Life and Style Members of Falun Gong spiritual movement meditate at the Lafayette Park. A new study has suggested that spiritual activity such as meditation may hep prevent depression by thickening the brain cortex

Those who place a high level of importance on spirituality and religion were found to have thicker cortices in the areas normally associated with thinning in people at risk, than those who did not

Ginsberg nears the end with serenity

Allen Ginsberg, founding voice of the Beat generation and the man who coined the term "flower power", has been diagnosed with terminal liver cancer, it was announced yesterday. The 70-year-old poet is being cared for in his Manhattan apartment. According to his friend Bill Morgan, he is calmly writing poetry, practising Buddhist meditation and planning "to finish his life's work".

Why teaching is sexy in the States

Catherine Edwards thought she wanted to be a paediatrician and then, at the age of 19, she took a class at UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles) called Education 180. "I realised that the reason I wanted to be a paediatrician was to help other people, especially children, and that I could accomplish this by being a teacher."

OBITUARY : Hugo Weisgall

The composer of 10 operas staged in the United States between 1952 and 1993, Hugo Weisgall also wrote several ballets, many songs (including eight song cycles), choral works, chamber music and liturgical settings. He was also an excellent conductor, teacher and administrator. Three of his operas, Six Characters in Search of an Author, based on Pirandello's play, Nine Rivers from Jordan, with a text by Denis Johnson, and Esther, taken from the Bible, were derived from works by Wedekind, Strindberg, Yeats, Racine and Mishima. In 1995 he won the William Shuman Award, donated by Columbia University to an American composer for a lifetime's achievement.

Marriage Plc: make sure you read the small print

Behind every corporate man is a corporate wife. And now she's getting angry. Hester Lacey on the divorce case that's dividing America

Home truths in black and white

Whatever the opposite of a welcome is, the Reith Lecturer Patricia Williams got it. Perhaps because what she says is true. By Yasmin Alibhai- Brown

Bill Clinton's guru is gown but not out

George Stephanopoulos, erstwhile wunderkind of the Clinton kitchen cabinet and briefly touted as election adviser to Tony Blair, is to become a visiting professor at his alma mater, Columbia University, when he leaves the White House at the end of this year.

Letter: Correct view of Columbia's courses

Sir: In his recent article about my colleague Simon Schama ("Coming to terms with magic", 5 April), Bryan Appleyard describes Columbia University as "one of the American institutions most spectacularly crippled" by "political correctness", where "all that is white and European" is held in contempt. This is as inaccurate a description of Columbia as can be imagined. At the core of our undergraduate curriculum is a series of courses, required of all students, that traces the history of Western political thought, literature, music and art. Columbia pioneered these courses in the Twenties and retained them after most American universities dropped such requirements.

So what's the big idea, Mr Etzioni?

Amitai Etzioni, communitarian guru, believes happy families make a moral society. Beatrix Campbell asks if that is enough

How I visited London, and survived


Out of America: Questioning an age of innocence lost

WASHINGTON - I have a confession - I am addicted to quiz shows. The first volley of questions, and I am glued to the television or the radio.

Washington counts cost of fat America getting fatter

ANYONE who has ever bought a sandwich in a New York deli or anywhere in the United States for that matter, knows Americans are fat because they eat too much.

Snobbery blossoms in borders and the shrubbery: 'Plant war' over gardening taste

VISIT the big spring flower show at Harrogate this week and you will see suburbanites in their hundreds carrying away dahlias, lupins, primulas, begonias, busy Lizzies and clashing bright pansies. They know what they like but they are hopelessly unfashionable. If they followed the lifestyle magazines and the elite gardening professionals they would go for less obtrusive plants, preferably in soft pink, pale blue, lilac and white.

Obituary: Professor Edith Porada

Edith Porada, historian, teacher and writer: born Vienna 22 August 1912; Associate Professor of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University, New York 1958-63, Professor 1963-74, Arthur Lehman Professor of Art History and Archaeology 1974-81 (Emeritus); died Honolulu 24 March 1994.

Obituary: Jose Coronel Urtecho

Jose Coronel Urtecho, poet: born Granada, Nicaragua 1906; died Los Chiles, Nicaragua 19 March 1994.

The solitary felid in strange, factual poetry: The African Leopard - Theodore N Bailey: Columbia University, pounds 70

LEOPARDS have got it made. Cheetahs depend for their superlative sprinting speed on light, fragile bones; and are so vulnerable to the depredations (or perhaps just the predations) of hyenas, lions and vultures that only one cub in eight makes it to adulthood. Leopards, on the other hand, are both the most glamorous of the big cats and the most successful. They have a robust 50 per cent survival chance and are extremely adaptable: they like mountains and jungles, rivers and deserts. Usually they get through one tasty impala per week, but when pushed they can go 15 days without a drink.
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