America

Lame Duck Congress Returns

The US Capitol is seen at night in Washington, D.C.

The US Capitol is seen at night in Washington, D.C. NICHOLAS KAMM/Getty hide caption

itoggle caption NICHOLAS KAMM/Getty

Lawmakers are back on Capitol Hill for a lame duck session.  NPR's Liz Halloran looks at one big issue facing House Democrats, soon to be in the minority: the fate of the Bush-era tax cuts.

Democrats have argued that the cuts, which expire at the end of the year, should be extended only to families earning less than $250,000. Resurgent Republicans, who will take over the House under presumptive Speaker John Boehner, want all the cuts made permanent — at a cost that OMB Watch has estimated at more than $5 trillion, including debt serving and related costs, over the next decade.

AWWWWWKWARD - REP. CHARLES RANGEL'S ETHICS TRIAL

Here's another thorny item - the House Ethics Committee must weigh the fate of the N.Y. Democrat, who's facing 13 allegations of breaking ethics rules and abusing his position as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. NPR's Peter Overby reports for Morning Edition Rangel will present his own defense. Rangel says he can't afford one and he can't get one pro-bono either, because that's a free gift - an ethics violation.

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y.

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. Mary Altaffer/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Mary Altaffer/AP

Melanie Sloan, the director of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, says committee members may be troubled by the appearance of the trial — the committee and its lawyers questioning an 80-year-old African-American lawmaker, a Korean War veteran with a purple heart, without a lawyer.

Peter reports Rangel has said he's willing to settle the case and lawyers for the ethics panel are prepared to agree.

CLIMBING MT. ARAFAT - THE HAJJ

A Mecca Metro train arrives at a station in Mina ahead of the Hajj main ritual at Mount Arafat outsi

A Mecca Metro train arrives at a station in Mina ahead of the Hajj main ritual at Mount Arafat outside Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Hassan Ammar/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Hassan Ammar/AP

The AP reports 3 million Muslims are climbing Mt. Arafat near Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It's part of the religious event that occurs each year called the hajj, required of each able Muslim once in his or her lifetime. The faithful answer God's call with the climb by tracing the last journey of the Prophet Mohammed. Reuters reports Saudi authorities installed a new train line along the 11 mile pilgrimage route that stops at key sites, cutting vehicle and foot congestion.

CHOLERA - THE WORST STILL TO COME IN HAITI

The New York Times says more than 900 people are dead and more than 14,000 ill. The greatest worry is for the tent camps that house more than a million earthquake survivors.

...the disease has not peaked and will likely worsen and break out in other regions of the country, with United Nations health officials estimating about 270,000 may be sickened in the coming years.

NPR's Jason Beaubien says cholera has spread to six of Haiti's 10 provinces. He reported last week for Morning Edition on this health care twist for Haiti:

Dr. Ronald LaRoche, the president of the Association of Private Hospitals in Haiti, says it was completely understandable that international medical groups came in to help immediately after the quake.

But, he says, 'these people kept going and kept giving free health care to the Haitian population, which led to the collapse of the whole Haitian health care systems. No doctors, Haitians, have jobs. No nurses could work. No labs, no X-ray, because everything was given free to the Haitian people,' LaRoche says.

Some Haitian health care professionals got jobs with the international aid groups, but LaRoche says these groups could pack up and leave tomorrow.

SUU KYI CALLS FOR TALKS WITH MYANMAR RULERS

Aung San Suu Kyi addresses supporters at the National League for Democracy headquarters on November

Aung San Suu Kyi addresses supporters at the National League for Democracy headquarters on November 15, 2010. SOE THAN WIN/Getty hide caption

itoggle caption SOE THAN WIN/Getty

The newly released political activist is meeting with leaders of her political party, opposition groups, reporters and lots of supporters who descended on her house to greet her this weekend. She's spent more than seven years under house arrest and the Myanmar junta banned her party, the National League for Democracy. The AP reports Suu Kyi and her lawyers are preparing a legal effort to overturn the ban. NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports for Morning Edition Suu Kyi has sent letters to Myanmar leaders saying she wished to discuss the matter of international sanctions against their country.

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