Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 5:55 am
We are well into the Christmas season, and if you live in Japan, that means sponge cake.
The traditional Japanese Christmas dish is served with strawberries and cream, and it is rich, thanks to lots and lots of butter. But the Japanese have been using even more butter for their Christmas cakes this year, exacerbating what was already a national butter shortage.
American Alan Gross had spent more than five years in a Cuban prison where he lost five teeth, 100 pounds and much of the sight in his right eye. He could barely walk because of chronic pain and was, his wife Judy Gross said in June, "despondent and very hopeless" because he had 10 years to go in his sentence for crimes against the Cuban state. Then, on Tuesday, his lawyer, Scott Gilbert, told him in a phone call that he was going home.
There was a long pause, his spokeswoman Jill Zuckman said today in Washington, and then Gross said, "I'll believe it when I see it."
Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 8:49 pm
Just months after he seized power in Cuba, Fidel Castro visited Washington in April 1959. He placed a wreath at the base of both the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials and was photographed looking up in seeming admiration of both U.S. presidents.
Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 2:26 pm
Last month, American aid worker Peter Kassig was executed in Syria by the Islamic State militant group. The 26-year-old emergency medical technician had worked in hospitals, clinics and refugee camps throughout the region for more than two years. He was known for treating anyone who needed him, regardless of political affiliation. In a country like Syria, that kind of openness is both a statement of integrity and a huge personal risk.
Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 11:48 am
The man at the eye of the storm in Saudi Arabia is Ahmad Aziz Al Ghamdi. He's a religious scholar, the former head of the religious police in Mecca, a group officially known as the Committee for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.
Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 9:07 am
Wherever people celebrate Christmas around the world, they feast. It may be as simple as a bowl of porridge, but food rituals to mark the day as separate and special from all other days are practically universal. So often eating the food associated with this holy day helps families pause for a moment to remember who they are, and where they came from.