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It bills itself as the "God's Own Garden," and this tribal village tucked in India's remote northeast is unlike any other in the country.

Mawlynnong is free from what plagues so much of rural and urban India: litter, burning garbage and open defecation, the latter punishable by fine.

Reaching this mini-Shangri-La is a commitment, as we climb evergreen-studded mountain roads, peer into emerald valleys, and plateau into lush vegetation that overlooks the border with Bangladesh to the south.

"Feminism" was the most looked-up word in Merriam-Webster's online dictionary in 2017.

We've profiled some extraordinary women in Goats and Soda this year who should be cited in the dictionary's definition. They pursued their goals in the face of poverty, war and prejudice.

When a fire broke out around 6 a.m. local time Saturday at the ZSL London Zoo, keepers living on-site moved quickly to evacuate the animals' enclosures, moving them to safety before firefighters' arrival, according to the zoo.

Despite their efforts, a 9-year-old aardvark named Misha died in the blaze and four meerkats were missing as of early Saturday afternoon local time.

A Status Report On The Civil War In Syria

Dec 23, 2017

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As an Indian-American, I don't immediately associate Bollywood films with food — mostly because the characters in many Bollywood movies are too concerned with dance numbers and melodrama to be bothered by what's for dinner. So, when I came across the new cookbook Bollywood Kitchen, I feared it might have been written by someone who knew nothing about Indian culture and only a bit about Bollywood, "curry" and naan.

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Advent Calendars Now Offer Treats For Grown-Ups

Dec 23, 2017

For kids who celebrate Christmas, there is something irresistible about an Advent calendar. In households where treats are doled out sparingly, knowing that you'll be getting one chocolate a day for 24 days in a row feels like a kind of miracle.

But eventually, those kids grow into adults who can buy their own candy whenever they want and the traditional Advent calendar loses its childhood appeal.

Editor's Note: This story was updated on Dec. 29 to reflect the new closing date for the exhibition.

At first glance, it seems like a charming exhibition: Ten old-fashioned suitcases, with a miniature diorama in each. The models, with their meticulously detailed furnishings, remind you of dollhouses.

Then you spot snaking tangles of exposed wires, rubble-strewn streets and blasted chandeliers. A child's tricycle is gritty, covered in dust.

Even with unprecedented national developments crowding our news feeds all year, the NPR Parallels blog readers have kept a keen eye on dramatic events unfolding worldwide — and the U.S. role in the world. North Korea's nukes, the aftermath of President Trump's first military strike in Yemen, Russia's kompromat tactics and South Korea's ongoing efforts to seek justice for comfort women were some of the stories you were most interested in.

It may sound like the plot of a movie: police find a young man dead with stab wounds. Tests quickly show he'd had Ebola.

Officials realize the suspects in the case, men in a local gang, may have picked up and spread Ebola across the slum. These men are reluctant to quarantine themselves and some – including a man nicknamed "Time Bomb" – cannot even be found.

This scenario actually unfolded in the West African country of Liberia in 2015. And what followed was a truly unconventional effort by epidemiologists to stop a new Ebola outbreak.

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Every time a U.S. service member is killed, it's followed by a choreographed ritual — that requires a very human touch — to return the dead to their families. It's part of war the public rarely sees.

But for Army Sgt. 1st Class A.G. Shaw, this work has been his life for 25 years. He's a "92 Mike" — that's military-speak for a specialist in mortuary affairs.

The job requires reverence and discretion. Thanks and recognition are rare. Shaw's comfort came from a supportive grandmother.

Aurelie Garat still can't get over how she found her Pere Noel this year. She's the Christmas pageant organizer for the tiny Normandy town of Vimoutiers.

"I was parking when I saw a nice young man with a beautiful beard sitting in his car on the phone," says Garat. "So I said to him, your beard speaks to me. Would you be our Father Christmas this year?"

Garat says they had been looking everywhere and had almost given up hope. She says it was as if this Pere Noel — as the French call Santa Claus — had just fallen out of the sky.

The first time I heard about Caga Tió, or Tió de Nadal, my family was getting settled into our life abroad in Barcelona this fall. A new friend's teenage daughter was telling us about the Catalan traditions she celebrates in school.

"During Christmas, there's a log that you feed scraps of food, and then he poops presents when you hit him with a stick and sing a song!"

Then she sang:

Children all over the United States will have a big decision to make on Christmas Eve: Would Santa Claus prefer a chocolate chip cookie for a snack or perhaps a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

The International Olympic Committee says it is banning 11 of Russian athletes for life as part of its investigation into doping at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Ruling on the last 11 of the 46 cases it has been investigating, the IOC said all were now disqualified from the Sochi Games. The IOC has now banned 43 Russian athletes and stripped 13 medals from the country, according to NBC Sports. Three of the 46 were cleared.

For many of the estimated 170,000 children who go online for the first time each day, the virtual universe will offer new possibilities to connect with the world — and access to unbounded knowledge and services.

But the virtual world can also present dangers. And kids who don't yet have the awareness to navigate the Web safely could fall prey to those threats.

Laurence Chandy, UNICEF's director of data, research and policy, says that while a third of all Internet users are kids, consumer protections don't always have children in mind.

A new report by the Committee to Protect Journalists says that at least 42 journalists worldwide were killed in 2017 in retaliation for their work — which marks a drop from the 48 killed last year.

But one country defied what appears to be a downward trend — Mexico.

According to the New York-based nonprofit, six journalists were killed in Mexico this year, putting it just behind Iraq and Syria as the deadliest places in the world to work in the media.

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Pro-independence parties won this week's elections for a regional Parliament in Catalonia. Spain's government was hoping that election would tamp down a separatist movement. Guy Hedgecoe reports on what happened instead.

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