ILVA Steel, Europe's biggest steel plant, is located in the Italian port city of Taranto. Judges have ordered a partial shutdown because the plant spews dangerous carcinogens. But the plant is also the anchor of the region's economy, employing some 20,000 people. Sylvia Poggioli
Opinion polls show 2012's extreme weather — producing wildfires, floods and drought — has more people making a connection with climate change. For Marti Andrews in southern New Jersey, a turning point was the summer's hurricane-like derecho.
"I don't want to say I freaked out about it, but holy crap, it scared me," she says. It packed winds up to 90 miles per hour and nonstop lightning, which Andrews says looked like some wild disco display in the sky.
"I've never seen anything like that," she says. "I sat there on the couch thinking, 'Oh my God, we're all gonna die!' "
Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 9:02 pm
Gerard Depardieu, one of France's most iconic and beloved film stars, is now at the center of a national uproar over French taxes and patriotism.
Depardieu, who has been in around 200 films, says he's moving to Belgium to avoid paying a new 75 percent tax on the superwealthy. The move has divided the country and has focused attention on the Socialist government's controversial new tax policy.
Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 5:24 pm
A plaintiffs' attorney says Toyota Motor Corp. has reached a settlement exceeding $1 billion in a class-action lawsuit involving complaints of unintended acceleration in its vehicles. Robert Siegel talks with NPR's Sonari Glinton about the deal, which still needs a judge's approval.
Katie Alonzo was stunned when doctors told her they couldn't get a drug her 10-year-old daughter, Abby, was taking to fight lymphoma.
"When a doctor says, 'This is what you need to take.' And then all of a sudden somebody tells you, 'Well, that is what you need to take but this isn't available so we're going to try this instead,' it's very scary," say Alonzo, who lives in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
In 2007, when Virginia's Prince William County ordered police to check the immigration status of anyone they had "probable cause" to suspect was in the U.S. unlawfully, the impact was swift at family restaurant Ricos Tacos Moya.
"Suddenly nobody showed up," says Stacey Moya, an employee, and daughter of the owner. "Nobody was around. Not one soul. We would go hours without any customers, any clients. Nothing."
Now to a scientist looking back at the year that's about to end, commentator Adam Frank is an astrophysicist. And in the category of science, he is confident about the headline for 2012.
ADAM FRANK: Something remarkable has happened that may etch this year into history for centuries to come. Twenty-twelve's importance comes not through elections, economic shifts or the new movements in art. No, 2012 may well be remembered for something far more elemental.
This was the year that climate change got real for Americans.
It's been a mixed year for Alzheimer's research. Some promising drugs failed to stop or even slow the disease. But researchers also found reasons to think that treatments can work if they just start sooner.
Scientists who study Alzheimer's say they aren't discouraged by the drug failures. "I actually think it was a phenomenal year for research," says Bill Rebeck, a brain scientist at Georgetown University.
Brazilian health officials say an epidemic is taking hold — an outbreak of crack cocaine use nationwide, from the major cities on the coast to places deep in the Amazon.
It's an image at odds with the one Brazil wants to project as the country prepares to host soccer's World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympics two years later. But the problem has become too big to ignore.
The Luz district of central Sao Paulo was once grand, with its old train station and opulent buildings. Now, this neighborhood is known as Cracolandia — Crackland.
The war in Syria is taking a huge toll on the children. An international team of researchers that interviewed Syrian kids in a refugee camp in Turkey found that 3 out of 4 have lost a loved one. Almost half have post-traumatic stress disorder and elevated levels of depression.
There are efforts to help, but it's challenging. In the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep, the bell rings at 8 a.m. at the Friendship Elementary School. Syrian kids, in fresh school uniforms, cram into desks, with more than 40 students in every classroom.
Hear the word "prophet" and the names Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jesus or Mohammed may come to mind. While these are figures from the distant past, Rabbi Shmuel Fortman Hapartzi is training a new generation of prophets for a new age.
Fortman runs the Cain and Abel School for Prophets in Tel Aviv. It's named for the sons of Adam and Eve who, in the Bible, were the first human beings born of woman to speak directly to God and therefore, Fortman says, the first prophets.
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.