Journalist Jonathan Alter sees the 2012 presidential contest as the most consequential election of recent times. In his new book, The Center Holds, Alter argues that President Obama's re-election prevented the country from veering sharply to the right.
In a speech in Germany Wednesday, President Barack Obama said it's time to take "bold action" on climate change. Many believe that major changes to policies on carbon emissions lie ahead, which would mean a host of new regulations for businesses.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai reportedly pulled his representatives out of planned peace talks because of the flag and the nameplate at the Taliban office in Doha, Qatar. Both were legacies of the time the Taliban ruled the country and illustrated how sensitive such symbols can be.
A flag and a nameplate: Those seemingly innocuous items were apparently the reason that Afghan President Hamid Karzai abruptly refused to participate in peace talks also involving the Taliban and the U.S.
The flag was the same white flag the Taliban used when they ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. The nameplate bore the words "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan," the name used by the old Taliban government.
Over the past several weeks, we checked in with our colleagues and friends in a series of conversations called "Looking Ahead," today, poet Nikky Finney. Two years ago, she riveted the audience as she accepted a National Book Award for her poetry collection "Head Off & Split."
Ever so quietly this week, the national arts scene became a bit more fragmented, a bit more stratified and a lot more invisible. The Associated Press has just spiked a chunk of its opera, dance and off-Broadway coverage. And in this case, no news is bad news.
In an email, AP chief theater writer Mark Kennedy described the decision to me:
As New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano on The Sopranos, which ran on HBO from 1999 to 2007, James Gandolfini created a character that helped open television to a new era of great and nuanced acting. When he died in Italy on Wednesday at the age of 51, fans around the world were shocked.
And as Fresh Air's television critic David Bianculli noticed, there was an instant online outpouring that celebrated "what an iconic performance he gave us in terms of television."
In the 1500s, Italy is bursting with some of the most influential and vivid figures in history. Many — like Leonardo da Vinci, who balanced art and the sciences; Galileo Galilei, who turned his telescope to the heavens; and Niccolo Machiavelli, who calculated the ruthless politics of the day — are still remembered even now for their major contributions.
Author Sarah Dunant has drilled down into the Italian Renaissance for over a decade — reconstructing a time of artistic innovation, political corruption and war into captivating, and highly accurate, fiction.
For a little more than a month now, we've been reporting on the IRS's flagging of Tea Party and conservative groups for extra scrutiny. Through it all, some basic questions remain: Who ordered the targeting? And why?
We don't have any satisfying answers to those questions yet — and it seems neither do the congressional investigators. But along the way, as new revelations have trickled out, we've noticed some surprising and even puzzling facts about the situation that haven't gotten much attention.
Yesterday, seven people were killed and 24 wounded in bomb attacks in Iraq as a surge of violence there continues, 2,000 dead since April; numbers that haven't been seen since the worst days of 2006 and 2007. Then as now, the fighting is largely between Sunnis and Shiites, but this time, inflamed by the civil war raging next door in Syria.
A person having a stroke may not be in a war zone, but his or her life is in danger all the same. That's enough to trigger post-traumatic stress disorder in some stroke survivors, researchers say, with symptoms like panic attacks, nightmares and flashes of anger.
Face mask-clad Singaporeans enduring record-breaking smog got some more bad news from their government on Thursday: The pollution may last awhile.
The choking smog that blanketed the city-state earlier this week, generated by burning clear-cutting fires in Indonesia, has gone well beyond the "hazardous" level on the Pollutant Standards Index, hitting 371 on Wednesday before coming back down to about 250. The previous record was 226, reached in 1997.
Originally published on Fri June 21, 2013 10:01 am
When the State Department released its annual report on human trafficking Wednesday, we got a chilling reminder that even in 2013, slave labor is still embedded in the global food system.
As many as 27 million men, women and children are estimated to be trafficking victims at any given time, according to the report. And some of those victims, the State Department says, are later forced to work in agriculture and food processing (though no one has a good idea how many).
Originally published on Wed September 25, 2013 5:47 pm
Idaho native and folk-rock singer-songwriter Josh Ritter has been named one of the 100 Best Living Songwriters by Paste. Ritter's seventh album, The Beast in Its Tracks, was released last March. Inspired by the breakup of his marriage, the record offers a raw and personal account of heartbreak and recovery.
Soldiers approach armored vehicles after a training exercise at Fort Bliss, Texas, in January.
Credit Juan Carlos Llorca / AP
Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard, the commanding officer at Fort Bliss until last month, spearheaded efforts to break the taboo on seeking help for mental issues. Pittard, shown here at Fort Bliss in 2012, also implemented mandatory interactive suicide prevention training.
Originally published on Thu June 20, 2013 12:53 pm
We don't know how, but we missed a major scandal brewing in the Navy for decades. It's important, so even if we're a little late to the story we still wanted to point it out: Cap'n Crunch is an impostor.
The Cap'n was unmasked on June 14 by a food blogger, who noticed the uniform he wears on cereal boxes had the stripes of a commander, not a captain. That is: A captain has four stripes on his sleeve, while a commander has three.
In the battle-scarred land of Westeros, there exist esteemed kings, queens and knights. But they have got to sit somewhere. While this round actually has nothing to do with the HBO series Game of Thrones, it is indeed a game of thrones. House musician Jonathan Coulton doles out clues to different types of chairs.
Plus, Coulton concludes the game with a royal cover of Dave Edmunds' "Queen of Hearts."
How well do you know your television history? In 1926, NBC was created as a radio network, moved toward television in the thirties, then aired Today, followed by The Tonight Show and eventually, Saturday Night Live. We're sure other important things happened in between. In this game, host Ophira Eisenberg offers up the names of three similar-sounding TV show titles, and you have to put them in chronological order.