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There are around 12 million Catholics in China, less than 1 percent of China's population. It's a number that's felt at a weekday morning mass inside Shanghai's St. Peter's Church, where a small percentage of pew space is occupied by a few, mostly elderly loyal parishioners.

Leading Republicans in Congress have vowed that even if they repeal most of the Affordable Care Act early in 2017, a replacement won't hurt those now receiving benefits.

Ken Yeh thought his school was buying software to keep kids off of certain websites.

What he didn't know was that it could help identify a student who might be considering suicide.

Yeh is the technology director at a private K-12 school near Los Angeles. Three years ago, the school began buying Chromebook laptops for students to use in class and at home. That, Yeh says, raised concerns from parents about what they'd be used for, especially outside of school.

A New York art dealer has been arrested and charged with possessing and selling stolen artifacts from countries throughout Asia.

Nancy Wiener is accused of using her gallery in New York City, called Nancy Wiener Gallery, to "buy, smuggle, launder and sell millions of dollars' worth of antiquities stolen from Afghanistan, Cambodia, China, India, Pakistan, and Thailand," according to a complaint filed in Manhattan Criminal Court.

If you were to witness a bias-based attack or a hate crime, how would you respond?

It's something some activists are preparing some New Yorkers to be ready for, as reports of hate crimes in the city have increased since the election of Donald Trump. They are up 63 percent compared to the same period last year as of Dec. 14, according to the New York City Police Department.

After nearly an hour's flight north from Baghdad, a cavernous C-130 military cargo plane touches down. Aboard are reporters, Pentagon officials and the man who has occasioned this trip, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.

The plane taxis along an airstrip that as recently as July was controlled — and then largely destroyed — by Islamic State fighters.

This is the Qayyarah Airfield West, just 30 miles south of Mosul.

From Cambridge and Oxford to Lancashire and Surrey, the fees at all English universities are capped — and a new rate hike, from £9,000 to £9,250 (roughly $11,070 to $11,378) is angering critics, particularly those who say the increase didn't undergo legislative review.

President-elect Donald Trump's transition team has asked the State Department to list its workers who focus on gender equality and ending violence against women, in what's being seen as an echo of an earlier request for the Energy Department to list employees who work on climate change.

The plan began with an idle thought.

Glancing at a map earlier this month, Owen Delaney realized something funny: Seen from above, the Diana Fountain in London's Bushy Park bears a striking resemblance to the bulbous nose of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer — at least, it would if that famous nose of his were blue. At any rate, that fountain-nose would look better if seen in the context of a full face.

So, Delaney decided to do it himself.

Rare Snowfall Blankets Dunes in The Sahara

Dec 22, 2016

On Monday, a rare and beautiful thing happened: There was a dusting of snow on the red sand dunes of the Sahara.

The snow fell on the northern Algerian town of Ain Sefra, which is known as the "gateway to the desert."

Karim Bouchetata, an amateur photographer there, grabbed his camera and took a number of photos before the snow melted later that day. He uploaded them to Facebook, where the surreal images quickly went viral.

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.

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