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U.S. Catholics Invigorated By Pope Francis' First Year

Pope Francis has been named Time magazine's Person of the Year. But what do American Catholics make of their widely-praised new pope? Most people like how he accepts everybody that wants to be part of the church.
NPR

Escalating Violence In Syria Kills More Than 300 In 10 Days

Syrian air force helicopters are dropping "barrel bombs" on rebel-held parts of Aleppo. Meanwhile, rebel forces are battling control of an industrial town just north of Damascus, where there have been reports of gruesome sectarian attacks.
NPR

Crocker: Assad Is 'Brutal Beyond Belief' But Better Than Rebels

Ryan Crocker, who served as U.S. Ambassador to Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, recently advocated in a New York Times op-ed for U.S. engagement with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Crocker thinks Assad is not going anywhere soon and the U.S. should act accordingly. Robert Siegel talks to Crocker about what he thinks U.S. policy toward Syria should be.
NPR

In Little Town Of Bethlehem, U.S. Aid On Display At Christmas Market

Christmas is the high season in Bethlehem. The traditional birthplace of Christ is the biggest tourist attraction in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. And this holiday season, the U.S. Agency for International Development donated almost $400,000 to bolster the festivities.
NPR

Fighting In South Sudan Eases As U.N. Finds Mass Graves

The South Sudanese government says its army has retaken the city of Bor, which has been in rebel hands for more than a week. Juba the capital is quiet. But even as the military stage of the conflict seems to be slowly drawing to a close, the United Nations reports finding mass graves around the country. And 45,000 South Sudanese have taken shelter in makeshift camps inside U.N. compounds for protection.
NPR

As World Cup Looms, Qatar's Migrant Worker System Faces Scrutiny

More than 85 percent of the people who live in Qatar are not citizens. Most are foreign workers who can face harsh conditions that are coming under increasing scrutiny as the emirate undergoes a building boom in advance of the 2022 World Cup.
NPR

Highway In Iceland May Be Sidetracked By Elves

In a nation that takes its elves and other mythical creatures seriously, a proposed road is being held up. A court is considering both the environmental impact and the potential effect on elves who are said to have a church in the highway's projected path.
NPR

A Portuguese Tradition Of 'Healing' Dolls For Christmas

The Hospital de Bonecas in downtown Lisbon has been fixing dolls since the early 19th century. At a time of unemployment and rising poverty, repairing an old doll offers a frugal alternative to new toys for Christmas.
NPR

Diplomat's Arrest Causes US-India Strain

Since the recent arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, US-Indian relations have been strained. Guest host Celeste Headlee speaks with Deepa Iyer, Executive Director of South Asian-Americans Leading Together and Sandip Roy, Culture Editor for the Indian news site FirstPost.com.
NPR

Money Seen As A Motive In Execution Of North Korea's No. 2

Jang Song Thaek, who was a key adviser and regent to his nephew — leader Kim Jong Un — was executed on Dec. 12. Intelligence agencies believe he refused to cede control of lucrative business interests, including fishing grounds. Jang was arrested after a gun battle between his forces and the army.

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