This year has something unpleasant in common with the years 1979 and 1986. In 1979, a nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania melted down. In 1986, the Soviet reactor at Chernobyl blew up and burned.
This year's meltdown occurred in Fukushima in Japan, and nuclear power isn't likely to be the same as a result.
Nuclear power had enjoyed 25 years of relative quiet, but the Fukushima accident reminded people that despite improvements in safety, nuclear plants could still go horribly wrong.
Japanese shoppers remain concerned about radiation levels in food following the country's nuclear accident in March. Shoppers are shown here in a Tokyo supermarket.
Credit David Guttenfelder / AP
An official from the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (right), wearing a protective suit and mask, rides on a bus taking journalists by the crippled Fukushima nuclear power station in northeast Japan in November. Japanese officials say the plant is stable, but concerns about radioactivity remain a constant worry in many parts of Japan.
Nine months after Japan's nuclear accident, life in Tokyo seems to have snapped back to normal, with a vengeance. The talk shows are back to their usual mindless trivia about pop stars and baseball contracts. The date of the tsunami and nuclear accident, March 11 — known here as just 3/11 — has faded into the background.
But while the horror has receded, for many of us, particularly women with families, things will never be the same.
There's no getting past the fact that the nuclear accident dumped radioactive particles into the atmosphere, soil and sea.
Audience members listen to Texas Gov. Rick Perry at a campaign meet and greet in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. In an article in The Atlantic, a University of Iowa professor resurfaced the question of Iowa's importance in the presidential race, pointing out ways Iowa does not accurately represent the U.S.
Every caucus season, swarms of politicians and journalists descend on Iowa. Inevitably the question arises: Why should this state have so much influence?
This year, one particularly harsh article about Iowa is getting almost as much attention in the state as the candidates themselves. The article, written by Iowa resident Stephen Bloom, raises some old questions about the state's role in selecting the nation's president.
The Justice Department has blocked a new South Carolina voting law, saying it violates the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The state law requires voters to present a photo ID in order to vote. The Justice Department says the law disenfranchises minorities, but the state says it protects against voter fraud. For more, Robert Siegel talks to NPR's Pam Fessler.