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Top of the News

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RACHEL MARTIN, host:

Hey, thanks for listening to the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. We're on digital, FM, Sirius Satellite Radio, and online, of course, at npr.org/bryantpark. I'm Rachel Martin.

ALISON STEWART, host:

And I'm Alison Stewart. The name of the documentary is "King Corn," explores, well, corn in the United States. We'll talk to the filmmakers. But first, let's get some news headlines.

BILL WOLFF: This is NPR.

MARTIN: Thanks, Alison. Pope Benedict XVI won't land in the U.S. until later this afternoon, but he's already making news in the air. On the papal plane, he told reporters he was, quote, "deeply ashamed over the clergy sex abuse scandal in the U.S." He promised to exclude pedophiles from the ministry and prevent future abuse.

This is Benedict's first visit to the U.S. as Pope. The Pope has his own jet, but for the rest of us, there may soon be one fewer way to fly. Delta and Northwest's boards approved a merger deal late last night. NPR's Kathy Lohr is in Delta's home city of Atlanta.

KATHY LOHR: The new airline will still be called Delta and will have a combined value of more than 17 billion dollars. Airline officials have been meeting for months to make the deal happen. The sticking point has been the pilots' unions that have not been able to agree on seniority issues. Delta says they're still working on the issue and hope to reach an agreement before the closing of the merger.

Delta's CEO Richard Anderson will continue as CEO of the new combined airline. He said the merger is about addition, not subtraction. The airlines have such little overlap in their routes, with direct competition on just 12 of 1,000 nonstop routes. The combined airline will employ 75,000 people, operate 800 aircraft, and continue running all of both airlines' hubs, including Cincinnati, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City.

MARTIN: NPR's Kathy Lohr reporting. To Iraq now, where more than 50 people have died in car bomb explosions that happened this afternoon. The attack struck Baghdad, Baqubah and Ramadi. Dozens more people were wounded. An award-winning photographer of that war will soon be freed. Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein has been held by the U.S. military for more than two years.

The Marines thought he was linked to insurgents. Now the military says Hussein is not a threat and they'll release him tomorrow. Hussein has said he was innocent all along. The AP investigated and couldn't find any evidence of the claims against him. Hussein was part of the AP team that won a Pulitzer Prize for photography in 2005.

The women of a polygamist sect in west Texas are furious at authorities. Investigators took more than 400 kids from the group's land after abuse allegations surfaced. Nearly 140 women followed their children out, but only those with children under the age of four can stay with their kids. Child protection officials say this is standard practices for abuse cases. One upset mother said her son was afraid to touch her, but she only gave her first name, Maureen.

Ms. MAUREEN (Former Resident, Yearning for Zion Ranch, Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints): He said, mother, don't hold my hand.

(Soundbite of crying)

Ms. MAUREEN: And I says, why? Because it's child abuse. I says no, it's not.

MARTIN: The children are now in a local sports stadium. There's a court hearing Thursday to determine what to do with them in the short term. And he's coming back. The conservative, colorful, and often controversial Italian politician Silvio Berlusconi won big in national elections.

The billionaire media mogul is set to serve his third term as Italy's prime minister, this after losing office two years ago. He's got a tough road ahead, though. Among other things, Italy is facing an economic slump. That's the news and it's always online at npr.org.

WOLFF: This is NPR.

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