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After 1,000-year split, Pope and Russian Patriarch embrace in Cuba
12 February 2016 - Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill embraced on Friday in a historic meeting. Nearly 1,000 years after the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity split apart, the meeting at an airport terminal in Cuba was the first ever between a Roman Catholic Pope and a Russian Orthodox Patriarch. (more)

Christian, Muslim leaders in Cyprus support peace talks
10 February 2016 - Christian and Muslim leaders in Cyprus on Wednesday repeated their full support for ongoing talks aimed at reunifying the ethnically-split country, saying their united stand for peace serves as a strong example of cooperation in a region where conflict is often fueled by religion. Cyprus was split into an internationally-recognized Greek Cypriot south and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup aiming at union with Greece. (more)

UAE picks woman to be first 'happiness' minister
10 February 2016 - The United Arab Emirates Prime Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, took to Twitter on Wednesday to announce a new Cabinet that includes the country's first-ever 'minister of state for happiness.' Sheikh Mohammed insisted that happiness was more than a wish and would be guided by 'plans, projects, programs, (and) indices.' (more)

Chinese visit temples, fairs to ring in Year of the Monkey
8 February 2016 - Chinese flocked to temples and fairs to pray for good health and fortune on Monday, the first day of the Lunar New Year. Monday marks the first day of the Year of the Monkey -- the ninth animal on the Chinese zodiac calendar. The weeklong holiday, known as the Spring Festival in China, is focused on family reunion and is a time when students and migrant workers return to their hometowns. It is the country's most important holiday, equivalent to Christmas for many in the West. (more)

Pope Francis visit to celebrate Mexico's indigenous church
7 February 2016 - Pope Francis' visit to the heavily indigenous Mexican state of Chiapas appears to be aimed at celebrating the region's 'Indian church,' a mix of Catholicism and indigenous culture once considered a thorn in the side of standard liturgy by the Vatican. In Chiapas, Francis is scheduled to visit the diocese of San Cristobal, home to two of the most famed religious defenders of indigenous people in Mexican history. (more)

Chinese using carpooling apps to get ride home for holidays
5 February 2016 - The hundreds of millions of Chinese heading home for Lunar New Year have a relatively new travel option this year: mobile apps to find carpool partners to share costs in what is a novel concept for most Chinese. The apps give an alternative to pricey airfares and hard-to-score train tickets. Carpooling is still unusual in China, but government officials welcome the idea as a way to alleviate the enormous burden placed on the public transportation system during the Lunar New Year holidays, China's most important vacation period when hundreds of millions travel to their hometowns. All told, Chinese will make a total of 2.9 billion trips this holiday season, and 2.5 billion of them will be by road, according to official estimates. (more)

Pope, Russian Orthodox Patriarch to hold historic meeting in Cuba
5 February 2016 - Pope Francis and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church will meet in Cuba next week in what could be a landmark step towards healing the 1,000-year-old rift between the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity. The Vatican and the Moscow Patriarchate announced on Friday that Francis will stop in Cuba on February 12 on his way to Mexico to hold talks with Patriarch Kirill, the first in history between a Roman Catholic Pope and a Russian Orthodox Patriarch. (more)

Glimpse of Lunar New Year: Lion dance tradition thrives in Malaysia
4 February 2016 - The traditional art of the Chinese lion dance is nowhere near perishing in Muslim-majority Malaysia. It's a centuries-old tradition dating back the Han Dynasty. These days, it is kept alive by an ethnic Chinese minority that makes up 22 percent of Malaysia's 30 million people -- and by people like master craftsman Siow Ho Phiew. Siow isn't worried that the tradition will die out. 'This lion dance is a culture. It's not something new, it dates back for thousands of years,' he said. 'I believe that if it is good and beautiful art, I'm sure there will be people who will continue it.' (more)

Thailand gears up for one million visitors during Lunar New Year
1 February 2016 - Thailand expects a million visitors during the upcoming Lunar New Year, 19 percent more than last year, the country's tourism authority said on Monday, 1 February. Nearly half were expected to come from neighboring countries -- China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia, the Tourism Authority of Thailand said. The Lunar New Year period falls from February 6-14 this year. Over 8 million Chinese traveled to Thailand in 2015, a record, and the country expects more this year. (more)

Lunar New Year migration gets underway in China
29 January 2016 - Carrying luggage and queuing at Beijing's main railway station, tens of thousands of people in the Chinese capital began heading home on Friday for family reunions to mark the February 8 Lunar New Year. (more)


Success of Maharishi's Programmes
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Maharishi Vastu Architecture featured on international Houzz.com website
7 January 2016 - Maharishi Vastu Architecture is now featured on the Houzz.com website. Houzz.com is a major resource of knowledge and international clearinghouse connecting those seeking professional services of architects and building designers, contractors, builders, and home improvement and remodeling experts, as well as ideas, information, and products across the USA and around the world. The Maharishi Vastu Profile on Houzz.com displays photos of current Vastu projects, and explains that 'Maharishi Vastu architecture connects individual intelligence with Cosmic Intelligence, bringing nourishing influences to your home, your workplace, or your entire community'. (more)

Taking time for the inner side of life can make holiday gatherings more enjoyable
24 December 2015 - Taking time to meditate--to access our deeper, inner self--can make holiday gatherings more enjoyable, writes Jeanne Ball, a teacher of the Transcendental Meditation technique. 'We give, give, give, often to the point of exhaustion. Yet, could our silence also be a gift?' She explains, 'Scientific studies on the TM technique have shown that within minutes, deep transcendence can calm the sympathetic nervous system, reduce cortisol, lower blood pressure, give your heart a rest, dissolve emotional tension and stress. After meditation we have more happiness, clarity and patience. We have more to give.' Practising TM is 'a gift that nourishes our home and family from that most basic level of life'. (more)

Do nothing: The best advice I ever received
2 December 2015 - What author Ann Purcell means by Do nothing is transcend--meditate twice a day for 20 minutes 'to experience a state where you can simply just Be in stillness'. She describes this experience of Being as 'a state of pure silence', and allowing our awareness to settle down to this state 'is like pulling the arrow back on the bow to a point of pure stillness where you are not doing anything. The farther the arrow is pulled back, the faster it will hit its target when you release it from that point of stillness. When we pull our mind back to that point of no specificity through techniques like Transcendental Meditation, we are more easily able to hit the target, to accomplish anything we want when back in activity. We will also have more energy, like a battery that has been recharged.' (more)

Enabling girls and women to enjoy freedom from self-doubt, stress, stereotypes
18 November 2015 - Transcendental Meditation 'provides such deep rest that it normalizes the nervous system so a girl or woman can be who she is out of strength and conviction rather than due to stress and abnormalities in blood chemistry,' writes Janet Hoffman, executive director of the Transcendental Meditation Program for Women Professionals in the US, commenting on recent New York Times articles on outdated stereotypes of girls and women. TM 'allows us to dive within, where we effortlessly experience deeper levels of our being--more expansive and free from the limitations of self-doubt, stress and fatigue.' The TM technique 'enlivens full brain capacity so a person can truly express their full potential.' (more)

Scotland: Plans move ahead for Maharishi Vastu building in Edinburgh
17 November 2015 - The City of Edinburgh Planning Council has granted permission to build a substantial Maharishi Vastu building with eight attractive apartments and a spacious ground-floor commercial space for the teaching and practice of the Transcendental Meditation programme. David Rae, national director in Scotland, says, 'This building, virtually a palace of peace, will generate a transforming influence of coherence, order, and goodwill at an important time in Scotland's history.' (more)

Everyone can enjoy the practical benefits of the experience of transcending
11 November 2015 - More about the supreme value of the experience of transcending--the subject of Dr Craig Pearson's book, The Supreme Awakening: Experiences of Enlightenment Throughout Time - and How You Can Cultivate Them, now in an expanded second edition. Although rare until now, he writes, 'this experience can be systematically elicited' by anyone through the simple, effortless Transcendental Meditation technique--which 'enables the mind to settle inward, beyond thoughts, beyond perceptions, to experience the ocean of stillness that we all have within us'. The many practical, scientifically verified benefits of this experience include enhanced brain functioning, reduced stress, improved health, and increased intelligence and learning ability. (more)

David Lynch Foundation: Highlights of the Change Begins Within 2015 gala
5 November 2015 - On 4 November, Change Begins Within, a gala event at Carnegie Hall in New York City, celebrated another year of the David Lynch Foundation's successful initiatives bringing Transcendental Meditation to at-risk individuals including inner city school children, veterans suffering from PTSD, and women survivors of domestic abuse. The benefit concert featured performances by Katy Perry, Sting, Jerry Seinfeld, Jim James, Angelique Kidjo, and Sharon Isbin. Jerry Seinfeld said, 'I'm thrilled to be here tonight and to promote TM as a life tool, for helping things make sense.' (more)

Parenting: 'Transcendental Meditation increased my energy, resilience, and creativity'
21 October 2015 - 'I have absolutely no concept of how any parent can be the parent they want to be without the benefit of the practice of TM,' says Becky, a grandmother. 'TM increased my energy, resilience, and creativity, and the inner calm experienced during meditation stayed with me during the rest of the day.' She also notes that, 'having meditated just before the kids arrived home from school, I felt fresh and patient and able to deal with chaos.' Both Becky and her husband have enjoyed successful careers, 'but with our regular practice of Transcendental Meditation we've demonstrated that inner development is equally important to the enjoyment of [the children's] full potential as caring productive human beings.' (more)

Consciousness in poetry and prose
17 October 2015 - A poem by Sasha Kamini Parmasad inspires an essay exploring the 'immense value' of the experience of the transcendent--'the silent source of one's thought, the silent basis of one's self'--which 'has been enjoyed over the past 50 plus years by many people around the world who regularly practise the Transcendental Meditation programme,' writes Lesley Goldman. Scientists characterize it as a fourth major state of consciousness, distinct from waking, dreaming, and deep sleep, in which the body is deeply rested, the brain coherent, and the mind alert. This brings practical benefits for health and well-being, and its growing integration into daily life allows us to 'easily and naturally live the fullest value of life'. (more)

David Lynch Foundation announces Change Begins Within 2015 benefit concert
6 October 2015 - The David Lynch Foundation (DLF) officially announced its annual 'Change Begins Within 2015' benefit concert presented by Citi, which will be held at Carnegie Hall on 4 November. DLF will also celebrate the 10th anniversary of its work teaching Transcendental Meditation (TM) to at-risk populations worldwide. The evening will feature performances by meditators Katy Perry, Sting, Jerry Seinfeld, Jim James, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angelique Kidjo, and Grammy-Award winning classical guitarist Sharon Isbin. The concert will be hosted by long-time meditators ABC's George Stephanopoulos and David Lynch. (more)


Flops
10 Short Summaries of Top Stories


'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)

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)

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