Congress is supposed to head home for the holidays at the end of this week, but there's a whole lot of work to do before then. And for now at least, the parties remain divided over a number of other must-pass measures.
This is the part of the tango of Congress where the Republican House offers a plan.
"The House is going to do its job, and it's time for the Senate then to do its job," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, at a press conference Monday.
More than 20 years ago, Congress ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate toxic air pollution. It's done that for most industries, but not the biggest polluters — coal and oil-burning power plants.
The EPA now plans to change that later this week, by setting new rules to limit mercury and other harmful pollution from power plants.
When Congress first told the EPA to regulate toxic air pollution in 1990, pediatrician Lynn Goldman was investigating the impact of mercury from mining operations on Native American families living near a contaminated lake.
Tablet computers are on a lot of people's wish lists this year.
A recent Nielsen survey found the Apple iPad is the most wanted gift for kids ages 6 to 12. Some have even taken their appeals to YouTube. But if an iPad isn't in the budget, there are some 30 other tablets out there to choose from.
Honey is the most natural of sweeteners, coming to us directly from bees and flowers.
Well, maybe not so directly. These days, a long supply chain often links beehives half a world away with the jar of honey in your kitchen. And there's suspicion in that supply chain: global trade disputes; accusations of unfair competition; even honey identity-switching.
Although all works of fiction and narrative nonfiction have characters — be they animals, hobbits, dragons, humans, werewolves or whatever — I've found that there are some books in which these characters are three-dimensional and awfully interesting. (Whether or not they're likable is another question.) These characters become, as the story progresses, more and more real to me. It's as though they've become good friends.
Mike Naumes thinks Oregon schoolchildren should be eating more Oregon pears. And not just the D'Anjou, Bartlett and Bosc pears approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's School Lunch Program, but the lesser-known Comice pears of southern Oregon's Rogue Valley.
Anyone who's ever tasted a Comice pear would have a hard time arguing with that. They're fat and green, extraordinarily sweet and juicy — a world apart from your typical supermarket pear.
Sharon Jordan (lower left) and her family (clockwise from top left: Rydell, Nikera and Anisha) are working with Bank of America and a Boston nonprofit to repurchase their duplex at its current market price — about half of the original value.
Credit Aarti Shahani / NPR
Elyse Cherry is chief executive officer of Boston Community Capital, a nonprofit that is buying homes at market value and reselling them to current homeowners at a slight mark-up, so the homeowners can actually afford payments.
There's an unfamiliar trend emerging in America's troubled housing market. Big banks are volunteering to lose money — hundreds of millions for themselves and investors — in order to save homes at risk of foreclosure. And they're doing it in record numbers.
The year closed with a new trend: In 30 percent of private loan modifications, banks are doing a principal writedown — that is, hacking away at the amount owed as far down as the current market value. They're doing it so borrowers can actually afford payments. Two years ago, that 30 percent was just at 2 percent.
A picture released by the official website of Iran's Revolutionary Guards on December 8, 2011 shows Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Brig. Gen. Amir-Ali Hajizadeh (R) looking at what Iranian officials claim is a U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel high-altitude reconnaissance drone that crashed in Iran on December 4.
The United States is officially asking Iran for the return of a drone surveillance aircraft lost earlier this month.
"We have asked for it back. We'll see how the Iranians respond," President Barack Obama said during a White House news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Monday.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking at a State Department news conference, told reporters that the U.S. had "submitted a formal request" for the craft's return, but that "given Iran's behavior to date, we do not expect them to comply."