Nobel laureate faults 'superficiality'
This year's winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, Mario Vargas Llosa, on Monday lashed out against today's fast-paced information society, saying it limits people's depth of thinking and is a major problem for culture. The Peruvian author blamed the entertainment industry for creating what he calls a culture of "banalization, frivolization and superficiality."
Vargas Llosa made his comments in Stockholm, Sweden, where he will accept the Nobel at a ceremony on Friday.
"I think the audiovisual revolution, which is fantastic from a technological point of view, has introduced the idea that the main goal of culture is entertainment," he said. "Of course culture is also entertainment, but if it is only entertainment, the result is the disappearance of long-range vision and deep preoccupation for basic questions. I think it is a major, major problem."
Finally, Aphrodite to return to Italy
Italy's decade-old campaign to retrieve antiquities that it says were illegally brought to California will end early next year. The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles will return to Sicily a fifth century B.C. statue of the love goddess Aphrodite, the last of 40 artifacts it agreed to return as a result of Italy's campaign.
Sebastiano Missineo, the minister of culture from Sicily, visited the Getty Villa in Malibu on Monday and viewed the statue.
African lawmaker elevated in Poland
Poland's Parliament is getting its first African lawmaker, a teacher and Christian pastor from Nigeria who has lived in Poland for 17 years and proved himself a popular local leader.
John Abraham Godson, 40, is a council member in the central city of Lodz. He will fill a seat in Parliament vacated by a fellow lawmaker from the Civic Platform party. That lawmaker, Hanna Zdanowska, was elected mayor of Lodz on Sunday.
There's 306M to 313M of us
U.S. pop.: 306M to 313M
The government provided new estimates Monday showing the U.S. population grew to somewhere between 306 million and 313 million over the last decade, acknowledging uncertainty due to rapid shifts in immigration.
The estimates, which are separate from the official 2010 census count, are based on a review of birth and death records as well as calculations of new immigrants as of April 1. Demographers say the range of numbers offers a rough guide to the official 2010 results that will be used to apportion House seats when they are released this month.
"For the first time, we are providing a series of demographic analysis estimates to more clearly demonstrate the uncertainty in these figures," said census director Robert Groves.
The numbers show the nation's population ranged from 305.7 million to 307.4 million based on lower rates of immigration, which independent think tanks such as the Pew Hispanic Center have said dropped off sharply recently due to the souring U.S. economy.
A midrange estimate — which in previous census reports has typically come within 1 to 2 percent of the final count — puts the number at 308.5 million. Census estimates based on assumptions of higher levels of immigration place the nation's population between 310 million and 312.7 million.
No breakdowns were provided Monday for states or local areas.
In 2000, the official census count was 281.4 million.