Oh dear readers, you are enigmas, all of you. Without further ado, here are the most read stories on GlobalPost that were published in the last year. If you are curious, the most-read story in GlobalPost's almost 5-year history continues to be the one about former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's brutal killing.
1. China smog emergency shuts down city of 11 million people
Cyclists ride along a road as heavy fog engulfs the city on Oct. 21, 2013 in Daqing, China. (AFP/Getty Images)
Choking smog all but shut down one of northeastern China's largest cities in October, snarling traffic, closing the airport and forcing schools to suspend classes. It was the country's first major air pollution crisis of the winter.
2. Europe’s marijuana capital isn’t Amsterdam
Lush strip of green: Nine-tenths of villagers are believed to take part in marijuana cultivation in Lazarat, Albania. (Besar Likmeta/GlobalPost)
Lazarat is known as Albania’s drug capital, notorious for its cannabis and lawlessness. The annual crop earns almost $6 billion, according to the Italian financial police. Although local police dispute that figure, they admit that marijuana production is booming.
3. 7 graphs that prove America is overrated
While the erosion of civil liberties, particularly privacy, has been the most public American failure of the year, there are many other areas where US reality doesn't match the hype. Here are seven metrics that prove an American's quality of life isn't really all that grand.
4. Inside the United States
A surveillance camera in New York. (Spencer Platt/AFP/Getty Images)
This is satire. Although the news is real, very little actual reporting was done for this story and the quotes are imagined. It is the first installment of an ongoing series that examines the language journalists use to cover foreign countries. What if we wrote that way about the United States?
BOSTON, Mass. — Human rights activists say revelations that the US regime has expanded its domestic surveillance program to private phone carriers is more evidence of the North American country’s pivot toward authoritarianism. Continue reading.
5. Obama tells Putin of concern over Syrian chemical arms
Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons director Ahmet Uzumcu at The Hague in October. (AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama in April raised his concern over the reported use of chemical weapons by the Syrian military in a telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
6. Senior Dutch diplomat beaten up in Russia
A senior Dutch diplomat at the Netherlands embassy in Moscow was beaten up at his home in the Russian capital by unknown attackers who scrawled the letters "LGBT" on a mirror in October, officials said.
7. Japan passes a democracy-muzzling Patriot Act
(Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images)
In a rare late-night parliament vote in December, the Japanese government achieved one of their key goals, passing a controversial security measure: the Bill on the Protection of State Secrets — essentially Japan’s version of the US Patriot Act. The Obama administration, which has long complained of intelligence leaks in Japan, supported the bill.
8. Stem cell research breakthrough in China; Japan stem cell trial approved
New research from China could accelerate the use of stem cells by making them easier to create. (AFP/Getty Images)
Stem cell research made new gains in July after a safe and easy way for them to be created was developed in China. The new breakthrough may also allow for an easier way to create organs and tissues from stem cells. At the same time, the Japanese government approved the first stem cell trial involving cells from the patients' own body.
9. Girl, 9, gives birth to baby girl in Mexico
(Sean Gallup/AFP/Getty Images)
A 9-year-old girl in Mexico gave birth to a baby girl in February. The father was a 17-year-old. Authorities believe the girl was raped or sexually abused. The girl was just over 8 when she got pregnant. The mother didn't report the case to state authorities because she didn't think it was a crime. But when the mother and her daughter arrived at the hospital for the birth, doctors informed the woman that her daughter may have been a victim of sexual assault. It was only then that state authorities were notified.
10. Westboro Baptist Church threatens to picket funerals of those slain at Boston Marathon
Members of the Westboro Baptist Church in New York City. (Monika Graff/AFP/Getty Images)
In the hours after two explosions rocked the streets of Boston in April, messages of love and support saturated the internet. But compassion was not universal. The commentary streaming across the Twitter feed of the Westboro Baptist Church was both hostile and hateful.