A homeless man begs for money during the launch of Christmas celebrations in Athens' central Syntagma Square, Dec. 9. Difficult economic times have meant subdued holiday activities — and even carolers, who traditionally receive money for their songs, are feeling the pinch.
In Greece, caroling season runs through the Orthodox Christian holiday known as the Epiphany, celebrated on Jan. 6. Traditionally, children go door-to-door, playing the triangle and singing songs of the season. In return, people give them a few euros for presents.
But this Christmas, Greek retailers say sales fell 30 percent from last year. The unemployment rate is at record levels, crime is rising and austerity is dampening everyone's spirits.
If you're a fresh vegetable lover, it's hard to get excited about what's available in the supermarket produce section in the dead of winter. Whatever is there often has made a long journey from a field in a distant, sunny locale and been sprayed with something to keep it looking fresh. It's usually a little worse for the wear.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) has told her Cabinet agencies that all employees should answer their phones with this greeting:
"It's a great day in South Carolina. How can I help you?"
But two Democratic members of the state House are sponsoring legislation that would prohibit any agency from ordering its staff to say that unless it truly is a "great day in South Carolina" (according to those legislators).
National media are catching up on a harrowing story from Utah, where police say a woman who had been kidnapped, raped and beaten for days was able to post a Christmas Eve message for help on Facebook that led to the rescue of her and her 17-month-old son, and the arrest of a man now being held on $1 million bail.
Hundreds protest against gender segregation and violence towards women by ultra-Orthodox Jews in the Israeli city of Beit Shemesh. The demonstrations come after a young girl was harassed due to her "immodest" dress.
According to Israel's President Shimon Peres, a fight is underway, for "the soul of the nation and the essence of the state." But the threat isn't coming from outside of Israel. It's over differing interpretations of Judaism.
Recently, a bespectacled eight year-old girl was filmed by a local TV station being harassed by ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi Jews, for, in their view, not dressing modestly enough. The episode took place in Beit Shemesh, a city between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem that has become a symbol of this growing battle in Israel.
Originally published on Wed December 28, 2011 9:09 am
As NPR's Becky Lettenberger and I take to the road in Iowa this week, we are collecting the words and images of Iowa Republicans still uncertain who they will vote for in next Tuesday's state GOP presidential caucuses.
Here's the first look at what we saw and heard Tuesday in two cities that hug the Mississippi River on the state's eastern border, Dubuque and Davenport.
We spoke with voters after a Newt Gingrich appearance in Dubuque during a Rotary Club meeting at a local country club.