental Meditation: '20 minutes a day in the morning and at night - it was necessary'
6 February 2017 - American singer, actress, dancer, fashion designer, author, and producer Jennifer Lopez learned Transcendental Meditation 'because it's overwhelming sometimes, doing all of the things I do at once. . . . 20 minutes a day in the morning and at night. It was necessary.' She felt the need for something to keep her grounded, and TM is an important part of 'a whole rounded regimen that deals with your mind, your soul, your spirit and your body. It's working out, it's dancing, it's meditating. And then, at the end of the day, just being happy, being with my kids and feeling the love and the joy that they give me. All of that helps balance it out, so work doesn't feel so crazy.' (more)

Interview: Transcendental Meditation helps actor Matt Bomer 'really centre myself and quiet myself'
22 January 2017 - Matt Bomer made his way to the top in a hypercompetitive entertainment industry, earning prestigious awards such as the Golden Globe on the way. Men's Fitness recently interviewed the star of the current series, The Last Tycoon, to discover the secret behind his success. As expected, the topic of Transcendental Meditation, which Bomer has practised for years, came up. 'It's helped me in a lot of ways,' he said, 'because I think it enables me to sort of get out of my own head, to get all the different voices going on kind of centred and focused.' Professionally, 'working with other creative people it helps to come from a centred place so you're able to stay in touch with yourself and your own voice in the midst of everyone else in the room who has their own agenda and take on things.' (more)

Tim Ferriss on Transcendental Meditation as a Tool for Titans
3 January 2017 - Author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss's popular self-help books have all swiftly reached the top of The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestseller lists. The latest, Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers, is based on interviews with more than 200 world-class performers including celebrities, athletes, and scientists. Writing in The Observer recently, he says more than 80 per cent of those he interviewed were using meditation to get better results with less stress. Ferriss himself practises Transcendental Meditation. Initially he was 'afraid of ''losing my edge'', as if meditation would make me less aggressive or driven. That was unfounded; meditation simply helps you channel drive toward the few things that matter, rather than every moving target and imaginary opponent that pops up.' (more)

'Twin Peaks' actress Sherilyn Fenn: Transcendental Meditation is 'life-changing' - Washington Times interview
8 December 2016 - Sherilyn Fenn, renowned for memorable acting roles on American TV shows including ''Gilmour Girls', 'In Plain Sight', and the classic David Lynch series 'Twin Peaks', has been practising Transcendental Meditation for two years. She says it has been 'life changing'. During production of the upcoming revival of 'Twin Peaks', set to air in 2017, Sherilyn says, director and writer Lynch 'has all of us doing [TM] on set'. She also discusses the expansion and deepening range of her emotional life in what she considers 'her greatest role: as mom to two boys'; and how her work has evolved with age: 'The beauty of age is we grow, we learn. We have more wisdom.' (more)

Ramayana: The hero's journey and the quest for enlightenment
10 November 2016 - Linda Egenes shares what she learned about Transcendental Meditation as 'a way to effortlessly unfold the hero or heroine inside us - a way to reach for our highest self.' While teaching writing to a 'lively group of octogenarians' she found 'that every life is heroic, every journey a quest for growth and a better way of living.' But how can we be the heroes of our own stories? She concludes that 'the most important thing I can do for myself and others around me is to stay rested [in order] to think more clearly. Research shows that [TM] has an effect not only in [our] thinking more creatively and profoundly, thus making better decisions, but in creating more harmonious relationships and engaging in higher moral reasoning. In Ms. Egenes' abridged version of the Vedic epic The Ramayana: A New Retelling of Valmiki's Ancient Epic - Complete and Comprehensive co-authored with Dr. Kumuda Reddy, she describes how the heroes 'invariably reach for the highest course of action, the one that will bring happiness to everyone around them.' (more)

Creativity and consciousness: An interview with author Linda Egenes
1 November 2016 - Author of over 500 articles and six books, Linda Egenes describes how her creativity and mental clarity have developed through regular practice of Transcendental Meditation. She also talks about her newest book, co-authored with Kumuda Reddy, MD: The Ramayana: A New Retelling of Valmiki's Ancient Epic - Complete and Comprehensive. 'The Ramayana is the most widely read epic in the world today,' Ms Egenes says. 'Although it's the oldest epic on earth, it's a wonderful story for our modern times, because it features two enlightened people who, even though pressed to their limits, exhibit ideal qualities of kindness, compassion, tolerance and forgiveness to every person they meet.' In this shorter version of the 'charming and beautiful story', the authors decided to 'use a novelistic format but still retain the underlying wisdom of the original'. (more)

Maharishi University of Management alumna Genevra Bell: An entrepreneurial artist
23 October 2016 - Genevra Bell never thought she would one day make a living drawing animals. It all began when she moved to England after graduating from Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, USA, with a degree in fine arts. Her specialization in ceramics brought her to a job in a Cumbria pottery studio, but soon she turned to painting and illustration. This grew to animal portraits, cards, calendars, and an expanding business - she recently added design licensing to her services. Now back in Fairfield as a teaching assistant and administrator for the MUM art department, she says, 'My experience in the art department was amazing and that's why I wanted to come back.' She recently won a Minted and Pottery Barn Kids Design challenge contest with her poster, The Animalphabet. (more)

10 Short Summaries of Top Stories

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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