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There were no reindeer hitched to this flight, but an Airbus 380 crew was on a mission Wednesday to present some holiday joy.

And they delivered.

The team aboard the Airbus A380 test flight traced a colossal Christmas tree over Germany — the tip poised over Hamburg in the north all the way to the stump over Stuttgart.

Flightradar24 tracks flights in real time and displayed the image, saying it took some five-and-a-half hours to complete.

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual news conference on Thursday, an event that commonly runs for hours, offering a kaleidoscope-like glimpse of Putin's view of his country and the world. In this year's edition, the topics ranged from President Trump to Russia's ban at the 2018 Winter Olympics — and the state of the fishing industry in Murmansk.

At least 6,700 Rohingya Muslims were killed in what has been described as "ethnic cleansing" in Myanmar's Rakhine state over a one-month period between August and September, according to the international aid group Doctors Without Borders.

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President Trump, near the end of his first year in office, is finally close to a big win in Congress.

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In Tanzania today, a solemn ceremony.

(SOUNDBITE OF BAND PLAYING)

For one Pakistani mother, sunburn signals her desperation to find her son.

Zarjan Atta rode rickshaws and buses for four days on desert roads, deepening and reddening her brown skin, as she traveled from her village to Karachi, Pakistan's southern port mega-city.

That's where her son Nawaz, 23, was living with relatives and studying at Karachi University. Her relatives say armed men dragged him from their flat on Oct. 28. They were in civilian clothes.

They pushed the women and children into a room. They warned: If you speak, you'll be next.

The liver is a fascinating thing.

If you want to read a thought-provoking story about the liver, you might like to learn about the challenges of building a fairer system for allocating access to liver transplants.

Or the history of efforts to grow "liverettes" in petri dishes.

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The Philippine Congress has extended martial law on the southern island of Mindanao for another year at the request of President Rodrigo Duterte, who says it is needed to continue the fight against armed groups in the region.

The move was overwhelmingly approved by both the Senate and House of Representatives, where Duterte and his allies hold big majorities. Duterte first imposed martial law in the Muslim-dominated south in May, and Wednesday's vote extends it through 2018.

This has been tough year for America's west coast vineyards. Wildfires in October in Northern California and this month in Southern California have left acres of wine country scorched and black. While California's 2017 grapes have been safely harvested already, winemakers around the world are wary about a threat that is growing along with the frequency of wildfires: smoke taint.

Two years ago yesterday, Dec. 12, nearly 200 countries came to a consensus that greenhouse emissions — mostly caused by the burning of fossil fuels — had to be drastically cut if we were to halt the planetary-changing consequences of a choking atmosphere.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says his people no longer want the U.S. involved in brokering any Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, after President Trump decided to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital last week.

Abbas called Trump's actions a crime and said he'll appeal to the United Nations.

I always get excited putting together Goats and Soda's list of most-read stories of the year. To me, it reveals a lot about how our audience feels about the world — What did you find surprising? Share-worthy? Illuminating?

You loved the stories that got you woke: how to ethically take selfies while volunteering abroad; how the Western media visually portrays women and girls in the developing world.

A 10-year-old boy at a school in Okinawa was slightly injured when a transport helicopter from a nearby U.S. Marine Corps base lost a windshield as it flew overhead.

A statement from U.S. Forces, Japan, confirmed that a window from a CH-53E helicopter "fell onto the sports field of Daini Futenma Elementary School outside of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. The aircraft immediately returned to MCAS Futenma and reported the incident."

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is ready to talk about talking to North Korea.

"We're ready to talk anytime North Korea would like to talk. And we're ready to have the first meeting without precondition," he said, in remarks Tuesday at the Atlantic Council, a think tank in Washington, D.C.

A court in India has sentenced six people to death for the brutal killing of a man belonging the country's Dalit caste, formerly known as "untouchables," after he married a woman of a higher caste. The bride's father was among those convicted for his role in masterminding the attack.

The case stems from a March 2016 attack on 22-year-old Sankar, who was hacked to death by a gang of knife-wielding men outside a shopping mall in Udumalpet, a rural town in India's southern state of Tamil Nadu. His wife, Kausalya, was severely wounded in the assault but survived.

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Amnesty International has made a striking charge. The organization says European governments have been complicit in the torture and abuse of tens of thousands of refugees and migrants. Here's NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton.

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Updated at 7:55 p.m. ET

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday the U.S. would be willing to enter negotiations with North Korea without requiring that it agree beforehand to give up its nuclear weapons program. The willingness to engage in talks without that understanding is a significant change in the U.S. approach.

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Iraq is celebrating the defeat of ISIS. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi over the weekend declared December 10 the country's newest national holiday. He presided over a huge military parade in Baghdad with troops and tanks.

This week, the skywatchers will experience a flashy double feature: The Geminid meteor shower — one of the year's best — will coincide with an unusually close encounter by an asteroid.

That asteroid? It's called 3200 Phaethon, discovered by a NASA satellite in 1983. With a diameter of about 3 miles, it's the third-largest near-Earth asteroid classified by the space agency as "potentially hazardous."

The latest viral video to capture young Africans' social media pages has a striking lack of epic fails or baby animals. It's literally just Ghana's president Nana Akufo-Addo in a joint press conference in Accra with French president Emmanuel Macron, who was making the last stop of his first Africa tour on November 30.

Editor's Note: This story was originally published in September and has been republished with updates about the U.N. investigation of extreme poverty in Alabama and other U.S. locations.

The United Nations is investigating extreme poverty in the U.S.

France's education chief says that when students go back to school next fall, all mobile phone use will be banned in schools for students roughly 15 and younger.

Russia's Olympic Committee is backing a plan for Russian athletes to compete under a neutral flag in the upcoming Winter Olympics, saying it will support their participation. Despite doping sanctions against the national team, the Russian group's head says 200 of the country's athletes could wind up going to PyeongChang.

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