This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. About 5,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq, and they will all leave by the end of this month. Yesterday, President Obama marked the end of the nearly nine-year-long war as a campaign promise kept. He stood beside Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki yesterday and reflected on the costs and said U.S. troops will leave with their heads held high.
Until the beginning of this month, Donald Berwick served as administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Dr. Berwick's nomination got caught up in the partisan politics that accompany passage of the health care law, and he took office under a controversial recess appointment. His mission was to make the centers more efficient, to cut costs and to deliver more patient-centered care. On his way out of office, he said that as much as a third of the money spent on Medicare and Medicaid is wasted.
Critics have long derided the world's biggest cities as disorderly, overcrowded and polluted. But in recent years, as the planet's population continues to rise past seven billion and more and more people flock to urban areas, some now argue that cities may hold the key to sustainable growth.
Millions of young girls around the world, some as young as five, are forced into marriage every year. The practice is forbidden by international agreements and outlawed in many countries. But many young brides end up in abusive relationships without access to courts or education.
Clean, fresh water is an essential element to life — not only do people and animals depend on it, but it also sustains many businesses and agriculture. The majority of the fresh water used worldwide goes to irrigation, and the need is expected to rise with the growing global population.