U.S.-Pakistan: A Year Of Worsening Ties

Dec 22, 2011

Key events in the recent rift between the U.S. and Pakistan.

For no muss or fuss clean-up, a disposable aluminum roasting pan seems like a great way to reduce holiday home chef stress. But beware: Burn specialists say many such pans aren't built to handle the oversized birds or other hunks of meat on your menu.

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich's campaign has been down and then up this year.

His top staffers resigned en masse in June, leading many to wonder whether he was out of the race. Then came debates in which the former speaker of the House shined.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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

LYNN NEARY, HOST:

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.

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.

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.

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