In Newtown, Conn., Christmas is very different this year, a little more than a week after the shooting at an elementary school. Eight families that attend St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church lost children to the tragedy. Parishioners came to Christmas masses there seeking solace, and priests gave a message of hope and comfort.
We've asked you to tell us what you eat on Christmas Day, regardless of whether you celebrate the holiday. And one thing we've learned from your emails, many of you do share common food traditions: puddings, cookies, eggnog. And some of you have your own little bit of quirk, like Sarah Schwab's(ph) family in Milwaukee. They have a special drink.
An east Texas landowner was so determined to block the Keystone XL pipeline from coming through his forest that he took to his trees and built an elaborate network of treehouses eight stories above the ground.
"It popped into my head a long time ago, actually," says 45-year-old David Daniel. "If I had to climb my butt on top of a tree and sit there, I would. It started with that."
It turned out to be Daniel's last stand in a long battle against the Keystone XL, a pipeline project that would bring oil from Canada all the way to refineries in the Texas Gulf Coast.
This is the time of year when one man's work is widely — if indirectly — celebrated. His name used to be hugely famous, but nowadays, it draws blank stares, even from people who know that work. We're speaking about E.T.A. Hoffmann, original author of The Nutcracker.
Ibrahim Abazid had no idea he would be part of a nationwide revolt in Syria — or that his role would keep evolving.
It was March 2011. Some teenagers in his hometown, Dera'a, got arrested for spray painting anti-government slogans outside a school. Rumors began circulating that the teenagers were being tortured while in detention in the southern town.
In the broader region, Arab protesters had been filling the streets for months. Dictators in Tunisia and Egypt had already fallen. Abazid and his friends went to pray.
Former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska is said to be on President Obama's short list to be the next defense secretary. But even the possibility of his nomination has stirred up opposition — particularly from members of his own political party.
If Hagel can survive a political ambush in Washington, he would be the first Pentagon chief who saw combat as an enlisted soldier.
The blunt-spoken Hagel favors deeper cuts in military spending and is wary of entangling America in long overseas missions.
Amid continued bloodshed in several parts of Syria, international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi held another round of talks with President Bashar Assad in Damascus. But there was no sign of progress toward a peace deal.
Two firefighters died and two others were hospitalized in western New York on Monday. They were shot after responding to a fire in the town of Webster, outside Rochester. Police say the gunman is also dead, and they're not ruling out the possibility that the firefighters were led into a trap.
In an effort to safeguard some 20,000 jobs at a time of rising unemployment, the Italian government has taken an unprecedented step. It has reversed a court order that called for the partial shutdown of Europe's biggest steel plant because it spews cancer-producing dioxins.
The ILVA steel factory in the southern port city of Taranto pits the government versus the judiciary in a battle over health issues and the need for economic revival.
In 2012, several high-profile comics creators added landmark works to their already impressive legacies. With Building Stories, Chris Ware offered 14 volumes of comics, each with its own meticulous, anagrammatic take on despair, and stuffed them into a box.
"Just throw the whole lemon in the food processor for lemon bars." "Don't just soak your dried beans — brine them!" "You don't need a whole day (or two) to make a good sauce."
Some of the things this year's cookbooks said to me as I tested them were downright contrarian. But that's the brilliant thing about cooking in a global, crowdsourced, Web-fueled world: People no longer cook according to some received wisdom handed down by a guy in a white toque. They figure it out as they go along, and if they stumble on a shortcut, it's blogged and shared in no time flat.
Residents give a boisterous welcome to Jakarta's newly elected governor, Joko Widodo, when he shows up for a town meeting with the residents of a Jakarta slum where residents' shacks overlook the muddy, garbage-strewn waters of the Ciliwung River.
The governor's administration plans to fix chronic flooding here by dredging the river and moving residents into subsidized apartments.
Among the candidates President Obama may nominate for the next defense secretary is Michele Flournoy, formerly the highest-ranking woman in the Pentagon.
Flournoy is a mother of three, and in February, she stunned her colleagues when she stepped down from her job as undersecretary of defense for policy to spend more time with her children.
It wasn't an easy decision, but it's a dilemma that many working mothers face. While some call for changes in workplace policy to make caring for families and working easier, others argue women ultimately have to make a choice.
And if you're just tuning in, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.
Former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was buried under so many feet of concrete in 2004 that it took gravediggers six hours to get to his body last month. And his body was exhumed because his widow suspects he was murdered, poisoned by the radioactive element polonium 210.
The surviving students of Sandy Hook Elementary will not be returning to their school in Newtown, Conn., where 20 first-graders and six educators were shot to death on Dec. 14.
Instead, when classes resume after the holidays, they'll attend a school in the neighboring town of Monroe. Parents, teachers and administrators in both towns are working to make the new school as similar as possible to the one Sandy Hook students left behind.
For nearly 150 years the world-renowned beer manufacturer Anheuser-Busch was a family company. It was passed from father to son for five generations. A couple drops of Budweiser were put onto the tongue of each first-born son before he even tasted his mother's milk. That trademark brew, Budweiser, is known to the world as the "King of Beers," and the Busch family wasn't too far from American royalty.
It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.
It seems less and less likely that a deal to avert the fiscal cliff will be reached before the New Year. And much of that may have to do with a divided opposition. James Fallows of The Atlantic is with me now, as he is most Saturdays. Jim, hello.
In the 1980s, few musicians matched the consistent brilliance and staggering fame of Prince. The Purple One earned legions of young fans back then, including one doting girl in California named Maya Rudolph — the same Maya Rudolph who would find fame herself as a cast member on Saturday Night Live and co-star of the film Bridesmaids.
The New York borough of Staten Island was hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy. Almost two months after the storm hit, many residents will not be back in their homes by the Christmas holiday.
One organization is trying to make the season a bit brighter for uprooted families with a free toy store on the island. This all-volunteer effort looks like a real toy store, but it feels more like a community of neighbors.
The shop boasts shelves filled with toys like model cars, Monopoly, dolls, craft supplies and books — almost everything you would want in a regular toy store.
In 10 days, virtually all Americans will be hit with a tax increase and deep government spending cuts will follow shortly behind. That is, unless Congress and President Obama can find a way to avert the "fiscal cliff."
It's not looking very promising at the moment. On Thursday night, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, pulled the plug on a measure he was calling his "Plan B" and sent his members home for Christmas.
When San Francisco prosecutors dismissed charges against Kristian Aspelin in early December, it became just the latest case to raise questions about how shaken baby syndrome is diagnosed. Aspelin, who was accused of causing the death of his infant son, had one thing in his favor: He had enough money to pay for medical experts who cast doubt on the prosecution's theory.