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.
Gunmen raided a Christian aid agency in the Oghi village in Mansehra district in Pakistan. They reportedly singled out 6 Western workers of the U.S.-based World Vision office to kill before blowing up the building, Reuters.
U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, who is currently in Israel working to jumpstart the Mid-East peace process, said Israel is undermining the effort by continuing to build new settlements in disputed areas, Al Jazeera.
Disputes over borders and settlements are a major block to even starting discussions for the peace process. Background and history on settlements and borders, BBC News.
The stories of Palestinian families evicted from their homes, New York Times.
A U.S. family is calling for Israel to answer for the death of a U.S. activist in Israel in 2003. 23 year-old Rachel Corrie stood in front of a bulldozer as it was moving to raze Palestinian-built homes in a disputed area in Gaza. She was killed by the bulldozer. The Israeli military conducted an invesitgation, but did not find anyone to be at blame. The soldier driving the bulldozer has not been identified, CNN.
An Egyptian soldier was killed yesterday after gunfire with traded between the Egyptian military and Hamas during a protest by Palestinians over the building of a wall that would block tunnels currently used to smuggle supplies into Gaza. Tunnels are used to bring supplies as well as weapons into Gaza which has been blockaded by Israel and Egypt since 2006, Reuters. More on the protests, Al Jazeera.
The attack that killed 7 CIA agents in Afghanistan last week was carried out by a double-agent whom Jordanian officials thought was only posing as an Islamic militant. Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi had been recruited to help provide intelligence on Al Qaeda. His writings on jihadist websites were well known, PBS Newshour.
The best and worst jobs in 2010, Reuters.
Danish Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen has replaced his climate minister Connie Hedegaard as President of the UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen. Hedegaard has been criticized by African nations for favoring richer countries in the agreement negotiations. However, Hedegaard described the move as “procedural” as the talks head into their final days, BBC News. Heads of state will arrive in Copenhagen soon to carry out final negotiations but there is currently not even a preliminary draft proposal t0 be debated. Key areas of the agreement under dispute, Al Jazeera.
Police used tear gas to push protesters away from the conference center in Copenhagen where climate change talks are being held. About 250 people were arrested. A group of delegates who sought to meet with protesters were also pushed back by police, New York Times.
The PLO has extended Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas’ term after negotiations to hold new elections as scheduled in January stalled. The militant political group Hamas which controls Gaza vowed to not accept new elections. Abbas’ group Fatah controls the West Bank, Al Jazeera.
50,000 people have been evacuated in the Philippines from the area surrounding the Mayon volcano. The volcano is expected to erupt in the next few days or weeks, CNN.
Complaining that developed countries aren’t doing enough to cut their own emissions, delegates from poor nations walked out on talks at the climate change summit in Copenhagen today, AFP. At issue is whether the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which required wealthy nations to cut their emissions but was not signed by the United States, will be continued or ignored.
More than 100,000 people protested in the streets of Copenhagen over the weekend as the talks entered their second week, New York Times.
The 22nd anniversary of the political/militant group Hamas is being celebrated in Gaza City today with massive rallies, Al Jazeera. Who are Hamas?, BBC News.
Gunmen in the Philippines releases 47 hostages after securing promises from the government that they would not be arrested for the hostage-taking or for previous crimes, Al Jazeera.
Britain’s former director of public prosecutions, Ken Macdonald, issued a scathing condemnation of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair for his role in convincing the British people to accept joining the United States to invade Iraq in 2003, CNN. Macdonald’s editorial, Times Online.
Democrat Annise Parker, a Houston city controller who is also openly gay, defeated Republican Gene Locke in a run-off election to be mayor of Houston, Houston Chronicle. Analysis of the race, including how Parker’s sexual orientation was not much of an idea, 538.
The Palestinian political group Hamas has reached an agreement that other militant groups will stop firing rockets into Israel for a year. The agreement also suggests that Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who has been held in Palestine for over 3 years, may be released soon in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners being held in Israel, Guardian.
23 people are dead after a ferry sank in Indonesia. Over 200 people had to be rescued, BBC News.
The United States is one step closer to health care reform after the U.S. Senate voted last night 60-39 on a procedural motion to move debate further, Voice of America.
Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Hasan had his first hearing for charges in the deaths of 13 people. Hasan, who is paralyzed from the chest down after being shot by a civilian police officer, had the hearing in his hospital room. New evidence has emerged that the Federal Bureau of Investigation that the FBI had intercepted emails from Hasan to people connected with al Qaeda but that information was not passed on to the military, BBC News.
A Canadian woman has lost her long-term disability benefits for depression after an insurance agent for her private supplemental insurance saw a picture of her on Facebook smiling and having a good time on vacation, Associated Press.
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.