The winter solstice has come and gone, making it officially winter in the U.S., with cooler temperatures, less sunlight, and, in some places, snow, ice, and frost. A panel of experts discusses the different phenomena that combine to make up the season we call winter, and give tips for how best to appreciate the natural world in wintertime.
Originally published on Fri January 6, 2012 2:26 pm
The Obama administration said it is proposing a change for the way some apply to become legal, permanent residents of the United States. The change would affect American citizens whose children or spouses are in the country illegally.
The current rule mandates that in order to apply for legal status, a person must return to their country and wait there while the long process continues. The rule tweak would allow those family members to stay in the country while the application works its way through the bureaucracy.
A placebo can take the form of a sugar pill or even a fake surgery. It's often used to test the effectiveness of a trial drug. Ted Kaptchuk, director of Harvard University's Program in Placebo Studies and the Therapeutic Encounter, discusses potential applications for the healing power of placebos.
A federal advisory board has urged scientific journals not to publish the research from two labs that have developed an airborne flu virus. Microbiologist Vincent Racaniello discusses why the move sets a bad precedent. Biosecurity expert D.A. Henderson talks about the risks of publishing the research.
Physicist Richard Hill and colleagues at the University of Nottingham have a powerful magnet that they have used to levitate fruits, beer and most recently, fruit flies. It's a low-cost way to study the effects of zero gravity on biological systems, Hill says.
Honey bee colonies around the United States are in decline, threatened by several different diseases and parasites. John Hafernik, a professor of biology at San Francisco State University, describes how a parasitic fly that was thought to prey upon bumblebees may pose a new threat to honey bee populations in the U.S.
When it comes to unemployment reports in an election year, it's not just the data — it's also the spin.
Friday's jobs report could be seen as good news — at 8.5 percent, it's the lowest in three years. Good news for President Obama? Not according to Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, who lost no time in pointing out that the number is still above 8 percent — the figure that the president said would be the worst case under his 2009 stimulus package.
Some critics are indignant over Stephen Daldry's film of Jonathan Safran Foer's book Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. They say the appropriation of Sept. 11 for such a sentimental work is exploitation.
Originally published on Fri January 6, 2012 11:26 am
This could be "the year of the gas-pocalypse" analysts tell the Los Angeles Times, "because gasoline prices are the highest ever for the start of the year, and they're on the rise, supercharged by expensive oil and changes in refinery operations."
Originally published on Fri January 6, 2012 11:05 am
Of all the good news in the December unemployment report, perhaps the most encouraging sign for the 2012 labor market was the increase in construction jobs. That sector has lost more than 2 million jobs as the housing market imploded 5 years ago, but increases in construction hiring and spending could be cautious signs of a turnaround, analysts say.
Overall, employers created 200,000 jobs last month, sending the U.S. unemployment rate down to 8.5 percent, the Labor Department said Friday.
Reporter Liz Halloran and I have been motoring around New Hampshire the past few days, chasing candidate events and taking the political temperature of the state.
On the way to a Santorum event Thursday we spotted a small lake dotted with ice fishing shelters — the first we'd seen all week. Apparently, the ice only became thick enough in the last two weeks or so.
The Labor Department announced Friday that 200,000 jobs were created in December, and the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent. The new hiring came largely in transportation and warehousing. Tens of thousands of other people found jobs in retail and manufacturing.
Barbara Lea was a singer known for her straightforward interpretations, precise diction, and respect for the intentions of each song's composer and lyrist. She died December 26th at the age of 82, from complications from Alzheimer's disease.
Lea got her start singing in clubs in the 1950s. Her first album, A Woman in Love, released in 1955, was named one of the finest recordings of the year. Though she dropped out of singing for a while, she made a comeback in New York's cabaret world in the 1970s.
January is a giddy time for weight-loss companies, which usually rake in profits as New Year's resolutions shuttle earnest dieters to their doors. Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture would like to get in on the action, too. Not the money, mind you. The feds want us to use their new online food-and-exercise tracker, SuperTracker.
Now that he's getting his moment at the front of the GOP pack, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is drawing the kind of scrutiny he's escaped during all those lonely months at the bottom of the polls.
Originally published on Fri January 6, 2012 7:42 am
Penn State University has chosen New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien to be its next head football coach and the man who will try to rebuild a program that was rocked last fall by a scandal that cost legendary coach Joe Paterno the job, ESPN reports. The sports network says an announcement is expected to be made Saturday.
There's been an explosion in central Damascus today and there are reports of multiple deaths and dozens of injuries.
As always in Syria, where the regime of President Bashar Assad tries to control the news, it's difficult to get an accurate sense of just what is going on. The regime is blaming its opponents, who have been protesting against Assad since last spring. Activists are questioning whether the attack was staged by supporters of the regime to make the opposition look bad.
Researchers trudging down the long and twisted path toward an AIDS vaccine are encouraged by new studies that show an experimental vaccine protects monkeys against infection with a virus that is very similar to HIV.
Unseasonable temperatures and lack of snow have a lot of New Englanders singing the blues. In Maine, snowmobiling, ice fishing, and Nordic skiing are a big part of the winter economy. Downhill ski areas are making due with man-made snow, but those other industries have no choice but to wait for Mother Nature.
We're staying in Norristown, Pennsylvania for a workplace story about Oscar Vance. In two weeks he's retiring from the area district attorney's office where he's worked for nearly half a century. He is leaving as chief detective for Montgomery County, overseeing all investigations that come through the D.A.'s office.
In Tucson, Ariz., this weekend, ceremonies will mark the shooting one year ago that killed six people and wounded 13 others including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Giffords will be in town for the events.