Maureen Corrigan, book critic for NPR's Fresh Air, is a critic-in-residence and lecturer at Georgetown University. She is an associate editor of and contributor to Mystery and Suspense Writers (Scribner) and the winner of the 1999 Edgar Award for Criticism, presented by the Mystery Writers of America.

Corrigan served as a juror for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. So We Read On, her forthcoming book on the extraordinary "second act" of The Great Gatsby, will be published by Little, Brown in September 2014.

Religion
10:02 am
Wed December 14, 2011

New York Hasidic Women Want Separate EMT Unit

A Hatzolah ambulance crew at the scene of a fire at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun synagogue in New York City last summer. Some Hasidic women want to form their own EMT unit within the Orthodox Jewish ambulance service to help women keep their modesty during emergency baby deliveries.
Daniel Barry Getty Images

If you live in New York City, you will often see the Orthodox Jewish ambulance service known as Hatzolah on the street. Hatzolah has some 1,200 volunteers — all men — in New York City and is known for its quick response time.

Now, a group of Hasidic female EMTs wants to create a women's division within Hatzolah, to help deliver babies in emergencies.

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The Two-Way
9:35 am
Wed December 14, 2011

Reports: Afghan Rape Victim Freed, Unclear If She Must Marry Attacker

Burqa-clad Afghan women wait to buy chickpeas from a shop in Kabul earlier this year.
Shah Marai AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 14, 2011 9:37 am

Gulnaz, the young Afghan woman whose story has spread around the world because she was imprisoned after being raped by a relative, is now free, CNN and the BBC are reporting.

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Shots - Health Blog
9:34 am
Wed December 14, 2011

Medicaid Takes Growing Slice Of States' Spending

Medicaid enrollment climbs.
Kaiser Family Foundation

Medicaid sure is popular. And that's a big problem for state budgets.

These days the health program for the poor is claiming a bigger slice of states' spending than even K-12 education, says a report from the National Association of State Budget Officers.

All told, Medicaid is expected to grab 23.6 percent of states' spending in fiscal 2011, up from 22.3 percent the year before.

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The Salt
9:29 am
Wed December 14, 2011

Putting Farmland On A Fertilizer Diet

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released a document yesterday that got no attention on the nightly news, or almost anywhere, really. Its title, I'm sure you'll agree, is a snooze: National Nutrient Management Standard.

Yet this document represents the agency's best attempt to solve one of the country's — and the world's — really huge environmental problems: The nitrogen and phosphorus that pollute waterways.

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The Two-Way
8:55 am
Wed December 14, 2011

Jiminy Cricket! Just What We Need: A Cockroach That Jumps

We should have jumped on this story earlier, but it's too creepy not to mention:

Scientists have discovered a cockroach in South Africa that leaps to get around, according to Biology Letters.

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The Salt
8:12 am
Wed December 14, 2011

Norway Braces For A Christmas Without Butter

Because of a butter shortage, there will be fewer krumkake cookies eaten in Norway this Christmas.
iStockphoto.com

Christmas without cookies sounds like something the Grinch would dream up. But that may be the sad fate of many Norwegians, with a national butter shortage less than two weeks before the holiday. No krumkaker. No Berlinerkranser. No sandbakkel. In short, no delicious, butter-infused treats.

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Iraq
8:03 am
Wed December 14, 2011

As U.S. Departs, Iraq Faces An Uncertain Future

U.S. Army Lt. Adam Wilson from Ontario, Calif., shakes hands with Sheik Mahmood Al-Ghizzi, possibly for the last time, on Dec. 5 in Nasiriyah, Iraq. The two men met for a final lunch as the U.S. military prepares to leave Iraq after a nearly nine-year presence.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 7:35 am

As the last U.S. troops prepare to leave Iraq this month, what kind of country are they leaving behind?

Iraq's economy, the security system and the political structure are all functioning to varying degrees, yet all appear fragile.

No one expects Iraq to serve as a beacon of Jeffersonian democracy to the region or the world. The more relevant question at this point is how well it will function as a democracy, period.

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Music Reviews
7:57 am
Wed December 14, 2011

'Three Views' Of Trumpeter Dave Douglas

Dave Douglas' Three Views box set collects three very different quintet albums, featuring So Percussion, his Brass Esctasy band and a group featuring Ravi Coltrane and Vijay Iyer.
Zoran Orlic

Originally published on Fri August 3, 2012 12:18 pm

There's a nice contrast among the three quintets heard on Dave Douglas' Three Views, sketching out some of his interests. There's no overlapping repertoire or personnel. The Orange Afternoons session features the elastic rhythm trio of pianist Vijay Iyer, Linda Oh on bass and drummer Marcus Gilmore.

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The Two-Way
7:50 am
Wed December 14, 2011

Hezbollah's Alleged Ties To South American Cocaine Trade Detailed

Hezbollah members listen to a speech by the group's leader, Â Hassan Nasrallah, via video-link in the southern suburbs of Beirut on Nov. 11, 2011.
Anwar Amro AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 14, 2011 7:55 am

There are "new insights into the murky sources of Hezbollah's money," The New York Times reports this morning, that point to "the direct involvement of high-level Hezbollah officials in the South American cocaine trade."

Here's the story's money quote:

"One agent involved in the investigation compared Hezbollah to the Mafia, saying, 'They operate like the Gambinos on steroids.' "

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