The far north of Europe, where I come from, is supposed to be the Mecca of melancholy. And yet there's a contradiction to our famous Nordic gloom: the Nordic countries are as much associated with light as with darkness. From our folklore to our folk songs to our literature, the Arctic summer light pierces our darkest tales. The season is almost like a religion to us.
The new TV series Masters of Sex is set in the middle of the last century — before the 60's, before the pill, almost, it seems, before the invention of sex. It's the story of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, pioneering researchers in the field of human sexual response, and it's based on a 2009 book of the same name, by Thomas Maier.
Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 9:52 am
It's not Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, but people are dressing up anyway.
A group of Brazilian protesters have been coming out in costume at demonstrations against Rio's governor, Sergio Cabral. There's the masked crusader Batman, of course, but also a motley assortment of other characters, including Captain Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
Shortly after midnight Sunday morning, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would keep the government's lights on. It would also delay the Affordable Care Act for a year, making the legislation a non-starter for Senate Democrats and the president.
The ball is back in the Senate's court now, with fewer than 40 hours until a government shutdown begins.
The House bill does three things. First, it's a temporary measure to keep government operations funded through the middle of December.
Tuesday is a big day for the White House. That's when new health insurance exchanges open in every state, where people can buy the insurance the Affordable Care Act requires next year. They will also see if they qualify for new subsidies to help them afford it.
The Affordable Care Act requires nearly every American to have health insurance or pay a penalty, beginning Jan. 1. The so-called "individual mandate" has been controversial ever since the law was passed.
But for people who fall into a few select categories, the mandate doesn't apply. Like Native Americans who get health coverage through the Indian Health Service, or people who are incarcerated.
In The Faithful Scribe, Shahan Mufti examines the history of Pakistan and its relationship to the United States. He also explores how his own family story is part of the tumultuous story of the world's first Islamic democracy.
"A huge impetus for me in writing this book was actually being on both sides of this present conflict, where America is involved in this war in Afghanistan," Mufti tells NPR's Arun Rath. "As we know, the place of Pakistan in this conflict is very dubious and questionable."