An "enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones" known as 'Radiant Orchid' is Pantone's Color of the Year for 2014, unseating the more verdantly inclined Emerald that dominated the previous 12 months.
Pantone Color Institute, which describes itself as a global authority on color, describes its latest pick as "a captivating, magical, enigmatic purple" whose "rosy undertones radiate on the skin, producing a healthy glow when worn by both men and women.
For interiors, Radiant Orchid, Pantone says, is "as adaptable as it is beautiful" and "complements olive and deeper hunter greens, and offers a gorgeous combination when paired with turquoise, teal and even light yellows."
Sounds like it might go well with its predecessor, which was "a lively, radiant, lush green" that is "most often associated with precious gemstones."
Get ready for a bruising GOP primary battle in Mississippi.
Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., said Friday he will seek a seventh term in 2014, setting the stage for a contentious contest that pits the Republican establishment against the Tea Party wing.
There had been speculation that Cochran, who turns 76 on Saturday and had raised relatively little cash, would retire rather than run again for the seat he first won in 1978. In October, Tea Party-backed state Sen. Chris McDaniel announced he would seek the GOP nomination whether or not Cochran ran again, and he criticized the veteran incumbent's vote to end the federal government shutdown.
Soon after, McDaniel received the endorsements of three influential conservative outside groups: Club for Growth, Senate Conservatives Fund and Madison Project. SCF's superPAC arm, Senate Conservatives Action, ran a statewide television ad in support of McDaniel last month.
Cochran, the second-most-senior Republican in the Senate and the top Republican on the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, serves on the powerful Appropriations Committee. Before Congress banned earmarks, he was recognized for his ability to direct federal funds to his home state.
After raising $53,000 last quarter, Cochran had just over $800,000 in his campaign account at the end of September — a relatively low amount for a sitting senator. But he's expected to have the full backing of the GOP establishment during the campaign.
Cochran isn't the only veteran GOP senator with a primary opponent next year, but he may be one of the more vulnerable. A November survey from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling found Cochran with a 44 percent to 38 percent advantage over McDaniel. Fifty-five percent of the state's GOP voters said they would prefer a more conservative alternative to Cochran.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi and Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander are among the Republicans facing challenges from the right.
The winner of the June primary will be the overwhelming favorite in the general election, as Mississippi is one of the most reliably Republican states in the country.
In the latest smog-related health scare in China, officials in Shanghai on Friday ordered schoolchildren to stay indoors, halted all construction and even delayed flights in and out of the city, which has been enveloped in a thick blanket of haze, reducing visibility in places to less than 150 feet.
NPR's Frank Langfitt reports from Shanghai that the commercial capital's Air Quality Index soared above 500 for the first time ever, according to government sensors. He says officials described the readings as "beyond index" — in layman's terms, off-the-charts awful.
The government, Langfitt says, blamed the gray, soupy skies on the usual culprits: vehicle exhaust, coal burning power plants and a lack of wind.
"I feel like I'm living in clouds of smog," Zheng Qiaoyun, a local resident who kept her 6-month-old son at home, was quoted by The Associated Press as saying. "I have a headache, I'm coughing, and it's hard to breathe on my way to my office."
It's been a recurring consequence of China's rapid growth and almost nonexistent environmental regulations.
As we reported almost a year ago, Beijing had its own "airpocalypse" with off-the-charts pollution readings that were 25 times what would be considered safe in the U.S.
As NPR's Louisa Lim reported at the time:
"China is choking on its own breakneck development, with thousands of new cars taking to the road every day. This year, the pollution has been exacerbated by weather patterns, combined with an unusually cold spell."
The event prompted state-run China Daily to declare the country's major cities "barely suitable for living."
In August, we reported that the smog problem had gotten so bad that "to placate camera-clicking tourists unable to get those iconic shots of the skyscraper-studded waterfront, Hong Kong has set up a panoramic backdrop with clear, blue skies."
An Egyptian cleric abducted in 2003 in Milan, Italy, under the CIA's program of extraordinary rendition was convicted of terrorism charges Friday in Italy and sentenced in absentia to six years in prison.
The cleric, Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, now lives in Egypt and is unlikely to return to Italy to serve the sentence.
Italy had been in the process of investigating Nasr, who they suspected of terrorism, when he was snatched and transferred to Egypt via Germany. Nasr said he was tortured in Egypt.
The Associated Press reports that Italian prosecutors "reactivated the dormant case against Nasr in May to complete the proceedings interrupted by the kidnapping, which sparked indignation among Italian investigators. " It adds:
"Nasr was found guilty of criminal association with the goal of terrorism and with aiding illegal emigration with the goal of terrorism, for allegedly helping organize false documents to help bring recruits to Islamic terror camps.
"Italian prosecutors said Egypt did not respond to requests to question him or bring him to Italy for trial."
Nasr's lawyer, Carmelo Scambia, denied that his client is associated with terrorism.
"It's a political trial, if you will, an ideological trial against someone who professes a political faith," Scambia said, according to the AP.
Nasr is no longer in jail and lives in Alexandria, Egypt, but his lawyers say he's unable to leave the country or travel.
The BBC reports:
"Abu Omar's rendition was only uncovered when Italian prosecutors investigating him intercepted a telephone call that he made from Egypt to his wife in Italy after 14 months in captivity. During their conversation, he recounted his abduction and mistreatment by Egyptian security services.
"He was subsequently rearrested in Egypt and held under an emergency detention law until 2007, when a court ordered his release."
Nasr's abduction in 2003 caused consternation across Italy. Twenty-six Americans, mostly CIA agents, were convicted in absentia of kidnapping. They were handed sentences ranging from five years to nine years. None served prison time.
If you want to eat a more healthful diet, you're going to have to shell out more cash, right? (After all, Whole Foods didn't get the nickname "Whole Paycheck" for nothing.)
But until recently, that widely held bit of conventional wisdom hadn't really been assessed in a rigorous, systematic way, says Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health.
So he and his colleagues decided to pore over 27 studies from 10 different developed countries that looked at the retail prices of food grouped by healthfulness. Across these countries, it turns out, the cost difference between eating a healthful and unhealthful diet was pretty much the same: about $1.50 per day. And that price gap held true when they focused their research just on U.S. food prices, the researchers found in their meta-analysis of these studies.
"I think $1.50 a day is probably much less than some people expected," Mozaffarian tells The Salt, "but it's also a real barrier for some low-income families," for whom it would translate to about an extra $550 a year.
Still, from a policy perspective, he argues, $1.50 a day is chump change. "That's the cost of a cup of coffee," he says. "It's trivial compared to the cost of heart disease or diabetes, which is hundreds of billions of dollars" — both in terms of health care costs and lost productivity.
"And so that relatively small difference," he says, "should really be an incentive for policymakers" to find ways to help low-income families bridge that extra $1.50 per day.
The researchers evaluated the cost of food by types of eating pattern — for example, a diet heavy on vegetables, nuts and fruits, like the Mediterranean diet, versus one rich in processed foods and meat. They also looked at price differences within specific food categories, such as grains, proteins, fats and dairy. The biggest price differences arose when it came to proteins/meats: Healthier, leaner cuts, they found, were on average about 29 cents more per serving. Only one of the studies included in the meta-analysis examined the cost of restaurant foods stratified by healthfulness — and that's definitely an area, the authors say, where more research is needed.
The research, published this week in the British Medical Journal Open, comes as House and Senate negotiators on Capitol Hill are debating a new farm bill — including billions of dollars in cuts to the federal food-assistance program formerly known as food stamps. It's now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
"This study couldn't come at a more relevant time," says Josh Wachs, chief strategy officer for Share Our Strength.
His group teaches low-income families who rely on food-assistance programs like SNAP how to navigate the supermarket to make better choices on a tight budget — tips like buying frozen and canned fruits and vegetables when fresh is too expensive, or teaching them how to cut up a whole chicken, which costs less than buying individual breasts, wings and other parts separately. Another key tip: When comparing two items, focus on the price per unit rather than the total price.
"We believe that education can help put healthy food in reach for many more families," Wachs tells The Salt. But subsidies for such education programs provided through SNAP could also be imperiled if the program's funding is cut, he says.
And even for those of us who aren't working under supertight budget constraints at the grocery store, the results of the meta-analysis are eye-opening, says Mozaffarian.
"Just as an excuse to not eat healthy," he says, "for most Americans, I think price is not an excuse."