2:55pm

Thu December 8, 2011
It's All Politics

Professor Gingrich And The Lessons (And Lecture Notes) Of History

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Newt Gingrich used these lecture notes and similar pamphlets as part of the 1994 college course that became central to a later House ethics investigation.

Newt Gingrich once called himself "the most seriously professorial politician since Woodrow Wilson."

But that was 1995, and the "Contract with America" co-author had just helped to propel Republicans into power in the House for the first time in 40 years, and Gingrich himself into the speaker's role. Even the rarely modest Gingrich had reason to gloat.

Just two years later, of course, he had become the first speaker ever punished by the House for ethics violations, and the end was in sight for both his leadership and congressional career.

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2:48pm

Thu December 8, 2011
Animals

Cagebreak! Rats Will Work To Free A Trapped Pal

Originally published on Fri December 9, 2011 10:35 am

Science/AAAS

Calling someone a "rat" is no compliment, but a new study shows that rats actually are empathetic and will altruistically lend a helping paw to a cage mate who is stuck in a trap.

Not only will rats frantically work to free their trapped cage mate; they will do so even when there's a tempting little pile of chocolate chips nearby, the study reveals. Instead of leaving their pal in the trap and selfishly gobbling the candy all by themselves, rats will free their cage mate and share the chocolate.

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2:42pm

Thu December 8, 2011
U.S.

Fast And Furious Questions For U.S. Attorney General

Originally published on Thu December 8, 2011 10:08 pm

Attorney General Eric Holder testifies before the House Judiciary Committee. He faces tough questions about the Justice Department's "Fast and Furious" gun-control program.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

Attorney General Eric Holder got a bruising reception from the Republican-dominated House Judiciary Committee that put the Justice Department on the defensive.

Holder answered questions about the botched gun trafficking operation known as "Fast and Furious" in which federal agents tried to build cases against drug cartels. Instead, they lost track of hundreds of weapons that turned up at crime scenes along the Southwest border.

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2:42pm

Thu December 8, 2011
Humans

Grass Mattress Was A Stone Age Bed And Breakfast

Christopher Miller samples sediments from an excavation site in South Africa. Archaeologists found layers upon layers of burned bedding material, indicating that the hunter-gatherers who lived here 77,000 years ago stayed for a long time.
Courtesy of Lyn Wadley

In archaeology, you get special bragging rights when you can lay claim to the oldest specimen of something.

Scientists in South Africa may now qualify for what they say is the world's oldest bed. Well, not a bed exactly, but more like a mattress made of grass.

What Lyn Wadley, an archaeologist at the University of Witswatersrand, found were mats of grass and sedge piled half an inch thick on the floor of a cavelike rock shelter in South Africa.

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2:29pm

Thu December 8, 2011
NPR Story

Recession Roadtrip: Telling Tales Of 'Hard Times'

NPR's Debbie Elliott and Richard Gonzales spent a month on the road across the nation, reporting stories of economic struggle for the NPR series "Hard Times." They heard stories of people and places grappling with economic hardship, and also found a few bright spots along the way.

1:06pm

Thu December 8, 2011
The Two-Way

Virginia Tech On Alert After Report Of Shots

Virginia Tech has advised everyone on campus to "seek shelter or stay where you are" because of reports about shots being fired there.

It adds that:

"[A] suspect described as white male, gray sweat pants, gray hat w/neon green brim, maroon hoodie and backback" was seen "on foot towards McComas" — the university's athletics facility.

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1:00pm

Thu December 8, 2011
NPR Story

Climate Talks Near Close, No Breakthroughs Expected

Delegates from nearly 200 countries gathered for a U.N. climate conference in South Africa have been frustrated by a lack of consensus on how to reduce carbon emissions. Many participants are pointing to major emitters like the U.S. and China for the lack of progress.

1:00pm

Thu December 8, 2011
NPR Story

After 7 Seasons, Kyra Sedgwick Closes 'The Closer'

After seven seasons, TNT's "The Closer" is coming to a close. Brenda Leigh Johnson has led the major crimes department of the Los Angeles Police Department on the hit show since 2005. Played by Kyra Sedgwick, she catches killers, brings them to often tearful confessions, and gets the case closed.

1:00pm

Thu December 8, 2011
NPR Story

Stability May Mean Tradeoffs For Some EU Members

As the Euro crisis continues, Germany and France have proposed reforms to give European Union leaders more power to demand fiscal discipline from member states. The crisis has raised difficult questions about national sovereignty for many EU member states.

12:56pm

Thu December 8, 2011
The Two-Way

Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio Under Fire For Mishandled Sex-Crime Cases

Originally published on Thu December 8, 2011 3:51 pm

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio discusses the latest in the document release on his office's handling of many sexual assault cases over the years in El Mirage, Ariz., during a news conference Monday.
Ross D. Franklin AP

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is under fire. The sheriff is known for his aggressive stance on immigration and his tough treatment of inmates.

Yesterday, two state lawmakers called for his ouster, but Arpaio stood his ground during a press conference.

The lawmakers were reacting to an AP report from Sunday that found his office had botched a series of sex-crime cases. Here's part of that AP report:

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