The “Psychonauts” Training to Explore Another Dimension

Kevin Thorbahn found himself in a hotel lobby without quite remembering how he got there. There were flashes of brilliant light, indescribable geometric patterns, and the feeling of being blasted through a gigantic stained glass window. And then he was standing in the lobby, as if checking in for a long-planned vacation. All he knew was that he was enamored with the woman behind the counter. Although “woman” wasn’t quite right—it was more like an outline of energy, a feminine purple hue.

Inside America’s ‘Bermuda Triangle for missing people’

On a still-cold April morning at her home in Farmington, New Mexico, Bernadine Beyale knelt next to two of her dogs – the German Shepherd Trigger and a Czech Shepherd named Gunny – and applied juniper ash above their eyes.

Her Frenchie dog thought Beyale was dispensing treats and bullishingly lined up. So Beyale blessed him too in the Navajo way, even though he would be staying behind today.

Trigger and Gunny, meanwhile, were heading to work.

Beyale is the founder of Four Corners K9 Search an

Dojo Wars

On the night of April 24, 1970, a historic karate brawl broke out in Chicago between senseis and students from rival dojos (karate centers). The fight was not for an audience or a trophy. No one had seen anything like it outside of the movies. One thing was certain: Not everyone was going to get out alive.

They were introduced as the Dragon Lady and Count Dante.

Christy Carter, a 22-year-old Playboy Club bunny, sat next to John Keehan, 29, one of the country’s best known martial artists, on th

Even in Utah, Trump's Republicans Sour on Mitt Romney

A chorus of boos greeted Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) at a Republican Party state convention here in his adopted Utah last month — but for the former presidential hopeful and Mormon princeling, heckling from his party long ago lost the surprise factor.

Video of a detractor calling him a "traitor" at the Salt Lake City airport went viral online earlier in the year, and in February, he met President Joseph R. Biden in the Oval Office, prompting online vitriol.

As he entered the convention, he was w

'It's a powder keg ready to explode': In Greek village, tensions simmer between refugees and locals

Those looking from the windows of the Drop Center, a popular school and cafe for refugees in the Greek village of Moria, could tell the mood had turned on a warm morning in early February. Afghan mothers pushing strollers were heading back to the refugee camp, while young men were rushing in the other direction. A morning protest by around 300 asylum seekers over their squalid living conditions had begun peacefully enough inside the camp, home to some 20,000 people from 64 diffe

'They will destroy everything here': Turkish advance forces Syrians to flee homes as winter looms

Sleman Alshallah, 40, gathered his wife and five children outside his home with what little they owned — cooking pots, blankets and a rug — in the small northern Syrian farming village of Am Alkef last week. "We are ready to leave at any hour," said Alshallah.

It would be difficult to abandon his grandparents' farm and only source of income, he said. He looked north, in the direction of Turkey and dull thuds of fighting, where a mile away was the last defense against the adv

How an Abandoned Modernist Cinema Became a Revolutionary Symbol in Lebanon

A few months ago, a trickle of protesters converged on downtown Beirut, spurred by a proposed tax on the text-messaging platform WhatsApp. Within a few days, the crowd had swelled, and so had its aims: Demonstrators spoke out against sectarian rule, unemployment, and development that had transformed the area where they were standing into a playground for the rich. Their efforts helped oust the prime minister, but the protests have continued, and they have faced violent crackdowns by security for

He’s a Real Challenger in Cambodia's Sham Election

Sitting in a dim office of the Grassroots Democracy Party, behind an “organic” restaurant in Phnom Penh, Yang Saing Koma explains how in 1997, during his nongovernmental organization days, he helped his first farmer. The farmer ascribed to the widespread, yet mistaken, belief that to best grow rice one should plant many rice seeds together and flood the soil.

But this isn’t so, explains the agriculture Ph.D.–turned–opposition political candidate. To maximize yield a farmer should spread out the

Bali's Teen Surfing Sensation Has Olympic Dreams

Rio Waida was cold. He could barely feel his hands and feet sticking out of the wet suit he wasn’t used to wearing. And the water was … different. Not only was it colder, but it looked different. The ocean off the coast of Portugal this April was dark, the coast rocky. Nothing like his white sand beaches at home in Bali — crystal-blue water, no wet suit necessary.

But the 18-year-old surfer from Indonesia still had it pretty good, even if he was out in the first round of that competition. Altho

Farmers in Asia's Golden Triangle Seek a Coffee High

On a misty, cold day in Laos’ highlands, former opium farmer Bounsee Lorleuxai sips a three-in-one instant coffee. For years, that was the best he could do if he wanted the drink. Now he’s planning to switch to growing coffee himself, and the days of the three-in-one are numbered. “One day I hope to test coffee that I’ve grown myself,” he says.

Coffee has long served as a benign crutch to help fight darker addictions — think endless pots of caffeine at 12-step meetings. Now, farmers in Southeas

At 73, He's Fighting to Revive the Martial Art You've Never Heard Of

The story of San Kim Sean, which he is grateful to relay in the shade of his training camp during a scorching Cambodian September, really begins some 800 years ago with the birth of his martial art, bokator. Like most everything here in Siem Reap, where tourists flock to see the Angkor Wat temple complex, the roots stretch to the Khmer empire.

Kim Sean, 73, repeats the word for emphasis: “empire.” Known to his students as “Grandmaster,” he flips through a book he illustrated and wrote describin

The World's First Retirement Home for Bomb-Sniffing Dogs

Kaste, a black female Belgian Malinois, was born in Bosnia in 2006. A herding breed known for their intelligence, Malinois have been the go-to dog in modern times for dangerous but glory-filled work. Kaste, in fact, was drafted into service. She was shipped to the Cambodian Mine Action Centre in Kampong Chhnang Province, Cambodia, for training on clearing land infested with mines and unexploded ordinances. She was put on a mission to save lives.

And as a short-leash mine detection dog, she like

Cambodia’s Queen of Punk Wants to Kill the Love Song

Listen to a country’s music and you’ll learn some things. Pop songs spilling from radios tell you what the youth are dreaming about — or what dreams are being sold to them. And the sounds emanating from dark, underground venues are a clue to what they’re angry about, rebelling against. A country’s music is like its state of mind, etched into history like lines on a record.

Vartey Ganiva sits across from me at a cafe in Phnom Penh discussing the state of music in Cambodia — which, to her mind, i

The Dumpling Shop Owner at the Center of an Authoritarian Crackdown

The experiment in democracy that is modern Cambodia seems to have hit a bump in the road. Actually, if Cambodian democracy were a car, it would be in a rice-field ditch and the villagers (and international observers) smelling smoke. Twenty-five years after the United Nations Transitional Authority ended its stewardship of the country, and despite having a new constitution, years of relatively free elections and billions of dollars in foreign aid, residents are effectively living under single-par

Cambodian Protesters Turn to Spiritual Warfare as Last Resort

Addressing protesters before his trip to Australia in February, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen had a message, and it was unambiguous. “Do not burn my photo,” he said. “If you burn my photo, I will follow you home … I will follow you and beat you at home.” In Cambodia, there’s meaning beyond disrespect in burning someone’s image. Often, it’s seen as a malicious magic ritual — a curse. But if the Cambodian leader thought his threat would quell the protests against his now 33-year-long rule, he h

Intolerance Rising: Atheists at Risk in Malaysia

Earlier this month the Kuala Lumpur chapter of the non-profit Atheist Republic, an organization which “provides opportunities for non-believers around the world to gather with like-minded people,” posted a photo of a rare meetup of members.

The photo shows more than 20 men and women, mostly young, casually dressed, smiling, hands, cups or peace signs raised – all presumably non-believers.

The caption reads: “Atheists from all walks of life came to meet one another, some for the very first time

Syria’s Qamishli a window onto Turkish-Kurdish conflict across border

On the top floor of an unfinished concrete building in the northern Syrian city of Qamishli last week, a group of journalists milled around a video camera trained a few hundred meters away across the Turkish border to the city of Nusaybin. With the steady dull thuds of shelling in the background, the reporters, who were camped out to document the bombing in Nusaybin, smoked, drank tea, talked quietly around the recording equipment and ducked out to the balcony to snap photograp

Foreign volunteer unit fights to save lives in Syria

In northern Syria, a group of Western volunteers is trying to bring combat medics into the fight against the Islamic State (IS).

In September, when northern Syria was still hot enough for sand flies to bite, John Harding sat at a makeshift table of plywood and concrete bricks at a former dairy that is now a base for the People’s Protection Units (YPG). He was telling his favorite story from his second tour serving as a volunteer alongside YPG and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)

Reform school survivors allege abuse of their personal files too

Ashley Astle left Spring Creek Lodge, a residential facility for troubled youths in Montana, over a decade ago. She has never been back. “I'm not sure how deeply you want me to go into my experience of the program, but I will give you the short version. Basically, it was terrible,” she said. Last winter she started to hear disturbing rumors that reopened old wounds. Spring Creek Lodge closed in 2009 after a wrongful death suit after a student hanged herself, and the school sat d

Mormon women march for entry into priesthood

Julia Murphy traveled all the way from her home in Germany to stand last Saturday in Temple Square, the historic park complex that makes up the international headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Inside the square, sermons and hymns played on loudspeakers. Thousands of the faithful had arrived for the bi-annual General Conference, with many people lounging on the grass under a bright fall sun. The Mormon priests – that is, males older than 12 wh
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