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.
An Israeli airstrike has injured 11 people in the Gaza strip. Another strike 24-hours earlier hit two smuggling tunnels and a weapons manufacturing site. The strike occurred amid clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli police in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Fighting erupted after Israel announced plans to build 1600 new homes in East Jerusalem, which has prompted outrage from the U.S., Al Jazeera.
Massive protests continue in Thailand. The opposition “red shirts,” which aim to oust the current government, have planned marches around Bangkok for tomorrow and have succeeded in their attempts to hold non-violent rallies. 150,000 people participated in last Sunday’s march, and analysts believe the movement is winning many sympathizers, Reuters.
A reported mine collapse that is believed to have killed almost 200 people is being denied by the country’s government. Minister of Mineral Resources Alpha Kanu says he visited the site and no collapse occurred, BBC News.
Hot Topic: Economist Paul Krugman on healthcare reform.
The acting president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, has dissolved Nigeria’s cabinet. President Umaru Yar’Adua has been ill since November and has traveled abroad for treatment. About half of the current cabinet ministers are expected to be asked to return, AFP.
One person, a migrant worker from Thailand, was killed after militants from Gaza fired a rocket into southern Israel, Voice of America.
Officials, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are in Moscow for a summit concerning Israel and the state of conflict in the Middle East as well as talks on nuclear disarmament, The Guardian.
Aid groups may be preventing the formation of a functioning government in Haiti, particularly with their increased resources in the wake of the January 12 earthquake that devastated Haiti’s capital city of Port-au-Prince and killed more than 200,000, CNN.
New information has emerged about the suspects in the killing of a Hamas commander in Dubai. Surveillance video from the hotel where the killing occurred shows 11 people working together as the murder took place. New evidence now shows those in the hotel were traveling on stolen European passports, including 6 Britons who say they were not involved in the attack, BBC News. Israel’s spy agency, Mossad, is suspected to the behind the attack. More on how the assassination was planned and carried out, Telegraph. More on Mossad’s tactics, Reuters.
The U.S. is continuing street-to-street fighting in the Afghan town of Marja. The military is battling IEDs and small groups of Taliban fighters in an effort to secure the town, Al Jazeera.
The U.S. has sent one of its top diplomats to Syria in an effort to repair relations there, Associated Press. A discussion of U.S. sanctions on Syria, BBC News.
The U.S. and the United Nations have spoken out against Israel’s plan to construct some 900 houses in occupied East Jerusalem. The houses will be built against Palestinian wishes and the U.S. is afraid the plans will hurt peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine. Israel insists East Jerusalem is their territory, but Palestine wishes the area be the capital city of their future state, Voice of America.
Five people have been sentenced to death in Iran after being arrested during post-election protests. The total may include three people who were sentenced to death in October, but it is not clear. 81 of 86 arrested since the June election have received jail sentences ranging from six months to 15 years. Iranian TV reports stated those given the death penalty were convicted for being members of “terrorist and opposition groups,” BBC News.
Two Rwandan Hutu leaders have been arrested in Germany on suspicion of committing crimes against humanity in Congo. The two are suspected members of the FDLR, a group made up of Rwandan refugees who fled to Congo after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, in which a half million Tutsis were killed, New York Times.
More charges have been filed against six men of the same family in Missouri. Police say at least one of the men forced a child to kill a kidnapped man and held another child, who became pregnant, captive in a basement. The eldest charged, 77-year-old Burrell Mohler Sr., allegedly buried the infant in a box in the basement. The six men were arrested last week and charged with sexually abusing multiple family members, CNN.
Hot Topic: Velvet Revolution’s Roots Obscure 20 Years Later.
The Israeli Navy said today that it has seized an Iranian container ship carrying weapons. The large array, which included 600 tons of rockets, guns and other weapons, was expected to be shipped to the militia of the Islamist Hezbollah movement, Washington Post.
Officials have confirmed that a cat in Iowa has contracted the H1N1 virus, making it the first known case of swine flu in a feline. The cat has recovered, but two ferrets in Nebraska and Oregon have died from the virus. Many other kinds of influenza strains have seen human to cat transmission, and officials say it would be wise to take precautions around pets if infected with H1N1, AP.
Almost two dozens Americans have been sentenced to five years in jail by an Italian court on charges of seizing a suspected terrorist in Italy. The man, Abu Omar, says he was nabbed off the streets in Milan in 2003 and then sent to Egypt where he was tortured. Most of the convicted are suspected by Italy of being CIA agents. None of the convicted were arrested or stood trial, making them essentially international fugitives and unable to ever return to the country, CNN.
The trial of Amanda Knox, the American woman accused of murdering her British roommate as they studied abroad in Italy, is nearing its end. Knox has maintained her innocence, and what once looked like a slam dunk conviction is now not so clear. The prosecution’s biggest piece of evidence against Knox was a knife found with her DNA on it, but supporters say the scene was too distorted by police for a conviction. The jury will begin deliberations on December 4, CNN.
The UN is calling for Israel to immediately halt all forced evictions and demolitions of Palestinian homes. 26 people lost their homes today in East Jerusalem, including 10 children, bringing the total to 600 this year. Additionally, 60,000 people may be in risk of losing their homes, according to the UN, Xinhau.
At least 10 members of an amateur Colombian soccer team have been found dead with gunshot wounds in Venezuela, authorities said Sunday. 12 players were seized while playing a game in the neighboring country. One escaped and another is unaccounted for, Reuters.
With the deaths of eight more soldiers today, October has become the deadliest month for U.S. troops in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001. The eight were killed by multiple improvised explosive devices (IEDs). An Afghan civilian was also among the dead, BBC News.
The fossilized skull of a “sea monster” has been uncovered on the Dorset coast. The creature is believed to be a pliosaur, which ruled the ocean 150 million years ago. Judging by the skull size, the plisosaur could have been 52 feet from head to tail and weighed 12 tons, Guardian UK.
A new report by Amnesty International says that Israel is restricting access to water in Palestine, CNN. Israel’s Water Authority has denied the accusation, Jerusalem Post. Full report, Amnesty International.
Former Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic has been released from prison after serving 6 years of an 11 year sentence for crimes against humanity, BBC News. Factbox on Biljana Plavsic, Reuters. The trial of Bosnian war leader Radovan Karadzic resumed today in a UN court despite his refusal to attend. He is accused of crimes against humanity, including aiding genocide during the Bosnian war from 1992-1995. Karadvic, who is defending himself, claims he needs more time for preparation, AFP.
The families of 3 Americans accused of illegally crossing the Iraqi border into Iran have released video that they claim proves the trio were simply on vacation, Globe and Mail. Family website, Free the Hikers; Video Page.