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Stolen Van Gogh paintings back in Amsterdam after 14 years
21 March 2017 - Two paintings by Vincent Van Gogh were unveiled, barely damaged, at an Amsterdam museum on Tuesday, 14 years after they were stolen in a mafia heist. The works ... are from a period that was crucial to the post-impressionist master's development as a painter. 'They are back,' said Van Gogh museum director Axel Rueger ahead of the unveiling of the paintings, each valued by investigators on their recovery by Italian police six months ago at 50 million euros ($53.97 million). 'I never thought I'd be able to say these words.' (more)

Happiness report: Norway is the happiest place on Earth
20 March 2017 - Norway is the happiest place on Earth, according to a United Nations agency report...The World Happiness Report measures 'subjective well-being' -- how happy the people are, and why. It looks at factors including economic strength (measured in GDP per capita), social support, life expectancy, freedom of choice, generosity, and perceived corruption. The World Happiness Report was released to coincide with the United Nations' International Day of Happiness on 20 March. (more)

Norway tops global happiness report
20 March 2017 - Norway jumped to top spot in the World Happiness Report despite the plummeting price of oil -- a key part of its economy -- but researchers said it's the 'human things' that matter, such as a feeling of community which is strong in the Scandinavian country of 5 million. In the report on 155 countries, Denmark fell to second, followed by Iceland, Switzerland, and Finland. (more)

How to revive a 500-year-old dying language
19 March 2017 - Until two years ago, university student Kevin Martens Wong had never even heard of his ancestral tongue, let alone spoken it. The Singaporean linguist was researching endangered languages when he stumbled upon Kristang in a book. As he dug deeper, he realised it was the language of his maternal grandparents. But today there may be as little as 50 fluent speakers left, according to researchers' estimates. ... But Mr Wong and a group of language enthusiasts hope to change things. (more)

Ireland: Mythic creatures dance through Dublin on St. Patrick's Day
17 March 2017 - Performers dressed as colorful creatures from Irish myth and legend danced Friday down the chilly streets of Dublin as Ireland commemorated its national saint in a St. Patrick's Day parade witnessed by hundreds of thousands. The spectacle was heavy on artistic flair and worldwide connections, featuring marching bands from Germany, France, Switzerland, the Bahamas, and the U.S. states of Illinois, Indiana, Oregon, and Washington. Firefighters from Berkeley, California, and Westchester, New York, also marched. This week, Prime Minister Enda Kenny and 27 government ministers -- virtually the entire government -- left Ireland to promote the country's business, arts, and culture at more than 100 events in 27 nations. (more)

New Zealand river granted same legal rights as human being
16 March 2017 - After 140 years of negotiation, Māori tribe wins recognition for Whanganui river, meaning it must be treated as a living entity. The local Māori tribe of Whanganui in the North Island has fought for the recognition of their river -- the third-largest in New Zealand -- as an ancestor for 140 years. Two guardians will be appointed to act on behalf of the Whanganui river, one from the crown and one from the Whanganui iwi. (more)

US: A flower show offers some calm amid the storm
12 March 2017 - In Philadelphia, the soothing influence of Dutch gardeners. The venerable Philadelphia Flower Show . . . America's largest and oldest flower show . . . is scheduled to run from March 11 through March 19. The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's flower show this year, 'Holland: Flowering the World,' celebrates the beauty of the Dutch landscape and the ingenuity of the country's green technologies. (more)

International Women's Day: UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Anne Hathaway to focus on the need for parental leave
8 March 2017 - Along with a wide range of events across the globe, in New York, the commemoration of International Women's Day will include a special event at the United Nations Headquarters, bringing together activists, celebrities, business industry leaders, UN senior officials and Member States. António Guterres in his first International Women's Day commemoration as UN Secretary-General; along with Peter Thomson, President of the 71st Session of the General Assembly; Lana Nusseibeh, President of UN Women Executive Board; Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women; Casar Jacobson, disability activist and youth champion; singer and songwriter Jayna Brown; and American award-winning actor and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Anne Hathaway will participate in the event.  (more)

International Women's Day spotlights impact of changing world of work
7 March 2017 - At a time when women's voices are rising around the world, International Women's Day will be commemorated globally on 8 March through a rich diversity of initiatives, celebrating women's achievements, opportunities and potential, while reflecting on this year's theme of ''Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030''. . . . A broad range of dynamic events will be organized by UN Women, ranging from film festivals, panels, solidarity marches, seminars and press conferences to arts, sports and academic activities. In more than 50 countries, from Thailand to Rwanda, Belgium, Tunisia, Turkmenistan and Ecuador, UN Women will partner with governments, universities, civil society, youth organizations and other UN agencies to organize high-profile events. (more)

Women's mosque goes solar in India clean energy push
6 March 2017 - Set up 20 years ago in a remote corner of Lucknow, Ambar Mosque is known for promoting women's rights and putting up visitors to a nearby hospital. Now the female-led faith centre - where women pray alongside men - is installing solar panels to set an example of clean energy in Uttar Pradesh, a state lagging behind its targets. At 1kW, the system generates a fraction the electricity of the coal plants that dominate India's power mix. But it is expected to meet three quarters of the mosque's modest lighting and cooling needs - and its founder hopes to inspire others. (more)


Success of Maharishi's Programmes
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Interview with Bob Roth: 'TM gives you more focus, more energy, more edge to do what you want to do'
3 March 2017 - In a recent Format Magazine interview, Bob Roth, executive director of the David Lynch Foundation, explained that with Transcendental Meditation, you don't have to suffer for your art. 'Every one of us has a level of our mind right now deep within us that's already calm and settled and peaceful and wide awake, and it's said to be the source of our unlimited creativity. Transcendental Meditation is a simple technique to access that reservoir of creativity that lies within.' It works even if you don't believe in it, he said, and pointed out research findings of increased integration of brain functioning and activation of the prefrontal cortex during the practice. 'TM allows the mind to settle down to the point where you can hear a pin drop in the universe, and . . . creating from that state, is unbelievably powerful and satisfying and impactful.' (more)

Creativity and Transcendental Meditation: 'My silent awareness started to burst with creativity'
21 February 2017 - Where does creativity come from? 'The inner world of consciousness is the source of all creativity,' writes Ann Purcell, teacher of Transcendental Meditation and author. At the deepest level of the mind is a field of pure silence, or Being, which is beyond all the to-do lists, thoughts and feelings at the surface levels of our awareness, she explains. Anything can be created from this deepest level, in 'any field of expression - artistic, athletic, business. The more your awareness is open to the unbounded, limitless blank canvas of your mind, the more you can draw upon this field of infinite creativity.' Transcendental Meditation is a direct means to do this - a technique to 'go beyond the surface level of the mind until you transcend even the finest thinking level and experience the source of thought.' Not long after learning TM, she says, 'My silent awareness started to burst with creativity, with words and rhythms that were embedded in my soul.' (more)

Editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, Michele Promaulayko on Transcendental Meditation: 'I'm a huge proponent of it'
17 February 2017 - Before becoming editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, Michele Promaulayko worked in health journalism, with access to the greatest minds in the field of mental and physical well-being. So it's no surprise that as a spokesperson for an integrated approach to healthy living, she is an avid fan of Transcendental Meditation. With rigorous research backing up the effectiveness of the practice, TM for her is an all-round wellness tool. 'It's just good on a physiological level. Good for your body, good for your brain.' She feels that if TM 'became a universally accepted practice, it would have this incredible domino effect on the world. . . . for me to have gone from a sceptic to a passionate endorse, says a lot about how deeply I believe in it.' (more)

Muriel Nellis on 57 years of passion for publishing: 'Transcendental Meditation made my creative journey joyful'
8 February 2017 - In her long, prolific career in publishing, Muriel Nellis has worked with the White House and NIH, and launched her own top-selling agency, Literary and Creative Artists. 'Like many women today, I have had to fulfil so many roles at once,' she says, about managing the demands of business, family and civic life. 'I finally learned that juggling is much easier if you practise Transcendental Meditation. TM was life-saving to me.' It also 'made my creative journey joyful. . . . What I really gain, every time I meditate, is a whole new sense of myself. When I stepped out of a meeting to meditate, and came back newly alert and focused, I knew that I'd just gotten in touch with a source of energy and coherent strength always within me. It's a profound tool that every woman owns and it's all inside. It's uniquely yours.' (more)

Jennifer Lopez on Transcendental Meditation: '20 minutes a day in the morning and at night - it was necessary'
31 January 2017 - American singer, actress, dancer, fashion designer, author, and producer Jennifer Lopez learned Transcendental Meditation 'because it's overwhelming sometimes, doing all of the things I do at once. . . . 20 minutes a day in the morning and at night. It was necessary.' She felt the need for something to keep her grounded, and TM is an important part of 'a whole rounded regimen that deals with your mind, your soul, your spirit and your body. It's working out, it's dancing, it's meditating. And then, at the end of the day, just being happy, being with my kids and feeling the love and the joy that they give me. All of that helps balance it out, so work doesn't feel so crazy.' (more)

Interview: Transcendental Meditation helps actor Matt Bomer 'really centre myself and quiet myself'
17 January 2017 - Matt Bomer made his way to the top in a hypercompetitive entertainment industry, earning prestigious awards such as the Golden Globe on the way. Men's Fitness recently interviewed the star of the current series, The Last Tycoon, to discover the secret behind his success. As expected, the topic of Transcendental Meditation, which Bomer has practised for years, came up. 'It's helped me in a lot of ways,' he said, 'because I think it enables me to sort of get out of my own head, to get all the different voices going on kind of centred and focused.' Professionally, 'working with other creative people it helps to come from a centred place so you're able to stay in touch with yourself and your own voice in the midst of everyone else in the room who has their own agenda and take on things.' (more)

Tim Ferriss on Transcendental Meditation as a Tool for Titans
3 January 2017 - Author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss's popular self-help books have all swiftly reached the top of The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestseller lists. The latest, Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers, is based on interviews with more than 200 world-class performers including celebrities, athletes, and scientists. Writing in The Observer recently, he says more than 80 per cent of those he interviewed were using meditation to get better results with less stress. Ferriss himself practises Transcendental Meditation. Initially he was 'afraid of ''losing my edge'', as if meditation would make me less aggressive or driven. That was unfounded; meditation simply helps you channel drive toward the few things that matter, rather than every moving target and imaginary opponent that pops up.' (more)

'Twin Peaks' actress Sherilyn Fenn: Transcendental Meditation is 'life-changing' - Washington Times interview
8 December 2016 - Sherilyn Fenn, renowned for memorable acting roles on American TV shows including ''Gilmour Girls', 'In Plain Sight', and the classic David Lynch series 'Twin Peaks', has been practising Transcendental Meditation for two years. She says it has been 'life changing'. During production of the upcoming revival of 'Twin Peaks', set to air in 2017, Sherilyn says, director and writer Lynch 'has all of us doing [TM] on set'. She also discusses the expansion and deepening range of her emotional life in what she considers 'her greatest role: as mom to two boys'; and how her work has evolved with age: 'The beauty of age is we grow, we learn. We have more wisdom.' (more)

Ramayana: The hero's journey and the quest for enlightenment
10 November 2016 - Linda Egenes shares what she learned about Transcendental Meditation as 'a way to effortlessly unfold the hero or heroine inside us - a way to reach for our highest self.' While teaching writing to a 'lively group of octogenarians' she found 'that every life is heroic, every journey a quest for growth and a better way of living.' But how can we be the heroes of our own stories? She concludes that 'the most important thing I can do for myself and others around me is to stay rested [in order] to think more clearly. Research shows that [TM] has an effect not only in [our] thinking more creatively and profoundly, thus making better decisions, but in creating more harmonious relationships and engaging in higher moral reasoning. In Ms. Egenes' abridged version of the Vedic epic The Ramayana: A New Retelling of Valmiki's Ancient Epic - Complete and Comprehensive co-authored with Dr. Kumuda Reddy, she describes how the heroes 'invariably reach for the highest course of action, the one that will bring happiness to everyone around them.' (more)

Creativity and consciousness: An interview with author Linda Egenes
1 November 2016 - Author of over 500 articles and six books, Linda Egenes describes how her creativity and mental clarity have developed through regular practice of Transcendental Meditation. She also talks about her newest book, co-authored with Kumuda Reddy, MD: The Ramayana: A New Retelling of Valmiki's Ancient Epic - Complete and Comprehensive. 'The Ramayana is the most widely read epic in the world today,' Ms Egenes says. 'Although it's the oldest epic on earth, it's a wonderful story for our modern times, because it features two enlightened people who, even though pressed to their limits, exhibit ideal qualities of kindness, compassion, tolerance and forgiveness to every person they meet.' In this shorter version of the 'charming and beautiful story', the authors decided to 'use a novelistic format but still retain the underlying wisdom of the original'. (more)


Flops
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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