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When you walk into the Smithsonian's "Art of the Qur'an" exhibition, you're met with a book that weighs 150 pounds. The tome, which dates back to the late-1500s, has giant pages that are covered in gold and black Arabic script.

It's been a year since Ray Britain lay on the floor of the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, Calif., feeling the vibrations of the gun shots.

He remembers that "constant tremble," he says, the ringing in his ears, the shell casings — "a rainbow of shell casings" — flying from the gun, and the looks of shock on his coworkers' faces.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Donald Trump announced his choice to be defense secretary.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: We are going to appoint Mad Dog Mattis...

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: ...As our secretary of defense.

A few weeks before the election, the Tri-Pro lumber mill in north Idaho shut down. It was the second mill to close in the area in six months, putting more than a hundred people out of work.

While that's big economic loss for any community, it was especially tough for the tight-knit town of Orofino and its 3,000 or so residents.

Christmas is coming, and soon TV screens everywhere will light up with that 1946 holiday classic, It's a Wonderful Life. But the same story is coming a little early to the stage of the Houston Grand Opera. That's right: An operatic version of George Bailey's struggle with life and death opens this Friday.

Librettist Gene Scheer admits that adapting such a beloved movie has sometimes felt like a fool's errand. "It's almost secular scripture, this piece," he says. "Everyone knows all the lines."

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