On a muggy summer afternoon in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, a dozen people are hard at work on the patio behind a local church. They're stripping old bicycles of their brakes, cables and chains, and sanding and spray-painting them white.
But behind the lighthearted chatter, there's a more somber purpose to this gathering: They're building "ghost bikes."
Painted all white and adorned with colorful notes and flowers, ghost bikes are the cycling community's equivalent of roadside shrines dotting the highway; they mark the spot where a rider was killed in traffic.
While many cities around the country grapple with drought and excessive heat this year, city planners in Boston have something else on their minds: the prospect of rising water.
In this coastal metropolis, scientists and computer models predict that climate change could eventually lead to dramatic increases in sea level around the city. Coupled with a storm surge at high tide, parts of the city could easily end up under water.
In Nairobi, Kenya, when friends want to celebrate a birthday, the end of bachelorhood or a graduation, they often go out for goat. This communal and culinary tradition in Kenya is called nyama choma — literally, roasted meat. While it's usually goat, some places offer beef, chicken and lamb. If you know where to look, you can even get illegal zebra and and wildebeest meat.
When Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney selected Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to be his running mate, Catholics passed a milestone. For the first time in history, both vice presidential candidates, Ryan and Vice President Biden, are Catholic.
But if Biden and Ryan share the same faith, they couldn't be further apart in their cultural and political worldviews. On issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage, taxes and Medicaid, they are miles apart.
"Welcome to the Bush Bazaar," says Zach Warren, an American who has spent years working in Afghanistan. He's giving me a tour of Kabul's shopping districts as we buzz around the city on his rickety motorcycle, slicing through the city's traffic.
It's one of the worst-kept secrets in Kabul that most everything in the Bush Bazaar was pilfered from NATO trucks and bases — except for the counterfeits.
Ethiopia's prime minister, Meles Zenawi, has died. He was 57 years old. Meles was reportedly being treated at a hospital in Belgium. He came to power after leading rebels and overthrowing the country's dictator in 1991. He was a key U.S. ally in the war on terrorism, but was also increasingly authoritarian.
China is planning to increase investments in Pakistan, and some Pakistanis feel China is trying to become a new colonial power. Amid these tensions, a bomb went off near the Chinese Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, on July 23. The blast injured two people.
Credit Rizwan Tabassum / AFP/Getty Images
Ali Hassan, president of the Sindhi National Movement, speaks at an anti-China rally in Karachi on Aug. 9. Local activists were protesting the construction by China of an industrial megacity, Zulfiqarabad, in their province.
Credit Lauren Frayer / NPR
Crowds of Sindhi nationalists hold an anti-China rally in Karachi on Aug. 9. Local activists have called for a boycott of Chinese-made products.
With all its current troubles, Pakistan has not been attracting much foreign investment recently. In fact, China seems to be the only country that's prepared to pour money into Pakistan in a big way.
But a boost in Chinese investment has sparked resentment in southern Pakistan, where activists accuse China of trying to be a new colonial power. A bomb blast recently hit near the Chinese Consulate in Karachi — an ominous sign of the rising tensions.