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Japan's chrysanthemums: More than symbol of autumn
24 October 2014 - When Americans think of flowers and Japan, they think of cherry blossoms. But to the Japanese, there is a flower for every time of year, and right now, it's the chrysanthemum, celebrated in festivals, shows, and home displays. Like the cherry blossom, the chrysanthemum, called 'kiku' in Japanese, symbolizes the season, but more than that, it's a symbol of the country itself. The monarchy is referred to as the Chrysanthemum Throne and the imperial crest is a stylized mum blossom. That seal is embossed on Japanese passports. The flower is also a common motif in art, and it's seen in everyday life depicted on the 50-yen coin. Originally introduced from China, this flower came with a legend about longevity, the story of a town whose residents all lived to over 100 years old. At this time of year in Japan, you'll even find chrysanthemum petals in your food. Fall is also the season for a range of festivals and shows celebrating the flower. (more)

US: Alaska's indigenous languages now official along with English
24 October 2014 - Alaska's governor signed a bill on Thursday to officially recognize the state's 20 indigenous languages in a symbolic move that gives a nod to tribal efforts to save Native American tongues at risk of dying out. In April, the State Legislature overwhelmingly passed the bill. The move would make Alaska only the second US state, after Hawaii, to officially recognize indigenous languages. Lance Twitchell, a professor of native languages at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau, said the bill was important even if largely symbolic. 'Hawaii has gone from language decline and become one of the few areas where they are producing more native speakers than they are losing,' Mr Twitchell said. (more)

Tourists watch solar alignment in Egypt temple
22 October 2014 - Hundreds of visitors gathered in Egypt on Wednesday at the Great Temple of Ramses II to watch the sun illuminate colossal statues, a rare 3,200-year-old astronomical ceremony that happens twice a year. Thirty-two centuries ago, during the reign of Ramses II, the temple was precisely built to align with the sun twice a year, celebrating the pharaoh's birthday and coronation. It is considered one of the most beautiful of Egypt's ancient monuments and it is well-known for its four colossal statues of Ramses II, the sun gods Re-Horakhte and Amon-Re, and the Theban god of darkness Ptah, the only one who is not lit by the solar alignment. (more)

US returns dozens of stolen artifacts to Peru
22 October 2014 - Dozens of artifacts are on their way back to Peru after being seized in the United States during investigations into the smuggling of cultural relics. Investigators from US Immigration and Custom Enforcement's Homeland Security department held ceremonies in Denver, San Antonio, and Boston on Wednesday to repatriate more than 40 items. US Homeland Security helps investigate the illegal importation and distribution of artifacts. Since 2007, it says more than 7,150 items, including paintings, manuscripts, and other artifacts, have been returned to 27 countries. (more)

US returns stolen artwork to Peru
22 October 2014 - US officials returned two stolen, colonial-era paintings to the government of Peru on Wednesday in a repatriation ceremony at the San Antonio Museum of Art. Harold Forsyth, the ambassador of Peru to the United States, said the recovery of the artwork was a 'moral triumph' for his country. (more)

On the road to find the world's funniest person
19 October 2014 - It was last summer and Israeli-Palestinian tensions were at the highest they'd been in some time when Jamie Masada hit on a formula for world peace: Forget about guns and bombs, and just tell jokes to each other. He knew it'd be a challenge to bring together people from across the world who dislike each other, and hope they will laugh at each other. And yet, that's what he's trying to do with what he calls the first Funniest Person in the World competition. (more)

Iran says number of foreign tourists surges
18 October 2014 - The number of foreigners visiting Iran jumped dramatically over the 12-month period ending in March, with 35 per cent more tourists compared to the same period a year earlier, Iran's top tourism official said Saturday. Masoud Soltanifar said on state TV that the thriving industry could help boost Iran's economy out of recession and bring in much-needed hard currency. He said 4.5 million foreign tourists that came to the Islamic Republic over the period, bringing in some $6 billion in revenue. He attributed the increase to the 2013 election of President Hassan Rouhani, who has shifted away from the bombastic style adopted under his hard-line predecessor. Looser visa policies have also helped. Iran has 17 UNESCO-registered world heritage sites. (more)

Budapest-Tehran train trip is newest luxury pursuit
15 October 2014 - A luxury train connecting the capitals of Hungary and Iran left Budapest for the first time on Wednesday, with 70 passengers set to cross the Balkans, the Bosphorus, and Kurdistan on the way to Persia aboard a set of deluxe railcars. The two-week trip sets back each participant at least 9,000 pounds ($14,333) and some as much as 25,000 pounds including full service, a sightseeing programme, and the beautiful scenery that rolls leisurely by for about 7,000 km (4,350 miles). The tickets for the first train sold out in 10 days, said Tim Littler, the founder of tour operator Golden Eagle, adding he planned four more trains to make the trip next year. (more)

US: Imams in NYC denounce violent extremism
14 October 2014 - About a dozen imams from mosques in all five of New York City's boroughs have gathered to denounce violent extremist acts around the world. At a press conference Tuesday on the steps of City Hall, the President of the Islamic Leadership Council of Metropolitan New York said that Islamic law forbids violent terrorist acts. (more)

1000-year old Viking treasure hoard found in Scotland
13 October 2014 - A hoard of Viking gold and silver artefacts dating back over 1,000 years has been discovered by a treasure hunter with a metal detector in Scotland, in a find hailed by experts as one of the country's most significant. Derek McLennan, a retired businessman, uncovered the 100 items in a field in Dumfriesshire, southwest Scotland, in September. The Viking hoard is McLennan's second significant contribution to Scotland's understanding of its past. Last year, he and a friend unearthed around 300 medieval coins in the same area of Scotland. A 10th-century Viking hoard was found in 2007 in northern England, while in 1840 over 8,600 items were found in northwest England. (more)

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

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)

US: David Lynch Foundation director Bob Roth addresses Google Zeitgeist conference
17 September 2014 - Earlier this week in Phoenix, Arizona, Bob Roth, executive director of the David Lynch Foundation, spoke to 400 top international business and tech leaders at Google Zeitgeist. The title of Mr Roth's talk was: 'Relieving the world's stress with Transcendental Meditation': 'Trauma and toxic stress are the number one health epidemic confronting at-risk populations because they fuel disease, violent behavior and poverty. The David Lynch Foundation is committed to empowering all those in need with the evidence-based Transcendental Meditation technique to live healthier, more productive lives.' (more)

UK: Ringo Starr praises TM, David Lynch Foundation at GQ Awards
5 September 2014 - The former Beatles drummer was awarded the Humanitarian Prize at the 17th annual edition of British GQ's (Gentleman's Quarterly) Men of the Year Awards in London, in recognition of his support for the David Lynch Foundation. 'I truly believe in the David Lynch Foundation,' Ringo said in accepting his award. 'They started to bring meditation into inner-city schools and now it's a fact that in those schools and neighborhoods violence has gone down. Meditation brings people back to being human again.' (more)

PeaceRocks campaign honours Ringo Starr, benefits David Lynch Foundation outreach to at-risk adults and youth
26 August 2014 - International menswear designer John Varvatos celebrated Ringo Starr's 74th birthday recently by launching, in honour of Ringo, the #PeaceRocks campaign to benefit the David Lynch Foundation's outreach to teach Transcendental Meditation to at-risk youth, women who are survivors of domestic violence, and veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress. (more)

'This is truly something your mind just wants to do' - Blake Ian on Transcendental Meditation
6 August 2014 - Continuing to write about 'the long list of hugely successful people who practise Transcendental Meditation'--who initially inspired him to learn the technique himself--singer-songwriter and music producer Blake Ian gives special recognition to comedians including Jerry Seinfeld, Russell Brand, and others. He goes on to conclude, 'This method is so sustainable. I had tried many other methods of relaxation and meditation that I ended up giving up on, but this is truly something your mind just wants to do. After learning the correct method passed down for thousands of years, it works for anyone (even veterans with PTSD who often cannot even find help or relaxation with medicines have found relief).' (more)

10 Short Summaries of Top Stories

Suspected Boko Haram fighters kidnap 25 girls in northeast Nigeria
24 October 2014 - Suspected Boko Haram militants kidnapped at least 25 girls in an attack on a remote town in northeastern Nigeria, witnesses said, despite talks on freeing over 200 other female hostages they seized in April. John Kwaghe, who witnessed the attack and lost three daughters to the abductors, and Dorathy Tizhe, who lost two, said the kidnappers came late in the night, forcing all the women to go with them, then later releasing the older ones. In a separate attack, a bomb exploded Wednesday at a bus station in the town of Azare in northern Nigeria's Bauchi state, killing at least five people and wounding 12, police said. Boko Haram is likely to be the prime suspect. The insurgents have repeatedly bombed public places since launching an uprising demanding an Islamic state in religiously mixed Nigeria five years ago. They have stepped up their campaign this year, setting off deadly blasts across the country that killed hundreds. (more)

Nigeria truce is shaky, no news of abducted girls
22 October 2014 - Days after Nigeria's military raised hopes with the announcement that Islamic extremists had agreed to a cease-fire, Boko Haram is still fighting and there is no word on the fate of the 219 schoolgirls held hostage for six months. The official silence raises many questions, especially since Boko Haram's leader Abubakar Shekau has not confirmed that a truce has been agreed. Despite the ceasefire announced by the military on Friday, the Islamic insurgents have attacked two villages and a town in the northeast and raised their flag in a fourth village. People who escaped this week from Bama, a town in a part of northeastern Nigeria where Boko Haram has declared an Islamic caliphate, say hundreds of residents are being detained for allegedly breaking the group's strict version of Shariah law. Many young men have been forced to join Boko Haram, and those who refuse are killed, said those who ran away. (more)

Suspected Boko Haram fighters mount deadly attacks after Nigeria 'ceasefire'
18 October 2014 - Suspected Boko Haram militants have killed dozens of people in five attacks on Nigerian villages that occurred after the government announced a ceasefire to enable 200 abducted girls to be freed, security sources and witnesses said on Saturday. The fresh attacks dashed hopes for an easing of the northeast's violence, although officials remained confident they can negotiate the release of girls whose abduction by the rebels in the remote northeastern town of Chibok in April caused international shock and outrage. Boko Haram, whose name translates roughly as 'Western education is sinful', has massacred thousands in a struggle to carve an Islamic state out of religiously mixed Nigeria, whose southern half is mainly Christian in faith. Boko Haram, seen as the biggest threat to Africa's top economy and oil producer, is believed to be divided into several factions that loosely cooperate with each other, and it is unclear with which faction the government has been negotiating. (more)

More Bangladeshis found in Thailand on human trafficking route
13 October 2014 - Thai police found scores of sick and exhausted boat people hiding on a remote island on Monday, and all but one of the 79 suspected human-trafficking victims were from Bangladesh, according to local officials. The high proportion of Bangladeshis cropping up on smuggling routes once plied mainly by Rohingya is consistent with what a leading Rohingya advocacy group says is an alarming rise in 'forced departures' from Bangladesh. Chris Lewa of the Arakan Project, which plots migration across the Bay of Bengal, said the group had learned that brokers in Bangladesh were abducting men and boys, or luring them by false promises of work, then shipping them to Thailand and Malaysia. Reuters reported last year how thousands of Rohingya were held and sometimes tortured by traffickers at jungle camps in southern Thailand until their families secured their release with ransoms of $2,000 or more. The discovery of the boat people, along with the detention of dozens more Rohingya last month, suggests that smuggling routes are still thriving in Thailand. (more)

Islamic State magazine says group enslaved Yazidis
12 October 2014 - Islamic State group militants captured, enslaved, and sold Yazidi women and children, the latest issue of a magazine purportedly published by the extremists claimed Sunday, the group's first public confirmation of the allegations. Tens of thousands of Yazidis fled into the Sinjar Mountains, many getting stranded there for weeks, after the militant onslaught on Sinjar in August, part of the Islamic State group's lightning advance across northern and western Iraq. Hundreds were killed in the attack, and tens of thousands fled for their lives, most to the Kurdish-held parts of northern Iraq. The Associated Press independently has interviewed a number of Yazidi women and girls who escaped captivity and several claimed that they were sold to Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria. (more)

Turkey: Syrian town about to fall to jihadists
7 October 2014 - The Islamic State group is about to capture the Syrian border town of Kobani, Turkey's president said Tuesday, as outgunned Kurdish forces struggled to repel the extremists with limited aid from US-led coalition airstrikes. Islamic State fighters using tanks and heavy weapons looted from captured army bases in Iraq and Syria have been pounding Kurdish forces in the town of Kobani for days. The Islamic State group has conquered vast swaths of Syria and Iraq, declaring a self-styled caliphate governed by its strict interpretation of Shariah law. The militants have massacred captured Syrian and Iraqi troops, terrorized minorities, and beheaded two American journalists and two British aid workers. (more)

Pakistani Taliban declare allegiance to Islamic State and global jihad
5 October 2014 - The Pakistani Taliban declared allegiance to Islamic State on Saturday and ordered militants across the region to help the Middle Eastern jihadist group in its campaign to set up a global Islamic caliphate. Islamic State, which controls swathes of land in Syria and Iraq, has been making inroads into South Asia, which has traditionally been dominated by local Taliban insurgencies against both the Pakistan and Afghanistan governments. In a message marking the Muslim holy festival of Eid al-Adha, the Pakistani Taliban said they fully supported IS goals. The statement, released in Urdu, Pashto, and Arabic, came despite recent speculation that the Taliban leadership, whose goal is to topple the government and set up a Sharia state, is actually wary of IS, which is driven by different ambitions that have little to do with South Asia. The Pakistani Taliban have been beset by bitter internal rivalries over the past year. (more)

Islamic State militants threaten ancient sites in Iraq, Syria
19 September 2014 - For more than 5,000 years, numerous civilizations have left their mark on upper Mesopotamia. Their ancient, buried cities, palaces, and temples packed with monumental art are scattered across what is now northern Iraq and eastern Syria. Now much of that archaeological wealth is under the control of extremists from the Islamic State group. The militants have demolished some artifacts in their zealotry to uproot what they see as heresy, but they are also profiting from it, hacking relics off palace walls or digging them out to sell on the international black market. The Islamic State militants seek to purge society of everything that doesn't conform with their strict, puritanical version of Islam. But their extremist ideology doesn't prevent them from also profiting from the sale of ancient artifacts. (more)

Study: Americans endure unwanted care near death
17 September 2014 - Americans suffer needless discomfort and undergo unwanted and costly care as they die, in part because of a medical system ruled by 'perverse incentives' for aggressive care and not enough conversation about what people want, according to a report released Wednesday. Though people repeatedly stress a desire to die at home, free from pain, the opposite often happens, the Institute of Medicine found in its 'Dying in America' report. Most people do not document their wishes on end-of-life care and even those who do face a medical system poorly suited to give them the death they want, the authors found. The result is breathing and feeding tubes, powerful drugs, and other treatment that often fails to extend life and can make the final days more unpleasant. Advance directives including living wills have been unpopular and ineffective, the report said. The report praised programs in palliative care, which focuses on treating pain, minimizing side effects, coordinating care among doctors, and ensuring concerns of patients and their families are addressed. This type of care has expanded rapidly in the past several decades and is now found in a majority of US hospitals, but the report said many physicians have no training in it. (more)

As forests are cleared and species vanish, there's one other loss: a world of languages.
7 June 2014 - A new report shows a direct link between disappearing habitats and the loss of languages. One in four of the world's 7,000 spoken tongues is now at risk of falling silent for ever as the threat to cultural biodiversity grows. As the politics change and deforestation accelerates, the natural barriers that once allowed so many languages to develop there in isolation are broken down. This is part of a process that has seen languages decline as biodiversity decreases. While around 21 per cent of all mammals, 13 per cent of birds, 15 per cent of reptiles, and 30 per cent of amphibians are threatened, around 400 languages are thought to have become extinct in the same time. Conservationists fear that the loss of species due to man's activities is accelerating. And linguists say that the wealth of the world's human languages is now safeguarded by very few indigenous peoples, most of whom live precarious lives in developing countries. (more)

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