Well, here we are. It's New Year's Eve and with just hours to go before the end of the year and the arrival of the so-called fiscal cliff, Democrats and Republicans in Washington are still trying to strike a deal that heads off automatic increases in taxes, automatic deep spending cuts in a variety of programs and the automatic expiration of some jobless benefits.
For scientists who study a dangerous form of bird flu, 2012 is ending as it began — with uncertainty about what the future holds for their research, but a hope that some contentious issues will soon be resolved.
There's nothing like the distinctive "pop" of the uncorking of a bottle of bubbly to create a sense of celebration. Whether it's Dom Perignon or a $10 sparkling wine, bubbles add pizazz.
Sparkling-wine lovers sometimes point to the glittering streams of tiny bubbles as an important attribute. Why? Well, tiny bubbles are a sign of age, explains French chemist Gerard Liger-Belair, author of Uncorked: The Science of Champagne.
Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 8:49 pm
By Saturday evening, more than 1,000 candles glowed at a somber scene in a central Delhi park as India mourned the death of the young woman whose gang rape two weeks ago shocked the country.
What began 13 days ago with a handful of well-wishers holding a hospital vigil for the rape victim swelled into thousands as a young generation of Indians demanded an end to the culture of violence that produced more than 24,000 cases of rape last year alone.
Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 9:24 am
Global health advocates often argue that the tropical diseases that plague many countries, such as malaria and dengue, can be conquered simply with more money for health care – namely medicines and vaccines.
Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 5:58 pm
For those inclined toward nostalgia, forgetfulness or with a fondness for accounting, it's the season of The Lists: The excellent and execrable, winners and losers, scoundrels and heroes, the hot and the not.
We've searched through such lists so that, as they say, you don't have to. Here are 21, in no particular order, that touch on some of the outliers and prognostications of our times.
All good things must come to an end, and so it is with Marvel Comics' web-slinging, wise-cracking superhero. Spider-Man is no more. Well, to be more precise, Peter Parker is no more.
In the 700th and final issue of The Amazing Spider-Man, writer Dan Slott's controversial story saw Spider-Man's mind switched with that of his dying arch-foe Dr. Otto Octavius, aka Doctor Octopus. The twist is that with his final effort, Spidey was able to give all of his memories and morals to his body-stealing enemy.
Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 6:16 pm
The FISA Amendments Act has been approved for another five years, as the Senate voted to renew the law that grants the government wide surveillance authority. President Obama has said he intends to sign the measure, which senators approved by a 73-23 margin Friday morning. It had already won approval in the House.
Update at 6:10 p.m. Dec. 31: Obama signs FISA extension.
The president signed the FISA extension Sunday. Our original post continues:
Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 8:51 pm
A woman who survived a brutal gang-rape on a bus in India has died, according to reports. Earlier Friday, hospital officials in Singapore, where the 23-year-old student was being treated, had warned that her condition was worsening.
It is safest, always, to assume that any moments of grace in what we know as reality television are somewhat accidental and largely incidental. That is, they require a large measure of good luck, whether in casting or in circumstance, and while they might be the reason the show was made, they are not the reason the show was put on television.
Y'know what your average critic's end-of-year list lacks? Novelty.
Which I mean, duh. Of course. The idea is to winnow the many things we've discussed with readers over the course of the year and say, here's the best of the best. It is meant to be a reflection, a rumination, on what has come — and been written about — before. Year IN REVIEW, after all.
Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 6:50 pm
Days before a budget crisis deadline will hit the U.S. economy, President Obama says, "I'm optimistic we may still be able to reach an agreement that can pass both houses in time."
The details of that agreement, which could avert automatic spending cuts and tax increases that are set to take effect on Jan. 1, would likely come from discussions between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
It's been a holiday week here at the old PCHH studios (I'm just kidding, that's completely not a thing), but we've got good news: we're offering the audio of our live show, which we recorded on December 15, in front of an incredibly patient and kind crowd.