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.
Originally published on Wed August 22, 2012 7:15 am
Fewer boys are being circumcised these days, and that could add to health costs down the road.
Over the past two decades, circumcision rates in the U.S. have fallen to 55 percent from a peak of about 79 percent. Insurance coverage for the procedure has also fallen — particularly under Medicaid — and is a factor in the decline.
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.
Originally published on Wed August 22, 2012 8:33 pm
Set in contemporary Denmark and in Thailand, Mads Matthiesen's Teddy Bear is a sweetly muted domestic drama struggling to contain a fierce and ancient folk tale.
The hero, Dennis — a 300-pound bodybuilder with a lovable touch of Shrek — has an absent father and a tiny witch of a mother whose parenting is a twisted cocktail of dominatrix and coquette. (If your mother conducted bathroom business with you alongside at age 38, you'd have issues too.)
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.
Originally published on Tue August 21, 2012 8:47 pm
In Tampa, Fla., a week ahead of their national convention, Republicans are drawing up their party platform. There are muted disagreements over a few issues, such as immigration and same-sex marriage. But at least within the platform committee, one of the least controversial issues discussed this week is abortion.
With little discussion, the committee on Tuesday adopted the same anti-abortion language it included in GOP platforms in 2004 and 2008. It seeks passage of a constitutional amendment that would extend legal rights to the unborn, essentially banning abortion.
"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.
When Army veteran Justin Claus, 26, of Racine, Wis., goes to job interviews, he brings along his DD214, a document that serves as proof of military service. Claus is proud of his service and hopes being a veteran will give him an edge.
But the document, which basically sums up a military career, includes the reason it ended. In Claus' case, it reads "disability, permanent." And that little line Claus says, "comes back to get ya."
He says when employers ask why he was discharged, he recounts a parachute accident in 2007 that left him with chronic back and knee pain.