A report (pdf) released today by Human Rights Watch accuses the government of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela of consolidating power in the executive branch and using that power to intimidate his opponents.
"The accumulation of power in the executive, the removal of institutional safeguards, and the erosion of human rights guarantees have given the Chávez government free rein to intimidate, censor, and punish Venezuelans who 'offend' the president or obstruct his political aims," the report found.
Pop music in the 21st century has been flush with precise re-creations of '60s and '70s American R&B — think of Sharon Jones, Adele, Raphael Saadiq and the late Amy Winehouse. Meanwhile, I've been waiting for a similar revival of Jamaica's R&B: ska, rocksteady, roots-reggae.
In case you were living under a rock last winter, here's a quick refresher on the phenomenon known as "Linsanity."
In just a few weeks, Jeremy Lin — a lanky Asian-American point guard who played his college ball at Harvard — went from a benchwarmer to a star. He led an unlikely winning streak that made the long-downtrodden New York Knicks seem momentarily relevant in the NBA title hunt.
"This kid has single-handedly done the unthinkable: made people want to watch the New York Knicks," Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert said, joining the media frenzy.
Several presidential battleground states are moving quickly to reach agreements with federal officials to access a U.S. immigration database to purge noncitizens from voter rolls.
The states, including some with large Latino populations, are following Florida, which last week reached its own pact with the Department of Homeland Security to use a database that contains information about immigrants who are in the U.S. legally. The states' efforts had initially been blocked by DHS until the agency relented.
Donald Sobol, the creator of the beloved character Encyclopedia Brown, died last week of natural causes, his family says. He was 87. The first in the Encyclopedia Brown series book was published in 1963, and the series has never gone out of print.
Crime novelist and forensic pathologist Jonathan Hayes has this appreciation of the character Sobol gave young readers.
While other boys got hooked on books about sports legends and race car drivers, there was something about Donald Sobol's boy detective Encyclopedia Brown that spoke to me right away.
"Schedules compress, priorities change and people often become pickier in what they want in their friends," Alex Williams writes in a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/15/fashion/the-challenge-of-making-friends-as-an-adult.html?_r=1">piece</a> in <em>The New York Times</em>.
Making close friends after college can be challenging. As the days of dorm life, dining halls and synchronized schedules fade, it can be tough to form solid bonds. Once marriage and children enter the scene, adults have even less say in choosing friends.
In a piece for The New York Times, writer Alex Williams explores his own changing friendships and his sometimes failed efforts to connect.
4Chan is a cesspool. That's not even editorializing. A few minutes on the notorious, free-for-all Internet message board that gave birth to Anonymous will — in the famous words of Gawker — "melt your brain."
But every once in a while, they do the right thing — like today.
As Hypervocal reports, last night a 4Chan user posted a picture of someone standing on two containers full of lettuce with the taunting caption: "This is the lettuce you eat at Burger King."
A lone pig roots through trash dumped over the side of a sewage canal that runs from the center of Port au Prince through Cite de Dieu. During the rainy season, the canal overflows its banks and fills nearby houses with sewage, which can carry cholera.
A few years back, Sally Koslow was settling into an empty nest. Her two 20-something sons were launched out of the house and into the wider world. Then, suddenly and unexpectedly, her sons landed back home. She was startled and depressed to learn they were part of a much larger trend.
According to the Pew Research Center, one-fifth of young adults aged 25-34 live in multigenerational households. The bad economy is the main contributing factor, but the trend also reflects shifts in social norms.
Originally published on Tue July 17, 2012 12:30 pm
Over half of U.S. states will have to close a combined budget gap of 55 billion dollars, according to a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in the 2013 fiscal year. To avoid raising taxes, most states are implementing continued cuts to deal with budget shortfalls.
Originally published on Tue July 17, 2012 12:32 pm
A year after South Sudan declared its independence, intractable problems remain: tribal conflict, oil disputes, corruption, hunger and continued fighting. New Yorker staff writer Jon Lee Anderson traveled to the remote Nuba Mountains, in Sudan, where the conflict between north and south rages on.
It's been years since manufacturers voluntarily stopped using the plastic additive BPA (Bisphenol A) in sippy cups and baby bottles. But now they have no choice. The FDA announced it has formally banned BPA from these products.
The jazz musician Ravi Coltrane, 47, didn't make his burden any lighter by choosing to play tenor and soprano saxophones — the same instruments his father, John Coltrane, indelibly stamped with his influence.
Ravi knew early he needed his own voice. On tenor, he has his own ways of bending and inflecting a note, applying flexible vibrato. Even when his noble sound bears witness to his heritage, Ravi Coltrane can draw on his father's language and make it his own.
Chris Truitt holds a photo of his daughter, Alyssa, who died when she was 2, at his home in De Forest Wis. After donating her organs and tissues, he decided on a career change that made him rethink tissue donation.
The story of how Chris Truitt went from being a tissue industry insider to an industry skeptic starts with a family tragedy.
In 1999, his 2-year-old daughter, Alyssa, died of a sudden health complication. Truitt and his wife, Holly, donated their daughter's organs and tissue, which saved the life of another young girl, Kaylin Arrowood.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney continued Tuesday to push back on calls to release more years of tax returns and defended keeping investments in offshore accounts — both issues that have been dogging his run for the White House.
Originally published on Tue July 17, 2012 11:03 am
High-profile experts are staging two separate Washington press conferences Tuesday to demand action on public-debt problems. One group is targeting state budget crises; the other, the federal budget mess.
If the ancient Greek philosopher Plato were still alive, he might hold a third press conference to declare: "It's hopeless. I told you so. Democracy will always degenerate into chaos because people will vote for their immediate self interests, not the long-term good."
An Afghan man rests after walking on his new artificial leg at the International Committee for the Red Cross Ortho Center in the eastern city of Jalalabad, last month. Many Afghans continue to be injured by mines.
Credit Rahmat Gul / AP
A de-mining expert demonstrates how to find land mines in a training area near Hakim Village in central Afghanistan, where Soviet mines dating to the 1980s are still a danger.
Credit Sean Carberry / NPR
Afghan soldiers walk toward a U.S. Army mine-sweeping vehicle in southern Afghanistan on June 10. Roadside bombs remain a major threat to U.S. and Afghan troops, as well as civilians.
Windblown villages of mud houses surround the huge Bagram Airfield north of Kabul. These poor villagers make a living in ways that can also kill them: They graze their animals or forage for scrap metal — often on a NATO firing range.
The East River Range dates to the 1980s, when the Soviet army occupied Afghanistan. It's full of mines, grenades and other ordnance that should have detonated during training exercises over the years. It sprawls along a mountainside and grazing areas. It's poorly marked, and only small sections are clearly identified by signs and concrete barriers.
Originally published on Tue July 17, 2012 12:32 pm
The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has produced a record-breaking laser beam at its National Ignition Facility. The lab's system of 192 beams produced more than 500 trillion watts and 1.85 megajoules of laser light onto a 2-millimeter in diameter target.
In April, the Vatican announced that three American bishops (one archbishop and two bishops) would be sent to oversee the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, a member organization founded in 1956 that represents 80 percent of Catholic sisters in the United States, to get them to conform with the teachings of the Church.
Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee have inserted into a broad appropriations bill language that would block funding for a Labor Department effort to reduce the occurrence of black lung, the disease that afflicts coal miners exposed to excessive mine dust.
The bill covers appropriations for Fiscal Year 2013 for the Departments of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services. Tucked away deep inside the measure is this language:
Any woman who has bought health insurance on her own probably didn't find herself humming the old show tune, "I Enjoy Being a Girl." That's because more than 90 percent of individual plans charge women higher premiums than men for the same coverage, a practice known as gender rating.