New York, New York, it's a wonderful town! And Mark Helprin's new near-epic novel makes it all the more marvelous. It's got great polarized motifs — war and peace, heroism and cowardice, crime and civility, pleasure and business, love and hate, bias and acceptance — which the gifted novelist weaves into a grand, old-fashioned romance, a New York love story that begins with a Hollywoodish meet-cute on the Staten Island Ferry.
When the economic crisis erupted in Greece and the bottom fell out of the domestic wine market, the Kir-Yianni vineyard outside picturesque Naoussa decided to adapt. Like other wineries in Greece, it has increasingly tapped the export market, successfully marketing and selling wine in Europe, the United States and even China.
"If you ask me, this crisis has been good for us," says Stellios Boutaris, the son of the company's founder. "It's going to make us stronger."
The Avengers has brought in more money than any other movie this year — more than $600 million domestically. And it's only going to make more, especially with the DVD release this week.
The Avengers features characters from Marvel Comics, but the No. 2 movie of the year was based on a character from rival DC Comics — Batman. It's just the latest skirmish in a long, long, long-running battle between Marvel fans and DC fans.
Japanese politicians are prone to vague pronouncements and a lot of bowing. But not Tokyo's flamboyant, ultraconservative governor, Shintaro Ishihara.
Ishihara, now in his fourth term, thrives on outrageous statements and sensational headlines, and is a central figure in the dispute between China and Japan over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.
The islands, known as the Senkaku in Japan, and Diaoyu in China, have become the worst foreign policy crisis to embroil the two Asian superpowers in decades, stoked by nationalist feelings on both sides.
Scientists have discovered that a mouse found in Africa can lose large patches of skin and then grow it back without scarring, perhaps as a way of escaping the clutches of a predator.
The finding challenges the conventional view that mammals have an extremely limited ability to replace injured body parts. There are lizards that can regrow lost tails, salamanders that can replace amputated legs, and fish that can generate new fins, but humans and other mammals generally patch up wounds with scar tissue.
Few places are more exotic in the imagination than Papua New Guinea. The romantic images it conjures up are the stuff of a National Geographic cover story, complete with deadly animals and, of course, cannibals.
But once I stepped off the plane, I entered a land that was wrestling with its past and its present.
The Sepik River basin, deep in the heart of the country, is a popular tourist destination. It's the perfect place for a jungle river tour, with dense greenery, massive birds and stops at tribal villages.
Democrats in Florida think they have a chance in November to take back some congressional seats now held by Republicans. Near the top of the list is the 26th Congressional District near Miami.
It's a largely Hispanic district currently represented by Republican David Rivera. Although just a freshman in Congress, Rivera is a well-known Miami politician. Before being elected to Congress, he served eight years in the Florida Legislature and shared a house with longtime friend Marco Rubio.
There's a new mystery on Broadway — one about the musical Rebecca, based on the Daphne du Maurier novel.
You can't see it yet on the New York stage. In fact, it hasn't even started rehearsals. That's because the production is short $4.5 million after one of its investors died before he could hand over the money.
About a dozen men prayed recently at Darkei Shalom, a Hasidic Jewish synagogue in the working-class neighborhood of Otradnoye in north Moscow.
Except for the Star of David on its squat tower, the building is as plain and utilitarian as the linoleum on the floor. It sits — along with a Russian Orthodox church and a mosque — on a leafy stretch of land surrounded by towering apartment blocks.
Near the mountain city of Potosi in the southern highlands of Bolivia, the cone-shaped peak of Cerro Rico stands as a 15,800-foot monument to the tragedies of Spanish conquest. For centuries, Indian slaves mined the mountain's silver in brutal conditions to bankroll the Spanish empire.
Today, the descendants of those slaves run the mines. But hundreds of years of mining have left the mountain porous and unstable, and experts say it is in danger of collapsing.
Football fans are furious. Bettors are out an estimated $150 million. Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin — the Republican who's famous for battling with organized labor — is on the side of the referees union. And the NFL is in something of a "prevent defense," saying that nothing can be done to change the outcome.
Arctic sea ice is in sharp decline this year: Last week, scientists announced that it hit the lowest point ever measured, shattering the previous record.
But it turns out that's not the most dramatic change in the Arctic. A study by Canadian researchers finds that springtime snow is melting away even faster than Arctic ice. That also has profound implications for the Earth's climate.
Each week, All Things Considered and Lenore Skenazy, author of the book and blog Free-Range Kids, bring you "Another Thing," an on-air puzzle to test your clever skills. We take a trend in the news and challenge you to help us satirize it with a song title, a movie name or something else wacky.
After decades of enforced silence, Singaporeans who spent years in jail without charges or trial are shattering a political taboo by speaking out about their detention — and the colonial-era security laws that made it possible.
The affluent trading hub — known for its solid rule of law — still allows the government to detain citizens indefinitely.
But people who say that the laws were used to abuse them and silence their dissenting voices are now talking — which many see as a foreshadowing of bigger political changes for Southeast Asia's wealthiest nation.
Last year, after the Atlanta rock band Black Lips released the album Arabia Mountain, its members planned a trip to tour the Middle East, but the wave of Arab Spring protests forced them to change plans. Yet even with simmering anti-Americanism persisting throughout the region, singer-guitarist Ian St. Pe was determined to see this through. Cairo, where I spoke with them on Friday, was the band's second stop.
The income gap is receiving much attention lately as more Americans are isolating themselves around "people like us."
More accurately, they surround themselves with people who earn similar incomes, and it is now fueling a rise in residential segregation. One recent study suggests the income gap might be greater today than even during colonial times – even when you account for slavery.
Cities and towns facing tight budgets have often neglected their cemeteries, an oversight that has left many of them in disrepair with broken fencing, crumbling gravestones, overgrown grass and persistent weeds.
But this summer, the Vermont town of Charlotte implemented a new strategy to both save money and keep grass in the town's graveyards under control, and it's a decidedly traditional way of doing it: Let goats and sheep do the work.
The town of Roosevelt, N.J., was born out of an era not much different from today. It was 1937, the economy was in the toilet, and the country bitterly divided.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt had won a second term in office — an election as acrimonious as today's — and with his re-election, a host of New Deal programs moved forward. One of these projects built 99 towns outside of industrial centers across the country. The town of Roosevelt, 50 miles south of New York City, was one of them.
It's a small town girl's dream: One day, you're strutting the floorboards of a summer stage; the next, the silver screen. Thus is the arc of Elsa Emerson, a Door County, Wis., girl whose life at the Cheery County playhouse never quite goes away when she becomes the Oscar-winning Laura Lamont.
Originally published on Sun September 23, 2012 4:16 pm
Alma Solis, a researcher at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Systematic Entomology Lab, and her husband, Jason Hall, a researcher with the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum, are, at first blush, a natural match.
Both are entomologists, a career that requires long hours, field work and travel for months at time — all without huge pay. But the couple soon learned that though they shared a passion, they did not share a specialty.
Weekends on All Things Considered continues its "Why Music Matters" series with music from the heavens, as chosen by astronaut Stan Love.
"In space, every day is an important day of work," Love says. But when he was sent up to the space station to drop off and pick up crew members, the returning station crew member asked, "Dudes, where are the tunes?"