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It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

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And I'm Renee Montagne. American democracy activists held in Egypt are headed home today. The nongovernmental organizations whose employees were being held confirmed that the travel ban had been lifted. The workers were being held in Egypt on charges of fomenting unrest. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is in Cairo, and she joins us now on the line.

Soraya, how many people are leaving Egypt altogether - I mean Americans?

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

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This is Morning Edition from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

Senegal, on the coast of West Africa, has been something of a model of stability for a region known for its volatility. But this past week has brought protests and violence to Senegal after demonstrations over a presidential election this coming weekend led to clashes with riot police. We've got NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton on the line from the capital Dakar to tell us what is going on there.

Good morning, Ofeibea.

All wars bring innovations — in weapons, and also in ways to repair the damage done. Penicillin is one of the more famous examples: It came into use as a treatment for troops in World War II.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have brought their own breakthroughs, none more dramatic than the prosthetics that come close to giving back what has been lost. And big advances in treating grievous injuries have meant many more troops coming home alive.

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We're going to look now at American military strategy for the war in Afghanistan. There's been some confusion lately about whether American forces would end their combat mission sooner than planned and also about how long the U.S. will remain in Afghanistan. So to try to make sense of it all, we're joined by NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman.

Good morning.

TOM BOWMAN, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.

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The Republican presidential primary season heads into another phase this week, as Colorado and Minnesota voters choose their candidates tomorrow. Over the weekend, Mitt Romney scored a huge victory in the Nevada caucuses, besting his closest rival, Newt Gingrich, by double digits.

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It appears as if the bitter fighting in Congress is about to come to an end just in time for Christmas. Today, the House and the Senate are expected to approve an extension of the payroll tax holiday and benefits for the long-term unemployed. This required a major reversal for House Republicans who, earlier this week, voted to reject a nearly identical compromise.

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This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne. On what was once one of America's busiest bases in Iraq, the flag of U.S. forces was rolled up this morning, ready to be sent home to America. It's a ceremony known as the casing of the colors. And Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was there, marking the end of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq. We reached NPR's Kelly McEvers at that ceremony. And, Kelly, describe where you are.

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Let's get a look, now, at two war-torn countries. One that Americans are leaving, and another that they would like to leave. One is Iraq whereas, we'll hear in a moment, departing U.S. troops leave behind some unresolved conflicts.

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Let's turn to the Egyptian port city of Alexandria, where hundreds of women lined up at one polling center this morning.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD CHATTER)

MONTAGNE: For many in this women's line, this is the first election in which they feel their choice will count. We reached NPR's Soraya Sorhadi Nelson in Alexandria. Good morning.

SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: And generally speaking, what are you seeing at polling stations there in Alexandria?

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And I'm Renee Montagne.

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And as Ari said just a moment ago, President Obama will be back in Washington just before that supercommittee's deadline. Before the president left for Hawaii, he picked up the phone and made calls to both the Democratic and Republican chairs of the group.

To talk about that and more, let's turn now to NPR's Cokie Roberts. Good morning.

COKIE ROBERTS, BYLINE: Hi, Renee.

MONTAGNE: Let's start with what those phone calls were about.

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The political drama in Greece now turns to who will govern that economically troubled country. Prime Minister George Papandreou has vowed to the opposition's demand that he step down to make way for a coalition government. The idea is that a government of national unity can steer Greece through austerity measures and save a bailout deal that's widely seen as the country's last chance. The new premiere is expected to be named today. Joanna Kakissis joined us from Athens with the latest. Good morning.

: Good morning.