10:09am

Tue December 20, 2011
Best Music Of 2011

Ken Tucker's Top 10: The Year In Music

W W Norton & Co Inc

10:07am

Tue December 20, 2011
Television

Bianculli Picks The Best (And Worst) TV Of 2011

Over the past few seasons, Breaking Bad's Walter White (Bryan Cranston) has changed from meek hero to forceful villain. TV critic David Bianculli says he isn't just breaking bad anymore — he's entirely broken.
Gregory Peters AMC

Fresh Air's TV critic David Bianculli liked so many shows this year that he says he couldn't pick just 10 favorites. Instead, he split his favorites into several lists, including best documentaries and best scripted comedies/dramas.

Bianculli also highlights some of the worst shows to hit TV screens this year — including not one but two shows featuring Snooki.

Despite his Snooki misgivings, Bianculli says it was a banner year for TV.

"There is more good television on a weekly basis than there has ever been," Bianculli says. "I am absolutely certain of it."

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9:59am

Tue December 20, 2011
It's All Politics

Flagging In Polls, Gingrich Urges Voters To Reject Negative Campaigning

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich makes remarks at a town hall meeting at Level 10 Apparel's screen-printing warehouse, in Hiawatha, Iowa, Dec. 19.
MIKE THEILER UPI /Landov

New polls — both in Iowa and nationwide — show front-running GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich losing his edge. Over at the New York Times' blog FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver's latest forecast shows Ron Paul taking the lead in Iowa.

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9:55am

Tue December 20, 2011
The Two-Way

VIDEOS: Lights Go Out At Candlestick During 'Monday Night Football'

Most of the lights were out, but between camera flashes and emergency back-ups it wasn't pitch black when there were two power failures Monday night at San Francisco's Candlestick Park.
Ezra Shaw Getty Images

9:52am

Tue December 20, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

Hospitals That Serve The Poor Struggle With Readmissions

Hospitals across the country are trying to clamp down on frequent readmissions in anticipation of new penalties Medicare is readying. But it's a bigger problem at hospitals that treat lots of low-income patients.

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9:49am

Tue December 20, 2011
The Salt

11 Food Gifts We'd Like To See On The Doorstep

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 10:26 am

Artichokes for Christmas? For some veggie lovers, a box from Pezzini Farms may be the perfect gift.
Ethan Taniguchi for Pezzini Farms

When it comes to a gift that embodies the warmth and sharing of the holidays, food wins every time. This week, millions of boxes of treats are jetting across the country, spreading cheer and calories. We asked the denizens of NPR's science desk what food they're hoping to find on their doorsteps this week. Here are their picks, from traditional to outré.

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9:20am

Tue December 20, 2011

9:05am

Tue December 20, 2011
The Two-Way

Home Construction Rose In November; 2011 Still A Weak Year

There was a 9.3 percent rise in "housing starts" last month vs. October, the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development just reported.

"Single-family housing starts in November were at a rate of 447,000," the agencies say. "This is 2.3 percent above the revised October figure of 437,000." The really big increase was in construction of buildings with five or more living units. Starts in that category were up 32.2 percent.

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8:55am

Tue December 20, 2011
The Two-Way

House Rejects Senate's Extension Of Payroll Tax Cut

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 2:23 pm

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

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.

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8:45am

Tue December 20, 2011
It's All Politics

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.

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