Marc Silver

Editor's Note: This story was originally published in September and has been republished with updates about the U.N. investigation of extreme poverty in Alabama and other U.S. locations.

The United Nations is investigating extreme poverty in the U.S.

Editor's Note: This story was originally published in 2015 and has been updated.

With a string of devastating natural disasters and record numbers of refugees, 2017 has been a cruel year.

So it's a year when, more than ever, we need World Kindness Day.

The November 13 holiday was made up in 1998. So it doesn't have deep roots in human society.

According to the World Bank, if you're living on $1.90 a day or less, you're living in extreme poverty.

The 767 million people in that category have $1.90 a day or less in purchasing power to fulfill their daily needs.

Most of that money goes for food – only it may not be enough to purchase nutritious food or to stave off hunger. Hundreds of millions of the extreme poor are malnourished.

Their housing may be of low quality. And they may not have enough money for school fees (primary education isn't always free) or health-care expenses.

Oct. 11 is the "International Day of the Girl" – proclaimed by the U.N. as a time to look at the challenges girls face and to promote their "empowerment" and human rights.

What kind of year has it been for girls? We looked at the stories we've done over the past year, and the headlines alone captured both the tragedies and the triumphs. In many ways a horrible year for girls. But even at the bleakest moments, there are stories of hope and triumph.

Here is a sampling of our stories about the world's girls:

The Sprague Fire that's burning in Glacier National Park reached the historic Sperry Chalet hotel building and "rapidly engulfed" it, according to the website for this historic building.

"We are saddened to inform you that Sperry Chalet has been lost," the website now reads.

Sperry Chalet.

I hadn't thought about it for years.

Back in 2000, my family spent the night, and all the memories – the miserable ones and the fantastic ones – came rushing back.

Before "Goats and Soda" was born, I wrote a story for our sister blog, "The Salt" about the world's largest tree fruit. The jackfruit can grow as big as 100 pounds. It's a good source of protein, potassium, vitamin B and fiber. Plus: It's easy to grow in tropical climes. There was even a symposium devoted to revving up production and marketing. So how's that going?

I knew it was time to do a follow-up story on jackfruit when I went shopping in Trader Joe's and saw 20-ounce cans of "Trader Joe's Green Jackfruit In Brine." For only $1.99!

If you're a goat, you sure don't want to catch "goat plague."

The same goes for sheep along with wild animals that are at risk, like antelope and camels.

The proper name for the virus is "peste des petits ruminants" and it is indeed a pestilence. Symptoms include "a high fever, listlessness, eye and nose discharges," says Adegbola Adesogan, professor and director of Feed the Future Livestock Systems Innovation Lab at the University of Florida.

And that's just the beginning.

Shhh, we just can't talk about that.

Omigosh: We. Just. Don't. Do. That.

If you haven't guessed, we're talking about taboos.

Taboos are part of every culture, every family, every circle of friends.

We're planning to explore taboos in an upcoming series of stories. We'd like to hear from our audience about taboos they've encountered in the world of global health and development.

So tell us: What global taboos should we consider? Share your ideas in the tool below.

Would you rather raise your kids in Europe or Africa?

That's the question that Carl Manlan faced. Carl, who's from the Ivory Coast, and his wife, Lelani, who's from South Africa, started their family in Geneva, Switzerland, where they were working at the time. They have two children, a daughter named Claire, born in May 2012, and a son named Liam, born in September 2014.

Geneva is a great place to raise kids, Carl says. "Lots of opportunities to stimulate kids outside of the home, playgrounds for kids. You don't really find that in most cities in Africa."

Do trees grow from seeds that goats eat and later expel?

That is a question that has long bedeviled ecologists.

Let's say it's a small seed. The goat will swallow it, poop it out and a tree could sprout.

But what if it's a sizable seed? It probably wouldn't make it through the goat's digestive tract intact. And so ... no tree.

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