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Christmas 1914: The day even WWI showed humanity
20 December 2014 - With British and German forces separated only by a no-man's land littered with fallen comrades, sounds of a German Christmas carol suddenly drifted across the frigid air: 'Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht' ('Silent Night, Holy Night'). Then, during that first Christmas Day in World War I, something magical happened. Soldiers who had been killing each other by the tens of thousands for months climbed out of their soggy, muddy trenches to seek a shred of humanity amid the horrors of war. Hands reached out across the narrow divide, presents were exchanged, and in Flanders Fields a century ago, a spontaneous Christmas truce briefly lifted the human spirit. (more)

US: Broken treetop hanging on wire gets holiday decor
19 December 2014 - Some Washington state residents are getting in the holiday spirit by decorating a Douglas fir that toppled onto an unused utility line in a recent windstorm and looks like an upside-down Christmas tree. The Peninsula Daily News reports that local residents decked out the tree with garlands, ribbons, ornaments, and a sign to Santa. (more)

Belgrade: Resilient capital finds new energy to rebuild once again
18 December 2014 - In the heart of Belgrade, the vibrant and resilient capital of Serbia, a slow and colourful transformation is taking place. Once ugly and industrial, the historic neighbourhood of Savamala is now blossoming back to life. Belgrade has been destroyed and rebuilt around 40 times. Today Belgrade is stepping up its efforts to rebuild once again. (more)

Five signs America is falling in love with public transit
18 December 2014 - After decades of embracing car culture, experts report growing movement out of the driver's seat and into transit stations. Ridership aboard US public transportation in 2014 is expected to top last year's figures. 2013 saw more riders on public transportation than any year since 1956, according to the American Public Transportation Association. (more)

Eight-day Jewish festival of Hanukkah begins
16 December 2014 - Jews are celebrating the eight-day festival of Hanukkah with traditions that commemorate ancient miracles and symbolize triumph over oppression. The holiday began after sundown Tuesday. Hanukkah is also known as the festival of lights, (more)

US teens' use of alcohol, cigarettes at 40-year low, study finds
16 December 2014 - Fewer US teenagers are consuming alcohol or smoking cigarettes than at any time in at least 40 years, according to a national study released on Tuesday. Growing peer disapproval may be a top factor in the drop in drinking and smoking in 2014, according to the study by the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future programme. (more)

'Culture' gets nod as Merriam-Webster's 2014 word of the year
15 December 2014 - Whether popular, corporate, or entitled, 'culture' was named word of the year by US dictionary Merriam-Webster on Monday as a flexible catch-all that can easily identify a subject, idea, or issue. It was chosen for its large amount of online lookups and significant increase in lookups from last year, Merriam-Webster said. (more)

14 cities get Bloomberg 'innovation team' grants
15 December 2014 - Fourteen cities ranging from Long Beach, California, to Jerusalem are getting up to $3 million from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's foundation to create 'innovation teams' to jump-start new approaches to poverty, public safety, job growth, and other issues, the foundation announced Monday. The Bloomberg Philanthropies grants range from $400,000 to $1 million annually for three years, expanding and internationalizing awards to five US cities in 2011. (more)

American seeks to preserve storied Afghan past
15 December 2014 - Nancy Hatch Dupree fell in love with Afghanistan on her first visit in 1962, and embarked on a lifelong mission to preserve the rich cultural heritage of an ancient land scarred by modern wars. In happier times she traversed the country with the other love of her life -- archaeologist Louis Dupree, a fellow American -- studying its history, writing travelogues, and collecting books, maps, photographs, and even rare recordings of folk music. The couple continued their efforts, often from abroad, during the tumultuous decades that followed, and their vast collection, now housed at Kabul University's sunlit Afghanistan Centre, provides a rare journey through the country's past. Afghans regard Dupree as one of their own, with some even calling her 'grandmother of the nation'. Dupree now heads one of the foremost research centres on Afghanistan's cultural heritage, which stretches back thousands of years. She laments that Afghanistan is barely understood beyond the seventh-century arrival of Islam, and that little of its historical tapestry or influence on the surrounding region appears in the local school curriculum. (more)

IllRideWithYou: Aussies offer support to Muslims
15 December 2014 - Some Australian social media users sent a message of solidarity to Muslims as the Sydney cafe siege went on for almost a day, offering to accompany anyone who felt intimidated on public transit. The Twitter hashtag (hash)IllRideWithYou had been used more than 90,000 times by early Tuesday, as tweeters tried to allay fears of anti-Islamic attacks on Australia's streets. (more)

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

The Power of Transcendence
3 December 2014 - In trying to describe the transformative power of transcendence, Ann Purcell stated in her Huffington Post blog The Power of Transcendence, 'Transcendence is an unbounded state of awareness, where consciousness expands to embrace infinity. It is like a wave settling down into the vast, calm ocean.' Purcell said that transcendence has the power to transform society. 'Having our leaders come together daily in the silence of meditation is a solution to fix our dysfunctional government. I believe all other solutions for the nation will emerge from the more coherent state of mind these leaders would spontaneously develop if they did meditate.' (more)

Expanding imagination and deepening connections through Transcendental Meditation
12 November 2014 - Artist Kito Mbiango, whose creations have been called 'majestic and elegant', began Transcendental Meditation two years ago. Kito describes his experience, 'TM gives me the freedom and courage to expand my artistic philosophy and explore my creative processes. As an artist, I can now see more clearly the symbiosis between man and nature--a connection which I felt was reflected in my work, but never fully understood until I started meditating. TM has enabled me to be more grounded, to have perspective and be patient about my artistic process.' (more)

Finding enlightenment through music and meditation
24 October 2014 - Erik Martin relates his experience during Transcendental Meditation and its value in the creative world. He also describes working as Executive Producer of DLF Live, the charitable events production division of the David Lynch Foundation. He advises us to 'talk to people who dive within, who access their true nature through meditation. They'll all tell you the same thing. They'll say that the song of the self is the sweetest music they've ever heard.' (more)

David Lynch interviewed, 'Everybody holds the key to unlock the mystery'
23 October 2014 - Filmmaker David Lynch described his creative process and results from practising Transcendental Meditation, saying, 'It's unbounded intelligence, creativity, happiness, love, energy, and peace. And it's within every human being. It's there, that you make the subconscious conscious and develop your full potential as a human being.' (more)

Celebrating the Indian Vedic Calendar Day of Dhanvantari: One day of the year dedicated to perfect health
21 October 2014 - Today Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's Transcendental Meditation organization celebrated an ancient Indian holiday, called the Day of Dhanvantari--the Day of Perfect Health in the Indian Vedic Calendar. This day traditionally precedes the celebration of Deepavali, the Festival of Lights, by two days. A highlight of the celebration today was the recitation of Vedic formulae by Maharishi Vedic Pandits at the Brahmasthan--geographical centre--of India, followed by Maharishi's lecture on 10 November 2004. (more)

Architect Bing Thom speaks on Transcendental Meditation and creativity
17 October 2014 - Bing Thom, an award-winning architect and recipient of Canada's celebrated Golden Jubilee Medal said about his work, 'So this combination of the subjective world and the objective world is like Transcendental Meditation, where you come into yourself, and then you come out into action. I can't separate architecture from meditation. To me, it's all just Being, you know? Just the way I am.'

Jerry Seinfeld: 'The Thing That I Love More Than Money, More Than Love, More Than Just About Anything'
13 October 2014 - Celebrated actor Jerry Seinfeld was recently interviewed on SiriusXM Satellite Radio about his 40 years practising Transcendental Meditation. In his talk with show host Bob Roth he said, 'Everyone's got some of this, although many don't have enough, and I rarely meet a person who doesn't want more'. Mr Seinfeld explains in a one minute video what he calls 'the greatest riches in human life' and how you can get more. (more)

What is Liberation
12 October 2014 - We can understand why our status as an individual is never sufficient until we can incorporate the wholeness of our nature, the Unity of our consciousness, into our otherwise endlessly seeking conscious mind. This is the state of liberation that results from repeatedly transcending thought to the silent unified depths of consciousness during the Transcendental Meditation technique. (more)

Who Am I? Strengthening Ethnic Values
8 October 2014 - In Transcendental Meditation for Women Professionals, contributing author Linda Egenes features the life of Christine Spotted Elk, a tribal school counselor, and the inspiring results Christine gained after renewing her regular practice of Transcendental Meditation. Christine feels that not only is the stress of the day dissolving as she meditates each morning and afternoon, but also the historical burden of generations of trauma. After her husband began TM Christine said, 'We both had such a peaceful experience and it made a deep impact on both of us. Each day that I meditated, I felt like I was getting stronger and more resilient to all that was happening around me.' Christine notes that by getting more in touch with herself through meditation, she is strengthening her connection with her tribal traditions. (more)

Fox News' Bill O'Reilly praises Transcendental Meditation: 'Tip of the Day - The David Lynch Foundation, very worthy'
2 October 2014 - At the conclusion of 'The O'Reilly Factor' show on Fox News 1 October, host Bill O'Reilly praised the David Lynch Foundation's programmes providing free Transcendental Meditation instruction to at-risk children. 'TM helps these children . . . calms them down,' he said. Mr O'Reilly explained that at a recent New York event, he commended Paul McCartney for his 2009 Radio City Music Hall concert with Ringo Starr to benefit the Foundation. The anecdote served as the introduction to Mr O'Reilly's 'Tip of the Day: The David Lynch Foundation, very worthy'. (more)

10 Short Summaries of Top Stories

Extremists in Nigeria lining up elderly and shooting them
20 December 2014 - Islamic extremists in northeast Nigeria are turning their guns on elderly people, killing more than 50 this week in a new tactic that has instilled more fear in areas the militants call an Islamic caliphate. Residents from five villages say people too elderly to flee Gwoza local government area are being rounded up and taken to two schools where the militants open fire on them. In separate attacks Friday, witnesses said Boko Haram struck at Damagum and Mamudo towns in Yobe state, bombing government buildings, the police station, and military barracks. (more)

Suspected Boko Haram gunmen kidnap 172 women, children in Nigeria
19 December 2014 - Suspected Boko Haram gunmen kidnapped 172 women and children and killed 35 other people on Sunday during a raid on the northeast Nigerian village of Gumsuri, residents said on Thursday. Although no one has claimed responsibility, the attack bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram, which abducted more than 200 women in April from a secondary school in Chibok, only 24 km (15 miles) from this latest attack. The abductions have increased in frequency this year. (more)

Australia: Sydney siege ends; 3 dead, including gunman
15 December 2014 - The deadly siege began in the most incongruous of ways, on a sunny Monday morning inside a cheerful cafe in the heart of Australia's largest city. An Iranian-born gunman burst in, took 17 workers and customers hostage, and forced some to hold a flag with an Islamic declaration of faith above the shop window's festive inscription of 'Merry Christmas'. It ended after midnight with a barrage of gunfire that left two hostages and the gunman dead, four others wounded, and a nation that has long prided itself on its peace rocked to its core. (more)

Drug violence, climate change create ceaseless wave of Latin American refugees
10 December 2014 - Drug-fueled gang violence and extreme weather linked to climate change are forcing tens of thousands of people in Latin America to flee their homes every year, according to Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council. In the past, it was dictatorships, coups, and civil wars that drove people from their homes in Central America, Haiti, and other parts of Latin America. But these days rampant gang violence and drug turf wars are uprooting growing numbers of people from Mexico, Colombia, and Central America. Gang violence as a leading cause of displacement came under the spotlight after nearly 70,000 children travelling alone -- mostly from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala -- were caught crossing the US border with Mexico this year, more than double the number apprehended in 2012. Local street gangs, known as maras, control entire neighbourhoods through extortion, sexual violence against girls and women, threats, killings, and forced recruitment. (more)

In modernizing India, suicide is on the rise among young
10 December 2014 - Cultural issues, discrimination, parental pressure, and competition for highly paid jobs are combining to create a suicide epidemic among young Indians. India has the world's highest suicide rate among 15 to 29 year olds, ahead of next-placed North Korea, according to a September report by the World Health Organization. For the first time, suicide is the leading cause of death among young Indian women, overtaking deaths during childbirth, the WHO says. In most parts of the world suicides tend to occur among the most disadvantaged groups, but in India they are happening among better educated young adults living in the most prosperous regions. (more)

Afghan students find inspiration in Islamic State's success
8 December 2014 - A quiet student at Kabul University, 25-year-old Abdul Rahim has a dream: to join Islamic State in Syria and fight for the establishment of a global caliphate -- a new, alarming form of radicalism in war-weary Afghanistan. Although IS is not believed to have operations in Afghanistan, its influence is growing in a country already mired in daily bombings and attacks by Taliban insurgents. A few dozen students have set up an underground group a few months after IS started making inroads into Central and South Asia this year. Some have already travelled to Syria. Several hardline insurgent groups in tribal areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan have pledged allegiance to IS, propaganda leaflets have been distributed and some local commanders are said to have met IS members. But the clandestine student group is the clearest indication yet that IS ideas are taking hold more broadly. (more)

Methamphetamine use soars in Iran as lifestyles speed up
8 December 2014 - Women in headscarves and men in tatty clothes puff on a glass pipe as smoke swirls around their faces. The pictures published by Iranian media and blogs in recent months are a sign of a new drug epidemic: shishe, or methamphetamine. In less than a decade, methamphetamine use has skyrocketed in Iran to the point where now about 345,000 Iranians are considered addicts, according to official statistics. Struggling university students have begun abusing it to stay up longer and try to boost their performance in school. Women have been sold the drug in beauty salons with the promise that it will help them lose weight, according to local media reports. (more)

US: 2nd night of Berkeley protests turns violent
8 December 2014 - Merchants are cleaning up broken glass and taking stock of what was looted from downtown Berkeley stores Sunday night after protesters angered by police killings in Missouri and New York clashed with officers, vandalized stores, and fought with each other, police said. Police said groups of protesters late Sunday began roaming through the downtown area, throwing trash cans into streets and lighting garbage on fire, smashing windows on buildings, and damaging and looting businesses. There also were reports of vandalism at Berkeley City Hall. The unrest in Berkeley follows violent disruptions of demonstrations in Oakland and San Francisco in recent days. (more)

US: Berkeley, Calif, protest gets violent for second night
8 December 2014 - A peaceful protest in this university town Sunday night over police killings of black men was overtaken by a group vandalizing police cars and stores and briefly shutting a local highway. It was the second consecutive night that protests over the chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York and shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri turned violent. (more)

Nearly 36 mln people are slaves, Qatar in focus: global index
17 November 2014 - Almost 36 million people are living as slaves across the globe with an index on Monday listing Mauritania, Uzbekistan, Haiti, Qatar, and India as the nations where modern-day slavery is most prevalent. (more)

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