In Texas recently there was a grand opening for what is now the largest refinery in the U.S. Shell and Saudi Arabia's national oil company, Saudi Aramco, have more than doubled the capacity of their Port Arthur refinery.
The refinery business has been going through a tough period in recent years. Americans are buying less gasoline and other petroleum products — about 10 percent less than in 2005, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Provocative yet far from definitive, Pink Ribbons, Inc. is a critique of "breast-cancer culture." It could even be called a blitz on pink-ribbon charities and their corporate partners — though to use that term would be to emulate the war and sports metaphors the documentary rejects.
As one woman observes, describing the treatment of cancer as a "fight" or a "battle" suggests that the disease is always beatable if patients make a heroic effort. The implication is that people who die "weren't trying very hard."
Madalena (Sonia Guedes), a baker in the fictional community of Jotuomba in Brazil's Vale do Paraiba, makes the journey each day from her impoverished rural town to the local coffee shop to sell her bread.
Rita (Lisa Favero) relates to the town's residents as relics of another time, appreciating them with an outsider's view, yet not truly connecting.
The minimalist Brazilian drama Found Memories has a running gag, a small chuckle that gradually morphs into something profound: Madalena (Sonia Guedes), an elderly baker in a remote hillside town, walks her fresh goods to the local coffee shop every morning, where she removes the rolls from her basket and stacks them in a cabinet to be sold. The shop owner, Antonio (Luiz Serra), barks at her to stack the bread his way. But every morning, Madalena ignores him.
What Charlize Theron does for Snow White and The Huntsman in her role as the Wicked Queen is a bit like what Godzilla does for a Godzilla movie: She gives you something big and distracting to look at while a lot of thinly defined victims run around frantically trying to avoid a grisly death at her hand.
Drummer Jack DeJohnette was 23 when he made his first recording with The Charles Lloyd Quartet in 1966. Since that time, he's been a driving force in the world of jazz. This year, DeJohnette will celebrate his birthday all year long — the big day is actually August 9 — with special events, including his current tour with his old friends Chick Corea (piano) and Stanley Clarke (bass).
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney picked up two big endorsements this week from GOP foreign policy luminaries: former Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and George Shultz.
At this point in the presidential race, endorsements are pretty routine. But these particular endorsements are important, since Romney has encountered some skepticism from foreign policy experts in his party.
Some Republicans expected the long, bloody wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to alter their party's traditional interventionist view. Those Republicans are disappointed in Romney.
This month, NPR's Backseat Book Club hits the high seas for an adventurous novel called Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus. The book begins in 1841, and is based on the sprawling true-life tale of Manjiro, whose destiny was almost determined before birth as a son in a long line of fishermen. But a storm blew his life on a new course, and he became one of the first Japanese to set foot in America.