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Pilgrims gather for cosmic-like ritual in Bulgaria’s mountains

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Thousands of pilgrims gathered Monday in Bulgaria’s Rila mountains to welcome their “spiritual” new year with a cosmic-like dance performed in concentric circles, creating a striking image on the verdant mountain plain.

The white-clad dancers hiked up to Bulgaria’s Seven Rila Lakes at an altitude of 2,100 metres (6,900 feet) and performed a special meditative dance known as “paneurhythmy” for more than an hour under the sound of singing and violins.

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They are followers of the Universal White Brotherhood — an esoteric society that combines Christianity and Indian mysticism and was founded by Bulgarian theologian Peter Deunov back in 1897 but banned during communism and still considered a sect by the country’s Christian Orthodox Church.

It emphasises brotherly love, healthy habits, positive thinking and living in harmony with nature.

The movement does not keep track of its numbers but is believed to have tens of thousands of followers worldwide, possibly more — the majority of them in France, Belgium and Switzerland but also as far as the US, Canada, Mexico, Iceland and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Its followers believe that positive cosmic energy is at its strongest in the region of the Seven Rila Lakes around August 19 and that paneurhythmy will help them channel it and spread it around the world.

“Paneurhythmy combines music and movement (…) With these exercises we get in touch with the physical, the spiritual and the divine worlds,” said Ventsislav Kuninsky, a 59-year-old machine engineer and follower of the Universal White Brotherhood for 30 years.

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Others found purely individual pleasure and health benefits in the exercises that seem graceful and easy but are in reality quite strenuous to perform.

“For me this is a recharging, a reconnection to nature, the road to good health and the road back to my heart because nowadays we have become very reasoning, we think a lot.

“Here, as banal as it may sound, everything is love,” said 40-year-old Ralitsa Kovacheva, who discovered Deunov’s teachings five years ago.

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NFL Commissioner Goodell apologizes for league’s indifference to players’ protests against racism

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On Friday, CNN reported that National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell is acknowledging his organization turned a blind eye when his athletes took a knee to protest racism and police violence, and issued a formal apology.

"We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest," Goodell said in a newly released Instagram video. "It has been a difficult time for our country. In particular, black people in our country. First, my condolences to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and all the families who have endured police brutality."

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Maxine Waters calls for Trump’s Cabinet initiate the 25th Amendment ‘before this would-be dictator takes us all down’

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Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) called for Donald Trump to be removed from office on Friday.

"Is there one brave member of Trump’s cabinet who would move to initiate the 25th Amendment to remove him from office?" Waters asked on the president's favorite social networking platform.

The 25th Amendment would allow Vice President Mike Pence to ascend to the presidency if a majority of Trump's cabinet declares "the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office."

"Now is the time to save our country before this would-be dictator takes us all down!" Waters warned.

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US planning to slash troops in Germany: report

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US President Donald Trump has ordered the Pentagon to slash the number of troops it maintains in Germany by more than a quarter in the coming months, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The newspaper said the Defense Department would cut the number of military personnel by 9,500 from the current 34,500 permanently assigned to Germany postings.

The Journal also said a cap of 25,000 would be set on how many US troops could be inside German at any one time, whether in permanent postings or temporary rotations, half of the current allowance.

The move would significantly reduce the US commitment to European defense under the NATO umbrella, though it could also impact Pentagon operations related to Africa and the Middle East.

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