The U.S. House of Representatives passed an historic health care reform bill last night. The bill must also be approved by the U.S. Senate, where it is expected to pass, before it can be signed into law by President Barack Obama, BBC News. Political implications of the health care reform bill, Reuters. Factbox on immediate and long terms changes that will be implemented if the bill is passed through reconciliation and signed by President Obama, Reuters.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to address the controversy over the building of new settlements in Jerusalem. Netanyahu will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C. this week, Christian Science Monitor.
After a small eruption over the weekend, Iceland is preparing for larger volcanic eruptions, Times Online.
Democrats appear to have pushed through a final version of the health care reform bill. Final vote on the bill is expected tonight. The bill will impose new limits on health insurance companies, including ending the practice of denying coverage based on pre-exisiting conditions. It will also require individuals to buy health insurance or face a penalty. Details of the final bill, Reuters. Passage of the bill was boosted by concessions by President Obama and Democrats that ensure health care reform will exclude federal payments for abortions. Text of the President’s statement, CNN. Timeline of the past 100 years of American health care reform, New York Times.
Two weeks after elections in Iraq, the votes are still being counted. Iyad Allawi’s secular coalition narrowly leads over current Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s mainly Shi’ite coalition. Maliki has called for a recount but Iraq’s electoral commission ruled that a recount is not necessary. About 95 percent of the votes have been counted, Reuters.
Two Palestinians were shot by Israeli military in the West Bank today. The military says the men had attempted to stab a soldier, Al Jazeera.
Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon has called for Israeli to end its blockade of the West Bank, BBC News.
Troops have been deployed to stop looting following Saturday’s massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile, Al Jazeera. More on Concepcion, the city hardest hit by the earthquake, BBC News. First hand accounts from earthquake survivors, CNN. Earthquake factbox, Reuters.
President Obama is evaluating a new strategy that could drastically reduce the nuclear arsenal of the United States, New York Times.
U.S. President Barack Obama unveiled his $3.8 trillion 2011 budget. The budget will include a $1.56 trillion deficit as the U.S. attempts to climb out of recession, BBC News.
A suicide bomb attack in Iraq killed 46 pilgrims on their way to Karbala. The suicide bomber was a woman, Al Jazeera.
France has denied citizenship to a man who forces his wife to wear a full Islamic veil, Al Jazeera.
An Indian man in Melbourne who said he was attacked by 4 Australians has now admitted to maing the story up. Tensions are high between Australians and Indians living and visiting Australia, BBC News.
A group reportedly trying to help orphaned Haitian children was arrested on charges of child trafficking. 10 Americans were arrested for attempting to take 33 children across Haiti’s border. The children had no documentation, ABC.
U.S. President Barack Obama gave his first State of the Union address on Wednesday night in front of both houses of Congress. He called for Congress to work together to pass meaningful legislation. He also pledged to create more jobs. Full text of the address, New York Times.
Reclusive novelist J.D. Salinger died this week. Salinger wrote the groundbreaking novel “The Catcher in the Rye” about the disaffected teenager Holden Caulfield, New York Times.
American historian Howard Zinn also died this week. Zinn wrote the alternative history textbook, “A People’s History of the United States” which looked at American history through the lens of disenfranchised groups who fought to be included in American democracy, New York Times.
In response to this week’s Supreme Court ruling that corporations are entitled to the same freedoms of speech held by individuals, Murray Hill, a Maryland public relations firm, announced that it intends to run for Congress, Baltimore City Paper.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama rebuked the Supreme Court for its controversial 5-4 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, prompting a response from Justice Samuel Alito, Christian Science Monitor.
The ruling may have unintended consequences, including opening the door to political campaign contributions from foreign entities, Washington Post.
Full coverage of Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission from Bill Moyers Journal.
A new study by the Highway Loss Data Institute concludes that distraction, not cell phones are to blame for most car crashes, CNET.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced this week that it will spend $10 billion on research and distribution of vaccines, Reuters.
Gunmakers in Pakistan, even working with limited resources, can produce 1,000 guns a day. First hand account from CNN.
World leaders are meeting in London today to discuss the future of Afghanistan, Al Jazeera. A tribe in Afghanistan announced that it will support the Afghan government and fight against the Taliban. The government recently announced a new strategy of funding tribes that renounce the Taliban, New York Times.
U.S. President Barack Obama gave his first State of the Union address last night. Obama focused on the economy and pledged to create new jobs, CNN. He also announced that the U.S. and Russia are close to an arm’s deal that will reduce the number of existing warheads, CNN. Full text of the address, New York Times.