The Two-Way
7:55 am
Tue December 20, 2011

House Rejects Senate's Extension Of Payroll Tax Cut

House John Boehner (R-Ohio) at the U.S. Capitol on Monday (Dec. 19, 2011).
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 1:23 pm

Update at 12:56 p.m. ET. House Rejects Bill:

Voting mostly along party lines, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to send a Senate bill extending unemployment benefits and a payroll tax cut to conference. With the Senate in recess, the move leaves the bill in limbo and could mean that come January, 2 million Americans will lose their long-term unemployment benefits and 160 million workers could see their taxes rise by 2-percentage points.

Before the vote, Democrats and Republicans went head to head on the House floor.

Read more
It's All Politics
7:45 am
Tue December 20, 2011

Why Is Times Columnist Gail Collins So Obsessed With Mitt Romney's Dog?

This 1982 family photo provided by the Romney campaign shows the Romney family during summer vacation: from left, Mitt, Tagg, Ben, Matt, Craig, Ann and Josh Romney. Seamus, unfortunately, is not pictured. His fateful voyage to Canada occurred the following summer.
Anonymous AP

Plenty of folks have their unshakable obsessions. Indiana Jones sought the Holy Grail. Captain Ahab pursued the Great White Whale. For New York Times columnist Gail Collins, it's her fixation on the voyages of an Irish Setter named Seamus.

"For some reason, the idea that you've got this guy who would drive all the way to Canada with an Irish setter sitting on the top of the car — it absolutely fascinated me," Collins says.

Read more
The Two-Way
7:15 am
Tue December 20, 2011

Kim Jong Un's Ascension Is 'Being Cemented For Him'

A screen shot from North Korean TV foottage shows Kim Jong Il's body lying in a glass coffin in Pyongyang.
AFP/Getty Images

The body of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is now lying in state at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang — enclosed in a glass coffin and surrounded by flowers. He died Saturday and the period of mourning is set to continue until well into next week.

Read more
The Two-Way
6:30 am
Tue December 20, 2011

Blizzard Pounds Great Plains, Northeast May See White Christmas

It's slick out there: The scene Monday along U.S. 550 near Rio Rancho, N.M.
Susan Montoya Bryan AP

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 6:34 am

Stranded motorists. Closed highways. Packed hotels.

It's winter and the Great Plains has gotten walloped:

"From northern New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle through Oklahoma and northwestern Kansas," The Associated Press writes, "blizzard conditions [on Monday and into today] put state road crews on alert and had motorists taking refuge and early exits off major roads."

Some reports from the stricken states:

Read more

Ina Jaffe is a National desk correspondent based at NPR West, NPR's production center in Culver City, Calif.

Covering California and the West, Jaffe has reported on nearly all of the major news events, elections, and natural disasters in the region. Currently, she covers issues related to aging. She also reports on regional and national politics, contributing election coverage in 2008, 2010, and 2012.

Religion
11:01 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

Vatican Declares Boy's Recovery A 'Miracle'

Barbara Bradley Hagerty NPR

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 10:57 am

In February 2006, 5-year-old Jake Finkbonner fell and hit his head while playing basketball at his school in Ferndale, Wash. Soon, he developed a fever and his head swelled. His mother, Elsa, rushed him to Seattle Children's Hospital, where the doctors realized Jake was battling a flesh-eating bacterium called Strep A.

"It traveled all around his face, his scalp, his neck, his chest," she recalls, "and why it didn't travel to his brain or his eyeballs or his heart? He was protected."

Read more
Africa
11:01 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

New Law Aims To Shine Light On Conflict Metals

Workers dig at a mine in Chudja, near Bunia, north eastern Congo. The conflict in the Congo, a nation rich in mineral resources such as gold, diamonds, tin, and cobalt, has often been linked to a struggle for control over its minerals resources.
Lionel Healing AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 7:14 am

Delly Mawazo Sesete wants American consumers to know what is in their smart phones, computers and other electronics and where U.S. companies like Apple are getting those rare metals.

Sesete says that, without knowing, consumers in the U.S. could be fueling conflicts in Eastern Congo. The human rights activist is from a remote part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where armed groups are wreaking havoc and get much of their funding from mining rare metals.

Read more
Violence At California's Psychiatric Hospitals
11:01 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

In Calif. Mental Hospitals, Assaults Rarely A Crime

Metropolitan State Hospital employees and supporters gathered outside the hospital in Norwalk, Calif., this summer to protest repeated assaults at the hands of mental patients, and what they called dangerous working conditions.
Nick Ut AP

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 1:16 pm

Part of an ongoing series

Read more
Asia
11:01 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

India's Techies Angered Over Internet Censorship Plan

An activist of Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena hold placards and roses outside the residence of Communications and IT Minister Kapil Sibal in New Delhi.
Sajjad Hussain AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 28, 2011 12:20 pm

India has the world's largest democracy, and one of the most rambunctious. Millions of its young people are cutting edge when it comes to high-tech.

Yet the country is still very conservative by Western standards, and a government minister recently said that offensive material on the web should be removed.

The way it was reported in India, Communications Minister Kapil Sibal started the whole row by assembling the heads of social networking sites at a meeting in his office in New Delhi.

Read more
The Two-Way
5:05 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

As Crackdown Continues, Syria Agrees To Arab League Observers

A boy stands in a water fountain as he holds up the Syrian national flag during a rally in Damascus, Syria.
Muzaffar Salman AP

Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 5:09 pm

Today, Syria signed an agreement that would allow Arab League observers into the country. It's all in a bid to end its isolation and the nine-month standoff between the government of President Bashar Assad and protesters who are demanding his ouster.

The Guardian reports:

Read more

Pages