Credit Alice Schalek / Hulton Archive/Getty Images
This image shows a Parsi Tower of Silence, circa 1955, near Mumbai, India. The bodies of the dead are left here to be disposed of by vultures.
Credit Kainaz Amaria / NPR
Zoroastrian priests pray to honor the dead inside a temple in Pune, India, on Aug. 18, 2010. Each of the dead is represented by a vase filled with flowers. Parsis forbid images of their funeral ceremonies, where the deceased are taken to the Tower of Silence and consumed by vultures and other birds of prey.
Credit Kainaz Amaria/NPR
Zoroastrian priest Ramiyar Karanjia fields questions during a meeting with young members of the faith in Pune, India, on May 13, 2010.
For any religion, keeping up traditions in the modern world can be a challenge. The Parsi community in India, however, faces a unique obstacle.
Parsis, who came to India from Persia (Iran) a thousand years ago with their Zoroastrian faith, have gone to great lengths to maintain their unique funeral rituals. But they've had to make a few adjustments to keep up with the times and to not upset the neighbors.
Parsi funerals begin in a way familiar to many faiths: prayers are chanted and mourners pay last respects.
Yoram Hazony founded the Shalem Institute in Jerusalem in 1994. He is currently president of the Institute for Advanced Studies at the Shalem Center, and head of the institute's project in Jewish Philosophical Theology.
Hebrew scripture is a "message in a bottle," says Yoram Hazony, and in The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture, he tries to decipher that message. Hazony's new book makes the case for a different reading of the ancient texts — and argues that the Hebrew Bible is a work of philosophy in narrative form.
Cities around the nation have tried a variety of approaches to revitalizing their urban cores. Some have turned to repurposing old infrastructure to breathe new life into neighborhoods.
One such effort is under way in the nation's capital, where the redevelopment of a bridge linking a wealthy part of the city with a lower-income one may present an opportunity — if an ambitious park plan can be brought to fruition.
Armstrong Ngutyana (left), 55, and Dumisani Mjolwa, 65, were gold miners during the apartheid era. Both worked underground for nearly three decades. They developed lung disease and were forced to quit their jobs, but received only minimal compensation. They are now part of a class-action lawsuit against South African mining companies.
Credit Anders Kelto for NPR
A team of paralegals interview former miners in a primary school in Bizana, in South Africa's rural Eastern Cape province. The legal team is screening miners to see if they have lung disease. It's part of a class-action lawsuit against South African gold mining companies.
South Africa's mining industry is under heavy scrutiny after 44 people died during protests at a platinum mine near Johannesburg. Now, the industry is facing challenges on another front: Lawyers have filed a class-action lawsuit against three of the country's biggest gold mining companies.
They're suing on behalf of miners who worked during the apartheid era and now have lung disease.
A settlement in the case — and another like it — could reach into the billions of dollars.
Originally published on Tue September 4, 2012 4:59 pm
When students and teachers at School 16 in Rochester, N.Y., start the new school year in a newer school building, they'll leave their old building's laundry list of infrastructure problems behind.
As teachers finish unloading boxes and setting up their new classrooms, they hope the newer, nicer digs will give students renewed pride in their school. Education experts say the move could also bring a bump to the school's flagging test scores, because better school buildings actually improve academic performance.
Originally published on Mon September 3, 2012 5:06 pm
The astronomer in me will tell you that summer officially ends on Sept. 22. That's the date of the Autumnal Equinox, the point in Earth's orbit where the hours of day and night are equal. That definition is fine for a scientific understanding of the cosmos, but when it comes to experience, we all know that summer really ends on Labor Day. And in that division between the ways we meter time (for science or business) and the way we actually live time, there is a Labor Day lesson we might keep close to our hearts all year long.
Syrian air force jets bombed the rebel-held town of Al-Bab in northern Syria on Monday, killing at least 18 people, according to Syrian activists.
Over the summer, the rebels gained control of a number of towns and villages along the Syrian-Turkish border. Now, those places are being bombarded from the air and from the ground by government forces.
Azaz, in northern Syria's Aleppo province, is one of these places. There, the tombstones in the old section of the town's cemetery are laid out in neat rows.