Three years ago today, a massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan killed thousands of people. It also triggered the meltdown of reactors at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The cleanup is ongoing and has been problematic, with power failures and leaks of contaminated water. And the technical difficulties involved in closing the facility are compounded by serious labor issues.
This week, Pope Francis marks the first anniversary of his papacy. In his first 12 months, Francis has achieved the rank of a global pop star. His message of humility and proximity to the poor has won admiration from Catholics and non-Catholics alike. He's attracting bigger crowds than his predecessor and, as NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports, he is now the focus of a new fan magazine.
When Jonette Øyen bought her first electric car, it turned heads. "Now nobody turns around!" she says with a laugh.
Sometime in April, Norway is expected to become the first country where one in every 100 cars is purely electric. One percent may not sound like a huge figure, but in the U.S., the equivalent number would be something close to .07 percent.
Originally published on Tue March 11, 2014 10:51 am
"Crimea's regional legislature on Tuesday adopted a 'declaration of independence of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea,' " The Associated Press reports. "The document specified that Crimea will become an independent state if its residents vote on Sunday in favor of joining Russia."
That's just one of several developments Tuesday as the crisis in Ukraine continues. Among the other news:
Workers build a concrete barrier along the coast of suburban Kesennuma, northeastern Japan, which was hard hit by the devastating tsunami in 2011. Nationwide, Japan has poured concrete to defend nearly half of its shoreline. Critics say much of it is unnecessary.
Credit Lucy Craft for NPR
A sea wall on the outskirts of the port city of Kesennuma. Some residents say high walls are too expensive and destroy scenery, wildlife and popular beaches. The government has proposed sea walls that will stretch for more than 200 miles and will be 30 feet high in some places.
Three years after the massive tsunami that ravaged northeastern Japan, the government is building the biggest anti-tsunami barriers ever.
The vast network of supersized sea walls, mocked by some as "the Great Wall of Japan," is already underway and would stretch 230 miles and cost nearly $8 billion.
The wall is designed to protect places like the small port city of Kesennuma in Miyagi prefecture. With its dramatic hills, white fishing boats and seafood market, Kesennuma has the pleasant nautical feel of Seattle.
As the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has expanded, teams from many countries have been involved. This navigator was aboard a Vietnamese helicopter searching the waters off that nation's coast.
Credit Hoang Dinh Nam / AFP/Getty Images
A map showing where authorities are searching for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
Credit Aly Hurt / NPR
At a news conference Tuesday in Sepang, Malaysia, authorities held up pictures of the two Iranian men who are said to have boarded Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 with stolen passports. The man at left is said to 19-year old Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad. The other man was not identified. Authorities believe the men were trying to emigrate to Europe.