Opinion
1:56 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

Appreciating The Ugliness Of The Christmas Tree

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 3:03 pm

Ken Harbaugh is a former Navy pilot and an NPR commentator.

Our Christmas tree gets uglier every year. It's not the tree's fault. This year we sprung for a Fraser fir, cut fresh at a local farm. It has soft needles, that ideal pine-cone shape, and a pointy top perfect for holding a star. But when we got home, I felt like apologizing. This tree did not deserve what we were about to do. We re-cut the bottom, mounted it in its holder, and gave it water. For about five minutes, our tree looked beautiful. Then came the decorations.

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The Two-Way
1:38 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

BofA's Countrywide To Pay $335 Million, Settling Lending Discrimination Case

The Countrywide logo.
AP

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 3:18 pm

The Justice Department is calling it the "largest residential fair lending settlement in history:" Bank of America's Countrywide Financial has agreed to pay $335 million to settle a lawsuit that claimed it discriminated against black and Latino borrowers.

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Environment
1:07 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

Turbulence As Europe Passes Fee On Plane Emissions

Air travel contributes only 2 to 4 percent of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. A new ruling says airlines flying into an out of European airports will have to pay a price for the carbon dioxide they emit from burning jet fuel. Above, a plane takes off from the Geneva airport on March 11, 2010.
Fabrice Coffrini AFP/Getty Images

A European court ruled Wednesday that airlines flying into and out of European airports will have to pay a price for the carbon dioxide they emit when they burn jet fuel.

U.S. airlines, which had been fighting the idea in court, say the European Union is trying to force other countries to reduce carbon emissions. Europe currently limits carbon dioxide emissions from its major industries to curb global warming. The ruling cannot be appealed, and the decision likely to end the dispute.

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Regional
12:33 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

Johnson Running For President As Libertarian

New Mexico – The former governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson, is dropping his Republican presidential bid to run for the Libertarian Party nomination.

Johnson plans to announce his candidacy for the Libertarian nomination next week. He has struggled to get any traction in the GOP race for the White House and has been excluded from all but two presidential debates.

A spokesman for Johnson, Joe Hunter, said Tuesday night that Johnson is frustrated because his viewpoint hasn't been heard.

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The Two-Way
12:33 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

EPA Issues Rule Limiting Arsenic, Mercury Emissions From Power Plants

New regulations issued by the Obama administration will force the country's coal- and oil-fired power plants to reduce the emission of pollutants such as arsenic and mercury or shut down.

In a statement, the Environmental Protection Agency said the new standards "will protect millions of families and children from harmful and costly air pollution and provide the American people with health benefits that far outweigh the costs of compliance."

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Regional
12:31 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

Gun Shop Owner Wants To Withdraw Guilty Plea

Las Cruces – The owner of a New Mexico gun store at the center of a case involving trafficking firearms to Mexican cartels wants to withdraw his guilty plea.

Lawyers for Ian Garland, owner of Chaparral Guns in Chaparral, N.M., filed a motion to withdraw the plea last week in federal court.

The motions said the 50-year-old pleaded guilty because the "pressure and potential consequences of not pleading were too much."

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Regional
12:30 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

Dozens Of Dead Crows Found At Park

Las Cruces – Piles of dead crows, possibly hundreds of them, have been found at Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park.

Members of the Mesilla Valley Audubon Society reported Tuesday the stack of dead birds discovered during their annual "Christmas Bird Count."

The birds were found dead in the park's river and along the west side of the river.

Birdwatcher Ken Stinnett said most of the birds found dead were American crows, although he said he also saw a Chihuahuan raven and Brewer's blackbird.

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Shots - Health Blog
12:27 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

Lack Of Autopsies After Elderly Die Conceals Health Flaws

Death investigations among seniors are often skipped, leaving the growing population vulnerable to neglect and abuse.
Andres Cediel Frontline

Abuse in nursing homes and suspicious deaths among seniors often go undetected because postmortem examinations are becoming few and far between.

Earlier this year, an NPR News investigation found that many jurisdictions stopped doing autopsies on people who died over the age of 60, unless it was obvious that a violent death occurred. A lack of resources, both financial and staffing, was often to blame.

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Regional
12:22 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

Audit Finds New Mexico PRC Broke State And Federal Law

New Mexico – Today, State Auditor Hector Balderas announced the results of a financial audit that found certain Commissioners and employees of the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) broke federal tax laws related to personal use of state vehicles, violated state regulations for state-issued gas cards, and failed to properly report criminal conduct that occurred in the agency.

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Politics
12:11 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

Mass. Senate Race A Battle Over Who's More Populist

Elizabeth Warren speaks in October during a debate for the U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts held by Republican Scott Brown. The race has become a contest of who is the "real" populist.
Elise Amendola AP

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 3:35 pm

Republican Scott Brown of Massachusetts made a point of calling Ted Kennedy's old U.S. Senate seat the "people's seat," and he won it in large part by casting himself as the opposite of that glamorous and privileged dynasty.

Brown won in a special election in 2010. Now, Democrat Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard Law professor and Wall Street watchdog, is raising Democrats' hopes they can win the seat back. Just months after announcing her first-ever candidacy, polls show Warren pulling out ahead of Brown.

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