Cautious optimism is about all eurozone countries could muster for the 10 year anniversary of their shared currency, after months of worry over whether the euro would truly survive. When the euro launched its first banknotes and coins 10 years ago, it was amid fireworks and celebration. This year, a more modest approach. The European Central Bank is issuing a new, two-euro coin, a sort of brass and nickel birthday card for the euro.
You may have noticed that in 2011, Weekend Edition Sunday featured a lot more Latin music. That's because all year, the show has been visited by Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd, hosts of the NPR Music podcast Alt.Latino.
To ring in 2012, Jasmine and Felix chat with host Audie Cornish about their predictions for the coming year in Latin alternative music — as well as some of the artists they'll have their eyes on as the months unfold.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses journalists at EU headquarters in Brussels in December. It's possible that European leaders will come up with ways to manage the region's debt crisis in the new year, but the worst case scenarios are dire.
Last New Year's Day, most economic forecasters were predicting a good year ahead. But 2011 turned out to be another disappointment for stock investors and home sellers, and a discouraging time for job seekers.
Now, as 2012 begins, economists are hoping their crystal balls are working a bit better. Most are seeing a brighter picture.
Come 2012, there's a new food vocabulary: authentic, craft, small batch, artisanal, rustic and, of course, local. It's the opposite of processed, mass produced and factory farmed.
What might be called urban neo-ruralism has apartment dwellers canning tomatoes, keeping bees and churning butter.
The small farmer is the new gastronomic superhero, sourced on restaurant menus. Independent butcher shops are opening across the country with unfamiliar cuts like Denver steak, petite tender, flat iron. Expect more specialty meats, too, like bison, elk, goat and rabbit.
The beaches of Brazil lure in foreigners, but fortune-hunters are more interested in the opportunities offered by the rapidly developing South American state.
The global economic downturn is starting to affect Brazil, but the country has not nearly been as hard-hit as Europe and the U.S. The emerging economy is enticing to young, highly trained and educated workers like David Bailey of Britain.
Bailey plays piano as he and his roommates prepare for a party in Rio de Janeiro. They're all foreigners — from France, Switzerland, Spain — and all of them are here for work.
A little over three hours outside Des Moines, Iowa, in the northwest corner of the state, is the city of Le Mars. A sign proclaims this is the Ice Cream Capital of the World.
Saturday, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney spoke in Le Mars at the Family Table restaurant. His speech, like all Romney campaign speeches, was about President Obama.
"This is an election to decide whether we're going to go further and further down the path of becoming more and more similar to a European welfare state, or whether instead we're going to remain an exceptional nation," he said.
On-Air Challenge: It's our annual year-end news quiz, compiled with the help of Kathie Baker and Tim Goodman. You are given new names in the news — people you probably never heard of before 2011, but who became famous during the past 12 months. Explain why they're famous.