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News 30/12/2016

The Little Atoms 2016 baker's dozen

The Sleep Of Reason Produces Monsters - Goya

2016 was a year when the values that drive Little Atoms – progress, debate, internationalism – took some severe knocks. But we also got to produce some critical, crucial, and in some cases cheering journalism. Here are a few of the highlights, to get you through the twilight of this terrible year.

1. The Penance Industry

John Paul O'Malley told how the games giant behind Monopoly and Buckaroo! exploited vulnerable young women in Ireland's Magdalene Laundry system, as the church sold their labour and gave them next to nothing in return. A shocking story, sensitively told, that elicited a huge response.

2. The psychedelic drug that could explain our belief in life after death

This was, by some distance, the most read story on Little Atoms in 2016. Caroline Christie investigated DMT, a naturally occurring hallucinogen that could explain why we are prone to believing in supernatural visions.

3. The unquiet ghost of Alexander Litvinenko

Understanding Russian political culture is one of the most important tasks of the coming years, and there are few finer analysts than Natalia Antonova. In this article, she explained why "the current Russian government enjoys looking nuts – because nuts means unpredictable, and unpredictable means scary"

4. Ben Judah's return to darkest England

A beautiful, ranging essay in which one of Britain's best young political journalists, James Bloodworth, looks at This Is London by Ben Judah, a no-less impressive young writer.

5. We need to find a way to talk about psychosis the way we talk about depression

Emily Reynolds is another of the sharpest emerging talents in British writing. Here she wrote candidly about how society is still too scared to talk about an illness that will touch everyone's lives.

6. I set up the petition for London's independence. Here's how it would work

James O'Malley has a brilliant grasp of the Zeitgeist. In the days after Brexit, he set up a petition calling for London's independence from the UK. Here he explains exactly how the city state could happen.

7. Return to Hangover Square

A nation divided, an uncertain future...what better time to revisit Patrick Hamilton's pre-war classic, Hangover Square?

8. The maths of the paper disproving conspiracy theories don't add up

A scientific paper claimed to show disprove conspiracy theories. We set master debunker Martin Robbins on the case

9. Meet Amal Clooney's latest client

Rebecca Vincent's profile of Azerbaijani reporter Khadija Ismayilova, a friend and journalistic hero to Little Atoms, who was released from prison in May of this year.

10. Paul Beatty on place, race and human psychology

Paul Beatty's masterful The Sellout was the deserving winner of this year's Booker Prize. Neil Denny interviewed the author just days before he accepted the prestigious award. 

11. Why I confronted Jeremy Corbyn on Syria

Like thousands of leftists and progressives, Oz Katerji spent 2016 increasingly frustrated with the discussion on Syria. He decided to let Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn know about it.

12.Even if you can't stand Corbyn, now is not the time to leave the Labour party

Meanwhile, post-Owen Smith, Mike Harris made the case for sticking with the Labour party.

13. Russia Today is not alternative news: it is propaganda

Is there such a thing as an alternative to alternative media? If so, that's what Little Atoms is.

Little Atoms believes in quality journalism.

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Help us and our brilliant contributors continue to bring you insightful journalism and reportage in 2017 by becoming a Little Atoms Supporter and buying the brilliant Little Atoms Magazine – featuring exclusive print-only content from Iona Craig, Molly Crabapple, Kat Arney and many more.

Padraig Reidy is the editor of Little Atoms. He is Director of Editorial at 89up and has written and ghostwritten for The Evening Standard, The Guardian, The Observer, The Irish Times, The Daily Telegraph, The New Statesman, The Sun, and The Irish Post.