Rainfall eases Corn Belt drought
A weekly tracker of the nation's worst drought in decades says parched conditions continue easing in key Midwest states as farmers step up their corn harvests. The U.S. Drought Monitor update released Thursday says recent rainfall that benefited portions of the Corn Belt came too late to help already damaged corn crops. But the moisture may plump up still-maturing soybeans. The report shows about one-fifth of the contiguous United States remains in the two worst categories of drought — extreme and exceptional.
Louvre honors Islamic art
In its boldest development in a generation, Paris' Louvre Museum has a new wing dedicated to Islamic art, a nearly $130 million project that comes at a tense time between the West and the Muslim world. The Islamic Art department, which took 11 years to build, opens to the public Saturday. Touting it as a way to help bridge cultural divides, Louvre curators say it offers a highbrow and respectful counterpart to the recent unflattering depictions of the prophet Mohammed in Western media. Still, a consultant acknowledged some Muslims could be "shocked" by three images of Mohammed with his face exposed.
Monica Lewinsky to tell more
Monica Lewinsky reportedly has landed a $12 million deal for her new memoir. The book is rumored to have three things the earlier Monica's Story did not: more salacious details about her relationship with President Bill Clinton, ostensible complaints by Clinton about his wife, Hillary, and Lewinsky's love letters to Clinton, previously unpublished. The New York Post quotes a source as saying, "In them, she opened her heart about her love for Bill and how much happier she could make him. Some of what she wrote was so raw that she never sent them."