Credit Alice Schalek / Hulton Archive/Getty Images
This image shows a Parsi Tower of Silence, circa 1955, near Mumbai, India. The bodies of the dead are left here to be disposed of by vultures.
Credit Kainaz Amaria / NPR
Zoroastrian priests pray to honor the dead inside a temple in Pune, India, on Aug. 18, 2010. Each of the dead is represented by a vase filled with flowers. Parsis forbid images of their funeral ceremonies, where the deceased are taken to the Tower of Silence and consumed by vultures and other birds of prey.
Credit Kainaz Amaria/NPR
Zoroastrian priest Ramiyar Karanjia fields questions during a meeting with young members of the faith in Pune, India, on May 13, 2010.
For any religion, keeping up traditions in the modern world can be a challenge. The Parsi community in India, however, faces a unique obstacle.
Parsis, who came to India from Persia (Iran) a thousand years ago with their Zoroastrian faith, have gone to great lengths to maintain their unique funeral rituals. But they've had to make a few adjustments to keep up with the times and to not upset the neighbors.
Parsi funerals begin in a way familiar to many faiths: prayers are chanted and mourners pay last respects.
When we heard that astronauts aboard the International Space Station took a spare toothbrush along on a spacewalk today and used it to help clean debris from around some bolts they needed to secure in order to install a power unit, it got us thinking.
Just how versatile are old toothbrushs? We know we've used them to:
-- Clean bike gears.
-- Get grime out of our hubcaps.
-- Get at the crust around a car battery's terminals.
Alex Zanardi celebrates winning the gold medal in the men's individual H4 time trial cycling final at the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Brands Hatch circuit, in Kent, southern England. Zanardi's legs were amputated after a racecar crash in 2001.
Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 5:33 pm
Alex Zanardi, who was a star racecar driver when he lost his legs in a 2001 crash, has won a gold medal in the London Paralympics. The Italian, 45, beat Germany's Nobert Mosandl by more than 27 seconds to win the men's handcycle time trial. The race took place at Brands Hatch, a track that Zanardi has previously tackled behind the wheel of high-powered racecars.
"Last time I was here I was going about five times faster but I still love this circuit," he said this week.
Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 5:45 pm
In public, at least, they're the best of friends. And no one will have a more public role extolling President Obama than his Democratic predecessor, former President Bill Clinton.
Clinton, who has already been featured in an Obama campaign ad, is speaking tonight at the Democratic National Convention in what is traditionally the prime spot reserved for the vice presidential nominee.
"He's clearly the best asset the Democrats have," says GOP consultant David Carney. "Clinton is their best surrogate."
The image of the lone genius toiling in isolation, finally emerging with a brilliant new concept is compelling, even romantic. Too bad it's not true.
Instead, innovation thrives in ecosystems, much as microbes flourish in a warm, cozy petri dish.
"There's an important geography to where innovation happens," says AnnaLee Saxenian, dean of the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley, who studies how regional differences affect innovation.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. The Democratic National Convention is underway in North Carolina. We'll speak with the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Philadelphia's Michael Nutter, about some of the local issues mayors are thinking about as they gather in Charlotte.
But first we want to talk about the message the Democrats are trying to send from the convention podium. Last night's keynote speaker was San Antonio's Mayor Julian Castro. He shared his American dream story.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up, there are a lot of college ranking guides out there, but we're going to tell you about one of them that says it rates colleges and universities on their value to you and to the country. That's ahead.
But first, we're following the Democratic convention in Charlotte, and while the spotlight is on national debates during the convention, we remember that old saying that all politics is local.
Switching gears now, school is back in session in much of the country and for many high school students that means it's time to look at colleges and, increasingly now, as more students go to college than ever, they and their parents are turning to rankings, such as the one published by U.S. News and World Report, to try to figure out the best fit.
Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 12:48 pm
The Pacific coasts of Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua are no longer the focus of tsunami warnings, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center announced just after 1 p.m ET.
As we've been reporting, there was a strong — 7.6 magnitude — earthquake in Costa Rica this morning. At first, there were concerns about possible tsunamis from Mexico south to Chile. As the day continued, however, authorities gradually reduced their warnings.
Originally published on Wed September 19, 2012 2:12 pm
When it comes to candy, most people fit into two camps — either you savor your candy, or you devour it right away.
If you're a "savorist," you'll be happy to learn that certain spherical candies can take up to a half-hour to dissolve if you don't bite into them, at least according to some research recently submitted to the journal Physics Education.
Looking to stem the recent wave of "green on blue" attacks in which men wearing police or military uniforms have killed more than 30 U.S. or other international forces, Afghan officials said today that they have "arrested or discharged hundreds of their country's soldiers," NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports from Kabul.
Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 9:27 am
President Barack Obama will not be in a stadium full of supporters on Thursday when he delivers his acceptance speech.
The Democratic National Convention said that because of the threat of thunderstorms, it was moving the events of Thursday from Bank of America Stadium to the Time Warner Cable Arena, the host of the first two days of events.
"For the first time in history," hundreds of millions of people in China are now wealthy enough to buy jewelry, combs and trinkets made of ivory and that's led to a huge spike in the illegal slaughtering of elephants in Africa, The New York Times' Jeffrey Gettleman said earlier today on Morning Edition.
Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 6:57 am
Check out this graph of America's "Growing Season" — it measures the number of continuous days and nights when it never gets below 32 degrees. You could call this our "frost-free" time of year. In many places, the frost-free season begins in the spring and ends somewhere in October.
As you can see, over the 20th century, it's been staying frost-free longer...and longer...and longer...
Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 3:19 pm
Bill Clinton will add yet another chapter to his storied career tonight when the former president places in nomination the name of the current president, Barack Obama.
It will be the focal point of the evening and for some, perhaps, the most newsworthy moment of the entire convention. The old Clinton-Obama feud remains an endless source of political gossip, and the convention planners are happy to have the former president's supposedly unedited and unvetted remarks as a rare source of suspense. Maybe it will help the ratings.
Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 6:23 am
Before we run through the news of the day, let's pause for something spectactular: a new video from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. It shows a "massive filament" eruption on the sun that occurred last Friday. As Britain's The Register says, it is "mind-bogglingly gorgeous."
Next week's election in the Netherlands could seal the fate of Amsterdam coffee shops that also sell pot to foreign tourists. Some parties favor, and others oppose, a plan to restrict the shops' business. Cafe owners are struggling to get their customers to the polls.
(SOUNDBITE OF "MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL" THEME MUSIC)
GREENE: Yes, to some like me, the sound of the fall. To others, a signal that you're not going to see your spouse or good friend on Sunday afternoons, because they've disappeared into the bar or man cave. Yes, NFL football begins tonight with the New York Giants battling the Dallas Cowboys and then much more action this weekend.
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is among the scheduled speakers at the Democratic Convention tonight. The former brew pub owner is one of the most popular governors in the country, and the Obama campaign hopes his popularity will help the party, once again, with the battleground state of Colorado in November. Kirk Siegler of member station KUNC has this profile.
Tuesday night at the Democratic National Convention, speaker after speaker made the case that voters should give President Obama four more years. Ronald Brownstein of the National Journal tells Steve Inskeep that to get that chance; the president will need to win 80 percent of minority voters.
First Lady Michelle Obama was one of the stars on the first night of the Democratic National Convention. She delivered a ringing, impassioned plea for the re-election of her husband, President Barack Obama.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been visiting Chinese officials, talking of mutual cooperation, despite a lot of tension. So far her visit to Beijing has produced no breakdowns but also no breakthroughs. Here's NPR's Louisa Lim.
State Department officials have been saying that Secretary Clinton wants to push the Chinese on a surprising issue: elephants. Thousands of African elephants are being slaughtered for their ivory. The New York Times reports they are the latest plunder taken by armed African groups - a little like blood diamonds - and most of the ivory goes to China. Jeffrey Gettleman wrote the Times report after spending time in a national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He's on the line from that country. Welcome to the program.