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Pope Francis has outlined more reforms to the Roman Catholic Church, including elevating more women and lay people to leadership positions and focusing more on the multicultural nature of the modern church.

NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reported that it's the third year in a row the pope has used his Christmas address to Vatican employees to lecture them about how they must change:

Donald Trump, it seems, has been listening to NPR.

On Wednesday's Morning Edition, NPR's Rachel Martin spoke with former House speaker and Trump adviser Newt Gingrich on a wide range of topics concerning the president-elect's transition to the White House.

The holiday season is a time when lots of people take to the air, flying to see relatives or go on vacation. But when it comes to seasonal travel, humans are totally outnumbered by insects.

That's according to a newly published study in the journal Science, which found that more than 3 trillion migrating insects fly over south-central England each year.

There was no shortage of sad news in 2016.

And because we're a blog that covers global health and development, we covered a lot of those sobering stories: the toll of diseases like Zika, the bombing of hospitals in conflict zones, the suffering caused by poverty and by discrimination against women.

But we published a lot of hopeful stories as well. We asked our team at Goats and Soda to pick some of the stories from this year that inspired them the most. We hope you're inspired too.

In the midst of multiple fundraising attempts that raised questions about whether the Trump family is selling the promise of personal access to the highest bidder, Eric Trump says he will stop directly raising money for his personal charity.

"As unfortunate as it is, I understand the quagmire," Trump told the New York Times.

When he was in prison, Lorenzo Palma strongly suspected he was an American citizen. He had spent his whole life in the United States, and he knew his grandfather was born in El Paso, Texas, in 1914.

Palma had served five years for an assault conviction and was about to be released on parole, but immigration officials had stopped his release because they wanted to deport him. They said he wasn't a U.S. citizen.

There are three constants during the holiday season in Madrid: tourists ogling light-bedecked thoroughfares; supermarket aisles stuffed with seasonal treats like turrón and polvorón, the Spanish shortbread. And, everywhere, marzipan.

With a manhunt and a $100,000 reward aimed at his capture, more details are emerging about Anis Amri, the chief suspect in Monday's attack on a Christmas market in Berlin. Revelations that the authorities had monitored Amri — and marked him for deportation — are also fueling anger in Germany.

The federal government has cut payments to 769 hospitals with high rates of patient injuries, for the first time counting the spread of antibiotic-resistant germs in assessing penalties.

The punishments come in the third year of Medicare penalties for hospitals with patients most frequently suffering from potentially avoidable complications, including various types of infections, blood clots, bed sores and falls. This year the government also examined the prevalence of two types of bacteria resistant to drugs.

Evacuations continue from east Aleppo, as remaining rebels and civilians wait in freezing weather for transportation out of the city.

The end of the evacuations may be coming soon: NPR's Alice Fordham reports that regime forces might be entering the tiny enclave that has been held by rebels as early as Thursday evening.

The fall of eastern Aleppo to the forces aligned with Syrian President Bashar Assad has been a foregone conclusion for weeks now. The question was whether civilians and fighters would be allowed to leave.

Ikea has reached a $50 million settlement with the families of three toddlers who died after unsecured Ikea dressers tipped over, according to lawyers for the families. The furniture giant confirms a settlement has been reached but describes it as "tentative."

President-elect Donald Trump is rounding out his White House team — installing several trusted campaign advisers to senior West Wing positions.

Kellyanne Conway will serve as counselor to the president, the transition team announced on Thursday. Sean Spicer will be press secretary, and Jason Miller has been named director of communications.

Nearly two months after a black church in Greenville, Miss., was torched and painted with pro-Trump graffiti, a member of the church has been arrested and charged with the crime.

"The Mississippi Department of Public Safety says 45-year-old Andrew McClinton is charged with arson of a place of worship in connection to the fire at the Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Greenville on Nov. 1," Mark Rigsby of Mississippi Public Broadcasting reports.

Just before House Republicans re-elected Paul Ryan as their speaker, the Wisconsin Republican made a bold proclamation.

"Welcome to the dawn of a new unified Republican government," Ryan told reporters one week after Election Day. "This will be a government focused on turning President-elect Trump's victory into real progress for the American people."

Ryan continued: "If we are going to put our country back on the right track, we have got to be bold, and we have to go big."

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