The world mourned the death this week of Indian maestro Ravi Shankar, whose name became synonymous with the sitar. Tributes eulogized Shankar as the great connector of the East and West who'd hobnobbed with The Beatles and collaborated with violin virtuoso Yehudi Menuhin. Less has been said about the roots of the music he spent a lifetime perfecting and innovating.
Originally published on Mon December 17, 2012 4:58 pm
Gary Clark Jr.'s new album Blak and Blue is his major-label debut, but the blues guitarist is hardly a newcomer. Clark made his first album at 17, and by then he'd already spent several years hanging out in the blues clubs of Austin, Texas.
Supporters hold up posters of Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a rally in Osaka on Thursday. Considered a nationalist hawk, Abe is expected to become prime minister for a second time after parliamentary elections Sunday.
Credit Yoshikazu Tsuno / Getty Images
Japanese nationalists condemn China at a rally in Tokyo in September. Japan and China are locked in a bitter dispute over a group of islands claimed by both countries.
Police gather at the east entrance of Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., on April 20, 1999. School security has improved markedly since the Columbine shooting, experts say, but there still are problems.
Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 5:22 pm
Even as Friday's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., suggests that more could be done, the whole culture of school security has undergone a revolution since the 1999 Columbine school shooting, experts say.
"Schools are far more secure than they were at the time of Columbine," says Paul Timm, president of RETA Security Inc., a school security consultancy.
For one, he says, "They keep most exterior doors secured, which is something they didn't pay much attention to before."
Gov. Bill Haslam speaks to reporters after announcing in Nashville, Tenn., on Monday that that he had decided against creating a state-run health insurance exchange. The Republican governor said he will leave it to the federal government to run the marketplace.
Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 4:48 pm
Few people expected that the Obama administration would be running health exchanges in more than 30 states when the federal health law was signed two years ago.
But with the deadline for states to decide just hours away, only 18 states and the District of Columbia have proposed operating their own insurance marketplaces. The exchanges are a key tool under the law to expand health coverage to an estimated 23 million people over the next four years.
A Syrian woman carries a ration of bread on her head in the northern city of Aleppo. The Syrian opposition now runs local councils in many cities, particularly in the north. They often face major challenges in providing basics likes food, water and electricity.
Credit Odd Anderson / AFP/Getty Images
Customers shop by candlelight in a grocery store in Aleppo. The city has been hit hard by fighting in recent months, with both the opposition and the government controlling parts of the area.
Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 2:18 pm
As the Syrian opposition gains control of large swaths of territory in the country's north, local councils are emerging as the first alternative authority after 21 months of revolt.
It is still unclear if the civilian councils can impose order in war-torn areas where rebels have the power of arms. And at least parts of major cities remain in the hands of President Bashar Assad's forces.
This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli sitting in for Terry Gross. Ravi Shankar, who popularized the sitar and Indian music in America, died this week at the age of 92. He befriended the Beatles, gave George Harrison sitar lessons, and inspired Harrison to launch the first superstar benefit concert, 1971's the Concert for Bangladesh.
That's when Ravi Shankar, tuning up before his performance, responded to the polite but clueless support of the U.S. audience. His ad lib was good humored but pointed.
This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross. This week, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its latest round of inductees, and among them is singer/songwriter Randy Newman. You have to have 25 years as an artist to qualify for the Hall of Fame, but Newman has clocked a lot more time than that.
On Friday night on PBS, Great Performances presents a documentary about the making of a Beatles TV special from 1967 — Magical Mystery Tour — then shows a restored version of that special. Magical Mystery Tour has the music from the U.S. album of the same name, but it's not the album. It's a musical comedy fantasy about the Beatles and a busload of tourists taking a trip to unknown destinations.
Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 1:50 pm
The world isn't going to end next Friday, but Dec. 21, 2012, has come to be known as the Mayan apocalypse because that's when the Mayan calendar ends. As scientists have told us repeatedly, the end of the calendar year was actually a time for celebration and renewal — the equivalent of an ancient New Year's Eve. So breweries around the country have decided to celebrate with — what else? — beer.
Nothing beats the smell of a live Christmas tree in your home, but how can you keep the needles on your tree and off your carpet? Rick Bates, professor of horticulture at Penn State University, offers tips for how to properly care for your Christmas tree this holiday season.