Today's Takeaway: President Obama Marks End of Iraq War

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

President Obama speaks during a tribute to the troops at Fort Bragg. (Davis Turner/Getty)

Report: Half of the Nation's Schools Are Failing; How Religious 'Outsiders' Gain Acceptance in the US; US Citizens Caught in Immigration Crackdown; A Closer Look at the Decline in Marriage Rates; Listener Responses: Driver Cell Phone Ban; After Big Black Friday, Retail Sales Drop; Teenage Birth Rate Lowest in Decades; Obama Marks End of Iraq War

Top of the Hour: End of US Military Operations in Iraq, Morning Headlines

After eight years, eight months, and 25 days, the American flag was lowered in Baghdad on Thursday morning. This ceremony marks the end of US military operations in Iraq, and comes two weeks before the official December 31st deadline. Most of the 5,500 remaining soldiers have now left Iraq.

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New Report Reveals Half of Nation's Schools Are Failing

Some new numbers about the No Child Left Behind Act paint a bleak portrait of the country's education system. According to a report from the Center on Education Policy, 48 percent of the nation’s public schools did not meet No Child Left Behind's requirements for "adequate yearly progress," a percentage-based criteria for improvement set by individual states. However, students's performance on the national standardized test are not considered in AYP.

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What Does It Take for Religious Minorities in the US to Be Accepted?

This week on The Takeaway, we've been talking about the representations of different religions in the media: the controversy surrounding Lowe's pulling their ads from the TLC reality show "All-American Muslim," and America’s fixation with the Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. While extremism isn't exclusive to any group, those who practice outside of the "mainstream" — be they Mormon or Muslim — are frequently labeled as such. Does it simply take a version of "The Cosby Show" to break down these stereotypes, or is there something more?

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US Citizens Caught in Immigration Crackdown

Since 2008, the Obama administration has deported over 1 million illegal immigrants, the highest number in six decades. However, this crackdown has not only affected illegal immigrants. A new investigation into the Secure Communities program finds that hundreds of American citizens have been detained because immigration officials thought they were illegal immigrants.

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For Many Veterans, Iraq War Is Not Over

Hundreds of thousands of Americans served in Iraq, many of whom have come home suffering from physical injuries and mental trauma. With a higher-than-average rate of depression and substance abuse, the faltering economy has also made the transition to civilian life difficult for veterans. In 2010, about 13,000 of the nation's homeless were ex-servicemembers between ages 18 and 30. Despite all of this, most remain positive about their time they spent serving.

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Marriage Rate Hits an All-Time Low

A Pew Research Center report released Wednesday shows 51 percent of all adults in the United States are now married — a record low. In 2010, a survey also conducted by Pew found that four in ten Americans thought marriage had become obsolete, but found that most people who had never married (61 percent) would like to do so someday.

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Top of the Hour: House Republicans Move to Solve Deficit, Morning Headlines

House Republicans have laid out a spending bill would cap non-emergency discretionary spending at one trillion dollars, despite a request from President Obama and Democrats for more talks. The move to pass this bill comes at a strategic time before the House breaks for the holidays.

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The Iraq War's Legacy, At Home and Abroad

President Obama had two words for a crowd of returning Iraq war veterans on Wednesday: "Welcome Home." The president observed the end of a war that has defined a decade of American military might, and divided the country. Yet while there are accurate statistics about soldier casualties, an accurate count of how many Iraqis have been killed or wounded during the occupation remains unclear.

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New Leads on Missing MF Global Funds

The House Commodity Futures Trading Commission's review of MF Global are getting closer to finding out where 1.2 billion dollars of investor's funds went. Former Chief Executive John Corzine has testified he does not know where the funds went, and was unaware that any customer money was missing until October 30th of this year. The now bankrupt brokerage firm made a 6.3 billion dollar bet on European sovereign debt.

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Listener Responses: Cell Phone Ban for Drivers

On Wednesday we heard from NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman about a recommendation by the U.S. Safety Board for a national ban on cell phone use while driving. The recommendation states that all states should ban cell phone use for drivers. We got a lot of listener response to the segment. We asked two listeners to join us on the show to talk about their reactions.

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Teen Pregnancies On the Decline

New research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that fewer teenage girls are becoming mothers. The birth rate for American teenagers between ages 15 to 19 has fallen 6 percent, according to the most recent data. This is the lowest since record-keeping began.

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