In Lisbon, the waiting area of Portugal's biggest maternity hospital is empty. You can hear the hum of soda machines across the hall. There's just one expectant father, pacing the room.
Mario Carvalho, 40, has a toddler son and now awaits the birth of his baby girl.
"Today, I hope!" he says with a nervous smile.
The birth of a new baby is a joyous occasion. But in Portugal, it's an increasingly rare one. Since the economic crisis hit, the country's birthrate has dropped 14 percent, to less than 1.3 babies per woman โ one of the lowest in the world.
European scientists were alarmed in 2008 when they discovered streams of methane bubbles erupting from the seafloor in Norway's high Arctic. This gas, which contributes to global warming, was apparently coming from methane ice on the seafloor. A follow-up study finds that methane bubble plumes at this location have probably been forming for a few thousand years, so they are not the result of human-induced climate change. But continued warming of ocean water can trigger more methane releases in the Arctic, with potentially serious consequences to the climate.
The U.S. Forest Service has proposed a large salvage logging operation in the area affected by last year's historic Rim Fire, which burned 410-square miles of California's Sierra Nevada. The proposal is meeting stiff opposition from environmental groups who say the land is better left untouched.
Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 2:01 pm
It's -16 degrees today here in Chicago, which for many of us has triggered hibernation mode. Fortunately the great Jerry's Sandwiches has created the Ignatius R., with enough calories to get us to the end of winter, which we expect to occur sometime in August.
The ingredient list: fried chicken, cold hickory-smoked sirloin, applewood bacon, fresh mozzarella, lettuce, Carolina vinegar, fried shrimp, fried green tomato, mortadella, country ham, pickled okra, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and Southwest mayo on a potato bun.
Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 8:38 am
Frostbite isn't usually a major worry here in Washington, D.C., but with wind chills below zero forecast for half of the Lower 48 by Tuesday morning, millions of people from the Plains to the East Coast will have to start thinking like Arctic explorers while waiting for a school bus or heading to work.
Noses, fingers, toes and ears face the biggest risk. Those body parts have less blood flowing through them and a lot less mass than the body's core. They're also more likely to be exposed to the elements. Obviously, bundling up those tender parts is key.
Bangladesh's parliamentary election Sunday proved to be among the most violent vote in the country's short history. At least 18 people were killed, including an election officer who was beaten to death, and scores of polling stations firebombed, according to local media reports.
When you think about what Downton Abbey has achieved, and is continuing to pull off, it's actually pretty remarkable. In an era when the most acclaimed TV series of the decade is an edgy cable drama about a dying, meth-making criminal, Downton Abbey draws similarly large audiences on broadcast TV โ public TV, at that โ with an old-fashioned soap opera about servants and household staffers and those they serve. As Season 4 begins on PBS, Downton Abbey is the most popular drama in the history of public television.