Anita Desai's new collection of stories, The Artist of Disappearance, reads a bit like three symphonic movements in a minor key. They're three novellas, set in modern India, where the past is giving way. In one story, a government official inspects the forgotten treasures left behind in a fated mansion. In another story, a translator becomes a little too creative; and in the third, a man living in solitude finds his world upset by roving visitors.
Deforestation and forest fires are responsible for 75 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions in Brazil. Above, smoke from a fire on livestock pastures in Brazil's Mato Grosso state breaks into the forest, September 2009.
Some climate strategists are looking beyond the United Nations and the idea of remaking the energy economy — and toward the world's tropical forests.
The basic idea is to provide rich countries that emit lots of climate-warming gases another way to reduce their carbon footprint besides replacing or retrofitting factories and power plants. Instead, they could just pay poorer countries to keep their forests, or even expand them. Forests suck carbon out of the atmosphere. It's like paying someone to put carbon in a storehouse.
A Krampus procession takes place on Dec. 4 near Merano, Italy. People around America are also taking up the European Alpine folklore tradition, dressing like the creature who steals naughty children around Christmastime.
This week, the governors of New York and California proposed tax hikes to plug major holes in their state budgets. Governors Andrew Cuomo and Jerry Brown are both Democrats, and both are asking their states' wealthiest residents to pay higher income taxes.
That's pretty much where the similarities end. The execution of their tax proposals is a study in contrasts.
'We Have To Talk'
In New York, Cuomo's tax reform proposal followed a carefully crafted script, including a recorded video message to his constituents.
Originally published on Sun December 11, 2011 8:49 am
While nations wrangle over a new global treaty on climate change, the question on many minds is: What happens next?
Key portions of the Kyoto Protocol are set to expire at the end of 2012. But many of the world's major greenhouse gas emitters have already set national targets to reduce emissions, and they're forging their own initiatives to meet those goals.
The U.S. Capitol is seen above in 2009 as senators worked late into the night on legislation. The light signifying that Congress is in session may remain on this holiday season as well, since House Republicans have said they will remain in a pro-forma session.
Senate Republicans blocked confirmation votes on two of President Obama's most high-profile nominees this week — one for a seat on a federal appeals court, the other to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Traditionally, the end-of-the-year holidays have allowed presidents to bypass Congress and give such thwarted nominees recess appointments. But an angry President Obama is quickly leaning that this might not be the case this year.
To become a cab driver in London, you have to acquire "The Knowledge," which is their fancy way of saying that you have to memorize all the streets in London. It's quite a process that takes most three to four years to complete.
"There was no pianist breathing or cueing me," cellist Zuill Bailey says. "The good news is that he was very consistent." Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian adds, "It's absolutely true — it takes a little bit of adjusting."
Bailey and Bayrakdarian are talking about their accompanist: the late — very late — Manuel de Falla, who died in 1946. With the help of new recording technology, the two have performed de Falla's Seven Popular Spanish Songs for a new release, The Spanish Masters.
Back in the 1930s, Boyd Lee Dunlop taught himself to play music on a broken piano left out on the streets of Buffalo, N.Y. Only half the keys worked.
He also taught his little brother Frank to play the drums while they were growing up. Frankie Dunlop went on to record with Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus, among other jazz greats. Boyd Lee Dunlop went to work in the steel mills and rail yards of Buffalo, occasionally playing piano at local clubs.