By Brian Tracey Associate editor

U.S. stocks have had a tough time recently, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffering its worst one-week point drop in five years. No worries though, as a Midwest meditation group promises their good vibrations will send the blue-chip index past 17,000 within a year.

A group calling themselves the Invincible America Assembly made that claim and more last week, insisting they have America's prosperity under control and their positive vibes will bring fewer hurricanes and better U.S.-North Korean relations.

Using group transcendental meditation, the assembly — which has 1,800 people meditating daily in Iowa since it was formed in July 2006 — releases harmonious waves which benefit all aspects of U.S. life, spokesman Bob Roth told Reuters.

And the group's leader, John Hagelin, said when that number reaches 2,500 within the next 12 months, America will see a major drop in crime and the virtual elimination of all major social and political woes.

Asked what it would take to achieve world peace, Hagelin said such a utopia would need 8,000 meditators.

The group takes credit for, among other things: The Dow Jones Industrial Average reaching a record high of 14,022 before its most recent downturn, unemployment rates falling to a six-year low at 4.5 percent, and North Korea shutting down its nuclear reactor.

It operates two facilities in Iowa, where followers practice several hours of transcendental meditation each day.

And while most people may be skeptical of the ability of meditation to bring such change, Roth said the Assembly was not going to try to change people's opinions.

"We're not trying to convince anyone of anything," Roth said. "We're just doing it."

Great, after they fix all our 401k plans, here's hoping they tackle the slumping housing market next.

Not-so-bad ideas

  • In Ypsilanti, Mich., history lives on with people's underwear.

Two artists/entrepreneurs are selling hot pink underwear screen-printed with the word "Ypsipanty" as part of an effort to keep alive the city's historical place in the underwear business.

Linette Lao and Mark Maynard have sold nearly 200 pair of Ypsipanties.

Ypsilanti, about 30 miles west of Detroit, was home to the Ypsilanti Underwear Co. from the late 1800s until the early 1900s. From its factory on the banks of the Huron River, the company at one time helped link the city's name with underwear.

"We were just thinking about Ypsi-positive things that we could make," Maynard told The Ann Arbor News for Sunday editions. To them, he said, the idea was "fun and playful without being disrespectful."

"And it drew on Ypsi's history as an underwear capital," he said.

They should now come out with a thong version and call it the Itsy-Bitsy Ypsipanty.

  • The operator of the soon-to-be defunct Sellafield nuclear-power plant in Britain are spending $3.2 million to change its name... to Sellafield Ltd.

According British newspaper the Daily Mirror, the owner of the site, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, claims the rebranding is money well spent.

But local antinuke activist David Moore disagrees. "Such a huge amount would have been terrific to clean up the site, with the rest going to the community. It has taken from us for 50 years, so it's about time they put something back."

The new logo consists of the new name, a blue circle and three wavy lines. Signs, vehicles, stationery and uniforms will all be changed to carry the design.

Councillor Norman Clarkson described the move as "absolutely staggering". He said: "We have been campaigning for a hospital round here. Why don't they contribute to that?"

A Sellafield insider said: "It's a change of image. The idea is to get rid of the word nuclear from our title. Everyone knows what Sellafield stands for, the new name's just much simpler."

Apparently simple doesn't come cheap anymore.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.


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