As the final U.S. troops leave Iraq, they leave behind the largest U.S. Embassy in the world.
There will be about 16,000 people working for the State Department at the embassy in Baghdad and consulates elsewhere in Iraq.
At least 5,000 of those in Iraq will be private security contractors, and there are lots of questions about whether the State Department is ready to run such a big operation in such a volatile country.
A year ago, 26-year-old Mohamed Bouazizi was getting ready to sell fruits and vegetables in the rural town of Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia.
Bouazizi was the breadwinner for his widowed mother and six siblings, but he didn't have a permit to sell the goods. When the police asked Bouazizi to hand over his wooden cart, he refused and a policewoman allegedly slapped him.
Angered after being publicly humiliated, Bouazizi marched in front of a government building and set himself on fire.
Just north of downtown Minneapolis stand two cement, skyscraper apartment buildings covered in faded pastel patches. Most of the people who live there are part of the city's large Somali community. Once a month, many of them walk across the street to the small, blue shop that houses Kaah Express, a money-wiring business that links Somalis in Minneapolis to relatives in camps throughout East Africa.
Dessa is best known as a member of Doomtree, a hip-hop collective based in Minneapolis. But there's much more singing than rapping on her latest album, Castor, the Twin, which puts a jazzy, melodic spin on some of her previous work.
Dessa says the title refers to the brothers Castor and Pollux from Greek and Roman mythology. Castor, she explains, is the milder of the two.
Today, the Senate approved a $1 trillion bill to fund the government and a two-month payroll tax cut extension. Weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz speaks with James Fallows of The Atlantic about the last minute deal and other top stories from the past week.
Each year, as Congress works to wrap up budget and tax bills and other "must-pass" legislation, inevitably not so must-pass items creep into the mix — inserted either to smooth passage for the more important things, or in the hopes that no one will notice. This year marks the first time that leadership has been unable to use earmarks to buy off reluctant votes, and has turned to other forms of grease instead. NPR's David Welna reports.
In the run-up to the U.S. military's withdrawal from Iraq over the last few weeks, up to 60 convoys have been roaring across the country at any given time, hauling supplies south to Kuwait. But that's just the equipment the military is taking. Major General Thomas Richardson, the Army's chief logistician in Iraq, tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz that sometimes it's cheaper to leave it there.
When William F. Buckley burst onto the national scene in 1955, conservatism was a dead letter in American politics.
"Lots of people thought that it was outdated, anachronistic, prehistoric, foolish, not very intelligent," Carl Bogus tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz.
Bogus is the author of a new biography, called Buckley: William F. Buckley and the Rise of American Conservatism. He says that back in the 1950s and 1960s, there really was an established liberal elite in America, which controlled both political parties.
The U.S. Senate wrapped up a tumultuous year of divided government with votes that keep the federal government funded through September and extend expiring unemployment benefits and a payroll tax cut another two months.
In a rare Saturday year-end session, the Senate's action averted a shutdown but was not the last word on the payroll tax cut extension.