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Congress Poised To Open

The US Capitol before the 112 Congress convenes. Paul Brown/NPR hide caption

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Paul Brown/NPR

The US Capitol before the 112 Congress convenes.

Paul Brown/NPR

The 112th Congress convenes in a few hours; the House's first major decision will be to choose a new Speaker, who is expected to be John Boehner (R-Ohio). The Speaker then swears in the House. The Washington Post has the menu of events here. Over on NPR's It's All Politics blog, Frank talks about the House Republicans' determination to cut $35 million dollars and why that's really teenier than it seems.

AUSTRALIA: DISASTER ON UNPRECEDENTED SCALE

A vehicle drives down the flooded runway at Rockhampton Airport in Australia after the swollen Fitzroy River broke its banks and inundated much of the city. TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/Getty Images

A vehicle drives down the flooded runway at Rockhampton Airport in Australia after the swollen Fitzroy River broke its banks and inundated much of the city.

TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/Getty Images

The premier of Queensland state has tapped an army commander to lead the state's flood response to the disaster, which the Daily Mail reports spreads across an area larger than Texas. Australia furnishes more than half of the world's coking coal product and it's vital in steelmaking. The International Business Times cites Queensland Premier Anna Bligh:

"We have three-quarters of all of our coal fields unable to operate and unable to supply markets .... There is likely to be a significant long-term effect of that, not only national but internationally.”

SHAH OF IRAN'S SON DIES

The AP reports 44-year-old Prince Alireza Pahlavi took his own life at home in Boston: he was the youngest son of the deposed Iranian leader and apparently shot himself. The Boston Globe has the family statement:

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Alireza Pahlavi in April, 2005. Lionel Cironneau/ASSOCIATED PRESS hide caption

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Lionel Cironneau/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Alireza Pahlavi in April, 2005.

Lionel Cironneau/ASSOCIATED PRESS

“Like millions of young Iranians, he too was deeply disturbed by all the ills fallen upon his beloved homeland, as well as carrying the burden of losing a father and a sister in his young life,” read the family statement. “Although he struggled for years to overcome his sorrow, he finally succumbed, and during the day of the 4th of January 2011, in his Boston residence, took his own life, plunging his family and friends into great sorrow.”

AP adds Pahlavi struggled with his sister Leila's death in 2001 by a drug overdose.