Today's agenda: Life under Taliban, Obama healthcare deal, Hubble repair
What we're working on today:
In world news ...
• The pope begins his visit to the Middle East and tries to heal some rough spots in Vatican-Israeli relations. Jerusalem-based correspondent Ilene Prusher is covering this story.
• Ben Arnoldy in Pakistan is just outside the embattled Swat Valley, interviewing refugees from the fighting there about life under the Taliban. The story is now posted.
• Simon Montlake just left Sri Lanka and reports on the United Nations stepping up the urgency of its warnings there as the death toll mounts.
• Iran has released American journalist Roxana Saberi after reducing her eight-year sentence for espionage to two years suspended. Scott Peterson, who has covered Iran for years, reports the story.
In US news ...
• Ron Scherer has reported on President Obama's deal with major players in the healthcare industry to shave 1.5 percentage points a year from the growth in healthcare costs. Linda Feldmann in Washington will follow up this afternoon after the president's formal announcement of the deal.
• Science writer Peter Spotts has described the Hubble-repair mission of the space shuttle, which is launching today. He will follow up later this afternoon after the launch.
• Gordon Lubold at the Pentagon is looking into why Defense Secretary Robert Gates has just replaced the general in charge of the Afghanistan campaign only a year into the general's command there.
• In today's installment of Patchwork Nation, Dante Chinni has found that federal TARP money to rescue banks flows to some types of communities more than others.
• Kathryn Perry is reporting on a trend that recession has not been able to slow down – the thriving tattoo business.