At California's nearly two dozen Spanish missions, conversion these days isn't just about religion; it's also about seismic retrofitting. That's because the missions — which date to the late 1700s, when Spain's king sent Franciscan missionaries to convert natives to Christianity — would not withstand a major earthquake.
At a mission in Carmel, a 220-year-old basilica is in the middle of an earthquake retrofit. Workers removed the structure's red tile roof and replaced it with scaffolding and a protective plastic.
The U.S. economy was a bit of a disappointment in 2012. During the early months of the year, job creation was surprisingly strong, but by the end of the year, uncertainty about the election and the "fiscal cliff" slowed the economy's forward motion. So will 2013 look any better?
Mark Zandi of Moody's Analytics says that while Washington likely will steer us away from the fiscal cliff at the last minute, some elements of the deal will be a drag on the economy early in 2013.
The voice of a great soul classic has died. Fontella Bass sang the 1965 hit "Rescue Me." She was 72 years old and died from complications caused by a recent heart attack. NPR's Elizabeth Blair has this appreciation.
ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: It's a perfect song with a perfect voice.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RESCUE ME")
FONTELLA BASS: (Singing) Rescue me. Take me in your arms. Rescue me. I love your tender charms. I'm rather lonely and I'm blue. I need you and your love, too. Come on and rescue me.
Sometimes "the one that got away" is a book that was easy to overlook. A little gem of a first novel, or a memoir by an unknown writer that unexpectedly captured everyone's imagination.
But sometimes, it's the elephant in the room that you just haven't looked at yet. Everyone knows about it. It's one of the biggest sellers of all time. It's a cultural phenomenon — it's Fifty Shades of Grey. And I ignored it until I couldn't anymore.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill today banning Americans from adopting Russian children. It's a move that will add significantly to a downward trend in international adoptions. American adoptions from Russia were already falling from a high of nearly 6,000 eight years ago to less than 1,000 last year. That's according to the State Department.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. A strike has been averted at many of the nation's busiest shipping ports, at least temporarily. The union representing longshoremen at ports along the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico have threatened to walk off the job starting Sunday. But as we hear from NPR's Jim Zarroli, port operators and the union have reached agreement on one of their most contentious issues.
In Quentin Tarantino's new film, Django Unchained, Jamie Foxx plays the title character, a freed slave turned bounty hunter searching for his wife and their plantation tormentors.
As is the case with all of Tarantino's films, Django Unchained is incredibly violent. We spoke to the director before the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., and before critics had taken him to task for the film's brutality. The film also is being debated for the way it brings humor to the story of slavery.
The April Verch Band makes its first-ever appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, W.V. A young, internationally renowned Canadian ﬁddler, singer, songwriter and step-dancer, Verch embraces mountain and old-time music that's true to tradition but distinct in its own right.
David Easterling, manager of the Suicide Prevention Program at Fort Riley in Kansas spray-paints Army boots white in 2009 as part of an on-base display to commemorate the six Fort Riley soldiers who committed suicide in 2008.
Credit Chris Hondros / Getty Images
Each responder for the VA National Suicide Prevention Hotline Call Center has a bell on their desk that they ring when they need assistance in handling a call at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center in upstate New York.
Credit John Berry / The Post-Standard/Landov
Soldiers on patrol in Afghanistan near the Pakistan border in 2009. This year, more active-duty troops died by suicide than by fighting in Afghanistan.
At a suicide prevention center in upstate New York, America's troops and veterans are calling in for help.
And that help is needed more than ever. This past year witnessed a terrible death toll from suicide. For the first time in a decade of war, more active-duty troops have taken their own lives this year than have died fighting in Afghanistan.