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In eastern Tennessee, officials say a wildfire that tore through resort towns in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains earlier this week killed at least 13 people and destroyed nearly 1,000 structures, according to local officials and the state emergency management agency.

The confirmed death toll in and around the tourist town of Gatlinburg in Sevier County has climbed steadily since the fire raced into town overnight on Monday.

The Oxford Dictionary announced a couple weeks ago that "post-truth" is its 2016 word of the year.

According to the dictionary's website, the word is "an adjective defined as 'relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.' "

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.


It's that same old Hollywood plot, really:

Boy meets girl.

Boy loses girl.

In a shocking upset, election officials say an opposition candidate has defeated Gambia's longtime leader in the country's presidential vote. This sets the stage for what could be the small West African country's first-ever peaceful transfer of power since it gained independence from the U.K. in 1965.

We're lucky enough to be joined this week by Daisy Rosario and Margaret Willison for looks at two new girl-themed stories.

First, non-Gilmore Girls person Stephen Thompson sits out of our usual rotation as we cover the return of the people of Stars Hollow in four new movies available on Netflix. Did we get what we were hoping for from this reunion? Did we get too much of Logan's goofy friends, or not enough? And what of Jess and his duffel bag?

Unemployment dropped by 0.3 percentage points, to 4.6 percent, last month — the lowest rate since 2007 — according to the monthly jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A shipbuilder in China has started work on a full-scale replica of the Titanic, the doomed ship that hit an iceberg and sunk on its maiden voyage in 1912.

Construction on the project began Wednesday, Reuters reports. When it's finished, the tourist attraction will offer simulations of the infamous disaster, which killed more than 1,500 people.

There's no danger of real icebergs, though. The Titanic replica will be permanently docked at a reservoir in Daying County, in the landlocked Sichuan province.

Americans continue to be divided along partisan lines over Obamacare, with an overwhelming percentage of Democrats favoring it and an equal share of Republicans having unfavorable views, according to a newly released Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

But when it comes to an actual gutting of Obamacare, there's doesn't appear to be a lot of support.

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Hot-Dog Tiaras And Other '70s Dinner Party' Delicacies

Dec 2, 2016

Last summer, Anna Pallai was leafing through her mom's cookbooks — sauce-splashed volumes of Robert Carrier recipes, issues of Supercook pinched together in a ringed binder — when she realized she'd stumbled across a gold mine. The books were full of meaty aspics and mousses coaxed into elaborate shapes: a crown made of blunted hot dogs, seafood mousse sculpted into the shape of a maniacally grinning fish.

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There were moments when watching the Trump and Clinton campaigns discuss the election at the Campaign Managers Conference at the Harvard Institute of Politics was like watching The Jerry Springer Show without the chair-throwing (or paternity disputes).

The 2016 campaign was an ugly, knock-down, drag-out fight between two different visions of America. So it was fitting that the typically polite and clinical quadrennial gathering of campaign professionals would erupt into shouting matches and accusations raw with emotion.

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President-elect Trump held a campaign-style rally in Cincinnati last night.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: Thank you.

(CHEERING)

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Homeopathy has been around since the 1700s, but despite having devoted followers, there is no scientific evidence that it works. Soon, packages for homeopathic products might say just that.

On Donald Trump's visit to Carrier in Indiana on Thursday, he mentioned a phone call that he made to the CEO of United Technologies, the air conditioning company's parent. As Trump describes it, that call led to Carrier announcing it will not move as many jobs to Mexico as it had planned.

"We can't allow this to happen anymore with our country. So many jobs are leaving and going to other countries, not just Mexico," Trump said.

It's been a year since Ray Britain lay on the floor of the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, Calif., feeling the vibrations of the gun shots.

He remembers that "constant tremble," he says, the ringing in his ears, the shell casings — "a rainbow of shell casings" — flying from the gun, and the looks of shock on his coworkers' faces.

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Donald Trump announced his choice to be defense secretary.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: We are going to appoint Mad Dog Mattis...

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: ...As our secretary of defense.

At a rally in Cincinnati on Thursday night, President-elect Donald Trump said he would select retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis to lead the Defense Department, filling a key role in the incoming administration. Mattis, 66, is famous for both his blunt talk and his engaging leadership in recent U.S. conflicts.

A few weeks before the election, the Tri-Pro lumber mill in north Idaho shut down. It was the second mill to close in the area in six months, putting more than a hundred people out of work.

While that's big economic loss for any community, it was especially tough for the tight-knit town of Orofino and its 3,000 or so residents.

President-elect Donald Trump spoke by phone with Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in one of the many routine, get-acquainted chats he'll have before entering the White House.

These talks rarely if ever make news, but Wednesday's conversation raised eyebrows because Trump lavished praise on Sharif and Pakistan despite years of tension between the two countries.

Here's part of the read-out of their conversation, as released by Pakistan's Press Information Department:

Christmas is coming, and soon TV screens everywhere will light up with that 1946 holiday classic, It's a Wonderful Life. But the same story is coming a little early to the stage of the Houston Grand Opera. That's right: An operatic version of George Bailey's struggle with life and death opens this Friday.

Librettist Gene Scheer admits that adapting such a beloved movie has sometimes felt like a fool's errand. "It's almost secular scripture, this piece," he says. "Everyone knows all the lines."

Gambians have cast ballots for a new president, in what marks the most serious risk yet to the decades-long rule of President Yahya Jammeh.

The voting happened amid a blackout on Internet and international phone calls, as NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton tells our Newscast unit. She reports the current president of the small West African country "is warning his rivals not to challenge the outcome of the vote." Here's more from Ofeibea:

A single tornado can cause a lot of damage. But even worse are tornado outbreaks. Just this week, a cluster of at least 18 tornadoes struck the Southeast over two days.

Scientists are seeing bigger clusters in recent years, and they're struggling to figure out what's happening.

President-elect Donald Trump delivered a campaign-style speech at what was billed as the first stop in a thank-you tour in Cincinnati, Ohio, tonight, in which he pledged to unite America while at the same time recounting old grievances against the news media, and his political opponents.

Trump also used the occasion to announce he will nominate retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis as secretary of defense, calling him "the closest thing we have to Gen. George Patton of our time."

Each year, the United States gives $5 billion to $6 billion to fight HIV/AIDS around the world, with particular emphasis on sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for two-thirds of the nearly 2 million new infections each year.

For World AIDS Day, we sat down with the U.S. Global AIDS coordinator, Deborah Birx, to talk about the state of the epidemic and the work of PEPFAR, set up by President George W. Bush in 2003 with the intention of saving the lives of people suffering from AIDS around the world.

France's embattled president, Francois Hollande, has announced that he will not seek a second term.

The surprise announcement from the socialist leader marks the "first time in 60 years that a sitting French president has not run for re-election," as NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports from Paris. "Terrorist attacks and a sagging economy beset Hollande and made him one of the most unpopular presidents ever."

Hollande made the announcement in a televised address, where he spoke for about 10 minutes and defended his record since taking office in 2012, Eleanor adds.

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