It’s a virtually impossible task, but the little elves at Amazon have done it again – compile a list of the Best Books of 2011. Their list includes works by bestselling veterans, award-winning authors, and debut novelists alike, spanning the gamut of genres from literary fiction to young adult to thriller. Your best bet for a holiday gift or the perfect book to curl up with on a winter evening? Start here, with Amazon’s Top 10 Best Books of 2011.
Breathless predictions that the Islamic Republic will soon be at the brink of nuclear capability, or – worse – acquire an actual nuclear bomb, are not new. For more than quarter of a century Western officials have claimed repeatedly that Iran is close to joining the nuclear club. Such a result is always declared "unacceptable" and a possible reason for military action, with "all options on the table" to prevent upsetting the Mideast strategic balance dominated by the US and Israel. And yet, those predictions have time and again come and gone. This chronicle of past predictions lends historical perspective to today’s rhetoric about Iran.
During Bill Clinton’s presidency, the unemployment rate fell from 7.3 percent to 3.9 percent. The number of people who were unemployed fell by 3.7 million over eight years. Love them or hate them, the Clinton years marked a high water mark for the creation of jobs. On Tuesday, publisher Alfred A. Knopf released the former president’s latest book, “Back to Work,” which is in part a list of ways Mr. Clinton thinks the nation can get its job machine back on track. Here are five suggestions (out of 46) from the silver-haired “man from Hope."
Joe Frazier, who passed away on Nov. 7, held the title of heavyweight champion for nearly five years in the late 1960s and early 1970s. See how Joe Frazier compares with 11 of the greatest heavyweight champions over the past century (with help from the International Boxing Hall of Fame). Who do you consider the best?
The Great Recession hit many people hard, but it is slamming young people now coming into the workforce, the so-called Millennials. "The whole budget is totally stacked against [Millennials]," says Isabel Sawhill, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. But all is not lost for America's 18-to-29-year-olds. If they are proactive and make smart career moves, young people can avoid setbacks and long-term damage to their careers, earning power, and lifestyle. "An important message is that recovering after a bad start will take quite some time," says Till von Wachter, a Columbia University economist and author of a study on Canadian students' job prospects. "As the labor market recovers, you need to be very watchful and active and search for that better job." Here are four top obstacles facing young people and strategies to help:
US sanctions on Iran began in 1979, following the Iranian hostage crisis. The first sanctions banned Iranian products other than small gifts, informational materials, food, and “some carpets,” according to Reuters. The UN and EU have since come down with sanctions themselves and broadened their scope. Here's a recap of the sanctions Iran faces now.
Who reads more books than the review staff at Publishers Weekly? Hardly anyone, and that's why their year-end "10 best list" always attracts attention. With five fiction titles and five nonfiction, here are the 10 books that most impressed the PW readers in 2011. According to their intro, these are the books that "stayed with us, that we talked up, handed around, and of course argued about among ourselves."
Osama bin Laden was killed in a May raid by Navy SEALs, and Chuck Pfarrer, a former Navy SEAL, commanded the “same outfit” that carried out the strike on the Al Qaeda leader. In his new book, “Seal Target Geronimo: The Inside Story of the Mission to Kill Osama Bin Laden,” Mr. Pfarrer says he wants to provide what he says are facts that dispel some of the myths that have surrounded the mission, and that have cast the SEALs, he fears, as "spray and pray" commandos intent on killing the terrorist behind the 9/11 attacks.
The terrorist Carlos the Jackal went on trial today for his role in four bombings in the 1980s that targeted trains and a newspaper office, killing 11 people. The native-born Venezuelan was once the most sought-after fugitive in Europe, a mysterious figure who killed two French secret police and an informant before being apprehended in Sudan in 1994. The Jackal’s real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez. He first gained headlines and notoriety for an attack on an OPEC meeting in 1975 on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in which he took some 60 hostages, including 11 oil ministers. His current trial follows the discovery of evidence against him in communist-era files from Hungary, Germany, and Romania. He is suspected in a dozen other cases for terrorism spanning three decades. Today in a Paris court, Ramirez said he was a “professional revolutionary,” according to the Associated Press. He claims involvement in some 100 terrorist attacks. What is the Jackal's story?
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is the oldest guerrilla group operating in the Western Hemisphere. What began in the 1960s as a peasant insurgency with political aims morphed into a drug trafficking organization dependent on cocaine and kidnapping for revenue. The group, whose influence grew over the decades to count 19,000 members in the 1990s, began to face major setbacks when former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe took office in 2002. With the help of the US under Plan Colombia (begun in 2000), Mr. Uribe made fighting the FARC the cornerstone of his presidency – an effort that Colombians widely supported. The effort continues under current President Juan Manuel Santos. Top leaders have been captured and thousands of members have demobilized. But the FARC continues to remain a deadly force in Colombia, especially in the countryside. Here is what Colombia has accomplished against the FARC in the past three years.
Most people agree that asking for a doggie bag from a meal ordered in a restaurant is fine. But you'd never believe what some people take home in doggie bags or what they think they're entitled to! Maybe it's the economy. Maybe it's just bad manners. Whatever it is, here are my Top 6 doggie bag stories – and a little inspiration to go with them:
If their parents weren't at war, would Romeo and Juliet have noticed each another? A good tempest now and then, particularly one thrown up by a family member, has the power to turn what could have been a perfectly nice but short-lived love affair into a commitment capped with vows. All five romances this month reviewed by Eloisa James for The Barnes & Noble Review feature a tempest of one sort or another, brought about by a family member.
The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations and tea party rallies are the latest of more than 200 years of economic protest that have brought down governments and changed the course of nations. The most far-reaching ones aren't always the biggest or even successful initially (one of our Top 10 started with a confiscated vegetable cart). Sometimes it's hard to tell if they're more about politics or economics. Here is our list of 10 of the world's most important economic protests. Let us know your picks in the comment section.
This year’s floods in Thailand, now threatening central Bangkok, have killed 437 people and done tens of millions of dollars’ worth of damage. But it is far from the worst flood in history. By comparison, the deadliest US flood killed about 2,000 people, when the South Fork dam, upstream from Johnstown, Pa., collapsed on May 31, 1889, after unusually heavy rain. And even that pales beside the destruction wrought by the five deadliest floods in history – all of which took place in China. When did they happen, and just how deadly were they?
Between late 2008 and early 2009, David Yen Lee, a chemist with Valspar Corp., used his company's computer network to download 160 secret formulas for coatings and paints onto portable storage devices, according to a new report by the US Office of the National Counter Intelligence Director. Mr. Lee had planned to join a Chinese paint company in Shanghai and take the formulas (worth $20 million) with him. Instead, he was caught and is now serving 15 months in prison for theft of trade secrets. China, Russia and other nations are anxious to get – or steal – many proprietary US technologies. Here are seven at the top of their wish lists, the report says:
Now that New Hampshire has set its primary for Jan. 10, the 2012 political calendar is largely set. Both political parties select their presidential nominees through state primaries and caucuses, with candidates amassing delegates as they go. Under Republican Party rules, a candidate needs 1,212 delegates to win the nomination. That’s half, plus one, of the total 2,422 delegates.
The offices of a French satirical magazine were bombed early today, after the periodical published an issue about the Arab Spring with a caricature of the prophet Muhammad. The magazine featured the Muslim prophet as a “guest editor” for the magazine, Charlie Hebdo, threatening “100 lashes if you don't die of laughter!” Images of the prophet Muhammad are forbidden in Islam and have proved a source of controversy in recent years. Most disputes have stemmed from Western publications operating in countries with free speech and large Muslim immigrant populations. While Muslims contend that such images are deeply offensive and must not be published, free speech advocates have countered that the rules of an open society should not place prohibitions on religious drawings. And though not all incidents have resulted in violence, a number of have drawn widespread protest and unrest around the globe. Here are three that caught attention worldwide:
US authorities announced this week the dismantlement of a massive drug-smuggling operation in Arizona, believed to have generated $2 billion in proceeds over five years. The 76 suspects arrested in the 17-month probe, dubbed Operation Pipeline Express, are allegedly connected to Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, the most powerful drug-trafficking organization operating in Mexico – and, some say, in the Western Hemisphere. “Today we have dealt a significant blow to a Mexican criminal enterprise that has been responsible for poisoning our communities,” Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said in the statement. But who are the Sinaloa cartel?
Given the somewhat amorphous slogans of the Occupy Wall Street movement, members of the tea party may be wondering if they should join the fray. Depending on how the Occupy Wall Street agenda is actually applied, many of the protesters’ calls for change resonate pretty strongly with tea partiers. University of Denver law professor Robert Hardaway suggests how the tea party might “agree” with five of the Occupy movement's top demands – in its own way:
The longlist for this year's Man Asian Literary Prize ($30,000 awarded to the author of the best novel by an Asian author written in or translated into English) was announced this week. This year's nominees include a number of authors and works already popular with US readers – and some less familiar names as well. The 2011 prize winner will be announced on March 15.
Halloween has its own collection of seasonal iconography, much like a Christmas tree or an Easter basket. Since the October holiday straddles the line between celebration and superstition, it's no surprise some of the day's symbols are of a darker origin. Here are five things that are intertwined with the history of Halloween.