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2:06pm

Wed September 21, 2011
Middle East

Tiny Nation Played Pivotal Role In Americans' Release

The two American men who stepped out of an Iranian prison Wednesday after spending more than two years in custody may have a tiny Persian Gulf nation to thank for greasing the wheels of their release.

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, both 29, had been accused of espionage along with fellow American Sarah Shourd and sentenced to eight years in prison. They were freed in exchange for $1 million dollars and flown to Oman.

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1:48pm

Wed September 21, 2011
Conflict In Libya

What Role Will Islamists Play In Libya?

Libyan rebels pray before going out on patrol outside the port city of Misrata on April 30. Religion plays a major role in Libyan life, and Islamist groups want to be part of the new government.
Christophe Simon AFP/Getty Images

As Libyans work to form an interim government, some of those competing for power are members of the Muslim Brotherhood, raising fears that Islamist radicals may try to hijack the revolution. But many Libyans say those fears are mostly in the minds of Westerners.

Former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi banned the Muslim Brotherhood. The group attempted to overthrow Gadhafi in the 1990s, and he responded with a ferocious crackdown that put many of its members in jail.

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1:31pm

Wed September 21, 2011
The Two-Way

Billy, Giants' Missing Fan Is Found, Says 'I'm Fine... Just Broke Right Now'

Billy (left) poses for a photo with San Francisco Giants' Pitcher Matt Cain.
Courtesy of the San Francisco Giants

Earlier this month, we reported a heartbreaking story about Billy, a San Francisco Giants fan, who showed up to every game for years, until one day he just stopped coming. The Giants went searching. Giants manager Bruce Bochy told NPR's All Things Considered that he was worried, "hoping to get some good news."

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1:30pm

Wed September 21, 2011
The Salt

'Biggest Loser' Nudges Many Viewers To Think Thin

Originally published on Wed September 21, 2011 1:33 pm

Contestants from NBC's "The Biggest Loser" do yoga in Auckland, New Zealand.
TRAE PATTON PR NEWSWIRE

Contestants on the Season 12 Premiere of TV's The Biggest Loser last night may not be the only people motivated to lose weight. Viewers are influenced by weight-loss reality shows, too.

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1:29pm

Wed September 21, 2011
Asia

The Curious Case Of The Vanishing Chinese City

Originally published on Wed September 21, 2011 6:20 pm

Chinese officials announced on Aug. 22 that the large city of Chaohu in eastern China no longer existed. The move caught residents by surprise. Chaohu's museum, shown here, houses a Han dynasty tomb, and the city is known for its huge freshwater lake.
Louisa Lim NPR

Imagine a city like Los Angeles disappearing from the map completely. That's exactly what happened to Chaohu, a city in eastern China's Anhui province with a similar population — about 4 million. The people have remained, but the city has vanished in an administrative sleight of hand.

That was the Kafkaesque reality for Chaohu's inhabitants, who went to bed one night and woke up the morning of Aug. 22 to find out that their city no longer existed. For many, their first inkling that something had changed was from the local news.

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