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MIKE PESCA, host:

Welcome back to the Bryant Park Project, from NPR News. We are on digital, FM, Sirius Satellite Radio, online at npr.org/bryantpark, and we're sizzling in a skillet as we speak. I'm Mike Pesca. Coming up, we'll check in with the BPP blog. But first, let's get the latest news headlines from the BPP's Matt Martinez.

BILL WOLFF: This is NPR.

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MATT MARTINEZ: Thank you very much, Mike. The House approved a bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan into next year. It includes 162 billion dollars, plus a number of add-ons. It goes to the Senate now. Here's NPR's John Stempin with more.

JOHN STEMPIN: War critics were disappointed the bill does not force troop withdrawals from both countries. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Speaker of the House NANCY PELOSI (Democrat, California): We had no choice. This is not about a failure of this House of Representatives. It's about what we cannot get past the next body and on to the president's desk.

STEMPIN: One antiwar protestor in the House gallery tossed red-stained dollar bills at lawmakers and was escorted away by security. The bill's add-ons include a major increase in college benefits for veterans, a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits and flood aid for the Midwest. The Senate considers the bill next, and for now, the president supports the measure.

MARTINEZ: NPR's John Stempin reporting from Washington. Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan is on the Hill today. He's talking to the House Judiciary Committee about his book, but unlike his appearances on "The Today Show" and cable news outlets, he'll be under oath. The committee is expected to focus on Vice President Cheney's role in the Valerie Plame/CIA leak case.

The Mississippi River will likely crest north of St. Louis, Missouri, today. Emergency officials there don't expect the levees to hold. The high waters are expected to put pressure on a series of inland levees protecting the towns of Winfield and Elsberry.

Beijing has unexpectedly hiked fuel prices by as much as 18 percent. The move aims to cut demand. China is the world's second biggest oil-consuming nation. NPR's Louisa Lim reports from Shanghai.

LOUISA LIM: China had been gripped by fuel shortages, with queues at petrol pumps and rationing imposed in some regions. Government-imposed price caps on fuel have meant China's oil producers were hurting badly. Some had suspended production, as analysts estimate they were losing 50 dollars on each barrel of oil processes. Now Beijing's moved to narrow that gap, hiking fuel prices by as much as 18 percent. This move sparked an immediate reaction. Police had to be deployed at some service stations, where angry motorists who'd been queuing for hours were told they had to pay the higher prices. There were fears this move could fan inflation in China. But it could also boost prices on China's stock index, which has been steadily sliding this year.

MARTINEZ: NPR's Louisa Lim reporting. Two lost backpackers wandered through the forest in Alaska's Denali National Park for six days. They lived on peanut butter sandwiches and granola bars. Erica Nelson and Abby Flantz, both in their 20s, say they regularly clicked on their cell phone until they finally got a signal. A helicopter reached them less than an hour after they got through on the phone. That's the news for now. It's always online at npr.org.

WOLFF: This is NPR.

MARTINEZ: Mike, back to you.

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