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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.