Around the Nation
5:18 am
Tue September 11, 2012

In Chicago, Perfect Storm Led To Teachers Strike

Striking Chicago Public School teacher Lanessa Mendoza pickets with fellow teachers Monday as Mayor Rahm Emanuel visits students staying at Maranatha Church in Chicago during the strike.
M. Spencer Green AP

Originally published on Tue September 11, 2012 9:57 am

It was a major accomplishment in Chicago that teachers who used to walk out frequently had, for the past 25 years, managed to avoid a strike. But it's not surprising, many experts say, that things would fall apart now.

"I think it is a perfect storm," says Tim Knowles, head of the University of Chicago's Urban Education Institute. He says issues in Chicago — of tying teacher pay to student test scores, job security, longer school days and expanding charter schools, for example — are not unlike issues unions have grappled with in other cities, from New York to Los Angeles.

Read more

Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.

Chris is a native of rural Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He was born in the upstairs bedroom of his grandmother's house, and grew up in a 230 year old log cabin in the woods. Chris traces his interest in journalism to his childhood, when his parents threatened to take away his newspaper if he didn’t do his chores.

Presidential Race
3:31 am
Tue September 11, 2012

Rhetoric Aside, Few Details Of Romney's Tax Plan

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney campaigns at PR Machine Works in Mansfield, Ohio, on Monday.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Tue September 11, 2012 3:59 pm

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's proposal to overhaul the tax code continues to draw scrutiny.

Romney says it is possible to cut tax rates without driving the government deeper into the red, and that he can make up for the lost revenue by closing tax loopholes. But analysts have had a hard time testing Romney's claim because he hasn't offered many specifics.

When he was pressed by NBC's David Gregory this weekend to give an example of a loophole he would close, Romney didn't offer much detail.

Read more
Science
3:31 am
Tue September 11, 2012

A Berry So Shiny, It's Irresistible (And Inedible)

The shiny blue berries of the tropical Pollia condensata plant rely on their looks, not nutritional content, to attract birds to spread their seeds.
Silvia Vignolini et al. via PNAS

Originally published on Tue September 11, 2012 9:57 am

That fake fruit in the wooden bowls that hotels love to decorate their lobbies with never looks quite right. No, apparently it takes nature to make a fake that looks even better than the real thing.

Read more
Middle East
3:30 am
Tue September 11, 2012

Fears Of Currency Devaluation Mount In Egypt

Egypt's stock market has been volatile since Hosni Mubarak was ousted. Though analysts say there are reasons for cautious optimism, concerns about the country's currency remain.
Khalil Hamra AP

Originally published on Tue September 11, 2012 4:00 pm

Egyptians have been struggling economically since the revolution last year that ousted President Hosni Mubarak. The Egyptian pound has remained relatively stable, though, because the central bank shored it up through foreign reserves, which prevented food prices from skyrocketing.

But despite increasing political stability, concerns about the currency remain.

The market has been volatile since Mubarak was ousted, swinging up and down with Egypt's political unrest.

Read more
Politics
3:30 am
Tue September 11, 2012

Inside Obama's Decisions: From Libya To Lunch

President Obama answers questions at the White House on Aug. 20.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 11, 2012 9:57 am

To try to get a sense of what it really means to be the president of the United States, writer Michael Lewis spent six months in President Obama's shadow. Lewis hoped to find out just what it's like to be in the president's shoes — down to something as simple as how he decides what to wear every day.

Read more
Author Interviews
3:29 am
Tue September 11, 2012

Stories From A New Generation Of American Soldiers

Yellow Birds book cover detail

Originally published on Tue September 11, 2012 9:57 am

Iraq War veteran Brian Castner opens his new memoir, The Long Walk, with a direct and disturbing warning:

"The first thing you should know about me is that I'm Crazy," he writes. "I haven't always been. Until that one day, the day I went Crazy, I was fine. Or I thought I was. Not anymore."

More than 10 years since a new generation of Americans went into combat, the soldiers themselves are starting to write the story of war. Three recent releases show how their experiences give them the authority to describe the war, fictionalize it and even satirize it.

Read more
Author Interviews
3:28 am
Tue September 11, 2012

Fidelity In Fiction: Junot Diaz Deconstructs A Cheater

Junot Diaz won a Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.
Nina Subin Penguin Group

Originally published on Tue September 11, 2012 9:57 am

Yunior grew up tough in a poor neighborhood. He's Latino with African roots, an immigrant and a super nerdy kid who went on to teach at a university. He's gruff and masculine, but he's also an artist — as well as the creation of one.

Read more
Religion
3:26 am
Tue September 11, 2012

Episcopal Church Woos Latinos To Congregations

The Rev. Roberto Arciniega, head of Latino ministries for the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon, says the denomination must reach out to Latinos to stay relevant in a multicultural society.
Chris Lehman for NPR

Originally published on Tue September 11, 2012 9:57 am

Latinos are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States, but only 5 percent of all Hispanics attend a mainline Protestant church. The vast majority are Roman Catholic.

For the Episcopal Church, those numbers are an opportunity.

The denomination is seeing fast-growing pockets of new Latino congregants. Episcopal churches in Nevada and Washington, D.C., are seeing considerably higher attendance from Latinos. In Oregon, there were only 150 Latino Episcopalians 20 years ago. Now, there are more than 800.

Read more

Pages