The Senate Finance Committee voted 14-9 today to approve the Democratic sponsored healthcare plan. The bill, which will cost an estimated $829 billion, seeks to provide insurance to 29 million uninsured Americans. Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine was the lone Republican to vote in favor of the plan, Chicago Tribune.
Israeli President Shimon Peres has warned that Hezbollah has turned Lebanon into a “powder keg.” His accusation comes after an explosion at the home of a member of Hezbollah. One person was wounded in the explosion, but the UN is investigating whether the home was being used to store weapons. In 2006, a 34-day conflict between the two countries left 1,200 Lebanese dead, mostly citizens, as well as 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers, BBC News.
The UN says they have only raised a quarter of the donations needed to aid typhoon and landslide victims in the Philippines. The group had appealed for $74 million, but have so far raised only $19 million. At least 650 people were killed last week during the storms. The UN also stated that there is a risk of disease because of the large amounts of standing water still in damaged areas, BBC News.
Hot Topic: In New Orleans, Uneven Recovery Awaits Obama.
The death toll from the 8.0 earthquake that hit near Samoa and American Samoa has reached over 110. The majority of the fatalities occurred on the island of Samoa, where 84 people died. 24 people in American Samoa are confirmed dead and another seven in Tonga. Last night President Obama declared American Samoa a major disaster area, allowing the islands to receive federal relief, Voice of America. Peace Corps volunteer in Somoa Sara Reeves is blogging about the disaster here.
Another earthquake that rocked Indonesia has killed 13 people and toppled buildings on Sumatra Island. The earthquake was a magnitude 7.6 and thousands of people are feared trapped under rubble, Houston Chronicle. Update: BNO News has just reported the death toll has risen to 76 in Padang.
Israel has agreed to release 20 imprisoned Palestinian women in exchange for a video of an Israeli soldier, proving that he is still alive. The soldier is Cpl. Gilad Shalit who was captured by Hamas in 2006. Officials from both countries say the exchange will happen on Friday, New York Times.
Peter Galbraith, a senior UN official in Afghanistan, is being removed from his post after questioning the validity of the country’s presidential election, which President Karzai won handily. Galbraith reportedly angered Karzai after calling for a complete recount, BBC News.
U. S. President Barack Obama will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas today, first with each separately then with both as a group. The most pressing issue is whether Israeli will continue building settlements on disputed lands in the West Bank, Al Jazeera.
World leaders are gathered in New York City for a meeting of the General Assembly at the United Nations, Key Issues, BBC News.
Chinese President Hu Jintao is expected to announce an ambitious new climate change plan. the plan will include voluntary reduction targets. China is currently the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases. China may also introduce an international carbon-trading system, New York Times. Representatives of the airline industry will also announce that they intend to cut emission by 50% by 2050, BBC News. Watch President Obama’s opening remarks on climate change, MSNBC.
An illegal immigrant camp, known as the “Jungle” in Calais, France was destroyed by riot police earlier today. Up to 1,000 people had been living at the camp which is used as a staging ground for people to go to Britain. Many of the immigrants left in the previous few day. Only 278 were evicted today, 132 of which were minors. The immigrants came mainly from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Eritrea. Those picked up will be processed and sent back to their home countries, CNN International.
U.S. President Barack Obama will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmud Abbas, President of Palestine, at the White House on Tuesday in an effort to restart peace talks. It will be the first joint meeting between the three leaders, AFP.
Western governments are expressing outrage at comments made by Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Qods (Jerusalem) Day. Ahmadinejad raised the question of whether the Holocaust occurred, saying “If the Holocaust, as you claim, is true, why don’t you allow a probe into the issue?” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called the remarks “baseless, ignorant and hateful,” PressTV.
57 confirmed cases of E.coli have caused a petting farm in Surrey, England to close down. 10 children have been hospitalized after visiting Godstone Farm and contracting E.coli, BBC News.
A gay pride parade in Serbia scheduled for Sunday has been canceled because police say they cannot guarantee participants’ safety. Anti-gay groups have plastered posters all over Belgrade threatening “We’re expecting you,” and the first gay pride parade in the city in 2001 turned chaotic as extreme violence broke out, BBC News.
New Haven authorities say that an animal research lab technician may have had a role in the death of Annie Le, a Yale grad student whose body was found stuffed in a crawl space inside a research lab. A source says Le was asphyxiated and that the murder was not random. No arrests have been made so far, Hartford Courant.
An United Nations panel has reported that they have evidence of war crimes committed by both the Israeli army and armed Palestinian groups in Gaza. The panel suggests crimes against humanity may have been committed and that if the situation doesn’t change in six months, they will refer the case to the International Criminal Court. The panel found Hamas was guilty of firing rockets into Gaza, but mostly reprimanded Israel for their behavior, accusing the army of “an overall and continuing policy aimed at punishing the Gaza population.” The group found many instances when civilians were targeted and killed by soldiers, New York Times.
Several mortar or rocket attacks hit the Green Zone in Baghdad where U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is currently visiting, but officials confirm Biden is safe. The mortars hit near the U.S. Embassy and there is no word so far on causalities, BBC News.
Protesters were arrested in South Korea yesterday after the demonstrations turned violent. The protesters were marching in support of employees of Ssangyong Motor Co. who have occupied the plant for the past two months, halting production. The workers are protesting layoffs. The protesters were trying to enter the plant to give the workers fresh water. Gas and water supplies to the plant have been shut off in an effort to end the sit-in, Yonhap.
30,000 workers at a steel plant in Tonghua, China rioted yesterday. The workers were protesting a possible merger deal. The Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, a Hong Kong human rights group, said that the protesters beat one of the company’s managers, Chen Guojun, to death, BBC News.
US Special Envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell is in the middle of a Mid-East tour to generate support for peace talks. Mitchell met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus today. Syria cut off diplomatic relations with Israel earlier this year after Israel initiated a military assault on Hamas, Voice of America.
India launched its first nuclear submarine today, IBN.
The Associated Press has a report on the protests for human rights in Iran yesterday.