Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 4:10 pm
There's a moment of chilling violence in Catching Fire, the second of four planned movies adapting Suzanne Collins' dystopian Hunger Games novels, a moment in which the difference a director makes becomes immediately clear — and one that should give hope to readers who might have felt some disappointment with the first movie.
Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 3:03 pm
Following police through Mexico's Ciudad Juárez — reputedly the world's homicide capital — the Israeli filmmaker Shaul Schwarz finds mutilated corpses and gutters running with blood. But the resulting documentary, Narco Cultura, is not nearly so vivid as its most gruesome footage.
The political class was aflame Thursday with outrage (Republicans) and triumph (Democrats) as Senate Democrats voted to hem in the minority party's ability to filibuster most presidential nominees.
By a 52-48 vote, the Democratic-controlled Senate carried out the so-called nuclear option. The leadership will now allow a simple majority of senators to override filibusters on nominations, with the exception of those to the Supreme Court.
Previous precedent, in place since the 1970s, required a 60-vote "supermajority" to end a filibuster.
More than 200 Marines have been training since late September in the pine forests of North Carolina. They've been hiking for miles carrying 87-pound packs and assault rifles, sleeping in the field, attacking mock enemy positions.
And for the first time, women took part in the training. Three of them made it to the end and graduated Thursday morning.
They were there at Camp Geiger to answer the question of whether women have what it takes to become combat infantry Marines.
For the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, nothing seems to come easy.
The agency runs at a fraction of the size of its much larger law enforcement counterparts. Under pressure from gun rights groups, it operated without a Senate-confirmed leader for seven years. And its new leader, B. Todd Jones, only narrowly averted a congressional roadblock to win confirmation this summer after serving more than two years as an interim leader.
The number of homeless people in the U.S. has declined for the third straight year. New numbers from the Department of Housing and Urban Development show a large decrease in the number of homeless veterans. Though there are still large numbers of homeless, mainly concentrated in large cities, including New York City and Los Angeles.
Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 6:54 pm
The Senate passed a major change to its filibuster rules Thursday. Now, the minority party can no longer easily block nominees, except for those to the Supreme Court. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced the measure after Republicans had stalled the nominations of three judges to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Robert Siegel talks to Republican Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi about the change. Earlier this year, Wicker helped strike a deal with Democrats to avert the so-called "nuclear option."
Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 6:54 pm
Senate Democrats, furious about Republicans blocking President Obama's judicial and executive branch nominations, took a dramatic and historic step Thursday. They voted to detonate the so-called nuclear option, which will curb filibusters on most nominations, allowing them to be approved by majority vote.
So just who sits on this Loya Jirga, or grand council, and what power do they have? Thomas Gouttiere has observed Afghan Loya Jirgas in action, in 1964 and 2004. He directs the Center for Afghanistan Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Professor Gouttiere, thanks for being with us.
THOMAS GOUTTIERE: It's good to be with you again.
BLOCK: So, 2,500 delegates. We just heard them referred to as elders and other elites. Who are they?
The number of homeless people in the U.S. shrank from 2012 to 2013, according to a large government study that found the number of veterans and others who are homeless declined for the third straight year. But homeless numbers rose in New York and other states, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The study also found that nearly 20 percent of homeless people were in either New York City (11 percent of the U.S. total) or Los Angeles (9 percent).
Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 4:57 pm
Should a pregnant woman whose behavior has been deemed dangerous to her fetus be legally punished or forced into medical procedures against her will? A study released earlier this year found hundreds of cases across the country where pregnant women were arrested and incarcerated, detained in mental institutions and drug treatment programs, or subject to forced medical interventions, including surgery.
Just as the food stamp program has been hit with funding cuts, a small study out of Harvard has found that the program isn't doing enough to ensure that its participants get a complete and nutritious diet.
The researchers wanted to find out how much the benefits provided through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a critical source of food aid for 47 million needy Americans, improved individuals' food security.
I'm a bit of a cynic when it comes to composer anniversaries but this year, marking 100 years since the birth of Benjamin Britten, has been absolutely fascinating for me. I am now living proof that such centenaries can indeed change the way we look at a composer and provide us with opportunities to explore their breadth and depth. In Britten I have found a new hero, a musically surprising and multi-dimensional citizen of the world.
Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 3:20 pm
Understanding you exist as a person happens a lot sooner than you might think.
A study involving 40 cute, pudgy babies found that they were aware of their bodies — and even displayed a sense of ownership of them — less than two days after being born.
Both of those qualities are key ingredients in realizing your own existence, says the study's lead author, Maria Laura Filippetti, a doctoral candidate specializing in cognitive development at Birkbeck College, University of London.
Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 4:44 pm
Seven EU countries say they want to join forces and start making their own military drones by 2020 rather than relying on the Americans.
The EU Observer website reported that the proposed "Medium Altitude Long Endurance (Male) craft ... can be used to strike military targets or for surveillance of migrant boats in the Mediterranean Sea."