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The Two-Way
5:10 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Senate Approves Budget Deal, Reducing Chances Of A Shutdown

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), walks to the chamber for the final votes on the bipartisan budget deal on Wednesday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 6:24 pm

The Senate passed a two-year bipartisan budget deal aimed at easing automatic spending cuts and avoiding a government shutdown, following a House vote on the measure last week.

The vote by a simple majority was absent the partisan brinksmanship that has become a hallmark of budget deals in recent memory.

The appropriations committees in both chambers must now set in stone a $1.012 trillion fiscal 2014 spending bill before current spending authority expires. Congress also faces a spring 2014 to raise the debt ceiling — another potential partisan standoff.

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The Two-Way
4:56 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Kerry Says He Regrets Treatment Of Indian Diplomat In New York

Indian workers in New Delhi remove a barricade Tuesday that had been erected outside the main entrance of the U.S Embassy as a safety measure.
Saurabh Das AP

Secretary of State John Kerry has telephoned a top official in New Delhi to express regret for the strip-search of an Indian diplomat after her arrest last week in New York on charges of visa fraud.

"As a father of two daughters about the same age as [Indian diplomat] Devyani Khobragade, the Secretary empathizes with the sensitivities we are hearing from India about the events that unfolded after Ms. Khobragade's arrest," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a written statement, relating Kerry's conversation.

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The Two-Way
4:50 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Intelligence Panel Recommends Limits On NSA Surveillance

The National Security Agency campus in Fort Meade, Md.
Patrick Semansky AP

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 7:31 pm

(This post was updated at 6:30 p.m. ET)

A panel looking into U.S. electronic surveillance activities in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations has recommended removing the NSA's authority to collect and store Americans' telephone data.

The key recommendation was one of dozens that the panel put forward; however, it did not propose a wholesale scaling back of domestic spying by the National Security Agency and other intelligence branches.

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The Two-Way
2:45 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Fed Says It Will Begin Tapering Off Its Stimulus In January

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke delivers remarks Wednesday in Washington, at his final planned news conference before he steps down.
Jonathan Ernst Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 7:31 pm

(This post was last updated at 3:50 p.m. ET)

Citing an improving economy, the Federal Reserve announced Wednesday that it would begin gradually paring back an $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program aimed at stimulating growth.

The move was seen as a tentative vote of confidence and comes amid an improving jobs picture and other positive signs as the U.S. continues struggles to emerge from the worst downturn since the Great Depression.

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The Two-Way
1:45 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Beijing: Near Miss As U.S. Warship 'Harassed' Chinese Vessel

Chinese state media has said the incident involved its newly deployed aircraft carrier, Liaoning, shown here in October 2012.
AP

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 2:34 pm

China has confirmed that one of its warships — reportedly the newly deployed aircraft carrier Liaoning — had an "encounter" with a U.S. guided missile cruiser in the South China Sea earlier this month.

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The Two-Way
1:01 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Ex-BP Engineer Found Guilty Of Obstructing Justice

Former BP drilling engineer Kurt Mix, who has been convicted of obstructing justice.
Jonathan Bachman AP

The first of four current or former BP employees charged with crimes related to the 2010 Gulf oil spill has been found guilty of obstructing justice because he deleted text messages from his cellphone that contained information about the worst offshore spill in the nation's history.

NPR's Debbie Elliott tells our Newscast Desk that a federal jury in New Orleans convicted 52-year-old Kurt Mix on Wednesday.

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The Two-Way
11:29 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Gays In U.S. Olympic Delegation Will Send Message To Russia

Sept. 25: Police detain a gay rights activist in Moscow. The poster, adorned with Olympic rings, reads "Homophobia is the shame of Russia!"
Alexander Nemenov AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 6:58 pm

Tennis great Billie Jean King and ice hockey medalist Caitlin Cahow are certainly qualified to be members of the U.S. delegation at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.

One is a winner of 39 "grand slam" tennis titles and has been honored with a Presidential Medal of Freedom. The other is a two-time Olympic medal winner with Team USA.

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The Two-Way
10:17 am
Wed December 18, 2013

'Great Train Robber' Ronnie Biggs Dies; Was Famed Fugitive

Ronnie Biggs, showing off his notoriety in 1994 while he was living in Brazil.
AFP/Getty Images

He was "a petty criminal" who joined a gang responsible for one of the 20th Century's most notable heists.

Ronnie Biggs, who went to jail for his role in the U.K.'s "great train robbery" of 1963 — but was more famous for his flamboyant life during 36 years as a fugitive following his escape from prison in 1965 — died Wednesday.

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The Two-Way
9:03 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Already Down 50 Percent, Will Bitcoin Bite The Dust?

How low will they go?
Jens Kalaene DPA/LANDOV

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 10:00 am

Talk about a fall:

"Prices of virtual currency bitcoin fell 20% Wednesday and are now down more than 50% from their record high hit two weeks ago amid worries that China is moving to block the purchase and use of the currency by its citizens," The Wall Street Journal writes.

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The Two-Way
8:24 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Book News: New 'Dragon Tattoo' Novel Coming From New Author

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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