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BILL WOLFF: From NPR News in New York, this is the Bryant Park Project.

(Soundbite of music)

ALISON STEWART, host:

Overlooking historic Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, live from the NPR Studios, this is the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. News, information, and back in the saddle for a week. I'm Alison Stewart. It's Monday, July 21st, 2008.

And was it something I said? I mean, really. Something is - people are packing their boxes and stuff. Ah, I'm not really sure what's going on. I've been gone for three months. Everybody, I missed you so much. We're back here for one final week, perhaps one of the weirdest ends to a maternity leave ever.

I'm going to ask you to be gentle with me during the course of this morning and this week because, I've only been talking to a small person, about 1'11", 11 pounds. Of course, that's baby Isaac, who - you know what? I think through the entire course of this show, I was with child. Isaac is a part of the BPP team, not here this morning, but we have a lot of folks who're going to help me out. Editor Tricia on the mike.

PATRICIA MCKINNEY: Hello.

STEWART: Hello. So, anything changed since I was gone? Anything new?

MCKINNEY: I don't know if you heard. This is our last week.

STEWART: Right.

MCKINNEY: Yeah.

STEWART: Yeah.

MCKINNEY: That changed. That's a big change.

STEWART: That's a big change, but we're going to have a good week.

MCKINNEY: It's a good week.

STEWART: We're going to have a good week.

MCKINNEY: We're going to have fun. We're going to have - we're going to enjoy each other. We're going to give some news. We're going to have some good stories.

STEWART: A little Kumbaya.

MCKINNEY: Yeah, it's going to be - we're going to go out with a bang.

STEWART: Drum circles by the end?

MCKINNEY: Um, no.

STEWART: All right. What we will have is Jim VandeHei from politico.com on the show for our weekly politics roundup. Of course, Barack Obama in Afghanistan. And the speculation about who is going to fill the number two spot on both tickets. Golf, football, baseball, just a few of the things on Bill Wolff's radar over the weekend, I can attest to that. He was in front of a 72-inch TV at one point. BPP's sports analyst Bill Wolff gives our final roundup of weekend sports.

And today, we do begin a week-long series, the BPP stages of grief. We invite you to work through the mental anguish of losing your favorite multi-platform news program through song. The first stage, of course, is denial, and it's not a river in Egypt. And we'll have that coming up with Laura Conaway. Politics in a few, but first, let's get some of today's headlines with the BPP's Mark Garrison.

I made it. Whew.

BILL WOLFF: This is NPR.

(Soundbite of music)

MARK GARRISON: Thank you, Alison. Barack Obama is in Iraq today. The high-profile visit is his first to Iraq since launching his presidential campaign. He's meeting with top American commanders and Iraqi leaders, among them Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Maliki drew attention for comments appearing to endorse Obama's 16-month troop-pullout timetable. His office said he was misunderstood, and he's not taking sides in the presidential race. The Iraq trip follows Obama's weekend visit to Afghanistan.

The first U.S. military war crimes-trial since World War II opens today. Salim Hamdan will be the first to stand trial in a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay. First up, jury selection from a pool of American officers. Hamdan faces life in prison on conspiracy charges. The trial should last about three weeks.

Tropical Storm Dolly is headed for Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. NPR's Jason Beaubien has more from Mexico City.

JASON BEAUBIEN: Dolly dumped heavy rains from Belize to Cancun as it pushed towards the Yucatan Peninsula. The storm also prompted evacuations of some low-lying areas in eastern Mexico. Local officials said the evacuations were preventative measures, and that so far, there hasn't been significant damage from Dolly. The Yucatan and particularly the resort town of Cancun were battered by Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Dolly is expected to dump up to 10 inches of rain before moving out over the Gulf of Mexico. Forecasters say Dolly could strengthen over the next two days. By Tuesday, she's expected to be moving across the southwestern Gulf and towards the Mexican mainland.

GARRISON: NPR's Jason Beaubien reporting from Mexico City. Marvel versus DC. It's an old rivalry fought from comic-book stores to the big screen and now, a new champion.

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Mr. HEATH LEDGER: (As the Joker) Starting tonight, people will die. I'm a man of my word.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GARRISON: That is Heath Ledger player the Joker. "The Dark Knight" broke a box-office record this weekend. It took in more than 155 million dollars. That is the largest weekend opening ever. DC character Batman stole the title from Marvel's "Spiderman." "Spiderman III" had the record for its May 2007 opening. And that is your news for now. Plenty more online at npr.org.

WOLFF: This is NPR.

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