It’s been a good year here at Latitude News. We hope you’ve enjoyed it too.
In the last twelve months, we’ve reported on everything from “squid wars” in South America to Chinese-American “street” volleyball. Our audience has grown steadily, and our work has appeared on Mental Floss, The Week, and The Christian Science Monitor, among others.
Now, as we get all weepy and sentimental over the New Year, we’ve decided to bring you our seven most popular stories of 2012, the ones you couldn’t stop clicking on, tweeting about and sharing on your friends’ Facebook walls. For our longtime readers, it’s a chance to revisit some old favorites. For our newer ones, an opportunity to catch up on some great journalism. Click the headlines below to read the original features.
Coming in at number seven, a story of love never found. In Russia, women far outnumber men. That’s led to an unusual dynamic between the sexes, one that lets men play the field while women make do with what they can. It doesn’t matter how ugly a Russian man might be.
The pool of available males is so limited that women will flock to him anyway. “I didn’t meet a single married man in Russia who admitted to being monogamous,” one source tells our reporter Deidre Dare.
Bullying exploded onto our national consciousness this year, thanks to tragic teen suicides, viral videos of kids tormenting an elderly lady, and Lady Gaga’s help. But bullying is a global issue, and a study found the U.S. is pretty much in the middle of the pack in terms of bullying. The nations with the lowest rate of bullying include Finland and Norway, which helped pioneer anti-bullying techniques now being used in the U.S.
What countries have the highest rate? Click the headline above to find out. (For a variety of stories on bullying, you can visit our bullying topic hub.)
Why is a reclusive Muslim cleric who lives in rural Pennsylvania the most talked about person in Turkey? Because, as our reporter Justin Vela discovered, Fethullah Gulen is widely believed to be the “man behind the curtain” in Turkey. The secretive Gulen leads one of the largest Islamic movements in the world, but drew unwanted attention to himself when he took on a popular soccer club in Istanbul.
Or did he? Gulen’s supporters say he wasn’t even involved in the anti-corruption inquiry. His detractors claim he’s a stooge for the CIA. It’s all very confusing, full of intrigue — and helped us go “semi-quasi-viral” in Turkey.
In the Netherlands, some men act like the perfect boyfriend — until they use drugs and rape to entrap young girls in a life of prostitution. So-called “lover-boys” prey on vulnerable women, but the Dutch have established a network of residential shelters to help trafficking victims escape their captors.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., Julia Rooke writes, “instead of a safe haven and trauma counseling, [victims of sex trafficking] get shunted into detention centers, foster homes and even mental institutions.”Read the original story to learn more about America’s shoddy attempts to fight a growing underworld problem.
Based on a handful of high-profile cases, the Russian government insists American families abuse the Russian children they adopt. But that’s far from the real story, according to Christy Cameron, who wrote to us after one of our many articles on the topic. In 2002, Christy and her husband adopted a child from Russia. Unbeknownst to his new parents, Jesse suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome, a little understood developmental disability.
“Adoption agencies who do foreign adoption…don’t do the necessary background,” says one adoption attorney.”As long as you pay, the adoption goes forward.” (You can see all of our coverage on inter-country adoption by visiting our adoption topic hub.)
On November 25, 2011, an elderly man was found dead, slumped in a chair, in a train station in Taiyuan, a city in northern China. Commuters ignored him — until a Buddhist monk walked up and started praying over the dead man’s body. A photo of the incident went viral, shocking China, where good Samaritans are rare.
A few months before, a surveillance camera in another city caught two vans run over a little girl in the street. No one came to help her, and she died several days later in intensive care. Lin Gu explains why the Chinese are beginning to worry if “collective apathy” is a large-scale problem in their society.
What does it say about our readers that our most popular story of 2012 was on . . . the legalization of marijuana? After voters in Colorado and Washington decided to approve the most liberal pot laws in the world, our reporter Jack Rodolico turned his eyes overseas to other countries where the drug is legal. In the Netherlands, Jack found important lessons for how Colorado and Washington can avoid becoming national distribution centers for marijuana — and all the crime and drug abuse that would accompany that status.
He also explored how Latin America — which has suffered because of America’s drug market — may react to the states’ about-face. For the full run-down, read our number one story of the year.
Thanks again for a great 2012. We’re looking forward to exploring more connections between the U.S. and the rest of the world in 2013. In the meantime, please keep reading, commenting and sharing our work. And if you ever want to suggest a story for us to cover, you can always contact us here.
Our readers are our most valuable source.