Charlotte, N.C., host of the 2012 Democratic National Convention, is the nation's biggest financial center outside of New York. But Charlotte and surrounding Mecklenburg County have the highest foreclosure rates in the state, and many thousands of homeowners owe more on their homes than the properties are worth.
As thousands of Democrats converge in Charlotte for the convention, some troubled homeowners have also gathered, lamenting that the foreclosure crisis has not been sufficiently front and center in the presidential campaign.
The number of U.S. families struggling to put enough food on the table remains at record-high levels, according to new figures out today from the government. Last year, 1 in almost 7 households were what the government calls "food insecure." That's about the same level as in 2010, but still far higher than before the recession.
In addition to surveying the planets, the Voyager mission also spent time studying the planets' satellites, or moons. This mosaic image, taken in 1989, shows Neptune's largest satellite, Triton. Triton has the coldest surface temperature known anywhere in the solar system.
The two Voyager spacecraft launched on Aug. 20, 1977, and Sept. 5, 1977, on a mission to explore Jupiter and Saturn. This true-color image, captured by Voyager 2 on July 21, 1981, shows the moons Dione (small dot at left) and Rhea (lower right) near Saturn.
As Voyager 1 passed by Jupiter on Feb. 5, 1979, it captured this image of the planet and its Great Red Spot, as well as three of its four largest moons — Io, Europa and Callisto.
The Great Red Spot on Jupiter, seen here in an image from Voyager 1 taken on Feb. 25, 1979, is a giant, hurricane-like storm in Jupiter's atmosphere. It's been documented for at least 400 years by astronomers viewing the planet through telescopes.
After the Voyager craft surveyed Jupiter and Saturn, NASA extended their mission and sent Voyager 2 on to Uranus and Neptune. Voyager 1 kept traveling outward. This image of Uranus was captured by Voyager 2 in 1986, when it was about 600,000 miles from the planet. Uranus' pale blue-green color is a result of methane in the atmosphere.
About three years later, in 1989, Voyager 2 reached Neptune, where it captured this high-resolution color image, which shows bright cloud streaks on the planet.
This image, also taken in 1989, was the first to show Neptune's rings in detail.
Violin with music score (Cavatina)
The Golden Record
Diagram of conception
Diagram of continental drift
Diagram of vertebrate evolution
Man from Guatemala
Children with globe
Demonstration of licking, eating and drinking
X-ray of hand
Street scene, Asia (Pakistan)
Astronaut in space
The two Voyager spacecraft launched on Aug. 20 and Sept. 5, 1977, on a mission to explore Jupiter and Saturn. This true-color image, captured by Voyager 2 on July 21, 1981, shows the moons Dione (small dot at left) and Rhea (lower right) near Saturn.
Credit NASA / JPL
This artist's drawing shows one of the Voyager probes, which were launched in 1977. Voyager 1 is hurtling toward the edge of the solar system and might be close to reaching interstellar space, researchers say.
The Voyager 1 spacecraft's 35th anniversary is proving to be unexpectedly exciting, as scientists gathered this week to examine new hints that the spacecraft is on the verge of leaving our solar system.
Voyager 1 is now more than 11 billion miles away from Earth. It blasted off in September 1977, on a mission to Jupiter and Saturn. But it also carried a Golden Record filled with music and the sounds of our planet, in case it encountered intelligent life as it moved out toward the stars.
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 Alice Schalek / Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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.
Yoram Hazony founded the Shalem Institute in Jerusalem in 1994. He is currently president of the Institute for Advanced Studies at the Shalem Center, and head of the institute's project in Jewish Philosophical Theology.
Hebrew scripture is a "message in a bottle," says Yoram Hazony, and in The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture, he tries to decipher that message. Hazony's new book makes the case for a different reading of the ancient texts — and argues that the Hebrew Bible is a work of philosophy in narrative form.
Cities around the nation have tried a variety of approaches to revitalizing their urban cores. Some have turned to repurposing old infrastructure to breathe new life into neighborhoods.
One such effort is under way in the nation's capital, where the redevelopment of a bridge linking a wealthy part of the city with a lower-income one may present an opportunity — if an ambitious park plan can be brought to fruition.
Armstrong Ngutyana (left), 55, and Dumisani Mjolwa, 65, were gold miners during the apartheid era. Both worked underground for nearly three decades. They developed lung disease and were forced to quit their jobs, but received only minimal compensation. They are now part of a class-action lawsuit against South African mining companies.
Credit Anders Kelto for NPR
A team of paralegals interview former miners in a primary school in Bizana, in South Africa's rural Eastern Cape province. The legal team is screening miners to see if they have lung disease. It's part of a class-action lawsuit against South African gold mining companies.
South Africa's mining industry is under heavy scrutiny after 44 people died during protests at a platinum mine near Johannesburg. Now, the industry is facing challenges on another front: Lawyers have filed a class-action lawsuit against three of the country's biggest gold mining companies.
They're suing on behalf of miners who worked during the apartheid era and now have lung disease.
A settlement in the case — and another like it — could reach into the billions of dollars.
When students and teachers at School 16 in Rochester, N.Y., start the new school year in a newer school building, they'll leave their old building's laundry list of infrastructure problems behind.
As teachers finish unloading boxes and setting up their new classrooms, they hope the newer, nicer digs will give students renewed pride in their school. Education experts say the move could also bring a bump to the school's flagging test scores, because better school buildings actually improve academic performance.
Originally published on Mon September 3, 2012 4:06 pm
The astronomer in me will tell you that summer officially ends on Sept. 22. That's the date of the Autumnal Equinox, the point in Earth's orbit where the hours of day and night are equal. That definition is fine for a scientific understanding of the cosmos, but when it comes to experience, we all know that summer really ends on Labor Day. And in that division between the ways we meter time (for science or business) and the way we actually live time, there is a Labor Day lesson we might keep close to our hearts all year long.
Syrian air force jets bombed the rebel-held town of Al-Bab in northern Syria on Monday, killing at least 18 people, according to Syrian activists.
Over the summer, the rebels gained control of a number of towns and villages along the Syrian-Turkish border. Now, those places are being bombarded from the air and from the ground by government forces.
Azaz, in northern Syria's Aleppo province, is one of these places. There, the tombstones in the old section of the town's cemetery are laid out in neat rows.
Crowd funding began as a way to support the arts on the Internet. Artists could go online to pitch a new album, for example, in the hope that thousands would give small amounts. But now it's expanded to entrepreneurs, and the rules aren't quite as clear.
Democrats today, for the most part, balance between two slightly competing ideas: that government is part of the solution, while still acknowledging that it can be part of the problem. Meanwhile, they're up against a long-running Republican messaging campaign against "big government."
The concept of big government goes back to around the beginning of the 20th century. Princeton historian Julian Zelizer traces the idea to the Wilson administration and its initiatives, including the creation of the Federal Reserve.
Many people in Missouri are still backing GOP Rep. Todd Akin — some more strongly than before — after his controversial remarks about rape and pregnancy.
Akin was polling ahead of the incumbent, Democrat Claire McCaskill, in the U.S. Senate race in Missouri, but his support fractured into several distinct camps after his comment that women's bodies can block pregnancy in cases of "legitimate rape." (He has since apologized.)
Moon and his wife are introduced during the Affirmation of Vows part of the Interreligious and International Couple's Blessing and Rededication Ceremony, 2002, at New York's Manhattan Center. Some 500 to 600 couples participated in the New York ceremony, and an estimated 21 million couples participated worldwide via a simulcast to 185 countries.
Credit Stephen Chernin / AP
Moon leaves the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Conn., July 4, 1985. Moon was imprisoned in 1984 after being convicted of tax-evasion charges. He left Danbury to serve the remainder of his sentence at a halfway house in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Credit Bob Child / AP
Moon and his wife participate in the traditional invocation of a blessing at a mass wedding in Seoul's Chamsil gymnasium, where 6,000 couples from about 80 countries were married in 1982.
Moon appears before a capacity crowd of 2,000 in 1974 in New York's Madison Square Garden, where he preached for the rebirth of Christianity. His appearance was part of a 40-city U.S. tour that year.
Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church, and his wife, Han Hak Ja, attend the ceremony after the Peace Cup final match between Hamburger SV and Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma at Suwon World Cup Stadium on July 22 in Suwon, South Korea.
Credit Kiyoshi Ota / Getty Images
Captain Heiko Westermann (third right) and Son Heung-Min (third left) of Hamburger hold the trophy with Moon, as they celebrate after winning the Peace Cup final match.
Credit Kiyoshi Ota / Getty Images
Moon spreads holy waters during a mass wedding ceremony arranged by his Unification Church at Sun Moon University in Asan, south of Seoul, South Korea, in October 2009.
Credit Lee Jin-man / AP
Couples from around the world participated in the mass wedding ceremony.
Credit Lee Jin-man / AP
Bridegroom Uriah Buscovich from California and his bride, Moona Field from Argentina, exchange their wedding rings during the mass wedding ceremony.
Credit Lee Jin-man / AP
Moon celebrates his 80th birthday in 2000 in Washington, D.C. Religious leaders, diplomats and friends from 150 nations marked the occasion.
Credit Neshan Naltchayan / AFP/Getty Images
Rev. Sun Myung Moon (left), founder of the Unification Church, and his wife, Han Hak Ja, attend the ceremony after the Peace Cup final match between Hamburger SV and Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma at Suwon World Cup Stadium on July 22 in Suwon, South Korea.
Credit Kiyoshi Ota / Getty Images
Couples from around the world participate in a mass wedding ceremony arranged by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church in South Korea in 2009.
Rev. Sun Myung Moon died Sunday at age 92. The controversial founder of the Unification Church was known for attracting young converts in the 1970s and for conducting mass weddings.
Sun Myung Moon was born in 1920 to a poor family in what is now North Korea. His life took a dramatic turn on Easter Sunday, 1936, when, he says, Jesus appeared before him. As he told cartoonist and interviewer Al Capp, Moon recognized Jesus from a vision he had had at age 3. Moon said he spoke with Jesus in Korean.
"We carried conversation with mind-to-mind, heart-to-heart," Moon said.
A lot has changed for Alanis Morissette in the past two decades. Raised Catholic in Ottawa, she spent much of her youth believing she couldn't sing. When she began her music career as a teenager, it was as a dance-pop artist — and, briefly, Vanilla Ice's opening act. Finally, in 1995, she released Jagged Little Pill, an international smash that made Morissette an overnight celebrity, won her an armload of Grammy awards and left her with a "scorned woman" image that she hasn't shaken since.
Barack Obama won more than 95 percent of the black vote in the last presidential election, and Democrats are expected to have a huge advantage this November. Even so, Republicans looked for ways to appeal to those voters at their convention in Tampa, Fla.
Though the convention hall was packed with delegates this week, it wasn't until gospel star Bebe Winans and the Tampa Bay City Life Church Chorus came on stage that there was any sizable number of African-Americans around.
In his book, Robert Sullivan considers, among other things, how little Emanuel Leutze's 1851 painting <em>Washington Crossing the Delaware</em> has in common with the actual historic crossing, which took place at night and during a snowstorm.
Credit Metropolitan Museum of Art / AP
Robert Sullivan's writing has appeared in <em>The New Yorker, The New York Times</em> and <em>Vogue</em>, where he is a contributing editor.
Credit Myrna Copaleen / Courtesy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux
When we think of the seminal moments in the birth of the United States of America, many people would point to the battles of Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill. But according to Robert Sullivan, the founding landscape of our nation is not in Massachusetts. It is in and around New York.
In his new book, My American Revolution: Crossing the Delaware and I-78, Sullivan writes that the majority of battles in the Revolutionary War were fought in the middle colonies: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
Art Garfunkel is best known as half of the legendary duo Simon & Garfunkel. The harmonies he created with Paul Simon left an indelible mark on American music, but less remembered is his string of Top 40 hits as a solo artist.
Every Tuesday night at the 5 Spot, some 200 people show up the East Nashville bar for Two Dollar Tuesdays: a $2 coverage charge, $2 beers and five musical guests. It's hosted by Derek Hoke, an unassuming, laid-back guy with the cowboy hat and retro-vintage eyeglasses.
"I call it a speed showcase," Hoke says. "Everybody plays five songs, and I tell them to play the 'best of' — you know, get up there, kill and get off. There's somebody coming up right after you, and we have to plow through this thing."
President Obama's re-election campaign won a big victory today in Ohio. A federal judge in Columbus has ordered the state to restore early voting in the three days prior to the November election. The state had eliminated it, except for voters in the military, and Ohio's attorney general insists he will appeal.
NPR's Pam Fessler has been covering this story. She joins me now. And, Pam, why is it such a big deal for the Obama campaign?
And now to E.J. Dionne and David Brooks, our regular Friday political commentators, both just back from Tampa. Welcome home.
E.J. DIONNE: Thank you.
DAVID BROOKS: Good to be here.
BLOCK: I want to talk to you both about what we heard in Mitt Romney's speech last night and also what we didn't hear. We did hear a very explicit appeal to people who voted for Barack Obama in 2008. Let's take a listen.