Iraq
9:03 am
Wed December 14, 2011

As U.S. Departs, Iraq Faces An Uncertain Future

U.S. Army Lt. Adam Wilson from Ontario, Calif., shakes hands with Sheik Mahmood Al-Ghizzi, possibly for the last time, on Dec. 5 in Nasiriyah, Iraq. The two men met for a final lunch as the U.S. military prepares to leave Iraq after a nearly nine-year presence.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 8:35 am

As the last U.S. troops prepare to leave Iraq this month, what kind of country are they leaving behind?

Iraq's economy, the security system and the political structure are all functioning to varying degrees, yet all appear fragile.

No one expects Iraq to serve as a beacon of Jeffersonian democracy to the region or the world. The more relevant question at this point is how well it will function as a democracy, period.

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The Two-Way
8:50 am
Wed December 14, 2011

Hezbollah's Alleged Ties To South American Cocaine Trade Detailed

Hezbollah members listen to a speech by the group's leader, Â Hassan Nasrallah, via video-link in the southern suburbs of Beirut on Nov. 11, 2011.
Anwar Amro AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 14, 2011 8:55 am

There are "new insights into the murky sources of Hezbollah's money," The New York Times reports this morning, that point to "the direct involvement of high-level Hezbollah officials in the South American cocaine trade."

Here's the story's money quote:

"One agent involved in the investigation compared Hezbollah to the Mafia, saying, 'They operate like the Gambinos on steroids.' "

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Occupy Wall Street
8:08 am
Wed December 14, 2011

Occupy NOLA Ousted From Duncan Plaza

The Occupy New Orleans protest no longer occupies Duncan Plaza. A federal judge allowed the city to clear the encampment outside City Hall.

The federal judge refused to issue an order sought by Occupy NOLA. The group has been staying at the park since early October as an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement for economic equality.

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The Two-Way
7:25 am
Wed December 14, 2011

Terrorism Not Thought To Have Been Motivation Of Attacker In Belgium

Grieving: At a bus shelter that was shattered during Tuesday's grenade and gun attack in Liege, Belgium, people gathered today to express their sorrow and pay respects.
Philippe Huguen AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 14, 2011 7:28 am

While it still isn't clear why a man attacked a crowded square in Liege, Belgium, on Tuesday with grenades and gunfire, killing at least three people and injuring more than 120, authorities are saying that evidence indicates terrorism was not his motivation, according to The Associated Press and other news outlets.

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The Two-Way
6:45 am
Wed December 14, 2011

'The Protester' Is 'Time' Magazine's Person Of The Year

Time magazine

Originally published on Wed December 14, 2011 7:04 am

"The protester" has been named Time magazine's person of the year, it was just announced on NBC-TV's The Today Show and on Time's website.

That covers, most notably of course, those who went to the streets in the Arab Spring movement that swept across much of North Africa and the Middle East.

But as Time writes, protesters have also had major impacts in Greece, Spain, the U.K. and — via the Occupy Wall Street movement — the United states.

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The Two-Way
6:00 am
Wed December 14, 2011

Fate Of Payroll Tax Cut, Jobless Benefits Uncertain As Lawmakers Haggle

Outside the Capitol, there's goodwill. Inside, less so.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Wed December 14, 2011 6:17 am

A veto threat. Finger-pointing. The end of some jobless benefits.

We've been through all this before this year and we're going through it again as 2011 draws to a close.

As The Associated Press says:

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NPR correspondent Chris Arnold is based in Boston. His reports are heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazines Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition. He joined NPR in 1996, and was based in San Francisco before moving to Boston in 2001.

Andrea Seabrook covers Capitol Hill as NPR's Congressional Correspondent.

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro is an NPR international correspondent covering South America for NPR. She is based in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Previously, she served a NPR's correspondent based in Israel, reporting on stories happening throughout the Middle East. She was one of the first reporters to enter Libya after the 2011 Arab Spring uprising began and spent months painting a deep and vivid portrait of a country at war. Often at great personal risk, Garcia-Navarro captured history in the making with stunning insight, courage and humanity.

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