The Senegalese are known for campaigning loudly, musically and enthusiastically, yet the country's reputation for democracy and stability in turbulent West Africa has taken a knock as it prepares for elections on Feb. 26.
When Senegal's top court gave its blessing last month to President Abdoulaye Wade's third-term ambitions, his opponents angrily took to the streets to demonstrate their disapproval.
Senegal was tense as police clashed with protesters demanding that the president withdraw his candidacy.
Xi Zhongfa, 81, is the uncle of Xi Jinping, the man who is almost certainly China's next president, but the elder Xi's living conditions are very basic, with no hot water inside his house and little heating.
In northwestern China's Shaanxi province, a neatly manicured and landscaped memorial park the size of six soccer fields is one sign of the revolutionary lineage of Xi Jinping, the man set to become China's next leader.
Known as a Communist Party princeling, Xi is the 58-year-old son of Xi Zhongxun, a deputy prime minister and revolutionary hero who died in 2002.
The elder Xi was born in Fuping county in Shaanxi, more than 600 miles southwest of Beijing, and is considered a hometown hero.
David Haygood of the IDEO design firm (left) and Casey Nolan of Clark Realty Capital worked collaboratively in the design and development of this unique housing, alongside renowned architect and designer Michael Graves. On the ceiling above Haygood and Nolan is an enhanced HVAC system, which allows for 12 temperature-controlled zones around the home.
Innovations around the home are designed to accommodate all types of injuries, from limb amputation to post-traumatic stress disorder. In the kitchen, adjustable-height counters and open space below the sink allow for warriors in wheelchairs to maneuver with ease.
Automatic lifts are built into countertops to adjust to different heights. "When you are in a wheelchair, it is a game of inches," says Nolan, "whether it is the width of the doorway or the height of the counter."
Capt. John Votovich, Fort Belvoir's battalion operations officer, stands in the family room of the Wounded Warrior Home. "We have more of a wounded population today that wouldn't have survived in earlier generations. They're still productive members of the military, and they will continue to be so," he says.
Visitors to the home will not see a traditional hinged door; instead, sliding interior doors with easy-to-reach handles optimize maneuverability. Hallways are also considerably wider, and wood flooring is trimmed with lighter wood to provide guidance for soldiers with vision loss.
For disabled service members, the bathroom is often a source of frustration; this was taken into consideration during the design stage. A curbless shower with a liner drain system eliminates the need for a sloped floor, and small mosaic tiles make for a nonskid floor surface.
Retired Army Capt. Alvin Shell, who suffered burns over 30 percent of his body in Iraq, was one of several advisers on the house's design. His suggestions included a "man room" - a space where soldiers can have some time away from their family but still be in the home. "You can't hug me enough to forget some of the things that I saw," Shell says.
"I wanted to be able to see outside but not be outside," Shell told designers of the home. Clerestory windows allow for a greater amount of light and outside visibility, bridging the inside space with the outdoors.
Retired Army Capt. Alvin Shell was one of several advisers on the design of the Wounded Warrior Home Project in Fort Belvoir, Va. Soon 19 more innovative homes will be built to accommodate wounded active-duty personnel.
All wars bring innovations — in weapons, and also in ways to repair the damage done. Penicillin is one of the more famous examples: It came into use as a treatment for troops in World War II.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have brought their own breakthroughs, none more dramatic than the prosthetics that come close to giving back what has been lost. And big advances in treating grievous injuries have meant many more troops coming home alive.
Originally published on Mon February 13, 2012 6:20 pm
U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard a challenge to California's 15-year ban on using affirmative action in public college admissions.
As the AP put it, Proposition 209, as it's known, "barred racial, ethnic or gender preferences in public education, employment and contracting." And over the 15 years since it was approved by California voters, that same court has upheld it.
If health insurance plans offered by Catholic-sponsored entities refuse to cover contraceptives for women because of the religion's moral teachings banning artificial birth control, do they cover Viagra for men?
Several thousand people participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Tyler, Texas, in 2007. Some walkers for this year's races, including the 3-Day walk, are worried that they might have trouble raising money because of the Planned Parenthood controversy.
Over the weekend, the Susan G. Komen foundation held meetings in 15 cities around the country for people who have registered for this summer's 3-Day walks.
The annual events are key fundraisers for the breast cancer research and treatment organization. But after the recent controversy over Komen's grants to Planned Parenthood, some walkers are worried it might be harder to get donations this year.
There are big plans for oil exploration in the Caribbean, not far off the coast of Florida. A Spanish company recently began drilling in Cuban waters — just 55 miles from Key West.
The well is the first of several exploratory wells planned in Cuba and the Bahamas. The drilling has officials and researchers in Florida scrambling to make plans for how they'll respond in case of a spill.
Originally published on Mon February 13, 2012 7:14 pm
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has been the victim of an armed robbery, but is unharmed.
Breyer, his wife, Joanna, and a friend were at the Breyer vacation home on the Caribbean island of Nevis when a man broke in with a machete and confronted them. The intruder fled with about $1,000 in cash. A Supreme Court spokeswoman said no one was hurt, and that the robbery was reported to local authorities. The FBI is said to be aiding in the investigation.