The western Afghan city of Herat has become a thriving hub for the money exchange business, a consequence of geography and politics. Money-changers throng the currency market carrying thick stacks of Iranian currency, much of it brought in by the hundreds of thousands of Afghan workers who earn their living in Iran.
While the stacks of crisp 100,000 rial notes that money-changers bring to the market might look like a small fortune, the 10 million rials in each of these stacks is worth less than $400, because the Iranian currency recently lost more than half of its value.
Originally published on Mon October 1, 2012 11:30 am
After inadvertently airing live coverage of a car chase that ended with a man's suicide, Shepard Smith of Fox News has issued an apology to viewers of his show. The incident occurred as the cable network carried a live feed of a man fleeing police on the interstate west of Phoenix.
In the footage, the man abandoned his vehicle and began running across a field, before pulling out a gun and shooting himself in the head. Despite being filmed from a helicopter hovering above the scene, the footage was graphic enough to prompt immediate yelling in the Fox News studio.
Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 2:03 pm
It took a while, but the London folk-rock band Mumford & Sons broke big with its 2009 debut album, Sigh No More. The album combines the raspy vocals of singer Marcus Mumford with lush harmonies and rootsy instrumentation on tracks that range from soothing to rocking.
Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 3:19 pm
An oddity of U.S. presidential politics is that candidates and their campaigns spend nearly all their time telling voters how superior they are to their rivals in virtually every area: the wisdom of their policy proposals; the soundness of their characters and judgments — everything, really.
Except for debating.
It's the old game of setting the bar high for your opponent and lower for your candidate, of course. That way, anything short of a disastrous debate performance can be claimed as a knockout victory.
Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 4:31 pm
A big embarrassment came this week for the Republican Party, which has made voting integrity and fighting voter fraud a major issue.
A consulting firm hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters in five battleground states has been let go after one of its workers apparently submitted over 100 questionable registration forms in Florida's Palm Beach County.
The party severed its ties with the firm — Strategic Allied Consulting — because it has "zero tolerance" for voter fraud, said RNC spokesman Sean Spicer.
Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 2:50 pm
On the surface, the new coronavirus detected in the Middle East this month looks quite similar to SARS. It apparently causes severe respiratory problems, and can be lethal.
But with viruses, the devil is in their details — the genetic details.
Dutch virologists have just published the whole genome of the new coronavirus — all 30,118 letters of its code. And, the sequence reveals that the mystery virus is most closely related to coronaviruses that infect bats in Southeast Asia.