The End of Combat Operations in Iraq; Orchestras Across America Face Deep Cuts; One in Six Americans On Federal Aid; The History and Purpose of Scandals

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The flight crew of a C-17 oversees the boarding of soldiers from 3rd Infantry Division at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq, Aug. 23. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Ry Norris)

The end of combat operations in Iraq, where do we go from here?; life in the ghost town of Pincher, Okla.; the Ptarmigan as a bellwether of climate change; the Detroit symphony orchestra faces deep cuts; one in six Americans on federal aid; the U.S. Open begins; listener opinions on Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally; Iraq veterans talk aobut what they achieved; a look at this year's only new bank; the social and cultural need for scandal.

Top of the Hour: Iraq's Future for Iraqis; Morning Headlines

After combat troops leave, what is next for Iraq in the country's search for a peaceful future? That and this morning's top headlines.

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Official End of Combat in Iraq, But What's Next for Iraqis?

Today marks the formal end of the United States' combat mission in Iraq, after almost eight years. There are now fewer than 50,000 troops left in Iraq — all serving in non-combat roles. The Obama administration has pledged to withdraw all troops by October 2011. But many are now asking questions about what Iraq's future holds. What kind of presence will the U.S. have there in the coming years and is it realistic for the country to fully support itself by the end of next year?

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Toxic Town, USA

Picher, Oklahoma, was like many other towns in the United States in the early 20th Cenutry. It became a boomtown after lead and zinc were found in its ground. But by the 1970s, it ran dry, and the mining companies left, leaving Picher with a mound of pollution. It soon became a Superfund site. Residents were then offered money by the government to leave, and soon the police department and local government were disbanded. However, some residents, like John Garner, decided to stay in his hometown.

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Iraq's Future, Through a Civilian's Eyes

In the U.S., many are relieved to see combat troops and operations cease to be in Iraq. But what about in Iraq? We speak with Dr. Ziad al-Hassani, an Iraqi medical doctor and civil society activist in Baghdad. He knows what it is like to live in a place without reliable infrastructure or government. al-Hassani shares his insight on the future of Iraq as a whole, the day-to-day workings of his city, and what the role should be for the thousands of U.S. troops who remain there.

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The Ptarmigan: A 'Canary' for Climate Change?

The Ptarmigan, a mountain bird known in Colorado for its camouflaged exterior, may be at risk due to climate change. Because the birds are limited to alpine habitats, scientists worry for their survival as temperatures rise and snow and ice melt. Last week, environmentalists began a campaign to designate the bird as a threatened species. If the designation is accepted and approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it would require action to combat the threat of climate change, which could lead to legislation to reduce carbon emissions.

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In Recession, Orchestras Falling Silent

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is one of the nation's top orchestras. It has been facing financial problems in recent years, with corporate contributions and ticket sales down and an operating deficit that could reach $5 million this year. Now they are negotiating with the orchestra's musicians over a new contract. 

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Top of the Hour: America on Government Benefits; Morning Headlines

A new survey from USA Today brings Americans' dependence on government assistance into the light; that and this morning's top headlines.

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Have You Been Affected by Government Benefits?

These are numbers that many of us know by heart now: 9.5 percent of Americans are currently out of work. Unemployment benefits have been extended from 26 weeks to 99 weeks. And still, the jobs just don’t seem to be coming back in a hurry. But here are some numbers that may be less familiar: One in six Americans is currently receiving some form of government aid, according to a recent survey by USA Today. Ten million Americans are on unemployment benefits, about 40 million receive food stamps, and 4.4 million are on welfare. Every single one of those categories has increased during the recession.

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The US Open Begins

The U.S. Open began yesterday, and a number of storylines are appearing. Who will take advantage on the women's side of the absence of Serena Williams and Justine Henin? And can Rafael Nadal win his first U.S. Open title and complete his Career Grand Slam? Diane Pucin is a sports columnist for the Los Angeles Times, and she's in New York following the Open. She helps us take a look at the week's big matches.

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Listeners Respond: Glenn Beck's Message

Glenn Beck held his "Restoring Honor" rally this past weekend, on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream," speech, in Washington, D.C. Beck quoted from King's speech, invoking his memory, and called on God and American values to lead the way in Beck's movement. 

We asked you: What is the takeaway from the "Restoring Honor" rally? You weighed in with some very strong feelings, and had plenty of different perspectives to offer.

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Iraq War Veterans On Accomplishment

The combat mission in Iraq officially ends today, but the question about what we've accomplished there will remain for years. We hear from veterans of the war, and ask them what they felt they personally accomplished there. 

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2010's First and Only New Bank

Since the financial crisis began in 2008, hundreds of banks have folded and federal regulators have become more cautious about the banks they approve to go into business. Hartie Spence is the President and CEO of Lakeside Bank in Lake Charles, La. He explains how Lakeside Bank became the only truly new bank to open this year.

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Everybody Loves a Scandal

From Tiger and Elin's divorce to Lindsay Lohan's most recent arrest to Dr. Laura canceling her radio show over her excessive use of the N-word, we relish in celebrity scandal. Why does the public demise of beloved celebrities capture our imagination?

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Alleged Drug Kingpin La Barbie Caught in Mexico City

A middle-class ex-high school football star named Edgar Valdez Villarreal has long been in the sights of authorities, who allege Villarreal is one of the most successful drug traffickers in Mexico. On Monday, federal police caught Villarreal, a.k.a. "La Barbie," after an intense manhunt that lasted a year and saw the cooperation of Mexican and U.S. authorities.

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Father of First US Citizen Marked for Kill Or Capture Challenges CIA in Court

Can the U.S. government or its agents kill an American citizen even if he is a non-combatant? Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim Cleric born in America and hiding in Yemen, has called for a Jihad against America and is clearly inciting violence against his native land. But as his own father will argue in front of a federal judge today, that may not mean he should be marked for death or capture by the C.I.A.. The law suit, filed in Washington by two human rights organizations on behalf of al-Awlaki's father, argues that the U.S. government shouldn't be allowed to kill an American citizen who isn't on the battlefield without a judicial review.

 

 

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