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Five years after Katrina, President Obama said yesterday he's making good on his promise to protect New Orleans. But he barely mentioned the strategy most experts say would make the biggest difference of all — restoring the wetlands. Also, Vice President Biden goes to Baghdad to mark the end of US combat operations in Iraq, and stem cell research and the politics of religion and science.

Banner image: An abandoned lighthouse is surrounded by water in the devastated Plaquemine's Parish August 3, 2006 near Venice, Lousiana. Locals say that before Hurricane Katrina, the lighthouse was surrounded by land. Katrina destroyed sizable amounts of the protective wetlands in the area. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images 

Making News Biden in Baghdad to Mark End of US Combat Operations 7 MIN, 29 SEC

Vice President Joe Biden has arrived in Baghdad to preside over Wednesday’s ceremony marking the end of US combat operations in Iraq. Liz Sly is Baghdad correspondent for the Los Angeles Times.

Liz Sly, Washington Post (@lizsly)

Main Topic Hurricane Protection Diminished by Eroding Wetlands in the Gulf 35 MIN, 14 SEC

Yesterday, on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, President Obama was in New Orleans to address a crowd at Xavier University. He assured the crowd that his administration is "working to restore protective wetlands and natural barriers that were not only damaged by Katrina… but had been rapidly disappearing for decades." Katrina and the Gulf oil spill have re-focused attention on the decades-old goal of restoring the wetlands at the mouth of the Mississippi. But so much has been eroded away by ship channels and oil pipelines that current efforts may not be enough even to maintain the status quo. Is full restoration possible?  What would it cost?  What would it mean for oil companies, shipping and the fishing industry?

Tim Padgett, Time magazine (@TimPadgett2)
Alexander Kolker, Assistant Professor of Geological Oceanography, Louisiana University Marine Consortium
Kyle Graham, Deputy Director, Office of the Governor for Coastal Activities
David Waggoner, Waggonner & Ball Architects (@wbarchitects)

Reporter's Notebook Stem Cells and the Politics of Science and Religion 7 MIN, 49 SEC

President Obama's director of the National Institutes of Health was approved by the Senate without objection, but is now cancelling stem cell research projects he approved, because a federal judge has ruled that they violate the intent of Congress. This week's New Yorker contains an extensive profile of Francis Collins, who brought the Human Genome Project to a successful conclusion, early and millions under budget, but now finds himself in an odd position, partly because he's a believing Christian. Peter Boyer wrote the story.

Peter Boyer, Newsweek

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