Music News

The 10 best books of May to enjoy in the fresh air

Travel to Algeria or to Jane Austen’s village, go deeper into current events, or become engrossed in the lives of the powerful, with the books that appealed to Monitor reviewers this month.  1. A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth by Daniel Mason This collection of nine stories captures characters in the…

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Rocketing toward history: Why spaceflight still captivates America

For the first time, two astronauts are set to climb aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule and rocket off into space. If all goes well with the mission, scheduled for Wednesday, it will be the first time humans have launched into orbital space from U.S. soil since NASA’s Space Shuttle program ended…

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Opera al fresco: How a Seattle singer shares his gift during COVID-19

Before COVID-19 shut down performances, Stephen Wall had appeared in 99 productions at Seattle Opera. It’s “mildly driving me crazy,” says Mr. Wall, a tenor. “We baseball fans prefer round numbers.” But the stay-home order hasn’t meant an end to singing, after all. Each weekday, Mr. Wall has stepped into his…

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In Afghanistan, promises of a peaceful reprieve in honor of Eid

ISLAMABAD The Taliban and Afghanistan’s president announced late Saturday a three-day cease-fire ahead of a major Islamic holiday that begins Sunday to mark the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan. The Taliban order, which was soon followed by an announcement via Twitter from Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announcing the…

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Points of Progress: Global decline in deforestation, and more

Worldwide Deforestation has slowed over the past five years, according to a United Nations study released May 7. From 2010 to 2015, the Earth lost approximately 12 million hectares (30 million acres) of forest every year. In the past five years, that number has dropped to 10 million hectares. The new Global…

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A knight in shining kindness

Be flexible. Be bold. Be quicker than you think you can be. In the COVID-19 era, this is the advice now commonly given to charities and philanthropists. The crisis demands generosity on a mass scale and in creative ways. And then there’s Capt. Tom Moore, the example of all that. Or…

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What are birds doing? David Allen Sibley knows.

Many of us have been homebound this spring, which sharpens the joy of backyard birdwatching. In a season too often defined by isolation, the arrival of a cardinal or blue jay just beyond the window is a hopeful reminder of continuity and connection. Even in the midst of our current troubles,…

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A helping hand? Amid pandemic, gangs cast themselves as protectors.

As the COVID-19 pandemic started to spread in Latin America, leaders in its two largest countries, Brazil and Mexico, stood out for their blasé approach. The virus was just “a little cold,” Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro scoffed. Meanwhile, organized crime took advantage of government leadership vacuums, setting curfews and handing out…

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Stay-at-home college? Campuses focus on finances, and survival.

Sitting on a deserted campus, David Dooley, the president of the University of Rhode Island, reflects on what college will look like come August. “Any institution that is saying with any degree of confidence what the fall is going to be like, honestly, I think they’re whistling in the dark,” he…

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Why five Iranian fuel tankers are bound for Venezuela

Dubai, United Arab Emirates Five Iranian tankers likely carrying at least $45.5 million worth of gasoline and similar products are now sailing to Venezuela, part of a wider deal between the two U.S.-sanctioned nations amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington. The tankers’ voyage came after Venezuela’s socialist leader Nicolás Maduro already…

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Points of Progress: Portugal plans for a green future, and more

1. United States Louisiana’s state bird, the brown pelican, is again nesting in one of its largest colonies, 10 years after a BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico destroyed its habitat. The state bird was removed from the endangered species list in 2009. Gov. John Bel Edwards declared Queen…

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Why this hospital attack is pushing Afghans toward ‘tipping point’

Women and children have died before in decades of war in Afghanistan. Hospitals, too, have been attacked. But even by that low standard, the attack Tuesday that left at least 24 dead at a Kabul hospital – including mothers, nurses, and two newborns – changed minds. The Taliban denied responsibility for the attack. But…

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National unity during crisis? Look to lessons from WWII. (video)

Health care workers clashing with anti-lockdown protesters. Members of Congress arguing over safety measures. And debates around public health that map out over racial, socioeconomic, and ideological lines. In today’s age of hyperpartisanship, it seems not even a worldwide pandemic can bring Americans together. If anything, the crisis appears to be intensifying existing…

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In ‘Afterlife,’ a woman forges a path through grief

Retirement is supposed to be a time filled with family, trips, and hobbies – a finale to a long and satisfying career. This was to be the case for Antonia Vega, a recently retired college professor and writer living in Vermont. But everything changes one day when her husband Sam never…

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What really happened at the O.K. Corral

The Wild West is one of the most influential and enduring myths in American culture. It’s the idea of a place that exists at the edge of civilization, where rugged individuals are free to act outside the bounds of rules and regulations. The myths, however, often don’t fit the facts. Cowboys…

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Wary Europe welcomes China’s help – but not its disinformation

The Chinese government has been waging a disinformation campaign within the European Union amid the coronavirus pandemic – and it has not been very convincing. But despite the poor production values and facile messaging, the campaign has spurred European Union officials to warn member states to be on alert. In particular,…

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Readers write: Ode to snow, a meeting of art and math, and more

A meeting of art and math I was so happy to read “Alexander Calder upended the seriousness of art” in the April 13 Monitor Weekly. Although I am now retired, I taught a class called “humanities geometry” at Morse High School in San Diego for years, and included Calder’s use of…

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Is this crisis giving capitalism a moral nudge?

Even before the coronavirus, leaders of many corporations were already acknowledging public pressure to shift toward a “stakeholder” model of corporate purpose, with emphasis on societal and worker interests as well as profits.  Times of crisis, historically, add momentum to existing trends. “Economic shocks tend to accelerate the pace of structural…

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New twist in Trump-Russia investigation: DOJ drops Flynn case

Washington The Justice Department on Thursday said it is dropping the criminal case against President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, abandoning a prosecution that became a rallying cry for the president and his supporters in attacking the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation. The action was a stunning reversal for one…