President Obama speaks in the White House's Brady Briefing Room on Tuesday. Behind the president, a ticking clock counts down the time until taxes will go up if Congress can't reach an extension deal on payroll tax cuts.
Credit Haraz N. Ghanbari / AP
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, surrounded by Republican House members, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.
In a year of deadlines and political fights, Congress is closing with one last partisan brawl. At stake are billions of dollars in tax breaks and unemployment benefits for millions of Americans set to expire Jan. 1.
Just in case you've been out buying presents, working or not watching C-SPAN with bated breath, what happened Tuesday was that the House — specifically Republicans in the House — rejected a bill that had broad bipartisan support in the Senate.
Many Americans begin their holidays with travel, and complaining about that travel is quickly becoming a favorite national pastime. Long lines, small seats, hidden fees for everything from carry-ons to a can of Coke - the list goes on. To help us understand why this is the new reality, we reached Seth Kaplan. He's the editor of Airline Weekly.
The Mexican muralist Diego Rivera painted in New York City, San Francisco, Detroit, Europe and the Soviet Union. But some of Rivera's most famous murals and most unusual projects are found in Mexico City.
In Mexico City, Rivera did far more than just paint. He collected pre-Hispanic pottery and indigenous folk art. And he experimented with sculpture and architecture.
And between 1950 and 1952, Rivera built a giant tiled fountain to the Aztec rain god Tlaloc as part of an overhaul of Mexico City's municipal water system.
In February 1945, Hershel Williams was sent to Iwo Jima with a flamethrower unit. All but 17 of the 279 members of his company had been killed or wounded a week and a half later.
Credit Nick Del Calzo / Courtesy Artisan Books
Col. Jack Jacobs was awarded a Medal of Honor for his service in Vietnam, where he once <a href="http://www.npr.org/books/titles/144032956/medal-of-honor-potraits-of-valor-beyond-the-call-of-duty#excerpt">brought 13 fellow soldiers to safety</a> after enemy forces opened fire.
Today marks the 150th anniversary of the Medal of Honor. It is the highest military decoration in the United States, reflecting great service and sacrifice. Of the more than 3,400 recipients, fewer than 85 are still living.
Among them is Hershel Williams, who served as a Marine corporal in World War II. He says that on the day he received the honor — Oct. 5, 1945 — he had no concept of it.
Let Iran off the hook or undermine the global economy? Slap sanctions on an Iranian energy company or provide Europe with an alternative to Russian gas? Washington policymaking is especially difficult when the aims conflict, and few cases illustrate that principle more clearly than the challenge of finding a way to punish Iran without hurting someone else.
In California, prison inmates who have committed serious crimes and have been diagnosed with a major mental illness can be forced to serve their parole in a state hospital. At Atascadero State Hospital, shown above in this 1999 photo, there are more than 600 such patients. "As a group," says the hospital's director, "the mentally disordered offenders are the most aggressive."
Mental health and law enforcement officials in California are trying to find ways to hold violent psychiatric patients accountable without punishing people for being sick. It's a response to escalating violence in the state's mental hospitals, where thousands of assaults occur annually. Only a tiny fraction of them, however, result in criminal charges.
Costa Rica is Central America's most stable democracy, a peaceful country that abolished its army in 1948 and now draws nearly a million U.S. tourists a year to its national parks and beaches. But it's also right in the middle of the world's most lucrative cocaine trafficking corridor.
As Mexican drug cartels push deeper into Central America, they've cast a dark shadow over Costa Rica's idyllic green image.
Students stand outside Penn State's Old Main building, protesting the handling of a child abuse scandal involving retired Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
Credit Gene J. Puskar / AP
Former NHL hockey player Sheldon Kennedy testified before the Senate subcommittee on children and families during a hearing on child abuse. As a young teen, he said, he was sexually abused for years by a respected hockey coach, but the adults around him who suspected never said a thing.
The revelations about alleged child sex abuse by a former Penn State football coach have caused policymakers to propose new measures to broaden who is required to report suspected abuse.
Each state already has laws that require some combination of doctors, teachers, day care providers and others who work with children to report suspected abuse. If they don't, they could face fines, the loss of a license, and, in some states, possibly jail time.
This time last year, Phil Jackson, then the coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, complained that the NBA scheduled games on Christmas Day. It seemed, he said, that "Christian holidays don't mean anything" any longer.
A few players echoed Jackson's sentiments, but the complaint died aborning. This Christmas, Sunday, the league has scheduled ... (to the tune of "The 12 Days Of Christmas"):