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The issue of public prayer has returned to the U. S. Supreme Court. Thirty years ago, the high court settled a case in Nebraska, ruling the state legislature could open its sessions with an invocation. Such prayers are commonplace in public meetings across the country. Yesterday, the justices heard arguments in a new prayer case: Two citizens of an upstate New York town sued to stop officials from opening its board meetings with invocations -- delivered to the assembled audience -- that almost always make reference to Christianity. At issue: whether those prayers represent a religious endorsement. Guest host Tom Gjelten of NPR and his guests discuss the latest case before the Supreme Court.
By visiting Africa this month, President Obama is drawing attention to one of the diplomatic tools that most directly shapes America's relationships with other countries: foreign aid and assistance. But now all policy makers at home feel the United States is pursuing the soundest strategy when it comes to providing aid abroad. We explore the issue with the official in charge of the Africa portfolio for the United States Agency for International Development.