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7:00am

Sat December 31, 2011
Around the Nation

Take The Day Off. In Fact, Take A Month

Transcript

JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

Like many American workers, you might be using up your vacation time over the holidays but starting tomorrow. employees at Wedding Wire don't have to worry about rationing their leave. They can take off as many days as they like, just as long as their work gets done and the manager gives the OK. Jenny Harding is the Human Resources director for the web-based event planning company. She says Wedding Wire's new unlimited vacation policy will actually be good for productivity.

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6:39am

Sat December 31, 2011
The Salt

The Average American Ate (Literally) A Ton This Year

What did American eat this year? Some 31 pounds of cheese a person. A lot of it went on top of pizza.
John M. Scott iStockphoto.com

Yeah, yeah, we know. Coconut water, beets, meatballs, ethnic food trucks — they were all the rage this year. Lots of people discovered them or rediscovered them and quickly grew to love them.

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5:23am

Sat December 31, 2011
Politics

This Year In Congress: Much Drama, Little To Show

Originally published on Sat December 31, 2011 9:05 am

House Speaker John Boehner, surrounded by Republican House members, speaks during a news conference in Washington in December. The House initially rejected a plan to extend a tax cut for two months to buy time for talks on a full-year renewal. It later compromised — a rare event in 2011.
Susan Walsh AP

Congress got plenty of attention this year, but it was for all the wrong reasons.

There were at least three countdowns to shutdown, there was the debt-limit fight, plus the will-they-or-won't-they drama earlier in December over the payroll tax holiday. Looking at how few bills were actually signed into law this year, one might conclude this session was mostly sizzle and not much steak.

"I mean, I knew it was going to be bad this year, but I didn't realize like how bad it was," says Tobin Grant, an associate professor of political science at Southern Illinois University.

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5:16am

Sat December 31, 2011
Around the Nation

Iraqi Refugees Struggle For Peace In America

Originally published on Sat December 31, 2011 9:17 pm

Hesham Abdul Ghani and his wife, Oras Touma, came to Michigan to escape religious persecution.
Jacki Lyden NPR

The Iraq War may be officially over, but for thousands of Iraqis who fled to America during the conflict, there's no going home. Many left successful careers to settle in Detroit, where finding their future is a challenge.

The U.N. estimates several million Iraqis are now refugees — either inside Iraq or outside the country. Almost 60,000 of them have come to the Detroit metro area since 2006, drawn by the large Arab community that's been there for years.

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5:16am

Sat December 31, 2011
Politics

Obama's Grade In Foreign Policy 2011: 'Incomplete'

Originally published on Sat December 31, 2011 4:24 pm

President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and members of his National Security team receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House. A classified document seen in this photograph has been obscured.
Pete Souza White House

One of the most important things to understand about global affairs is how much lies beyond any one country's control, even for the most powerful country in the world.

Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies says the limits on American power were especially apparent this year.

"American power has always had many real-world limits," he says.

In some ways, he says, that makes President Obama's accomplishments all the more notable.

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