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Brits and Americans may have split less than amicably a couple of centuries ago, but we can still find cultural common ground when it comes to life's pleasures: The Beatles, Downton Abbey and dunking cookies.

Of course, the Brits call them "biscuits" and dip primarily in tea, while we are more promiscuous and are willing to plunge our treats into coffee, hot chocolate or even milk.

But does immersing a cookie into a warm beverage really make it taste better? And if so, why?

NPR's Larry Abramson is covering President Obama's visit to the Middle East. He sends this dispatch from the West Bank.

There were a lot of irritated Palestinians in the streets of Ramallah today. But it's hard to pinpoint the cause. Were they mad at President Obama, at Israel? Or were they angry at themselves?

The officer, whose shooting of a young man in the back sparked days of protests in Anaheim, Calif., will not face charges, an Orange County prosector decided on Wednesday.

NPR member station KPCC reports:

"The Orange County District Attorney's office spent months investigating whether to file to charges against Nick Bennallack, the officer who shot Manuel Diaz, 25, as he ran away from officers.

The House of Representatives passed legislation Thursday that avoids a federal shutdown and keeps the government open through the end of the 2013 fiscal year, which winds up Sept. 30. The Senate approved the same measure Wednesday, so the bill now goes to the president for his signature.

The New York Times characterizes the measure, which passed the House on a 318-109 vote, this way:

This week, optimists had no trouble finding fresh evidence to suggest that the housing market is recovering.

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