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This year's 11 top-grossing films starring black actors and by black directors almost doubles the number of last year's slate of comparable films. Industry watchers say Hollywood needs a stronger infrastructure of support for black filmmakers to sustain this level of racial diversity on and off the screen.

Eydie Gorme was most famous for being half of the husband-and-wife singing duo Steve and Eydie, with her husband of nearly 60 years, Steve Lawrence. But on her own she was known for her range, her deftness in English and Spanish and her sense of humor. She passed away in August in Las Vegas.

Robert Ressler spent his career researching crimes that were tough to understand. He thought that by figuring out how — and why — violent criminals worked, he could help police identify suspects. He came face to face with notorious killers like Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy. Ressler died earlier this year. He was 76.

Baseball legend Lavonne "Pepper" Paire Davis was the inspiration for Geena Davis' character in A League of Their Own. In the 1940s, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League put young women on the field at a time when they just didn't play ball. Davis passed away earlier this year at the age of 88.

Three groundbreaking scientists, all of whom won the Nobel Prize for their discoveries, died in 2013. Francois Jacob figured out how genes work. Frederick Sanger, who sequenced the first genome, is one of only four people to win two Nobel Prizes. David Hubel found out how to listen to the brain.

In the 1960s, catching a flight wasn't much of a hassle. No lines, no security screenings and no need to show ID. But the ease of travel brought with it some serious consequences.

Activists across the nation want to counter the onslaught of regulations that limit abortions and regulate clinics with new laws that protect access to abortion.

Despite news that hackers stole PIN data from the giant retailer Target during prime buying season, shoppers say they will still use their cards to ring up purchases there. Target says the PINs are encrypted, but security experts say that given time, hackers could still outwit the system.

Ten cities and states have passed laws guaranteeing access to some kind of family leave this year, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families. NPR's Jennifer Ludden speaks with director Vicki Shabo about efforts to make family leave mandatory.

The secretary of state set big goals this year, from restarting the Mideast peace process to ending the civil war in Syria and curbing Iran's nuclear program. NPR's Jennifer Ludden talks with David Ignatius of The Washington Post about how much progress Kerry has made this year.

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