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River roll call as 'swan upping' gets under way on Britain's Thames
17 July 2017 - Six old-fashioned skiffs interrupted the sleepy pace of life on a stretch of the river Thames on Monday as teams embarked on the annual 'upping' -- a combined census and health visit for swans. The upping sees three teams, one representing Queen Elizabeth and one each representing the old trade associations of the Vintners and Dyers livery companies, patrol the river for five days, and capture, tag, and then release any families of swans with young. (more)

Royal tradition: Counting the swans on the River Thames
17 July 2017 - The annual count of swans belonging to Queen Elizabeth II has begun on the River Thames. The five-day event known as Swan Upping dates back to the 12th century . . . Now it is more about conservation. Data from the census is collected to assess the growth of the swan population. Swan Uppers -- a team of dedicated boaters -- are tasked with finding swans on a specific stretch of the River Thames. When a group of cygnets [young swans] is spotted, they cry 'All Up,' then mark the young birds and check them for disease or injury. (more)

Tourists flock to Cambodia's new world heritage site
17 July 2017 - Tourists flocked to Cambodia's newest world heritage site on the weekend, the 16th and 17th century forest temple of Sambor Prei Kuk after it was recently added to the U.N. cultural organization's heritage list. Cambodia attracts tourists from around the world who often make a beeline for the Angkor Wat temple complex, another world heritage site. On July 8 UNESCO added Sambor Prei Kuk or 'temple in the richness of the forest' in the Khmer language to its heritage list. Located 206 km (128 miles) north of the capital Phnom Penh, it is home to numerous temples, 10 of which are octagonal. (more)

70-year-old YouTube hit redefining beauty in South Korea
14 July 2017 - One of South Korea's most popular YouTube stars is a 70-year-old grandmother whose cool, undaunted style and hilarity are a breath of fresh air in a social media universe that exalts youth and perfect looks. Park Makrye's videos are all about showing off her wrinkles and her elderly life in the raw. Young South Koreans find her so funny and adorable that big companies like Samsung Electronics and Lotte are banking on her popularity. (more)

Peru: Old-school camera captures Andean festival (+ AP video)
13 July 2017 - One by one, Associated Press photographer Rodrigo Abd positioned the traditional dancers, musicians, and vendors in front of an old-fashioned box camera in Peru's Sinakara Valley as a colorful Andean festival exploded all around them. The men, women, and children were among the tens of thousands of pilgrims representing some eight nations who came to this sacred place in Quispicanchis province in Peru's Cuzco region for the annual Snow Star Festival ... (more)

US: Lotus flowers blooming just in time for Los Angeles festival
13 July 2017 - Pink and white lotus blossoms are blooming just in time for a Los Angeles festival named after the aquatic flowers. The Lotus Festival -- the 37th annual at the city's Echo Park Lake -- kicks off Friday and runs through the weekend. The celebration traditionally honors Asian cultures. Food, art and music from Bangladesh will be featured this year. (more)

US: Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibit looks at Japan's fine craft of bamboo basketry
12 July 2017 - Bamboo is getting attention these days as a versatile and sustainable material for housewares, so the timing is good for a Metropolitan Museum of Art [in New York City] exhibit that explores Japan's ancient craft of basketry. 'Japanese Bamboo Art: The Abbey Collection' is devoted to masterworks, including a half dozen works by two artists designated as Living National Treasures in Japan. To highlight the works' virtuosity and context, they have been displayed alongside paintings, ceramics, bronzes, kimonos, and other pieces from different genres. (more)

Washington, D.C. hidden gem ready to shine as Lotus and Water Lily Festival begins
11 July 2017 - Every spring, millions of tourists and locals alike flock to see Washington, D.C.'s cherry blossoms in full bloom. But there's another national park tucked away in a corner of D.C. that offers spectacular blossoms over acres of gardens, and that's the Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens -- the only U.S. national park dedicated to aquatic gardens. July is when the aquatic gardens shine. And this weekend [15 July], the park will kick off the Lotus and Water Lily Festival, a weeklong event featuring hands-on activities for the kids, gardening demonstrations for the grown-ups, and natural beauty on display for everyone. Visitors from all over the world come to see the exotic water lilies and lotus plants. (more)

UNESCO awards Lake District in England World Heritage site status
9 July 2017 - The Lake District in England has joined the likes of the Grand Canyon, the Taj Mahal, and Machu Picchu by being awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) committee praised the area's beauty, farming, and the inspiration it had provided to artists and writers. About 18 million people visit the Lake District each year . . . It is home to England's largest natural lake -- Windermere -- and highest mountain -- Scafell Pike. (more)

The mystery behind Greece's temples
7 July 2017 - Studies show that the ancient Greek temples could have astronomical intentions -- but on what scale? Some feel the placement of Greece's temples was not random. Manolo Fernandez, a Spanish language teacher and amateur astronomy enthusiast, is sure that the perfect isosceles triangles made by the sites reflect the movements of different celestial bodies such as the sun, moon, or planets and stars in relation to the Earth's surface. George Pantazis and Evangelia Lambrou, associate professors at the National Technical University of Athens, recently used rigorous geodetic methods to determine the astronomical orientation of Ancient Greek temples. They found an extraordinarily symmetric positioning between the temples of the Parthenon and Hephaisteion, ensuring both had the same view towards the east. ... And there are a slew of other studies indicating that classical temples were built to align with the stars ... (more)

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

Transcendental Meditation for everyone - Wall Street Journal reports
17 July 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)

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 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)

Busy moms share tips for balancing their TM practice with work/family life
30 May 2017 - A new series explores how working mothers look to their practice of Transcendental Meditation as both a respite and a source of renewal in their very full lives. They share their stories and tips about the joys of being a meditating mom. 'We started TM because we wanted to begin filtering out some of the unnecessary ''noise'' in our lives,' says Andrea Jayavelu, a business analyst. 'Modern lives are full of stressors, distractions, and negativity. TM is a great way to manage ''knee-jerk reactions'' and instead channel that energy into increasing focus, creativity, and peace!' As a working mom, 'I have had to get creative,' Andrea says. She and her husband Jay, an IT consultant, work as a team to ensure both get to enjoy their two TM sessions every day. (more)

Support the arts. Create world peace. Discover World Peace Artists
19 May 2017 - Artists participating in a new online gallery, World Peace Artists, have joined together to support the Maharishi Vedic Pandit programme in India to create permanent world peace. UNESCO has of´Čücially described Vedic recitation as an intangible heritage of humanity. Trained from a very young age to become peace professionals, the Pandits experience daily their own deep silence through Transcendental Meditation and its advanced practices, and then perform Vedic recitations from that silent field. Their recitations are described as the fundamental organizing sounds of nature itself which create a powerful positive influence for the welfare, peace, prosperity, and harmony of the world. The website gives artists access to a global network of peace-loving clients who enjoy both owning beautiful art and supporting proven, practical programmes for global harmony and peace. (more)

David Lynch, the film director who harnesses the transformative power of Transcendental Meditation
18 May 2017 - 'True happiness is not out there. True happiness lies within' - before he learned Transcendental Meditation, renowned filmmaker David Lynch had heard these words but didn't know 'how to get there'. Learning TM in 1973, he says, 'Down within I went. It was so beautiful, so profoundly beautiful. I said, ''Where has this experience been?'' ' Lynch has more to say about the bliss of transcending: 'It's a field that is so beautiful, so powerful, it's eternal, it's immortal, it's immutable, it's infinite, it's unbounded.' As one who works in the intensely competitive Hollywood film industry, he explores how the TM technique reduces stress, and how it enriches the creative process: 'There are billions of ideas and you find the ones you love. We start transcending, that conduit widens out, and you start enjoying things and love the doing. . . . You look around and everything looks better. People don't look like enemies, they look like friends. Things that used to stress you, don't stress you so much.' (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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