The Harrisonburg, Va., band The Steel Wheels embraces a hand-hewn quality in its music, which is a collection of American sounds reaching from mountains to fields. The group's first album, Red Wing, showed more of the grain and rougher edges, but Lay Down, Lay Low has been buffed to a high polish. The new album is stronger in its use of the band's vocal talents, reminiscent of the four-part singing of the Mennonite communities where several of them once lived.
In his new novel, China Mieville brings Moby-Dick to dry land. The world of Railsea consists of continents and islands linked by train tracks (these are the railsea), and populated by frightening creatures (enormous mole rats, "greatstoats," meat-eating earwigs). Some train crews pursue trade; others are "salvors," living off what they can find, repair and resell from wrecks. The nomadic, low-tech Bajjer tribes spend their whole lives in trains propelled by sails. The most romantic of trainmen are "molers," who ply the railsea in search of great burrowing prey.
Syrians appear behind the damaged windshield of a minibus as they inspect the site of a blast in the central Midan district of Damascus last month. A new jihadist organization in Syria claimed responsibility for the attack.
It was Friday, April 27, when a car bomb exploded in the Damascus neighborhood of Midan. Syrian state television showed soldiers and civilians running from the smoke of the explosion under a bridge. Then the camera closed in on streams of blood and body parts.
The Syrian regime's narrative is that the uprising that has gripped the country for more than a year is not a case of people protesting and sometimes fighting for their rights; the official stance is that it's terrorism.
The Federal Reserve has announced three of China's largest state-owned banks have been given approval to expand their operations in the U.S. Analysts say that ICBC, China investment Corp., and Central Huijin Investment will likely look to purchase regional U.S. banks and establish a footprint in the American market.
Gays and lesbians have been largely supportive of the Obama administration due to the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" and opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act. But some had felt the president was moving too slowly on the issue of same-sex marriage.
President Obama has completed what he calls his "evolution" on gay marriage. After equivocating on the issue for more than a year, he now says same-sex marriage should be legal. Obama's endorsement of gay marriage makes it a prominent issue in the November election.
Before the U.S. invasion, life under the Taliban was horrendous for women. Morning Edition's Renee Montagne is reporting from Afghanistan at a time when the focus is on the future, and how the country will evolve as the war winds down.
Exotic animals are already restricted in many states. Lawmakers in Ohio are considering legislation that would ban dozens of exotic animals as pets. Among other things, owners would have to apply for permits for existing animals.
States are moving to set up health insurance exchanges — a pillar of Obama's health care law. But many GOP governors find themselves in an awkward position. David Wessel, economics editor of The Wall Street Journal, talks to Steve Inskeep about why the governors' positions on exchanges are complicated.