The Top 10 Stories of December 18, 2012

By Jessica Turner 12-18-2012

Quote of the Day.
"We weren't physically beaten or tortured. A lot of psychological torture, threats of being killed. They made us choose which one of us would be shot first, and when we refused, there were mock shootings." Richard Engel, NBC's chief foreign correspondent, on his treatment after a Syrian militia group kidnapped two of his colleagues, him, and their security guard.

1. Obama’s new offer on fiscal crisis could lead to deal.
President Obama delivered to Speaker John A. Boehner a new offer on Monday to resolve the pending fiscal crisis, a deal that would raise revenues by $1.2 trillion over the next decade but keep in place the Bush-era tax rates for any household with earnings below $400,000.
(New York Times)

2. In sign of thawed relations, U.S. to send aid to Pakistan.
The Pentagon quietly notified Congress this month that it would reimburse Pakistan nearly $700 million for the cost of stationing 140,000 troops on the border with Afghanistan, an effort to normalize support for the Pakistani military after nearly two years of crises and mutual retaliation.
(New York Times)

3. Obama asks cabinet members for proposals to curb gun violence.
President Obama on Monday began the first serious push of his administration to attempt to reduce gun violence, directing Cabinet members to formulate a set of proposals that could include reinstating a ban on assault rifles.
(Washington Post)

4. In Iraq, Exxon oil deal foments talk of civil war.
With their opposing armies massed on either side of the contested border dividing southern and northern Iraq, leaders in Baghdad and the semiautonomous Kurdistan region are warning they are close to civil war — one that could be triggered by Exxon Mobil.
(Washington Post)

5. Syrian rebels fight Palestinian pro-Assad group.
Clashes between Syrian rebels and an armed Palestinian group loyal to President Bashar Assad raged inside a Damascus refugee camp Tuesday, as the Syrian military deployed tanks outside, activists said.

6. Polarized South Korea could elect its first female president.
Park Geun-hye has been in the public eye since she was 9 years old, when her father took control of South Korea in a 1961 coup. Half a century later, Park herself is a powerful political figure. In voting Wednesday, she stands a good chance of becoming South Korea's first female president. Polls suggest her race with Moon Jae-in, a silver-haired labor lawyer, is neck and neck.
(Chicago Tribune)

7. Iran defiant on enrichment ahead of possible nuclear talks.
Iran will not stop higher-grade uranium enrichment in response to external demands, its top nuclear energy official was quoted as saying on Tuesday, signaling a tough bargaining stance ahead of planned new talks with world powers.

8. Israel presses on with plans for 6,000 new settler homes.
Israeli officials said they would press on with plans this week to build 6,000 homes for settlers on land claimed by Palestinians, defying criticism from Western powers who fear the move will hit already faint hopes for a peace accord.

9. Anti-polio workers gunned down in Pakistan.
Gunmen in Pakistan have shot dead six health workers associated with an anti-polio campaign in a string of attacks, officials say. It was not clear who was behind the shootings in the southern city of Karachi and northern city of Peshawar on Tuesday, but Taliban fighters have repeatedly denounced the anti-polio campaign as a "Western plot."
(Al Jazeera)

10. South Africa’s ANC re-elects Zuma as party president.
Mocking the “change” symbol of their opponents, the Zuma supporters were in a mood to humiliate the defeated candidates. It was a hint of the bitter rifts that exist in the African National Congress — rifts that will continue to plague the ANC for years to come.
(Globe and Mail)

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