Laurel Wamsley

The first week of the Trump administration has been marked by a flurry of executive actions — and lots of bombast and argument with the press.

Russia was ordered to vacate two compounds it owns in Maryland and New York, as part of the sanctions imposed Thursday by the White House to punish Russia for its meddling in last month's U.S. presidential election.

A circuit court judge in Baltimore has denied bail to Adnan Syed, the man whose conviction for a 1999 murder was the subject of the podcast Serial. Syed will remain in jail while he awaits a new trial. Syed was convicted in 2000 in the killing of his high school girlfriend Hae Min Lee, and sentenced to life in prison. A judge vacated that conviction last June.

Russian authorities say that there was no explosion onboard the plane that crashed earlier this week, killing 92, though some prominent officials have yet to rule out terrorism.

In a press conference Thursday, members of a Russian government commission investigating the crash told reporters it could have been one of several factors, but that data from the crash ruled out an explosion.

"After deciphering the first flight recorder we have made a conclusion that there was no explosion onboard," said Lt. Gen. Sergei Bainetov, head of the air force's flight safety division.

Though many of us lamented the never-ending saga of this year's U.S. presidential election, the news was too momentous to tune out. Indeed, many of the year's biggest stories on NPR.org were all about politics.

The top 20 most popular stories from the past year ranged from fact checks to mosquito bites, from Aleppo to taxes, and how to raise kids who will thrive, whatever the future brings.

Here they are: the most-read stories from a year we won't soon forget.

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