In these bleakest of times in Spain, with unemployment well over 25 percent, lottery fever still runs high. El Gordo is the biggest lottery of all, and ticket sales stay steady and have even increased during Spain's recession.
The sudden death of North Korea's leader, the ascension of his little-known son and a rocket-launch failure marked a rocky year for the reclusive nation. In rare interviews, several North Koreans tell NPR that expectations of a better life have not been met. (This piece initially aired Dec. 10, 2012 on Morning Edition).
Business leaders are watching the fiscal cliff negotiations with keen interest. They worry that failure to reach a deal will have painful consequences for their companies and the economy. But they also know there is still time.
Japan's economy was a world beater in the 1980s. But the country has now gone through two tough decades and there's no end in sight. What lessons might it hold for the U.S. as it confronts the "fiscal cliff"?
After a 1996 mass shooting, the country changed its gun laws and the government bought back roughly 20 percent of all guns. Since then, gun violence has been down, and there have not been any mass killings.
Many say Dec. 21, 2012, is the day ancient Mayans prophesized the world would end, but scholars say that is not what the calendar said. The day is the end of a cycle in Mayan life, but not the end of the world.
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