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Politics
4:56 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Plug Pulled On 'Plan B,' House Breaks For Christmas

House Speaker John Boehner pauses during a news conference Thursday. House GOP leaders abruptly canceled a vote on his measure after they failed to round up enough votes for it to pass.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 11:16 am

House Speaker John Boehner was dealt a major defeat Thursday night. After spending most of the week trying to round up votes for his "Plan B" to extend tax cuts for virtually everyone, he pulled the measure without a vote and sent the House home for Christmas. The clock keeps ticking toward the end of the year, when automatic tax increases and spending cuts are set to hit.

Early Thursday, Boehner expressed confidence not only that his bill would pass but that the Democratic-controlled Senate would feel so much pressure, it would be forced to consider it, too.

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Business
4:56 am
Fri December 21, 2012

The Last Word In Business

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 11:16 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And now you can consider this. It's our last word in business today: A Bluetooth bathroom. The Japanese are known for being on the cutting edge of tech, and now that extends to the edge of the toilet seats.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

A Japanese company recently announced a smartphone-controlled toilet. Yup. Using a smartphone app, you can flush - that means not having to touch the handle at all.

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Politics
4:56 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Obama Focuses On Newtown, 'Fiscal Cliff'

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 11:16 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. Good morning. Action last night in the House of Representatives suggests just how hard it could be to pass a solution to the tax increases and spending cuts due at the end of the year.

INSKEEP: House Speaker John Boehner has yet to reach a deal with President Obama, so he sought to put his own plan before the House last night.

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Planet Money
3:52 am
Fri December 21, 2012

When The Doctor Works For The Insurance Company

This won't hurt a bit.
Dmitry Naumov iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 11:16 am

Some insurance companies are taking a page out of their own history books: running their own doctors' offices and clinics. Though the strategy previously had mixed results, insurers think that by providing primary care for patients, they might reduce costly diseases and hospital stays in the long run.

Dr. Michael Byrne spent eight years working for a Brooklyn hospital and he saw firsthand why the United States spends more on healthcare than any other country in the world.

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Research News
3:52 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Why Some Kids Have An Inflated Sense Of Their Science Skills

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 8:49 pm

If you're a student at the halfway point of the academic year, and you've just taken stock of your performance, perhaps you have reason to feel proud of yourself.

But a recent study suggests some of the pride you feel at having done well — especially in science — may be unfounded. Or at least your sense of your performance may not be a very accurate picture of how good you actually are.

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Shots - Health News
3:50 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Medicare Starts To Reward Quality, Not Quantity, Of Care

In a push to improve quality, Medicare will pay some hospitals more and others, including Boston's Massachusetts General, less.
Steven Senne AP

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 11:16 am

It's no longer enough for hospitals to just send a bill to Medicare and get paid.

The nation's biggest insurer is starting to dole out bonuses and penalties to nearly 3,000 hospitals as it ties almost $1 billion in payments to the quality of care provided to patients.

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Theater
3:27 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Broadway's Profit-Turning, Crowd-Pleasing Christmas Story

Jordan Gelber plays Buddy the Elf in Elf on Broadway. The limited-run production may not turn a profit immediately, but producers have a multipronged strategy for making money.
Joan Marcus The Hartman Group

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 8:37 pm

The Christmas season is when retailers make the bulk of their profits, Hollywood blockbusters rake it in, and Broadway theaters are filled to capacity. In recent seasons, Broadway has even staged special limited-run holiday musicals — among them, adaptations of A Christmas Story and Elf — to take advantage of the hordes of tourists in New York looking for entertainment. But with production costs so high, how can these shows make their money back? The answer, it turns out, is complicated.

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The Salt
3:23 am
Fri December 21, 2012

A Pie-Making Encore: Start With The Perfect Recipe, Serve With Love

The foundation of a good pie starts with the crust.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 9:00 am

It's high season for pie-making. And when we came upon this touching story about a bunch of women gathering to bake fresh apple pies for the people of Newtown, Conn., it warmed our hearts here at The Salt. Truly.

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U.S.
3:23 am
Fri December 21, 2012

New TSA Standards: Carry On Small Snow Globes and Pies, Keep Checking Jam

One of these snow globes doesn't belong onboard. The one on the left, which is about the size of a tennis ball, is permitted in your carry-on luggage. The one on the right is not.
Ryan Smith NPR

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 11:16 am

The airline industry predicts some 42 million of us will be flying this holiday season, and that this weekend before Christmas will be one of the busiest periods.

For tips on how to get through what's expected to be some long security lines, we turn to the Transportation Security Administration's Lisa Farbstein. She says there's a useful guide on the TSA's homepage that allows you to type in an item to see if it's allowed in your carry-on, as well as a mobile app.

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StoryCorps
3:22 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Santa Claus Is Driving To Town

In December, when Boyd Applegate isn't driving his big-rig truck, he dresses up as Santa and hand-delivers gifts under Christmas trees. It's a pastime he's enjoyed for more than 20 years.
StoryCorps

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 11:16 am

Boyd Applegate never set out to become a real bearded Santa Claus. No, the calling found him.

The 56-year-old, who was last on StoryCorps talking about volunteering at the polls on Election Day, is a big-rig truck driver. He's logged nearly 5 million miles on the road.

"Santa Claus was a byproduct of truck driving," he explained to his sister, Rhonda Dixon, at StoryCorps. "Because I drive a truck, I can have a beard that's a little bit longer than most people."

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