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This week, Congress has been pondering yet another deal with a deadline. Congressional leaders have agreed to a bipartisan budget that would set spending levels for the next two years, and if it passes, as expected, it would mark the first bipartisan budget deal since 2011. News of the deal comes again at the last minute, just as Congress begins packing its bags to adjourn for the holidays.

North Korea has announced that Jang Song Thaek, the uncle of leader Kim Jong Un and formerly the second most powerful man in the country, has been executed after being found guilty of treason by a military tribunal.

"The accused Jang brought together undesirable forces and formed a faction as the boss of a modern day factional group for a long time and thus committed such hideous crime as attempting to overthrow the state," North Korea's official KCNA news agency said.

There's been a lot of talk about meningitis B lately. That's the type responsible for outbreaks at Princeton and the University of California in Santa Barbara.

And it got us thinking. How come this form of the illness isn't fazed by the vaccines given routinely to most young people in the U.S.?

This week, Princeton is administering an imported vaccine not approved for general use in this country, with special permission from the Food and Drug Administration.

In retrospect, it should come as no surprise that this story did not immediately appear on our radar: Last week, Aviation Week reported that the classified RQ-180 stealth drone has begun test flights at Area 51.

The holiday season is about spending time with families. For a lot of families, it comes with conflict as well as cheer.

For Diana Abu-Jaber, author of a memoir on food and family called The Language of Baklava, her grandmother's annual arrival for a Christmastime visit meant lots of cookies and a boatload of bickering between her German-American Gram and her Jordanian immigrant father.

Music makes the heart grow fonder, but scientists are not so sure that it boosts IQ.

The Boston Globe notes:

Photo: Where Cars Go After A Flood

Dec 12, 2013

In the days, weeks and months after Superstorm Sandy, we editors got used to seeing lots of similar types of images of devastation, destruction and loss. Beaches. Houses. Taxis.

The Jazz Institute of Chicago and the city's Park District teamed up in December 2012 to present this free family concert with Dee Alexander. As we air it on JazzSet a year later, Alexander is just back from performing the show in Poland where, she writes, "everyone was on their feet."

We're preparing to bid adieu to 2013, which means it's time for the ever-reliable year-end lists. NPR's Book Concierge lets you explore the best books of the year. NPR Music chronicled the best albums. And Twitter is out with the biggest tweets and most-tweeted moments of 2013.

Somewhere between a food pantry and a traditional grocery store lies an opportunity to help feed those in need.

Enter "social supermarkets," a European model that offers discounted food exclusively to those in poverty. The stores have grown in popularity across the continent, and this week, the U.K. opened its first. Dubbed Community Shop, the store is located in an impoverished former mining town in South Yorkshire.