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WASHINGTON (AP) Streets in downtown Washington are closing for the annual National Christmas Tree Lighting. The ceremony on the Ellipse, south of the White House, begins at 5 o'clock this afternoon. Streets will be closed a half hour earlier.

WASHINGTON (AP) The D.C. Council has given preliminary approval to budget cuts that include furloughs for city employees but no new tax hikes for residents. The council approved the cuts in order to close a $188 million gap in the current year's budget.

WASHINGTON (AP) Mayor-elect Vincent Gray has named Allen Lew to be the next city administrator. Lew has led the multibillion dollar school-modernization construction campaign under Mayor Adrian Fenty.

WASHINGTON (AP) Wal-Mart is unveiling urban store designs slated for four Washington sites during small, neighborhood meetings. A spokesman for Wal-Mart says the company is designing smaller, grocery-oriented stores to fit the city's needs.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

NPR

Antarctic Holiday: A Christmas Feast In The Loneliest Spot On Earth

For Dr. Gavin Francis, Christmas Eve marked the start of a year-long stay in an icy research base 8,700 miles from home. In this "empire of ice and isolation," he says, food is essential to morale.
NPR

Antarctic Holiday: A Christmas Feast In The Loneliest Spot On Earth

For Dr. Gavin Francis, Christmas Eve marked the start of a year-long stay in an icy research base 8,700 miles from home. In this "empire of ice and isolation," he says, food is essential to morale.
NPR

'Rum, Rumba, And Romance': A Book On Cuba's Enduring Mystique

This week, President Obama announced that he will begin to normalize relations with Cuba. Cuban-American writer Richard Blanco recommends a book about Cuba's imprint on the American imagination.
NPR

Obama Says 'James Flacco.' The Internet Says, Thank You

It was an honest mistake. But when President Obama said "James Flacco" when referring to James Franco — on a Friday before the holidays, no less — the slip was eagerly received online.

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