A burly beast of a man bursts into a presidential press conference and is shot in the leg by secret police. Two days later, the White House reveals that the befuddled intruder with a handlebar mustache is really former President William Howard Taft.
So begins Taft 2012, a novel that gives a satirical take on contemporary politics through the eyes of a president who served a century ago. Author Jason Heller places Taft in a 21st-century election campaign, where he is forced to sit in bars on New Year's Eve and master Twitter along the way.
Some of the biggest banks in the country are reportedly close to a settlement with authorities over the so-called robo-signing scandal in which mortgage company officials signed and notarizeed foreclosure documents without properly reviewing them.
Many lenders and mortgage servicers acknowledged making serious mistakes in foreclosure paperwork.
Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, arrives for a news conference to announce that he and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had negotiated deal on the payroll tax cut that was set to expire at the end of the year at the U.S. Capitol December 22, 2011 in Washington, D.C.
The last battle scar of 2011 for the GOP came in December, when House Republicans painted themselves into a corner on extending unemployment benefits and the payroll tax cut. The fight exposed the party's internal rifts and the loose control of its leaders.
"A public relations fiasco," one GOP lawmaker called it. They could compromise with the Democrats or allow taxes to go up; neither option palatable to large portions of the majority.
The Arab League sent observers to Syria about a month ago. Their mission: to bear witness to the escalating violence between soldiers loyal to President Bashar Assad and armed opposition fighters.
The presence of the orange-vested observers was supposed to discourage the violent crackdown on protesters, but since they arrived in December, almost 1,000 Syrians have died. Overall, it is estimated that more than 5,400 people have been killed since the protests began last March.