A health care reform bill has passed the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation would require most Americans to buy insurance for themselves if they are not covered by their employer. It would place new restrictions on insurance companies. A weak government plan that individuals could buy in would also be created, but it is estimated the government plan would be more expensive than private insurance, ABC News. Full list of components of the House plan, Worcester Telegram. The bill passed 220 to 215 with only 1 Republican voting for the bill and 39 Democrats voting against, New York Times. Eyes are now on the U.S. Senate where two competing health care bills must be merged before the entire Senate will vote on a health care bill. If that bill passes, it will then be merged with the House bill and voted on by both chambers before going to President Barack Obama for his approval. In the Senate, Senate majority leader Harry Reid must put together a bill that will receive the support of 60 Senators in order to hold off a filibuster by Republicans, NPR.
21,000 people protested the presence of U.S. military bases in Okinawa, Japan. The U.S. has a deal to move the Futenma air base to a more remote part of the island but residents want to base off the island entirely. The U.S. is reorganizing its military presence in Japan and plans to move 8,000 military personnel to Guam. U.S. President Barack Obama will be visiting Japan later this week, BBC News.
Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the beginning of the end of the Cold War. A good description of the events of November 9 and the history of the Berlin Wall, New York Times Upfront. Infographic of the physical security that made the Wall so difficult to cross, New York Times. Archive of coverage of the fall of the Berlin Wall, New York Times. In October, a street performance company put on a production about the fall of the Berlin Wall using giant puppets, The Big Picture.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is pushing to include a public option in the health care reform bill that is being written in the Senate. If included, it will likely include a provision that allows states to opt out of a government plan, New York Times.
A commercial passenger plane that overshot its destination by 150 miles yesterday should have received multiple warnings that it was nearing the Minneapolis airport. The pilots on the Northwestern Airlines plane were said to be arguing about airline policy when they missed their landing, Associated Press.
Sri Lanka plans to release 40,000 Tamils that are currently being held in government run refugee camps, Voice of America.
Three explosions in northwestern Pakistan have killed dozens, including 17 people traveling to a wedding, Al Jazeera.
In an indirect admission that the device can cause harm, the maker of the Taser stun guns has cautioned law enforcement officials not to stun suspects in the chest. The company said that heart attacks can occur and leave law enforcement open to lawsuits. A number of suspects have been injured after being struck by Taser stun guns by police, CNN. A Polish immigrant, Robert Dziekanski, was killed at the Vancouver Airport after being Tasered two years ago, The Globe and Mail.
China now boasts 130 individuals worth more than $1 billion U.S. At the top of the list is auto entrepreneur Huang Guangyu, Reuters.
Pakistan has started its military offensive in South Waziristan. Pakistani officials say that 80 percent of militants attacks are planned in the region. Bombers destroyed 15 houses in the Makeen, Ladha and Barwand regions of South Waziristan. Ground troops will go into the area later this week, Associated Press.
U.S. President Barack Obama has approved 13,000 support troops to be sent to Afghanistan. The troops will be medical officers and engineers, etc, not combat troops. The lead general in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, has said that he needs a significant increase in troops if the mission has a chance of succeeding, Voice of America. Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he would welcome more troops. Karzai is still under heat for the widespread fraud reported during the recent presidential election, Reuters.
Though neither qualified for the 2010 World Cup, teams from Turkey and Armenia will play a football match on Wednesday as part of the renewed diplomatic relations between the two countries, AFP.
One family’s battle with cancer has become a battle for health care, CNN.
“I don’t think I could bear to listen to those words again. … ‘You have cancer,’ ” Elder said. “I’ve said to my husband, if I start to get sick, just set me up with a nice pill cocktail on a beach, because nobody cares. That’s the message you hear every day from insurance companies.”
A suicide car bombing on a road between the cities of Jalalabad and Kabul has killed 4 people in Afghanistan. Attacks are increasing ahead of Thursday’s elections. A provincial candidate was killed in an attack by the Taliban, Al Jazeera. The BBC has found evidence of fraud in the Afghan elections. Thousands of voter cards are for sale. It is also alleged that all major candidates have paid local leaders for votes. 17 million people are eligible to vote, but are being discouraged by the Taliban who say they will target anyone involved in the elections, BBC News.
Al Jazeera report on election security:
Former South Korea president Kim Dae-jung has died at the age of 85. President from 1998 to 2003, Kim won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work to promote democracy and reconciliation with North Korea, Yonhap.
The Russian Navy, which found the missing cargo ship Arctic Sea off the coast of Africa yesterday, has detained 8 accused hijackers, CNN.
64 people are feared dead after an accident at a Russian hydroelectric plant in Siberia, AP.
Sharon Keller, a judge in Texas, is on trial for professional misconduct for not allowing a man on death row to file a last minute appeal simply because the appeal came in after normal office hours. The man was executed by lethal injection, USA Today.
3 men (1 American and 2 Russians) have been arrested in the biggest case of identity theft in the U.S. The men hacked into online security systems to steal information from 130 million debit and credit cards. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
The White House has relaxed its insistence that any health care reform must have a public option (a government plan that people could buy like private insurance) and has expressed an openness to nonprofit health co-ops instead, New York Times.
With Afghanistan’s presidential election coming up on August 20, current President Hamid Karzai is working to build support amongst various Afghan voting blocs. Critics say that is the reasoning behind Karzai’s recent approval of a law that allowsAfghan Shia men to practice sharia law. Some of the provisions of sharia law, which many say is illegal under Afghanistan’s constitution, would allow men to deny their wives food and water if they did not submit sexually and place guardianship of children with fathers and grandfathers. International pressure stopped a similar bill earlier this year, Guardian. Polls show Karzai is leading, but if he does not receive a majority of the vote, he will face a run-off election, Voice of America. Q & A on the Afghan election, BBC News.
President Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan says he accepts responsibility to the government’s slow response to the devastation casused by Typhoon Morakot, CNN.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he will appoint women to his cabinet, BBC News.
Continuing his push for reasoned debate about health care reform, U.S. President Barack Obama has penned an opinion piece in today’s New York Times.
CNN has a probing article on what drives young men to commit terrorism, CNN.