House, Senate adjourn for year

WASHINGTON — The House and Senate adjourned for the year on Wednesday evening, closing a two-year term that holds the odd distinction of being both historically busy and epically unpopular.

A Congress that was dominated by Democrats passed more landmark legislation than any since the era of Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society."

But the 111th Congress will be remembered for endless filibuster threats, volcanic town hall meetings, and the rise of the tea party. All were symbols of a dissatisfaction that peaked on Nov. 2, with a Republican rout in the midterm elections.

"This is the most dysfunctional political environment that I have ever seen. But then you have to juxtapose that with this Congress being one of, at least, the three most productive Congresses" since 1900, said Norman Ornstein, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

"Making sense of all of that can make your head burst," he added.

Balloonist who died is honored in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE — Famed balloonist Richard Abruzzo was remembered for his adventurous spirit at his funeral Wednesday in Albuquerque.

The remains of the 47-year-old Abruzzo and fellow balloonist Carol Rymer Davis and their gondola were discovered Dec. 6 by a fishing boat off the Italian coast. That was two months after the ballooning champions disappeared while competing in a gas balloon race over the Adriatic Sea during a fierce storm.

Abruzzo is survived by his wife, Nancy, and two children. He was the son of famed balloonist Ben Abruzzo, who in 1981 was part of the first team to cross the Pacific Ocean by balloon. The elder Abruzzo was killed in an airplane crash in 1985.