This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
And I'm Linda Wertheimer. In Syria, this week has been one of the bloodiest reported in months. Activists and groups monitoring Syria say hundreds have been killed as the government moves against villages and towns near the Turkish border. The Syrian government acknowledges the campaign but calls it a fight against terrorists.
We've been following the Dark Horse Battalion this year. NPR's Tom Bowman has brought us a series of stories on the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment of the Marine Corps. They fought in the deadliest place in Afghanistan, Sangan in Helmand Province.
The Dark Horse Battalion is home this Christmas and we reached out to one of them. Staff Sergeant James Foley joined us by phone from Camp Pendleton here in Southern California and shared memories of what he was doing this time last year.
Johann Sebastian Bach's Christmas Oratorio was first performed in Leipzig on Christmas Day in 1734. In Germany, no matter what the economic and political times, it's the Christmas work. In the oldest functioning church in Berlin, the 13th-century Saint Mary's, performance of Bach's Christmas Oratorio is a fixed tradition.
Any discussion of Newt Gingrich's journey to Catholicism begins with his wife.
"I have always been a very spiritual person," Callista Gingrich told the Christian Broadcasting Network this year. "I start each day with a prayer, and pray throughout the day, because I am grateful for the many blessings that God has bestowed upon us."