Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 1:07 pm
There are some people who believe you can tell a lot about a person from what they read. By that measure, judging from the year's most popular posts on Shots, you might think our readers include plenty of depressed parents obsessed with diet and excrement.
Luckily for you, dear readers, we here at Shots know that Web traffic isn't a scientific measure of personality or of quality — just of virality. Plenty of powerful, public service stories failed to make our Top 10 list for the year. That caveat delivered, here's a look at the stories that kept you clicking in 2012.
Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 12:32 pm
Jeff Jarvis has had enough of the White House's petition site.
The 1-year-old site, We the People, is meant to be a place for Americans to directly entreat the president. Any petition that gathers more than 25,000 signatures in its first month is supposed to generate an official response from the Obama administration.
In 1953, Mildred Norman set off from the Rose Bowl parade on New Year's Day with a goal of walking the entire country for peace. She left her given name behind and took up a new identity: Peace Pilgrim.
When Peace Pilgrim started out, the Korean War was still under way, and an ominous threat of a nuclear attack was on the minds of many Americans. And so, with "Peace Pilgrim" written across her chest, she began walking "coast to coast for peace."
Congolese women wait for food to be distributed at the Mugunga III camp for displaced people outside the eastern town of Goma on Dec. 2.
Credit Jerome Delay / AP
On Nov. 20, an M23 rebel walks on the streets of Goma. The rebels initially claimed control of the town, but retreated 10 days later under international pressure. However, many people think M23 never really left — rather, they just changed into civilian clothes and went into hiding.
Credit Phil Moore / AFP/Getty Images
Mugunga I is a camp of approximately 60,000 displaced people, mostly women and children. Here, soldiers from the Congolese army — who are not supposed to be in the camp — use camp water provided by Oxfam on Dec 19.
Goma, a city on the eastern border of the Congo, has been a magnet for war refugees for nearly two decades. And in an expanding camp for displaced people, called Mugunga I, school principal Emmanuel Kibanja Miteso holds up a three-ring binder that reflects the history of war here.
The pages are a logbook for parent-teacher conferences. Every time fighting flares in the region, people flood into the displacement camps and the roster of names swells in the principal's binder.
In 2012, the nation mourned the deaths of some extremely influential individuals — from singer Whitney Houston to astronaut Neil Armstrong, writer Maurice Sendak and TV personality Dick Clark.
Each year, Talk of the Nation reaches out to colleagues at NPR for help remembering some of the remarkable men and woman who did not make the front page when they died, but whose lives still made a significant impact.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Less than 10 hours from now, we arrive at the political deadline set by Congress and the president a year and a half ago when they mandated a deal on taxes and spending so awful, so unthinkable, that the prospect would surely force a compromise.
NPR's coverage of President Obama's comments on the "fiscal cliff" talks
Update at 9:45 p.m. Deal Reached
Vice President Joe Biden was meeting late Monday with Senate Democrats to brief them on a proposed deal to stop sharp tax increases and spending cuts. A source told NPR the deal with congressional Democratic and Republican leaders includes a mix of both.
Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick will represent Arizona's 1st Congressional District when she returns to Washington this week after sitting out a term. This time around, Kirkpatrick hopes to strengthen her foothold in a swing district, but she's dealing with a tricky electorate.
First elected to the House in 2008, Kirkpatrick turned a red district blue. Then in 2010, the backlash against President Obama and his health care plan hurt her. So, a Republican dentist from Flagstaff took her seat for a term.
Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 10:42 am
The act of toasting feels natural: You lift your arms in affirmation and drink in honor of an occasion or a loved one.
It's what millions will do this week as they ring in the New Year, but why? Like shaking hands or saluting, toasting is a habit with incredibly foggy beginnings, so we here at The Salt decided to dig into it, for the sake of science.
Originally published on Tue January 1, 2013 9:17 am
Updated Jan. 1, 2013: I've added a postscript to this post. You can find it at the bottom of this page.
Look at yourself. Right now.
You are muscle,skin, bone, brain, blood, warmed by energy, and all of you, every cell, even the subsets of those cells, all trillions and trillions of them, are going to tire, waste and depart. In 10 years almost every bit of you will have been replaced by new bits.
Phiona Mutesi is a teenager living in Katwe, the biggest and possibly toughest slum in Uganda's capital city. She's also a rising star in competitive chess.
Her story is told in the book The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess and One Extraordinary Girl's Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster.
But when she first started the game, Mutesi wasn't hungry for glory; she was just hungry. A local chapter of a Christian charity hosted a chess program, and it lured Mutesi, her brother and other children with the promise of a meal.
Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 1:11 pm
Alabama Shakes, a soulful rock 'n' roll quartet, is riding a well-deserved wave to fame. Since the release of its self-titled debut in 2011, the band has entranced listeners with its diverse and energetic songs. Alabama Shakes' style is marked by lead singer Brittany Howard's powerful voice and the group's irresistible energy. Together, they enthusiastically blend rock with soul, country, blues and roots.
Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 11:03 am
It took a while, but the London folk-rock band Mumford & Sons broke big with its 2009 debut album, Sigh No More. The album combines the raspy vocals of singer Marcus Mumford with lush harmonies and rootsy instrumentation on tracks that range from soothing to rocking.