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More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
3 September 2015 - More than 11,000 families in Iceland have offered to open their homes to Syrian refugees in a bid to raise the government's cap of just 50 asylum seekers a year. They responded to a call by author Bryndis Bjorgvinsdottir, who set up a Facebook group with an open letter to the country's welfare minister, Eyglo Haroardottir, asking her to allow people to help. (more)

Scotland: Edinburgh Fringe and International festival fireworks finale - timelapse video
2 September 2015 - Timelapse footage filmed by Guardian photographer Murdo Macleod shows a dramatic firework display over Edinburgh, which marked the end of this year's Fringe and International festivals on Monday. Watched by around 250,000 people, the annual display took place in Princes Street Gardens with more than 400,000 fireworks choreographed to live music from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. (more)

US: National parks seeing huge spikes in visitation this summer
2 September 2015 - Throngs of tourists have been showing up in big numbers at America's national parks, partly driven by good weather, cheap gas, and marketing campaigns ahead of next year's National Park Service centennial. With the busy Labor Day weekend still ahead, the Park Service already has recorded 5 million more visitors from this time last year. (more)

Pope marking day to stress care for creation
1 September 2015 - Pope Francis is pushing ahead with his protect-the-environment priorities, presiding over a prayer service in Saint Peter's Basilica Tuesday for the 'care of Creation.' The Pope took a cue from Orthodox Christians, who also mark September 1 each year by stressing concern for the environment. (more)

India: Millions expected to take dip in Godavari River during Kumbh Mela festival
28 August 2015 - To the millions of Hindus expected at the Kumbh Mela festival, held this year along the Godavari River, touching the water is reverential. It's a way to cleanse themselves of sin, to come close to God, and to immerse themselves in a tradition that dates to antiquity. Observant Hindus believe that four drops of holy nectar were spilled long ago during a battle between gods and demons. Since then, the Kumbh Mela has alternated between the four cities where the nectar fell. (more)

US: 8 recipients awarded Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy
25 August 2015 - Eight recipients have been awarded the 2015 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy. Carnegie Corporation of New York made the announcement Tuesday. The award was established in 2001 to honor individuals 'who dedicate private wealth to the public good'. (more)

French lawmaker wants mandatory vegetarian menu at school
21 August 2015 - France has been grappling with how to reconcile religious beliefs with secular values when it comes to pork in school lunches. One lawmaker's solution: vegetarian meals. France is tackling what to put on the plates of observant Muslim and Jewish schoolchildren, who by tradition don't eat pork. The proposal has received support from some left- and right-wing politicians as well as environmentalist and vegetarian organizations. (more)

Spain's tourism hits new record: 38 million in 7 months
21 August 2015 - Authorities say Spain has seen a record 38 million tourists in the first seven months of the year as a weak euro and security issues in other beach resort nations like Tunisia make it a more attractive destination. Tourism represents about 11 percent of Spain's GDP. (more)

Poland: Warsaw developing fast since joining the European Union
20 August 2015 - Almost every month brings something new in Warsaw. With nearly 2 million people, Poland's capital city has been developing fast ever since the once-communist nation joined the European Union in 2004. From skate parks and roof gardens to historic palaces and some of Europe's newest buildings, visitors of all ages will find plenty do see and do. (more)

UK: Miner finds first new vein of rare mineral Blue John in 150 years in the Peak District
20 August 2015 - The first new vein of the rare mineral Blue John to be discovered in 150 years has been found by accident. The mineral, also known as Derbyshire spar, was found in the Peak District by miner Gary Ridley while he was testing a new stone chainsaw. Blue John, named after its distinctive colour, was the height of fashion in Regency times and graced the tables of Buckingham Palace and Chatsworth House. It is only found in one place on Earth, and the last vein found was in the 19th century. (more)


Success of Maharishi's Programmes
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Canada: Radio host Roz Weston finds success with Transcendental Meditation - 'a literal recharge'
30 August 2015 - Canadian radio host Roz Weston describes how Transcendental Meditation helped him become a better professional broadcaster. The host of ET Canada (Entertainment Tonight) says that as a result of practising TM, 'I now have the ability to deal with issues, thoughts, information so much more effectively than I did before. I no longer feel overwhelmed.' The former Howard Stern intern is also the co-host of a radio morning show and enjoys the benefits of TM in his hectic schedule: 'You shut everything down, you go deep, and when you come out of it you have so much energy. It is a literal recharge.' (more)

Talking about Transcendental Meditation: Lola Kirke, Katy Perry, Lena Dunham
11 August 2015 - Three stars--Katy Perry, Lena Dunham, and Lola Kirke--describe benefits they have found in their lives from practising Transcendental Meditation. Lena Dunham, who has practised TM since she was nine years old, says, 'It gathers me up for the day and makes me feel organized and happy and capable of facing the challenges of the world, both internal and external.' Lola Kirke: 'It helps me feel centered and be in touch with myself and my feelings.' 'When I feel tired, tense, scared, or depressed, I meditate,' says Katy Perry. 'It clears my mind, and makes me feel more relaxed and happier.' (more)

Discovering Greatness: Part II The Luster of Integrity
5 August 2015 - In Part II of her series on 'Discovering our Greatness', Cynthia E Johnson discusses how Transcendental Meditation is a powerful tool for unfolding integrity within ourselves and in our society. In addition to insightful quotes on greatness from leaders in many fields, she cites extensive research conducted in high security prisons, in which inmates who learned TM 'have shown remarkable growth of positive characteristics, including integrity'. Ms Johnson describes the successful approach, introduced by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the Transcendental Meditation programme, to reducing crime and other negative social behaviours: 'When deep stresses are dissolved through deeply resting the mind and body during TM, then the heart softens and expands and the mind functions more creatively. The overall effect is that one's actions become increasingly life-supporting.' (more)

Transcendental Meditation and living a creative life: 'Fear and doubt fade away'
4 August 2015 - 'When I'm in the creative flow, the words are not coming from my limited mind, really, they're coming from some place deep within,' writes Linda Egenes. The accomplished author credits her practice of Transcendental Meditation with helping her 'stay connected to my own creative voice' and go beyond limitations of fear--such as minding what others think of her work: 'When I close my eyes each morning and evening, the chatter of my mind fades away and I'm left with the light and warmth of my own essential being, the self with the big ''S'', the part of me that is universal, timeless, boundless and serene. . . . when infused with a clear experience of my cosmic, creative Self--which is the essential nature of every human being on this planet--the fear and doubt fade away.' (more)

Interview with composer, musician Soul Basement: 'TM has brought me new perspectives, a deeper understanding of myself . . .'
28 July 2015 - Fabio Puglisi, Italian musician and composer known professionally as Soul Basement, describes how Transcendental Meditation 'has brought me new perspectives, a deeper understanding of myself and the world I live in. Huge amounts of energy, mad happiness and joy, deeper and more stable relationships, both at work and in everyday life.' He feels that 'the whole planet should do TM' and adds that practising the technique brings a happy and rewarding life and 'a state of joy so deep, concrete, and rooted, that once one reaches it can no longer get separated from it.' (more)

Unfolding the full range of beauty through Transcendental Meditation
23 July 2015 - Supermodel Raquel Zimmermann relates how 'the gift of perceiving beauty more deeply comes to me through my Transcendental Meditation practice, which continually unfolds my potential to know deeper levels of myself and reality. The capacity to appreciate the full range of beauty from its surface appearance to the depths of its sustaining splendor is cultivated by the transcending process during the TM technique.' Raquel offers lovely quotes from various authors and personalities to bring out many layers of understanding about beauty--for example 'there is no cosmetic for beauty like happiness'--concluding that 'limitlessness . . . . the nature of our selves and of all life', whose 'flavor is Beauty', is 'the source and goal of all our strivings'. (more)

Liv Tyler on Transcendental Meditation: 'Incredible way of centering myself'
8 July 2015 - American actress Liv Tyler describes how she began to feel after starting twice a day Transcendental Meditation practice--'from that moment on I've never been that frazzled or that tired ever again. It was like it sort of restored my body on such a deep level. There was like a week's worth of sleep. From that moment forward it was like a new day . . . . My whole nervous system reacted differently. I feel much less panicked and anxious and more calm about things. But I also feel deeply centered and rested.' Watch a video of Liv discussing how Transcendental Meditation has become part of her life. (more)

Musicians who practise Transcendental Meditation: Music, infinity, reality
5 July 2015 - 'As musicians practise Transcendental Meditation regularly over time, their consciousness is elevated and grows more in harmony with the infinite field from which all the laws of nature and all matter arise,' writes Janet Hoffman, executive director of the Transcendental Meditation Program for Women Professionals in the USA. 'In this way, their music eventually can fulfil the responsibility that comes with influence: to enliven the deepest level of harmony within us.' Ms Hoffman also gives a glimpse of some of the many American musicians who practise and publicly endorse the TM programme. (more)

Profile: Ken Chawkin - public relations expert and teacher of Transcendental Meditation
2 July 2015 - A recent interview profiles Ken Chawkin, a teacher of Transcendental Meditation and public relations expert who has worked for Maharishi University of Management and the David Lynch Foundation. Explaining his successful career, he says, 'I make friends with people. Genuinely, because I like them and I am interested in them and in what they do.' About creative processes of writing poetry, Ken points out how 'we observe objects, yet embedded within the object is consciousness - looking at us, experiencing us. So there has got be a flow in between, the mutual process of knowing and recognition,' that, 'a poem wants to get expressed, wants to be born'. (more)

Jon Hopkins: 'TM takes you right down into a really pure form of consciousness'
15 June 2015 - Producer and musician Jon Hopkins, one of the most critically acclaimed and sought-after performers of alternative music, has been practising Transcendental Meditation for about six months. 'It's like going down in an elevator,' he says. 'It takes you right down into a really pure form of consciousness.' He also describes the good effects of his '20 minutes twice a day' TM practice in daily life: 'It literally makes everything easier. It makes the colours you see more vivid. . . . it's like there's this extra layer of intensity to things. It's almost being a kid again.' (more)


Flops
10 Short Summaries of Top Stories


UN: Satellite images show Temple of Bel in Syria 'destroyed'
1 September 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)

Islamic State destruction of ancient Syrian temple erases rich history
24 August 2015 - The destruction of the nearly 2,000-year-old temple of Baalshamin by Islamic State militants erased a symbol of the once rich religious life of Syria's ancient caravan city of Palmyra and left residents, archaeologists, and historians fearful that the extremists will destroy more of the rich site, including an even larger more ancient temple nearby. One resident told The Associated Press he saw it after it was blown up Sunday and said it was reduced to 'rocks on the ground, nothing more.' The temple was part of a sprawling Roman-era complex that includes other remains of temples to local gods and goddesses, including the even larger and slightly older Temple of Bel. (more)

Islamic State kills leading Syrian antiquities scholar in Palmyra
19 August 2015 - Islamic State militants beheaded one of Syria's most prominent antiquities scholars in the ancient town of Palmyra, then hung his body from one of the town's Roman columns, Syrian state media and an activist group said Wednesday. The killing of 81-year-old Khaled al-Asaad was the latest atrocity perpetrated by the militant group, which has captured a third of both Syria and neighboring Iraq and declared a self-styled 'caliphate' on the territory it controls. The IS overran Palmyra in May. The Sunni extremist group has imposed a violent interpretation of Islamic law, or Shariah, believes ancient relics promote idolatry. (more)

US: Antipsychotic use rising among teens and young adults
10 July 2015 - A growing number of U.S. teens and young adults are being prescribed antipsychotics, a new study suggests. In particular, it appears they're being used to treat attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) -- a condition for which the powerful drugs are not approved. 'Increasingly, many youth are receiving these medications to treat behavior problems in the absence of a more severe psychiatric illness,' said Meredith Matone, a research scientist with PolicyLab at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, who wasn't involved in the study. (more)

Boko Haram guns down 97 people praying in mosques in Nigeria
2 July 2015 - Boko Haram extremists gunned down nearly 100 Muslims praying in mosques in a northeast Nigerian town during the holy month of Ramadan, a government official and a self-defense fighter said Thursday. The attack Wednesday night on the town of Kukawa came the day after the Islamic extremist group attacked a village 35 kilometers (22 miles) away and killed another 48 men and boys, according to witnesses who counted the dead. (more)

Islamic State beheads female civilians for first time in Syria: monitor
30 June 2015 - The hardline Islamic State group has beheaded two women in Syria, the first time it has decapitated female civilians, the founder of a group monitoring the war said on Tuesday. One of the women was beheaded along with her husband in Deir al-Zor city. In al-Mayadeen city to the south east, the group beheaded another woman and her husband. All of them were accused of sorcery, the monitor said. (more)

US: Heroin overdose deaths quadrupled from 2000 to 2013
11 June 2015 - The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in March that heroin overdose deaths in the United States quadrupled from 2000 to 2013, with most of the increase coming after 2010. Officials in Marion, Ohio hope they've seen the worst of the latest heroin skirmish. On Wednesday, 60 law enforcement officers raided three addresses in Marion, arrested four people and seized more than two pounds of the blue heroin that has plagued the city. But they know there will be more, and that the heroin crisis probably hasn't peaked yet, here or anywhere else. (more)

No exit: For female jihadis, Syria is one-way journey
28 May 2015 - When three British schoolgirls trundled across the Syrian border; when a pregnant 14-year-old ran away from her Alpine home for the second time; when a sheltered girl from the south of France booked her first trip abroad -- they were going to a place of no return. Only two of the approximately 600 Western girls and young women who have joined extremists in Syria are known to have made it out of the war zone. By comparison, as many as 30 percent of the male foreign fighters have left or are on their way out. In interviews, court documents, and public records, The Associated Press has compiled a detailed picture of European girls and young women who join extremists such as the Islamic State group -- a decision that is far more final than most may realize. (more)

Islamic State claims Yemen mosque attack: Islamic State Twitter statement
22 May 2015 - A bomb exploded at a Shi'ite Houthi mosque in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Friday, wounding 13 people, a security source said, and the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement on Twitter. The bombing came against a backdrop of civil war in the country. Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have seized large swathes of territory, including Sanaa, prompting formation of a Saudi-backed Arab coalition that is using air power to try to halt their advances. Sunni Islamist militants have been seeking to extend their influence amid the chaos. (more)

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