In February 1945, Hershel Williams was sent to Iwo Jima with a flamethrower unit. All but 17 of the 279 members of his company had been killed or wounded a week and a half later.
Credit Nick Del Calzo / Courtesy Artisan Books
Col. Jack Jacobs was awarded a Medal of Honor for his service in Vietnam, where he once <a href="http://www.npr.org/books/titles/144032956/medal-of-honor-potraits-of-valor-beyond-the-call-of-duty#excerpt">brought 13 fellow soldiers to safety</a> after enemy forces opened fire.
Today marks the 150th anniversary of the Medal of Honor. It is the highest military decoration in the United States, reflecting great service and sacrifice. Of the more than 3,400 recipients, fewer than 85 are still living.
Among them is Hershel Williams, who served as a Marine corporal in World War II. He says that on the day he received the honor — Oct. 5, 1945 — he had no concept of it.
Let Iran off the hook or undermine the global economy? Slap sanctions on an Iranian energy company or provide Europe with an alternative to Russian gas? Washington policymaking is especially difficult when the aims conflict, and few cases illustrate that principle more clearly than the challenge of finding a way to punish Iran without hurting someone else.
In California, prison inmates who have committed serious crimes and have been diagnosed with a major mental illness can be forced to serve their parole in a state hospital. At Atascadero State Hospital, shown above in this 1999 photo, there are more than 600 such patients. "As a group," says the hospital's director, "the mentally disordered offenders are the most aggressive."
Mental health and law enforcement officials in California are trying to find ways to hold violent psychiatric patients accountable without punishing people for being sick. It's a response to escalating violence in the state's mental hospitals, where thousands of assaults occur annually. Only a tiny fraction of them, however, result in criminal charges.
Costa Rica is Central America's most stable democracy, a peaceful country that abolished its army in 1948 and now draws nearly a million U.S. tourists a year to its national parks and beaches. But it's also right in the middle of the world's most lucrative cocaine trafficking corridor.
As Mexican drug cartels push deeper into Central America, they've cast a dark shadow over Costa Rica's idyllic green image.
Students stand outside Penn State's Old Main building, protesting the handling of a child abuse scandal involving retired Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
Credit Gene J. Puskar / AP
Former NHL hockey player Sheldon Kennedy testified before the Senate subcommittee on children and families during a hearing on child abuse. As a young teen, he said, he was sexually abused for years by a respected hockey coach, but the adults around him who suspected never said a thing.
The revelations about alleged child sex abuse by a former Penn State football coach have caused policymakers to propose new measures to broaden who is required to report suspected abuse.
Each state already has laws that require some combination of doctors, teachers, day care providers and others who work with children to report suspected abuse. If they don't, they could face fines, the loss of a license, and, in some states, possibly jail time.
This time last year, Phil Jackson, then the coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, complained that the NBA scheduled games on Christmas Day. It seemed, he said, that "Christian holidays don't mean anything" any longer.
A few players echoed Jackson's sentiments, but the complaint died aborning. This Christmas, Sunday, the league has scheduled ... (to the tune of "The 12 Days Of Christmas"):
In 2011, hell was a hot topic, from Hollywood to New York Times bestsellers. In fact, this year has seen an incendiary debate about the existence and contents of hell.
The year began with an epic battle between a priest and Satan, with Anthony Hopkins playing a demon possessed priest in the movie, The Rite. The Hollywood glimpse of the underworld came and went without much notice by moviegoers. But then, another form of hell on earth grabbed the headlines. Judgment Day would soon be upon us.
The two "eyes" on the Anybot are actually a camera and a laser. The camera "sees," the laser points, and the person on the screen controls it all.
Robot technology made several advances in 2011. Here, an iCub robot built by the Italian Institute of Technology tracks and grabs a red ball at the Robotville exhibition, held in London.
Credit Oli Scarff / Getty Images
The QA telepresence robot by Anybots chats with people on the floor at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2009. The CEO of one Silicon Valley startup uses an Anybots robot around the office when he's away on business.
Mike Fennelly isn't easily surprised by cutting-edge technologies, but when he started as an IT guy at a Silicon Valley startup called Evernote, he was caught off guard by a robot rolling around the office.
"It was slightly disturbing for not really knowing what the robot was for at the beginning, and then going, 'Oh, OK. That's Phil,' " he says.
CEO Phil Libin is also known as the company's "robotic overlord." Libin himself isn't actually a robot, but when he's out of town, his robot keeps an eye on things.
Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 11:41 am
The head of Missouri's Office of Administration is stepping down effective Feb. 1.
Gov. Jay Nixon announced Tuesday that Administration Commissioner Kelvin Simmons was leaving the position. In a resignation letter dated Monday, Simmons said he was pursuing an "opportunity outside of state government" but did not elaborate.