Quote of the day.
"I'm here to make it absolutely clear that the U.S. is committed and will remain committed to achieving an AIDS-free generation.” – U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, launching a blueprint for the eradication of AIDS across the globe.
1. Senate's No. 2 Democrat calls for cuts to social safety net.
A top Democrat pressured fellow progressives Tuesday to consider long-term changes to the social safety net, even as the party digs in for a fight to save Medicare and other government programs from deep budget cuts.
2. Palestinians set to win statehood recognition in U.N. vote.
The U.N. general assembly is set to implicitly recognize a sovereign state of Palestine on Thursday despite threats by the U.S. and Israel to punish the Palestinian Authority by withholding much-needed funds for the West Bank government.
3. Egypt crisis raises fears of 'second revolution.'
Faced with an unprecedented strike by the courts and massive opposition protests, Egypt's Islamist president is not backing down in the showdown over decrees granting him near-absolute powers. Activists warn that his actions threaten a "second revolution," but Mohammed Morsi faces a different situation than his ousted predecessor, Hosni Mubarak: He was democratically elected and enjoys the support of the nation's most powerful political movement.
4. White House, Congress talk as 'fiscal cliff' nears.
An end of the year deadline rapidly approaching, President Barack Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner conferred briefly Wednesday night on how to avert the economy-rattling "fiscal cliff," their first one-on-one discussion in five days.
5. U.S. weighs bolder effort to intervene in Syria’s conflict.
The Obama administration, hoping that the conflict in Syria has reached a turning point, is considering deeper intervention to help push President Bashar al-Assad from power, according to government officials involved in the discussions.
(New York Times)
6. Deadly blasts in Iraq wound more than 150.
A string of bombings in Iraq have killed 45 and left another 155 people wounded. A restaurant said to be full of laborers was the target of two attacks in the central city of Hilla on Thursday. A roadside bomb followed by a car bomb killed 35 and injured 80 people, according to security and hospital sources. The eatery in the Shia-majority city was said to be full of laborers and municipal workers having breakfast at the time of the explosions.
7. Government report supports closing Guantánamo.
The prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, could be closed and the 166 detainees being held there could be absorbed safely by prisons in the United States, a government report says. Many of the detainees are accused of plotting terrorist acts against the United States.
(New York Times)
8. Egypt's Constitutional Assembly begins voting on draft document.
Egypt’s Islamist-dominated constitutional convention began voting Thursday on the 230 articles of the nation’s draft charter, a move that could inflame a political crisis touched off last week when President Mohamed Morsi gave himself sweeping new powers. Morsi, who cast his decree as a temporary necessity to protect Egypt’s democratic transition until a constitution is adopted, was expected to address the nation later Thursday.
9. Obama fails first climate test by rejecting E.U. aviation carbon regime.
Barack Obama has signed a law excluding U.S. airlines from the European Union's carbon trading scheme, delivering a blow to campaigners' hopes for stronger climate action during the president's second term. Environmental campaigners had urged Obama to veto the aviation bill as a sign of his commitment to fighting climate change in his second term.
10. Congo rebels pulling back; fate of Goma uncertain.
Rebels, who last week seized one of the most important cities in eastern Congo and advanced beyond, said Thursday that they had pulled back several miles to the town of Sake and were on track to leave the key city of Goma by Friday, in accordance with a deadline imposed by the international community.