Imagine you're trekking through the concrete jungle of just about any Southeast Asian city. The first thing you notice is the smorgasbord of smells, some enticing, others downright rank. Amid the urban odor-rama, one sweet herbal fragrance stands out. It's lemongrass. And it's just about everywhere.
This weekend, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made his intentions for the future clear, with the announcement that he plans to return to his old job of president. He will swap jobs with Dmitri Medvedev. Presidential elections will be held in March, but the outcome is pre-ordained — according to our guest Julia Ioffe. She is Moscow correspondent for The New Yorker and Foreign Policy. As she tells Michele Norris, a big change since this less-than-surprising news is Monday's resignation of the internationally respected finance minister.
Over the weekend, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia announced that women will get the right to vote and to run in municipal elections, but not until 2015. And King Abdullah said women will be appointed to the Shura Council, which advises the monarchy. This in a country where women still don't have the right to drive.
Now that fall is officially here, many of us are trying to cool off from a long hot summer. But commentator Andrei Codrescu is just getting warmed up.
ANDREI CODRESCU: It's been a year like a ride in hell's own at Disney World. From weather the politics, the world seems bent out of shape. But this may be the result of extensive coverage, rather than an unusual number of disasters.
I watched an episode of "The Hour," set in the days of the Cold War and remembered just how different things used to be.
New York state is poised to implement new rules that could have a major impact on the global shipping industry. Invasive species sometimes move from place to place in "ballast water" — that's the water ships suck in and discharge to level their loads. Officials in New York want all that ballast water treated to kill any "living pollution" before it reaches their harbors. But the treatment technology is expensive and untested. Because the state serves as a gateway to the Great Lakes and ports in New Jersey, other states and countries are disputing the new rules.