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NPR Story
4:57 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Resolution For Payroll Tax Extension May Be Near

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 4:57 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

LYNN NEARY, HOST:

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Media
4:53 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

'PolitiFact' Faces Criticism From Liberals

Fact-checking sites like PolitiFact referee assertions by politicians, public figures and pundits. The fact-checking movement has been gaining momentum — and fans. But PolitiFact has come under fire after announcing its "Lie of the Year": a claim by some Democrats and liberals about a House Republican plan to change Medicare.

The Two-Way
4:15 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Reports: House Will Vote On 2-Month Payroll Tax Cut Extension

The Associated Press and Reuters are reporting that House Republicans have relented and will vote on a two-month extension of the payroll tax. On Tuesday, the House had voted to move the bill into conference, but the Senate had already left town.

What resulted was another Washington showdown with Senate Democrats — who passed the bill in rare bi-partisan fashion — refusing to negotiate further and House Republicans insisting that a year-long extension was the only way to go.

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Shots - Health Blog
4:12 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Medicare Can't Rescue Congress On Fix For Doctors' Pay

Wendell Franks iStockphoto.com

Here we go again.

With official Washington trapped in partisan gridlock, doctors who treat Medicare patients are once again facing the prospect of a big cut in pay that almost no one supports.

And this time Medicare officials say they won't be hold onto the bills for longer than the usual 10-day processing time to wait for Congress to act. A 27 percent cut is set to take effect Jan. 1, unless Congress stops it.

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Politics
3:54 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Future Dim For 100-Watt Bulb, Despite Congress' Stall

The trillion-dollar budget bill that Congress passed last weekend includes plenty of non-spending provisions tucked into it. One of these so-called riders is aimed at saving the 100-watt incandescent light bulb.

But the move is more about politics than light.

Strictly speaking, the issue is this: Old-fashioned incandescent bulbs waste a lot of energy. So under federal law, they're being slowly phased out. The first to go, starting on New Year's Day, is the 100-watt bulb.

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Business
3:42 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

'Twas The Busiest Week All Year For Shipping

Bill Ferguson, a courier for FedEx, loads his truck at a sorting facility in Chicago on Dec. 12 — the company's busiest day in its history.
M. Spencer Green AP

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 7:36 pm

This week marks the busiest time of the year for shipping services like UPS, FedEx and the Postal Service. The post office handled 600 million cards and letters alone on Tuesday, and UPS says it is delivering 300 packages per second, on average.

At one FedEx facility in Washington, D.C., the logistics of last-minute shipping are on full display.

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The Two-Way
3:40 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

NORAD's Santa Tracker Switches On Saturday

They'll see him when he's flying.
NORAD

Assuming his elves haven't come up with some sort of stealth technology to cloak his movements, it's almost time again for children of all ages (who have access to computers or smart phones, that is) to follow the jolly guy's travels via the North American Aerospace Defense Command's Santa tracker.

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It's All Politics
3:31 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

In New Hampshire, Romney Aims For Common Touch, With Mixed Results

Romney pumped his own gas at a stop on his bus tour.
Ari Shapiro NPR

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 4:10 pm

As he continued his bus tour on Thursday, Mitt Romney may have been hoping to connect with regular folks. At a service station in Randolph, N.H., he pumped the gas himself.

But voters weren't necessarily buying his 'just folks' demeanor. When he joked with a woman at the service station about buying a classic car her family owns, she asked, "$10,000?" — an echo of his unfortunate bet with Texas Gov. Rick Perry in a recent debate.

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The Two-Way
3:22 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Bradley Manning's Hearing In WikiLeaks Case Concludes

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, left, is escorted from a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., on Thursday.
Patrick Semansky AP

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 3:27 pm

The military hearing to decide whether Pfc. Bradley Manning, 24, will face a court-martial has come to an end in Fort Meade, Md. As the AP reports, during the hearing a military prosecutor argued that Manning, an Army intelligence analyst, had "defied the nation's trust" by allegedly leaking 700,000 documents, including tens of thousands of classified diplomatic cables, to the website WikiLeaks.

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Asia
3:05 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Pentagon: U.S., Pakistan Share Blame In Shooting

Pentagon spokesman George Little, speaking Thursday, said U.S. and Pakistani forces both made mistakes that contributed to the Nov. 26 shooting that killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers along the border with Afghanistan.
Luis M. Alvarez AP

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 7:36 pm

The U.S. military said Thursday that U.S. and Pakistani forces both made mistakes in a U.S. helicopter attack that killed two dozen Pakistani troops in November along the Afghan-Pakistan border.

The Pentagon released the findings of its investigation that said a lack of trust, miscommunication and faulty map information all contributed to the shooting.

"For the loss of life and lack of coordination between U.S. and Pakistani forces that contributed to those losses, we express our deepest regret," said Pentagon spokesman George Little.

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Food
2:52 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Get Into The Holiday Spirit With Scandinavian Glogg

iStockphoto.com

In snowy Norway, nothing evokes Christmastime like a pot of glogg brewing on the stove. The traditional Scandinavian winter drink mixes wine, port and brandy with spices like caraway, cardamom and cinnamon to make for a brew that smells divine and tastes even better.

Urd Milbury, cultural attache from the Norwegian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and her husband, Todd, teach NPR's Lynn Neary how to make the holiday treat.

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Brain Candy
2:09 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

At Year's End, Reflecting On Cycles In Modern Life

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

Today, we mark the winter solstice, in three days, one of the major holidays of the religious calendar, followed by an entirely arbitrary start of the New Year. All of us observe cycles, patterns that regulate our lives from season to season, or Olympiad to Olympiad, or the return of the 17-year cicadas. Some, like the solstice, are dictated by celestial mechanics. Others - well, we've simply invented: spring cleaning, for example, or spring training. What's the cycle you live your life by?

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The Two-Way
2:05 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

North Korea: 'Peculiar Natural Wonders' Reported In Tribute To 'Dear Leader'

This handout picture taken by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on December 21 shows members of the Korean People's Army crying for late North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il in Pyongyang.
KNS AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 2:10 pm

As we've reported before, North Korea's state news agency is fond of assigning supernatural occurrences to their Dear Leader. Over the past two days, the news agency has published an array of stories about Kim Jong Il's death. But late yesterday and today, they are revealing that "peculiar natural wonders" occurred just as Kim died.

Here's the news via the Korean News Service in Japan:

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The Two-Way
2:05 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Because Of Somali Pirates, Ocean Racers Are In A 'Stealth Zone'

The Groupama Sailing Team (shown here on Dec. 10 near Cape Town, South Africa) is somewhere out ahead in the "stealth zone."
Volvo Ocean Race Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 2:08 pm

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Holiday Music
1:42 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Some Christmas Tunes From Rebecca Kilgore And Pals

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 11:24 am

This interview was originally broadcast on December 19, 2005.

In time for the holidays, Fresh Air presents an in-studio concert. Singer Rebecca Kilgore, trombonist Dan Barrett and pianist Rossano Sportiello played at the NOLA studios in Manhattan.

Kilgore is one of the leading interpreters of American songs. She became known for her work with pianist and composer Dave Frishberg.

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Shots - Health Blog
1:35 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Journal Retracts Key Study Linking Virus To Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

TK
TK

The controversial scientific saga over an obscure virus that some researchers proposed as the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome appears a step closer to ending.

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The Two-Way
1:10 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Obama Puts More Pressure On House GOP Over Payroll Tax Cut

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 1:21 pm

The political maneuvering continues in Washington as lawmakers debate how to extend about-to-expire payroll tax cuts and jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.

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The Two-Way
1:09 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Fitch: U.S. Needs To Get Its Financials In Order, Or Face Downgrade

The credit rating agency Fitch Ratings has issued another warning to Washington. If it doesn't come up with a plan to reduce the nation's budget deficit, Fitch might yank its AAA rating by the end of next year.

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Around the Nation
1:00 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

New FAA Rules For Pilots Seek To Beat Fatigue

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Three years after a commuter airline crash near Buffalo that killed 50, the Federal Aviation Administration announced new rules to reduce one of the key factors that contribute to accidents: pilot fatigue.

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Asia
1:00 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Team Ignites Debate Over China's Nuclear Tunnels

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

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Movies
1:00 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Flick's Favorite Memories From 'A Christmas Story'

The lamp featured in A Christmas Story still stands in the Cleveland home used in the shooting of classic holiday movie.
Amy Sancetta AP

The holiday season means family, food, friends — and a slew of holiday films. The 1983 comedy A Christmas Story has become one of the cult favorites of the season, in heavy rotation on television screens across America each year.

The quirky film follows a boy named Ralphie and his misadventures with his parents, friends and neighborhood bullies — all while he pines for a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas.

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It's All Politics
1:00 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Tweeting All The Way, Buddy Roemer Continues His Quixotic White House Bid

Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer files candidacy papers to run in the New Hampshire presidential primary in Concord, N.H. in October.
Jim Cole AP

You may not have heard of Buddy Roemer. But he's running for president. And despite an impressive resume and gift for turning a phrase, Roemer barely registers in the polls. He's conducting his quixotic run for office without accepting campaign contributions that exceed $100.

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Monkey See
12:34 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Holiday Greetings From The World Of Politics: Dogs, Churches, And Plaid Shirts

Mitt Romney's holiday card for 2011 shows his entire large family.

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It's All Politics
12:22 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Occupy Protesters Greet Romney On The Campaign Trail In New Hampshire

Occupy protesters gathered in Littleton, N.H. on Thursday.
Ari Shapiro NPR

On the trail with Mitt Romney in New Hampshire Thursday morning, I encountered the first Occupy protesters of the three-day bus trip.

One of them, Bob Broadhurst, grew up in Boston but now lives in nearby Littleton, N.H. He's been one of the Occupy protesters in New York since September, but returned to New Hampshire to protest along Romney's route.

A fourth-generation electrician, Broadhurst is an IBEW union member and his main issue is what he calls "the attack" on unions and labor. Romney represents a convenient target for his ire.

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The Two-Way
12:20 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

'Mind The Gap' Indeed: Woman's Fall Beneath Train Captured On Video

A "mind the gap" reminder at the Acton Town Underground Station in London
carmen_seaby via Flickr

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 1:38 pm

If you've been to Great Britain, you know that they're very persistent over there about the need to "mind the gap."

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The Salt
12:03 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Goat Is Good, Except, Perhaps, As A Pet

My colleague Allison Aubrey's story last week about giving an African a goat as an act of charity got me wondering: Why don't we see more goats here in the United States?

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Music
10:49 am
Thu December 22, 2011

Wenceslas: A Goodhearted King And His Popular Carol

Circa 1300, King Wenceslas II of Bohemia.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 7:36 pm

Even heard in modern synthesizer arrangements, the melody of the carol "Good King Wenceslas" brings the words and images of the story into my head: "Good King Wenceslas looked out / on the Feast of Stephen / When the snow lay 'round about / deep and crisp and even.

Wenceslas was a real person: the Duke of Bohemia, a 10th-century Christian prince in a land where many practiced a more ancient religion. In one version of his legend, Wenceslas was murdered in a plot by his brother, who was under the sway of their so-called pagan mother.

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Economy
10:46 am
Thu December 22, 2011

What's The Economic Impact If The Tax Break Dies?

Mary Polocy (left) stands in line to enter a career fair in Independence, Ohio, in November. Congress has yet to agree on a measure that would extend unemployment benefits.
Tony Dejak AP

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 3:28 pm

Most political analysts say that Congress and President Obama will eventually agree to extend the payroll tax cut into 2012 – even if it takes another month of arguing.

But what if Congress really can't get it done?

Economists are fairly unanimous in saying growth would be slowed — at least in the short term — if Congress were to fail to pass legislation to extend the tax holiday and include two other proposals to: 1) continue federal help for the long-term unemployed and 2) block a 27 percent Medicare pay cut for doctors.

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Holiday Music
10:31 am
Thu December 22, 2011

Hugh Martin's 'Hidden Treasures' Explored

The late Hugh Martin wrote the Christmas standard, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."
The Musical Theater Project

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 11:42 am

The late songwriter Hugh Martin wrote "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" for Judy Garland's 1944 movie Meet Me in St. Louis, along with dozens of other songs for MGM and Broadway musicals.

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The Two-Way
10:00 am
Thu December 22, 2011

Swept Away By '04 Tsunami, Indonesian Girl Reportedly Finds Way Home

Jan. 4, 2005: Indonesians search for names of relatives on notice boards in Banda Aceh, one of the places devastated by the Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami.
Dimas Ardian Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 10:49 am

Seven years ago, an estimated 230,000 people died after an earthquake triggered a massive tsunami that devastated South Asian coasts from Indonesia to Thailand, Sri Lanka and India.

Wednesday, one of those who was thought to be dead apparently "found her way back to her home," according to the Indonesian state news agency Antara.

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