Among the things to celebrate this holiday season is the fact that there are fewer hungry people in the world. Just how many? Well, since 1965, researchers in Europe have been tracking the world's food supply and where it's going.

The good news is: The percentage of the world's population getting what the researchers say is a sufficient diet has grown from 30 percent to 61 percent.

For gun control advocates hoping to see federal gun laws tighten after the shootings in Newtown, Conn., 2013 was a disheartening year. A narrow provision to expand background checks failed in the Senate.

For gun rights activists, the death of that legislation proved once more their single-issue intensity and decades-long grass-roots organizing were enough to prevail. Those are also valuable lessons for their opponents.

A 'Voice' For Lost Children

When someone takes our picture, we usually deliver a mile-wide grin, but there's not a smile in the room at the Phillips Collection's photography show in Washington.

The exhibit mostly consists of portraits of inner lives, taken by various photographers, and it's about the encounter between the two participants. Susan Behrends Frank curated the small show, called "Shaping a Modern Identity," which is running through Jan. 12.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The fiction work of Soviet era writer Zigizmund Krzhizhanovsky never saw the light of day in his own time. He was known mostly as a theater, music and literally critic, but he also wrote fables and fiction for more than 20 years, none of which appeared in print until 1989. Well, a new volume of that work called "Autobiography of a Corpse" has just come out here in the U.S. It's translated from the Russian by Joanne Turnbull, and Alan Cheuse has our review.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Now a brief nod to nog, eggnog, the holiday drink some people love to hate.

MARIA DEL MAR SACASA: Do you politely refuse and make up a dairy allergy or say you're not drinking? Or are you wondering this woman has completely lost it, and is she trying to poison me?

SIEGEL: That's Maria del Mar Sacasa, author of "Winter Cocktails." Earlier this week, she gave us her eggnog recipe to win over those haters, a freshly mixed pumpkin eggnog.

SACASA: This tastes like melted ice cream. It does; I promise.

A short story, a radio show, a Danny Kaye vehicle — no, really — even an off-Broadway musical: James Thurber's nebbishy daydreamer Walter Mitty has had plenty of incarnations in his nearly 75 years. He's back again, this time in an expensive, effects-fueled drama from actor-director Ben Stiller, and we thought that rather than reviewing it, we'd have NPR's Bob Mondello survey the range of public lives lived by the character. Have a listen.

This is the time of year when one man's work is widely - if indirectly - celebrated. His name used to be hugely famous, but nowadays, it draws blank stares, even from people who know that work. E.T.A. Hoffman, who lived from 1776 to 1822 in the Kingdom of Prussia, was responsible for a work that is a staple the holiday season, the original author of The Nutcracker. You can read more about the story, which aired last Christmas, here.

In Qatar's rapid race to modernity, the emirate has created a distinctive approach to educating its young: It has effectively imported a host of American universities.

Dr. Sheikha Aisha bint Faleh bin Nasser Al-Thani, a member of Qatar's ruling family, sits on the Supreme Education Council and owns a few independent schools. For her own children, she wanted a top-flight college education. Her sons were educated in Britain.

The film Captain Phillips is "based on a true story" of the 2009 hijacking of an American ship by Somali pirates. But how faithfully does the movie capture real events? Robert Siegel puts that question to Colin Freeman, chief foreign correspondent with Britain's Sunday Telegraph. Freeman covered the 2009 incident and has himself been kidnapped by Somali pirates.

A look back and a look ahead as NATO prepares for the final year of its mission in Afghanistan. This year saw several major events as Afghan forces took responsibility for security and the U.S. and Afghanistan came close, but have so far failed to ink a security deal to keep U.S. forces in Afghanistan after the NATO mission ends next year.

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