It's time now for your letters. On Friday, we told you about a 60-year-old Japanese man who, as a baby, was accidentally sent home from the hospital with the wrong family. His biological parents were wealthy. And the boy who went home with them went on to be president of a real estate company. Meanwhile, their true son went home with a poor working-class family and he spent most of his childhood living in a tiny apartment being raised by a single mother. And we said he wound up just being a truck driver.
A historically significant but now-crumbling fifth century Byzantine monastery in Istanbul is finally slated for restoration. But for Turkey's dwindling Greek community, the bad news is that the government wants to turn the Stoudios monastery into a mosque.
It's just one of several such conversions of historically Christian sites that the government is considering. And there's even talk that the Hagia Sophia, the most famous Byzantine structure in modern Istanbul, will be reconverted into a mosque.
While conceding that "more problems may pop up as they always do when you're launching something new," President Obama on Tuesday said the troubled HealthCare.gov website "is working well for the vast majority of users" and his Affordable Care Act "is working and will work into the future."
"We may never satisfy the law's opponents," Obama added during an afternoon event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House. But, he said, "we know the demand [for health insurance] is there and we know the product on these marketplaces is good."
The Associated Press reports that a shark bit the dangling foot of Patrick Briney, 57, of Stevenson, Wash., as he fished from a kayak between Maui and Molokini, a small island that is a popular diving and snorkeling spot.
Mohamed Yousef is a tall, handsome practitioner of kung fu. In fact, he's an Egyptian champion who recently won an international competition.
But a month ago, when he collected his gold medal at the championship in Russia, he posed for a picture after putting on a yellow T-shirt with a hand holding up four fingers.
That's the symbol of Rabaa al-Adawiya, the Cairo square where Egyptian security forces opened fire in August on supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Hundreds were killed, including seven of Yousef's friends.
Dead mice laced with acetaminophen have for the fourth time been dropped from helicopters into trees on Guam in an experiment aimed at killing snakes that have devastated the island's bird population and caused other damage.
No, we haven't been duped by something written by The Onion.
Gold is assumed to have eternal, inherent value, but what makes it valuable? And what determines its value now that it's no longer the basis of our currency? In the book Gold: The Race for the World's Most Seductive Metal, journalist Matthew Hart examines the new gold rush driven by investors. He travels to gold mines — including the Mponeng mine in South Africa, where he descended into the deepest man-made hole on Earth — and investigates why gold and crime sometimes go hand in hand.
There are great ballplayers, and then there's Ted Williams. In a 22-year career, Williams accomplished things that give him a legitimate claim to being the greatest hitter who ever lived; but he was also a tormented soul who hurt a lot of people, including himself.
Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 4:11 pm
Imagine how Robbie Travis felt. He waits tables at Libertine, a high-end restaurant just outside St. Louis, and his ex insisted on coming in just a few days after they'd broken up.
Like everyone else, waiters and waitresses have to show up for work on days they'd rather be anywhere else. But it's especially tough to shrug off a bad mood in a job where people expect you to greet them gladly.
"You have to fake it a little bit," Travis says. "That's what pays the bills."
Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 12:03 pm
Merrill Newman, the 85-year-old American war veteran and tourist who was arrested in North Korea in October, once supervised a guerrilla group of "perhaps the most hated and feared fighters" of the Korean War, some of his former comrades say. That's according to The Associated Press, which offers details about Newman's service as a possible explanation for his detention.
Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 10:59 am
Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro committed suicide by hanging himself, two independent corrections consultants said in a report released on Tuesday.
Before this report was released, a review by a state prisons agency had suggested that Castro died in September while performing autoerotic asphyxiation. That is likely not the case, Lindsay M. Hayes and Fred Cohen, who were hired by Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, found.
Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 4:55 am
The largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history took a major step forward Tuesday when a federal judge ruled that the city of Detroit is eligible for protection under Chapter 9 of the U.S. bankruptcy code.
Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 10:09 am
Ian Volpi, 25, is from Atlanta, Ga. He teaches English at the English Life school in Denizli, Turkey.
Produced by Art Silverman
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Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 10:12 am
Anti-government protesters in Thailand are claiming a symbolic victory Tuesday after police allowed them to swarm into the prime minister's compound and shout slogans.
The protests began Nov. 24 but turned violent two days ago when police clashed with demonstrators opposed to the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Four people were killed and more than 250 others wounded in the past three days, according to The Associated Press.
Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 7:30 am
Overweight or obese people are indeed more likely to die prematurely than people of normal weight, say researchers who've analyzed the data. Their conclusion throws cold water on recent studies that have found some excess weight isn't so bad.
Earlier this year, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that overweight people actually live a bit longer than their skinnier peers.
Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 10:20 am
Is a chimp, living as a pet in the home of Patrick and Diane Lavery in Gloversville, N.Y., really enslaved and entitled to his freedom? Does the 26-year-old Tommy, who scientists argue is cognitively similar to humans, deserve some of the same rights as Homo sapiens?
Those questions are at the center of a lawsuit (pdf) filed in the State of New York Supreme Court in Fulton County, N.Y., on Monday.
Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 11:13 am
American 15-year-olds continue to turn in flat results in a test that measures students' proficiency in reading, math and science worldwide, failing to crack the global top 20.
The Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, collects test results from 65 countries for its rankings, which come out every three years. The latest results, from 2012, show that U.S. students ranked below average in math among the world's most-developed countries. They were close to average in science and reading.
Yesterday, millions of Americans logged on to snag some Cyber Monday savings. But a number of independent bookstores decided to play on that name with a new tradition: Cider Monday. They invited customers to step away from the computers and stop by for a free cup of apple cider. The celebration was first proposed by The Toadstool Bookshops in New Hampshire. They promised their servers would not be overloaded and would, in fact, give you a smile.
Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 6:56 am
Despite its title, British writer and illustrator Isabel Greenberg's The Encyclopedia of Early Earth is not mere history, with its assiduous accounting of dusty facts, but is instead a compendium of funny, sad and surprisingly moving fables from the pre-history of a world that exists only in Greenberg's febrile imagination — one that bristles with capricious gods, feckless shamans, daring quests and, of course, doomed love.