It's All Politics
11:23 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Boehner's 2012 Challenges Highlighted By Payroll Tax Misstep

House Speaker John Boehner announces a payroll tax cut extension agreement, December 22, 2011.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Mon December 26, 2011 12:09 pm

When the histories of the current 112th Congress are finally written, maybe it all will become clear.

But for right now, there seem to be many more questions than answers.

For instance, why did House Republicans ever think it was a good idea to stake out a position on the payroll-tax issue that would leave them holding the bag for a new year's tax increase for 160 million workers? That has now been averted with Congress' passage Friday morning of a two-month extension of the current payroll-tax holiday.

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The Two-Way
11:10 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Cue The Scary Music: 'Space Ball' Crashes In Namibia

The space ball. What is it?
Namibia's National Forensic Science Institute AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 12:43 pm

It's said to be made of a "metal alloy known to man," according to Agence France Presse. (We enjoyed that Spock-like line.)

But there's much that isn't known about what's being called a "space ball" that came down in Namibia last month: Such as where or what it came from.

Officials from NASA and the European Space Agency have been contacted.

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Shots - Health Blog
11:06 am
Fri December 23, 2011

What's Sharing An Egg (Or Sperm) Among Friends?

Should she know that this moment was made possible by an egg donor?
iStockPhoto.com

Though there are more ways today to create a baby than ever before – with help from a friend or stranger's sperm, egg, embryo or womb, just to name a few—questions continue to swirl about what and when to tell the resulting children about how they're related to whom.

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The Two-Way
10:20 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Revisiting Istalif, Famed For Pottery And Picnics

A man in Istalif last year.
Shah Marai AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 10:24 am

Hearing Renee Montagne's Morning Edition report today about the village of Istalif, Afghanistan, brought back memories for this blogger.

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Shots - Health Blog
8:55 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Americans Say Security Checks Are A Bigger Health Concern Than Flights

A Transportation Security Administration volunteer demonstrates a full-body scanner at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in March 2010.
Scott Olson Getty Images

If you're heading for the airport humming I'll Be Home For Christmas, all of us at Shots hope your trip goes without a hitch.

With all the comings and goings of the holiday season on our minds, we recently asked Americans a few questions and air travel and health.

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The Two-Way
8:55 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Vaclav Havel, Hero Of The 'Velvet Revolution,' Laid To Rest

A picture of former Czech President Vaclav Havel lay among candles and floral tributes as people gathered in Prague on Thursday to honor him.
Odd Andersen AFP/Getty Images

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The Two-Way
8:00 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Arlington Cemetery: Possible Problems With 64,230 Graves Or Records

A review of 259,978 gravesites and more than 510,000 records at Arlington National Cemetery has identified 64,230 cases of potential problems that range from minor mistakes in files to errors on gravestones, according to a U.S. Army report delivered to Congress on Thursday.

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The Two-Way
7:15 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Payroll Tax Cut's Last Hurdle Cleared: House Gives 'Unanimous Consent'

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Capitol Hill Thursday (Dec. 22, 2011).
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 1:35 pm

(This post was retopped with the latest news at 1:30 p.m. ET.)

Marking the end of the latest pitched political battle in Washington, President Obama said this afternoon that Congressional approval of measures to extend for another two months a payroll tax cut and benefits for the long-term unemployed is "good news just in the nick of time for the holidays."

"I said it was critical for Congress not to go home without preventing a tax increase" and the expiration of the long-term jobless benefits, Obama said, "and I'm pleased to say they've got it done."

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Asia
4:29 am
Fri December 23, 2011

With N. Korea In Flux, Neighbors Reassess Policies

South Korean soldiers face a North Korean soldier standing at the border village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea on Thursday. North Korea's neighbors are reassessing their policies following the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.
Wally Santana AP

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 10:23 am

The boundary between North Korea and South Korea has been called the world's most dangerous border. But on Thursday, the most dangerous thing about it appeared to be the biting cold and bone-chilling wind, with one Korean soldier jokingly describing the temperature as "hell."

At the Joint Security Area where the actual demarcation line is, half a dozen South Korean soldiers stood at the alert, facing off against one solitary North Korean soldier in khaki. The only unusual sign was the North Korean flag flying at half-staff.

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