US support for Saudis in Yemen is 'not a blank check'

19 hours ago
Abduljabbar Zeyad/Reuters

The United States has withdrawn most of its advisors that have been helping Saudi Arabia coordinate a bombing campaign for 17 months in Yemen.

Who politicized the burkini?

Aug 20, 2016

In the past few weeks, multiple towns in France have issued bans on the full-body swimsuit known as the "burkini."

Designed for Muslim women, the burkini covers everything but the face, hands and feet.

At least 15 towns and cities in France have banned the swimwear, according to AFP. Nice is the most recent to join in.

Music earworms that stick in our heads

Aug 20, 2016

Several weeks ago, I was home on a Sunday morning when, for no apparent reason, these words popped into my head: "Funky Cold Medina." That's a line from a song by rapper Tone Loc.

I'm told it was a hit in the 1990s, but I'd never heard it until the night before. I was at a karaoke bar. My friend Jay Beezley sang it.

When the song reappeared in my head the next day, I could hear Jay singing the chorus again and again and again.

In Haiti, the UN still has to clean up its act

Aug 19, 2016
Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

The week, the United Nations acknowledged some responsibility for the cholera epidemic in Haiti that broke out six years ago, killing more than 9,000 people.

But the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that despite this admission the UN cannot be sued in US courts. The victims and the families of the victims have 90 days to decide whether they would like to appeal the case up to the Supreme Court, and journalist Jonathan M. Katz says that may happen.

Reuters/Jeffrey Dubinsky

Policing the language of the Holocaust in Poland

Aug 18, 2016
Kacper Pempel/Reuters

It's hard to find words to describe an abomination like Auschwitz, the infamous Holocaust death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

However, if you choose the wrong words, you might soon end up in jail.

This week Poland's ruling right-wing Law and Justice Party pushed for a new law that would forbid the use of phrases like "Polish death camp" or "Polish concentration camp," which the party says imply that Poland was responsible for atrocities perpetrated by Nazis during the Holocaust. If the law passes, there could be a penalty of up to three years in prison.

Angelo DalBo/Refettorio Gastromotiva

Olympic athletes eat a lot more than powerbars and high protein shakes. Just imagine the roughly 250-ton mountain of food that has to be prepared to feed more than 11,000 athletes competing in the Rio Games.

The food supply chain at the Olympics, like other huge events, requires advance logistics, planning and educated guesses as to how much food and ingredients to have on hand to make nourishing meals.

Inevitably there’s going to be a surplus, whether it’s cases of bruised fruit and vegetables, or leftover palettes of potatoes and rice.

Thirteen-year-old Jose Ramon Gonzalez Chavez usually spends summers lying on his bed at home or on his cellphone.

But this year, he’s at Cook Middle School in Santa Rosa learning how to strum the guitarrón — the big bass guitar that’s a trademark of mariachi music.  

“The guitarrón is what holds the song in place,” Chavez says as he clutches the instrument. “It’s the bass. You play two strings or one string at a time. And that’s the bom-bom-bom.”

Chavez is one of 50 kids attending California’s only Mariachi Summer Camp for beginners.

Nicaragua's teen pregnancy rate soars

Aug 17, 2016
<a href="" title="User:MarijoAH12">MarijoAH12</a><a href="">/Creative Commons</a>

Violet lives and goes to school at Casa Alianza, a home for poor and homeless teenage mothers in Managua, Nicaragua’s capital.

She walks through the hallways in her school uniform: a white collared shirt, a pleated skirt. Her daughter’s name is written on her arm with a green sharpie. She came here when she was 14 years old and four months pregnant.

“I’ve been on my own since I was baby,” Violet says. “Nobody told me what to do. I was free as a bird.”

Eric Thayer/Reuters

Donald Trump said this week he was ready to get vicious in the war with what he called radical Islam. The Republican presidential candidate called it an ideological struggle, like the Cold War. But he also said he was ready to embrace "moderate Muslims."

Qasim Rashid rejects the label “moderate Muslim.” Rashid — who heads the Washington-based organization Muslims For Peace — says there is extremism and then there is Islam.

“They are two very different entities,” he argues.