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Canada's Prime Minister Harper returns India's lost 'Parrot Lady' sculpture to PM Modi
18 April 2015 - An ancient Indian statue that turned up in Canada four years ago after it mysteriously vanished is being returned to the country of its origin. Prime Minister Stephen Harper presented his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, with the so-called 'Parrot Lady' sculpture during an event Wednesday on Parliament Hill. The life-sized statue, believed to be some 900 years old, depicts a dancing woman with a parrot resting on her head. (more)

Denmark: It may be a small European country, but it's also seriously amazing
18 April 2015 - A BuzzFeed staff writer has posted captivating photos of Denmark saying it is 'The best and most underrated European country.' To see the photos: (more)

Meet the harmonium king of Queens, New York (+ audio and video)
18 April 2015 - Mindra Sahadeo lives Richmond Hills neighborhood of Queens, New York. The apartment he shares with his mother and sister doubles as a harmonium workshop. The instrument connects Sahadeo to his family's roots in India. His great-grandparents moved from there to Guyana, part of a wave of migrant workers at the turn of the 20th century, and they brought India's music with them. Sahadeo moved from Guyana to New York five years ago and started tuning up harmoniums at the Hindu temples and Sikh gurdwaras in his neighbourhood. Then demand grew and he started charging for repairs. 'Harmoniums for us are like sacred,' Sahadeo says. 't's part of us, our culture and tradition and everything.' (more)

US: President Obama celebrates gospel songs as 'the songs of hope'
14 April 2015 - Kicking off a celebration of gospel music, President Barack Obama said Tuesday that this particular genre of music had helped to shape America, beginning with the slave era and continuing on through the civil rights movement and beyond. 'It still has an unmatched power to strike the deepest chord in all of us, touching people of all faiths and of no faith,' he said as he opened the latest in a series of White House concerts, this one celebrating the role of gospel music in American life. Gospel songs are the 'songs of hope,' he added. Earlier Tuesday, Michelle Obama said gospel music is a 'ray of hope' that fueled her love of music in general. (more)

Thailand: Songkran water festival
13 April 2015 - The Songkran festival, also known as the water festival, marks the start of Thailand's traditional New Year and is believed to wash away bad luck. Following is a photo slideshow from Reuters of the Songkran water festival. (more)

The Songkran Festival: Celebrating the Thai New Year
13 April 2015 - The Songkran festival, marking the traditional Thai New Year, is celebrated each year from April 13 to 15. The throwing of water was traditionally a sign of respect and well wishing during the festival. Following is a slideshow from The Baltimore Sun of the festival. (more)

First Nations languages part of global study on how kids learn mother tongue
12 April 2015 - Three indigenous languages still spoken in Canada are among a group being studied as researchers attempt to understand how children around the world learn their vastly different mother tongues. Researchers already know that children have little problem learning to speak their native language. What's not well understood is exactly how this happens. Much of the initial research on Inuktitut and East Cree is already underway or been done. The other languages in the study are Turkish, Japanese, Russian, Sesotho, which is spoken in southern Africa, Yucatec Maya in Mexico, Chintang in Nepal, and Indonesian. (more)

Thailand's Songkran Festival -- How to soak up the world's biggest water fight
10 April 2015 - Often referred to as the world's biggest water fight, Songkran is a three-day festival during which revelers splash water on each other. This year's main days of celebration are April 13-15 though some Thai cities stretch out the fun a few extra days. On the first day of festivities, many families and friends celebrate by visiting temples and pouring water on each others' hands as a blessing. People also pour water -- a symbol of cleansing and purification -- over Buddha statues. (more)

US study: Sense of 'mission' may keep young women from risky behaviours
10 April 2015 - Having a sense of purpose in life might help young people avoid risky behaviour, a new study suggests. 'When I was in clinic seeing teenagers, there was something intangible about a kid who had a sense of purpose in life, saw life as having some kind of meaning beyond their immediate pleasure,' said Dr Nancy Dodson, who led the study while at Boston Children's Hospital. For the new study, the researchers defined a sense of mission or purpose as having far-reaching goals, wanting to make a difference in the world, and making progress toward that. Dodson said mentoring and other volunteering could help young adults. 'I think it's also a call to parents to be active in their parenting and help foster a sense of self-worth, sense of purpose, and sense of the larger world around them,' she said. (more)

New York couple returns stolen Andean paintings to Bolivia (with AP video)
9 April 2015 - Two colonial-era paintings that were stolen from a provincial church in 2002 have been returned to Bolivia by the New York City art collectors who purchased them unaware of their history. Richard and Roberta Huber presented the large paintings to Bolivian President Evo Morales on Thursday at the Presidential Palace. (more)

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

A writer's perspective: An interview with Sasha Parmasad
16 April 2015 - 'This is what the process of transcending though Transcendental Meditation helps you realize,' says award-winning writer Sasha Kamini Parmasad, on the value of TM in the creative process, and how her perspective has evolved as one committed to effecting social change. 'You transcend the sphere of thoughts, get in touch with silence, come out refreshed, elevated--this elevates the consciousness of the world. So the path to improving the world is simple. All we have to do is dip daily into that delicious ocean of silence, our essence, and enjoy ourselves. The light we access, we bring into the world, into our relationships. Writing as an act of seeing, emptying, also allows one to transcend the sphere of what is seen and engenders inner transformation.' (more)

Cultural harmony through women and the five fundamentals
6 April 2015 - 'More than ever, in our multicultural country and world, we as women need to honour, embrace, and rise to our creative role as nurturers, collaborators, and harmonizers,' writes Cynthia Johnson. 'There is so much potential for rich mutual learning and growing, but there is also potential for misunderstanding, tension, and eruptions of conflict. Just as women are so often the harmonizers in the smaller unit of families, we need to embrace our role as harmonizers in the larger families of our cities, nations, and the world.' Through the practice of Transcendental Meditation, she writes, 'we can tap into the harmony deep within ourselves as a foundation to create harmony, healing, and progress in our communities and our world.' (more)

Japan: National Transcendental Meditation facility features Maharishi Vastu design
28 March 2015 - The national headquarters of the Transcendental Meditation organization in Japan, the Maharishi Institute of Total Education, is located in Nasu, approximately one and a half hours north of Tokyo. It is not only an organizational headquarters but offers many residential courses to those already practising Transcendental Meditation, as well as the opportunity to learn TM in this serene setting. The largest wood structure in all of Japan, 4,800 sm (51,500 sf), with a striking copper roof, it is a wonderful example of the use of natural materials--a key element in Maharishi Vastu construction, according to a recent newsletter featuring Maharishi Vastu architecture and design in Japan. (more)

Japan: Maharishi Vastu homes designed to connect individual and cosmic life
24 March 2015 - The second of three Vastu buildings in Japan featured in the current Maharishi Vastu newsletter was completed in the autumn of 2014. It is the most recent of several private homes in Ryugasaki, northeast of Tokyo, that have been designed and built according to Maharishi Vastu architecture. Like another Vastu home in the area, it features lovely wood interiors, traditional Japanese features, and an abundance of natural light on both levels. (more)

Jerry Seinfeld's parenting secret - Huffington Post
5 March 2015 - Actor Jerry Seinfeld recently hosted his inaugural Fatherhood Lunch in Beverly Hills, California--part of the Fatherhood Initiative he launched with his wife, Jessica, to help low-income fathers become more involved in their children's lives. In an interview he described benefits he has found in family life from practicing Transcendental Meditation. 'In family living, there are what (former US President) Harry Truman would call 'borderline moments' -- where you get close to the borderline of snapping,' he said. 'The practice of meditation gives you those crucial extra few seconds to gather yourself. It's an actual physical change in the brain. Instead of a reflexive moment of anger, you might be able to go, 'well let me not do that right now. . . .' (more)

'I meditated before I hosted the Oscars,' says actor Hugh Jackman
3 March 2015 - For award-winning actor Hugh Jackman, Transcendental Meditation has been a 'life-changer'. In a recent interview, Hugh said, 'Transcendental Meditation gives you what you need, when you need it. It's literally changed my life. Some of the clearest ideas or epiphanies I've had in life happened during or after meditating. Everything becomes clear and the truth starts coming out. . . . It's helped me immeasurably in every way.' Mr Jackman was interviewed by Bob Roth, Executive Director of the David Lynch Foundation and host of the SiriusXM radio show, Success without Stress. (more)

Japan: Homes combine traditional Japanese elements with benefits of Maharishi Vastu architecture
1 March 2015 - The first of three Vastu buildings in Japan featured in the current Maharishi Vastu newsletter was built in 2008. It is one of several private homes in Ryugasaki, northeast of Tokyo, that have been designed and built according to Maharishi Vastu architecture. (more)

Interview: Former professional football player Ruben Sanchez on the benefits of Transcendental Meditation
27 February 2015 - Ruben Sanchez is a former professional football (soccer) player from Spain who now dedicates his time to bringing Transcendental Meditation to athletes around the world. In a recent interview he discussed the value of TM in sports and in his life. One week after he learned TM, he says, 'The coach moved me into a forward position. I started scoring and giving passes. In a forward position, you need creativity. To have creativity, you cannot run aimlessly around . . . . You have to be grounded, able to compute everything--active but grounded. Those were the things TM gave me. I was more composed. I could perform better and be creative, not just destructive.' (more)

Actress Laura Dern: 'Transcendental Meditation is very practical!'
19 February 2015 - Celebrated Actress Laura Dern, winner of four Golden Globe Awards, recently described the role the Transcendental Meditation technique has played in her success. 'I feel incredibly blessed to have it in my life, just as a practical application. . . . If you're an actor, a painter, or a mother--there's no greater daily practice for learning how to turn your focus just to this moment. TM serves me beautifully in so many areas. I feel really lucky to have it!' (more)

Actress Cameron Diaz feels 'empowered' by Transcendental Meditation
9 February 2015 - Actress Cameron Diaz finds Transcendental Meditation 'not just something you go outside of yourself to obtain. . . . TM is helping you to tap into something that's already inside of you--that's you, in essence. That was super-empowering for me once I grasped that.' In a recent interview she said, 'The thing that blew me away the most about it was that it was the easiest thing I've ever done--not the easiest meditation, but the easiest thing I have ever learned.' Ms Diaz is enthusiastic about many benefits from better relationships to enhanced quality of work on the movie set. 'To be able to go inside and recharge my battery . . . . It's so awesome.' (more)

10 Short Summaries of Top Stories

Alcohol use in movies tied to teen drinking
16 April 2015 - In a study of 15-year-olds in the UK, those who had been most exposed to alcohol use in films were also most likely to have tried alcohol, and about twice as likely as the least exposed to have been binge drinking. The results are in line with research from the USA, Europe, and elsewhere that links youth 'viewing of depictions of alcohol use in movies and the onset of drinking, regular drinking, binge-drinking, and alcohol-related problems,' said lead author Andrea Waylen of the School of Oral and Dental Sciences in Bristol, England. (more)

A year after kidnap of schoolgirls in Nigeria, hope dwindles (+ AP video)
14 April 2015 - They have been gone a year now, the hundreds of girls abducted by Islamic militants from their school in northeastern Nigeria. The new President Tuesday would not repeat his predecessor's failed promise to find them -- only that they won't be forgotten. Several of the girls' parents have died -- some killed in Boko Haram attacks, some of illnesses like high blood pressure that residents blame on the trauma related to their lost daughters. At least 2,000 women and girls have been abducted by Boko Haram since 2014, forced to become sex slaves and fighters, Amnesty International said Tuesday. Unknown hundreds of boys and young men also have been kidnapped and forced to fight for Boko Haram. Those who refuse are killed. (more)

It's official: many women become invisible after 49
13 April 2015 - In a world of data-driven policies, there is one group in society that barely registers and is at risk of missing out on crucial resources and services, according to researchers -- older women. Much international data, including metrics on health, employment, assets, and domestic violence, appears to back up the anecdotal view that women become invisible in middle age. The data sets start at the age of 15 and stop abruptly at 49. (more)

US: Impoverished tribe struggles to stop surge in teen suicides
13 April 2015 - The people of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation -- a sprawling expanse of badlands on the South Dakota-Nebraska border -- are no strangers to hardship or to the risk of lives being cut short. But a string of seven suicides by teenagers in recent months has shaken this impoverished community to its core and sent school and tribal leaders on an urgent mission to stop the deaths. 'The situation has turned into an epidemic,' said Thomas Poor Bear, vice president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Suicide has been a persistent problem, a fact that is hardly surprising considering the grim prospects for a better life on the remote grasslands, say tribal officials. But the teenagers' deaths are especially shattering. (more)

For Afghan women, violence remains entrenched despite gains
7 April 2015 - Rights workers say violence and abuse against women remains one of Afghanistan's most deeply entrenched problems, even as the government tries to build greater rights for women. Even measuring the extent of abuse is difficult. In 2014, for example, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission received 2,026 reports of violence against women, up from previous years. But Hussain Mohsen, of the group's investigation department, said variations from year to year are usually just technical blips and that the problem in general is more pervasive. 'The violence is so high and was high in the past as well,' Mohsen told AP. (more)

Terror attack in Tunisia a fresh blow to tourism industry
20 March 2015 - The terror attack in Tunisia that killed 21 people is a fresh blow to the North African nation's tourism industry, which has been struggling since the country's revolution of 2011. Tourism to Tunisia plunged after the revolution in 2011 led to the overthrow of an authoritarian president and augured the so-called Arab Spring. The country has set forth on a democratic path since but the number of tourists never fully recovered. And yet 2015 began with promise for Tunisian tourism. National Geographic Traveler listed Tunis on its top 20 destinations for 2015, citing its 'cultural energy,' festivals, and yes, the Bardo museum, known for antiquities. (Foreign tourists scrambled in panic Wednesday after militants stormed the Bardo museum in Tunisia's capital and killed 19 people.) (more)

IS destroying another ancient archaeological site in Iraq
7 March 2015 - Islamic State militants continued their campaign targeting cultural heritage sites in territories they control in northern Iraq, looting and damaging the ancient city of Hatra just one day after bulldozing the historic city of Nimrud, according to Iraqi government officials and local residents. The destruction in Hatra comes as the militant Islamic group fended off an Iraqi army offensive in Saddam Hussein's hometown and fought pitched battles in eastern Syria in an area populated by predominantly Christian villages. Iraqi officials in the northern city of Mosul said Saturday that Islamic State militants have begun demolishing Hatra, a move UNESCO described as 'cultural cleansing'. (more)

Nigeria's Boko Haram pledges allegiance to Islamic State
7 March 2015 - Nigeria's home-grown Boko Haram group, newly weakened by a multinational force that has dislodged it from a score of northeastern towns, reportedly pledged formal allegiance to the Islamic State group. The pledge to IS came in an Arabic audio message with English subtitles alleged to have come from Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau and posted Saturday on Twitter, according to the SITE Intelligence monitoring service. Though there was no way to independently verify the message, it comes weeks after Boko Haram's new Twitter account broadcast that the group's Shura council was considering whether to swear formal allegiance to IS. In earlier video messages last year, Shekau sent greetings and praise to both al-Baghdadi and leaders of al-Qaida. But Boko Haram has never been an affiliate of al-Qaida, some analysts surmise because al-Qaida considers the Nigerians' indiscriminate slaughter of Muslim civilians as un-Islamic. (more)

IS group erasing history, culture in Syria, Iraq
6 March 2015 - The Islamic State group's destruction of the ancient city of Nimrud in northern Iraq is part of a systematic campaign to destroy archaeological sites it says promote apostasy. Some of the world's most precious cultural treasures, including ancient sites in the cradle of civilization, are in areas controlled by the group and at the mercy of extremists bent on wiping out all non-Islamic culture and history. The rampage, targeting priceless cultural artifacts often spanning thousands of years, has sparked global outrage and accusations of war crimes. The militants are also believed to be selling ancient artifacts on the black market in order to finance their bloody campaign across the region. Here's a look at some of the major sites destroyed by IS in Iraq and Syria, and others under their control: (more)

Outrage: Extremists take ancient statues, damage Iraqi site
6 March 2015 - Islamic State extremists trucked away statues as they damaged the irreplaceable remains of an ancient Assyrian capital, a local resident and a top UN official told The Associated Press Friday. Nimrud, a nearly 3,000-year-old city in present-day Iraq, included monumental statues of winged bulls, bearded horsemen, and other winged figures, all symbols of an ancient Mesopotamian empire in the cradle of Western civilization. Iraq's most revered Shiite cleric, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, said in his Friday sermon that the extremists are savaging Iraq, 'not only in the present but also to its history and ancient civilizations'. 'I'm shocked and speechless,' said Zeid Abdullah, who lives in nearby Mosul and studied at the city's Fine Arts Institute until the extremists shut that down. 'The destruction of Nimrud is a big loss to Iraq's history,' Qais Mohammed Rasheed, the deputy tourism and antiquities minister, told The Associated Press on Friday. 'The loss is irreplaceable.' (more)

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