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Renee Montagne

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On the shores of California one recent morning, female Marines were heaving heavy chains to secure amphibious assault vehicles that soon would roll into the waves.

The exercise was one part of a yearlong experiment aimed at settling the question of whether women can handle the punishing world of ground combat.

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Herat is one of the most graceful cities in Afghanistan. Its traditions go back to the Persian empire, with its exquisite blue and green glass, and its thriving poetry scene.

Now Herat is struggling with a darker side: drug addiction at a higher rate than almost anywhere else in the country.

In a dusty ravine on the outskirts of the city, Ahmad, a scruffy 20-year-old, is striking a match to inhale heroin.

It's a simple act he repeats throughout his day — heating a dark slab of heroin paste smeared on a bit of foil so he can smoke it.

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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

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And I'm Renee Montagne.

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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

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Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

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Let's talk more about changes to the National Security Agency that President Obama is announcing as we speak at the Justice Department. And we're joined in our studio by Tamara Keith and Tom Gjelten. And let's just begin.

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A very cold winter storm is engulfing much of the Northeast, dumping more than 20 inches of snow in some areas and bringing strong winds along with it. Schools are closed in Boston and New York City. Thousands of flights have been canceled. Officials around the region are asking people to stay home and let road crews do their work.

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Roy Choi ushered in a food truck "new wave" in Los Angeles, making street fare edgier, tastier. Five years ago, he and a partner launched Kogi — Korean for meat — with a small fleet of trucks offering up a Korean-Mexican fusion that inspired food entrepreneurs in cities across America where the trend caught fire. His signature creation? The short rib taco: warm tortillas, Korean barbecue beef, cilantro-onion-and lime, topped with a spicy-soy slaw.

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And with some perspective on why the two sides are so dug in, and what options Speaker Boehner and President Obama may be weighing, we turn as we do most Mondays to Cokie Roberts. Good morning.

COKIE ROBERTS, BYLINE: Hi. How are you, Renee?

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On a Wednesday it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

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This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

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And I'm Renee Montagne.

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Ben Bernanke's latest comments are at the top of NPR's business news.

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