Quote of the day.
“Bottom line, I’m more disturbed now than I was before.”Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) on meeting with Susan Rice about her comments following the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.
1. Senate Dems divided over cuts to benefit programs.
Deep divisions among Senate Democrats over whether cuts to popular benefit programs like Medicare and Medicaid should be part of a plan to slow the government's mushrooming debt pose a big obstacle to a deal for avoiding a potentially economy-crushing "fiscal cliff," even if Republicans agree to raise taxes.
2. Obama pushes tax agenda, Congress in stand-off.
President Barack Obama on Tuesday launched a public relations push for his bid to raise taxes on wealthy Americans, but U.S. lawmakers remained deadlocked over dramatic, year-end tax increases and spending cuts known as the "fiscal cliff."
3. Egyptian Christians sentenced to death for Islam film.
A Cairo court on Wednesday sentenced to death seven Egyptian Christians tried in absentia for participating in an anti-Islam video that was released on the Internet in September and prompted violent protests in Muslim countries.
4. Competing immigration reform efforts begin.
Even as Republicans in the House and Senate begin efforts to pass narrow immigration bills in the lame-duck session, closed-door negotiations have begun over how to accomplish a much broader package of immigration reforms next year.
5. M23 rebels ignore deadline to give up control of Goma, Congo.
Rebels who seized the eastern city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo ignored a deadline set by regional leaders to leave and instead spelled out a long list of demands Tuesday. Officials immediately rejected the conditions set by the M23 rebels, which included the release of political prisoners. The Congolese army threatened military action to take back Goma.
6. Egypt mass protests challenge Islamist president.
More than 200,000 people thronged Cairo's central Tahrir Square, protesting against Egypt's Islamist president Tuesday in an opposition show of strength, as the standoff over Mohammed Morsi's assertion of near-absolute powers escalated into the biggest challenge yet to his and the Muslim Brotherhood's rule.
7. 2012 expected to be ninth warmest year on record.
This year is likely to be the ninth warmest on record, with global temperatures in 2012 cooler than the average for the past decade owing to the effects of La Niña weather patterns early in the year. So far this year, the current world average global temperature is 14.45 degrees celcius, which is between one-tenth and a 0.5 degree celcius higher than the 1961 to 1990 average.
8. Sunni leaders gaining clout in Mideast.
For years, the United States and its Middle East allies were challenged by the rising might of the so-called Shiite crescent, a political and ideological alliance backed by Iran that linked regional actors deeply hostile to Israel and the West. But uprising, wars and economics have altered the landscape of the region, paving the way for a new axis to emerge, one led by a Sunni Muslim alliance of Egypt, Qatar, and Turkey.
(New York Times)
9. Bombings are said to kill dozens near Syria’s capital.
Syrian state media said on Wednesday that 34 people and possibly many more had died in twin car bombings in a suburb populated by minorities only a few miles from the center of Damascus, the capital, as the civil war swirls from north to south claiming ever higher casualties. One estimate by the government’s opponents put the death toll at 47.
(New York Times)
10. BP suspended from new U.S. government contracts.
The British oil company BP Plc and its affiliates have been suspended from new contracts with the U.S. government due to the criminal charges in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Wednesday.