I recently listened to the first single from the new Cat Power album with some fellow fans, and the room was deeply divided. Some thought the song was fabulous, but others were startled and upset — which I could understand, sort of. Chan Marshall's songs generally speak to pain and trauma with a hushed and intimate musical vocabulary. But this song, "Ruin," was different — not just a rock 'n' roll song, but one you might even want to dance to.
Though Brazil's Amazon has been the focus of environmental groups for decades, the deforestation rate there has fallen dramatically in recent years as clear-cutting of Amazonian jungle in eight other countries has started to rise.
As a result, the 40 percent of Amazonia located in a moon-shaped arc of countries from Bolivia to Colombia to French Guiana faces a more serious threat than the jungle in Brazil. The culprits range from ranching to soybean farming, logging to infrastructure development projects.
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.
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.
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.