Originally published on Fri August 3, 2012 8:49 am
A landmark federal law used to block the adoption of state voter identification cards and other election rules now faces unprecedented legal challenges.
A record five federal lawsuits filed this year challenge the constitutionality of a key provision in the Voting Rights Act. The 1965 statute prevents many state and local governments from enacting new voter ID requirements, redistricting plans and similar proposals on grounds that the changes would disenfranchise minorities.
It was a controversial hearing to begin with. This morning, a House subcommittee was looking into a bill that would make English the official language of the United States and require that government functions like naturalization ceremonies be conducted in English.
Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Michigan was not a fan, so he decided to deliver his opening statement in Spanish.
First he thanked the chairman, then he proceeded to assail the measure.
South African playwright, actor and director Athol Fugard describes the time Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990 as "a period of euphoria that was the most extraordinary experience of my life."
He says he was also convinced he would be the country's "first literary redundancy."
"My life had been defined by the apartheid years," he tells Michel Martin, host of NPR's Tell Me More. "Now we were going into an era of democracy ... and I believed that I didn't really have a function as a useful artist in that anymore."
U.S. employment is stalled, growth is anemic, and the Federal Reserve has decided not to take action for at least another month.
Most economists weren't expecting the Federal Open Markets Committee, which sets the Fed's monetary policy, to announce another round of quantitative easing — a fancy term that basically means the central bank buys bonds to increase the money supply and make borrowing cheaper — at this week's meeting. Still, that's exactly what a number of them think is needed.
Gil Evans, born a century ago this year, was a leading jazz arranger and composer starting in the 1940s, when he wrote for big bands. He helped organize Miles Davis' Birth of the Cool sessions, then arranged Davis' celebrated orchestra albums like Sketches of Spain. Evans, who had his own big bands that went electric in the 1970s and '80s, died in 1991, but some of his rare music has been newly recorded.
In his latest book, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Chris Hedges takes a look at the tensions that arise between profit, progress, technology and the pursuit of the American dream. Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, written with co-author Joe Sacco, critiques an economic system that they say abandons too many Americans.
It's hard to find a discipline that Team USA has dominated more than the women's sabre. The team is anchored by two-time medalist Mariel Zagunis. And before Zagunis was upset in the bronze medal match Wednesday, five of the six medals that had been awarded since 2004 went to Americans.
When psychologist Ellen Langer asked participants at a seminar to talk about someone or something that just drove them nuts, one woman spoke about her husband always being late for breakfast — a minor, everyday annoyance that Langer suggested might be reframed: Focus on the gift of a few moments alone.
A small thing maybe, but over more than 30 years, Langer has conducted a series of ingenious experiments that show how small and seemingly simple changes in our lives can reduce stress and help us lead healthier, happier lives.