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On a recent day, Peou Phyrun steers his motorcycle down the rutted dirt road to his father's home in southern Cambodia's Kampot province. His father, 85-year-old Peou Nam, lives in a traditional Khmer farmhouse on stilts, where sugar palms tower over verdant rice paddies like giant dandelions on a lawn.

Like so many other families in Cambodia, theirs was torn apart by the Khmer Rouge. But unlike so many others, they were able to find each other, 36 years later, through a most unusual sequence of events.

Earlier this year, Wisconsin received lots of attention after passing a law slashing the power of public employee unions.

But soon after, Ohio legislators went even further.

In March, Gov. John Kasich and Republican lawmakers pushed a sweeping plan to slash union negotiating clout. It would ban strikes by all of Ohio's 350,000 government workers, require all public employees to pay at least 15 percent of their health care premiums, and use merit to decide pay and layoffs.

Now, Ohio is getting attention because voters there will decide that law's fate on Nov. 8.

Part of a monthlong series

The plan for Norris and Janis Galatas was that they would be settled and comfortable at middle age — paying off their bills and putting away something for the future. But now the wounded warrior and his wife are rethinking the American dream.

A few years ago, Father Tomasz Trafny was brainstorming with other Vatican officials about what technologies would shape society, and how the Vatican could have an impact. And it hit them: Adult stem cells, which hold the promise of curing the most difficult diseases, are the technology to watch.

"They have not only strong potentiality," says Trafny, "but also they can change our vision of human being[s], and we want to be part of the discussion."

For the more than 10 percent of Americans who have some form of hearing loss, mass transit can be frustrating, especially on a busy travel weekend like this one. Even if you wear a hearing aid, trying to hear in places like airports, theaters and places of worship can be tough.

I found The Twin, by Gerbrand Bakker, sitting on a coffee table at a writers' colony in 2009. It carried praise from J.M. Coetzee for its "restrained tenderness and laconic humor," which seemed ample justification for using it to avoid my own writing.

I finished it, weeping, a day later, and have been puzzling over its powerful hold on me ever since. I've recommended it again and again, and while I can't say it's entirely undiscovered — it won the 2010 IMPAC Dublin Award — no one I know ever seems to have heard of it.

When I was a kid, I assumed that in the future things would get better and better until we were all driving flying cars and playing badminton with space aliens on top of 500-story buildings. Frankly, I kind of counted on this happening. But now I don't assume that we'll just keep going up anymore.

Arturo O'Farrill is at the center of a dynasty between his father, composer Chico O'Farrill (1921-2001), and his son Adam, on trumpet here today. Zack, a younger son, plays drums, while Arturo's wife, Alison Deane, is a classical pianist and professor at City College in New York.

Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White On JazzSet

May 26, 2011

The 52nd Monterey Jazz Festival in the fall of 2009 helped kick off the return of Return to Forever, the stellar fusion band from the 1970s — now a trio with Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White on piano, bass and drums, respectively.

This year, Chicago is celebrating the Studs Terkel centenary — the life and work of the actor, radio host, author, historian and, in the words of the Chicago Historical Society, "ennobler of his fellow man." There will be a re-dedication of the Studs Terkel Bridge, a 100th birthday party at the Newberry Library, a museum exhibit, readings and a film and video festival.

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