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December 24, 2009 | By James Oliphant
Senate Democrats this morning passed a sweeping healthcare overhaul bill, setting the stage for reconciliation early next year with similarly historic legislation passed by the House last month. The vote was 60-39. It came after months of bitter partisan warfare, culminating in a series of votes this week that thwarted a threatened Republican filibuster. The bill, which is President Obama's top domestic priority, would extend insurance to about 30 million people who now lack it, expand the reach of Medicaid for the poor, and impose new rules on health insurance companies.
December 23, 2009 | By Ann Powers POP MUSIC CRITIC >>>
"A year ago this month I was opening for Natasha Bedingfield and the New Kids on the Block -- at this theater," said Lady Gaga on Monday night during the first of her three sold-out performances at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live. She was posing as usual, her body elegantly contorted to show off a dazzlingly weird outfit. But she was also smiling, cracking a warm and surprisingly unaffected grin. Gaga has arrived. She knows it, even when she sprawls on the floor in her cruelly shiny black bustier and declares herself a gothic Tinkerbell, in danger of dying unless her fans scream.
December 22, 2009 | By Noam Levey
Senate Democrats took another step toward passing the sweeping healthcare overhaul before Christmas, adopting a package of modifications to their legislation and defeating another Republican-led filibuster early today. The package includes a series of compromises worked out by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) with other Democrats. Senators approved it, 60 to 39. Then they voted to limit debate, also 60 to 39. Republican Sen. James M. Inhofe, of Oklahoma, was absent.
December 21, 2009 | By Borzou Daragahi and Ramin Mostaghim
Thousands of supporters of Iran's most senior dissident cleric marched through streets in his hometown and descended upon the country's main theological center Sunday to mourn his passing just days before the climax of a politically charged religious commemoration. Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, a pillar of the Islamic Revolution three decades ago who became a staunch defender of the nation's current opposition movement, died late Saturday of complications from advanced age, diabetes and asthma, his doctor told state television.
December 20, 2009 | Doyle McManus
Last June, a long time ago in politics, Democrats in the Senate were briefly jubilant. For the first time in a generation, they held 60 seats, the "supermajority" required to control the Senate's proceedings. The road to enacting President Obama's center-left agenda looked, for a moment, almost smooth. But that's not how the Senate works. It's an assembly of 100 independent egos, not a parliament of two disciplined parties. The word "control" doesn't apply. Last week, as Majority Leader Harry Reid struggled to corral 60 votes to move a healthcare bill forward, the jubilation of summer gave way to desperation on cold winter nights -- with occasional flashes of recrimination.
December 19, 2009 | Tim Rutten
This era is like no other in American journalism: People are consuming more news than ever before, but they're also far more critical of its purveyors than they've ever been. We remain generally agreed that a free press is democracy's cornerstone, but there's less consensus than ever on what the news media ought to be -- or, for that matter, what rapid technological, economic and demographic change will allow it to be. That makes three sets of little-noticed numbers released this week of more than passing interest.
December 17, 2009 | By Ramin Mostaghim
Iranian authorities confronted their international and domestic rivals Wednesday, angering the West by testing a high-speed missile and raising political tensions at home by warning reformist opposition leaders they could be arrested. Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi, Iran's defense minister, lauded the latest test-firing of the Sejil-2 surface-to-surface missile, which was broadcast on television in Iran. He praised the upgraded version of the missile for "its remarkable speed in entering the atmosphere, its strong impact and its radar-evading covers," and for its quick blastoff time, state television reported.
December 15, 2009 | By John M. Glionna
The weekend seizure of a 35-ton cache of reported North Korean-made weapons being transported through Thailand could complicate ongoing U.S. talks with the autocratic state to abandon its nuclear ambitions, South Korean analysts warned Monday. Thai authorities, reportedly acting on a tip from U.S. intelligence, stopped a plane loaded with explosives, rocket-propelled grenades and parts for surface-to-air missiles as it made a refueling stop Saturday at Bangkok's Don Muang airport.
December 12, 2009 | By Mikael Wood
To go by the lyrics of the dozens of extravagantly unhappy songs he's written since he founded the Smiths a quarter of a century ago, the English singer known simply as Morrissey doesn't really experience anything but rough years. Yet 2009 has been difficult by even his miserable standards. In October he collapsed onstage during a show in Swindon, England, after apparently suffering from breathing troubles. Three weeks later, he was bonked in the head by a bottle at Liverpool's Echo Arena and left the stage after singing two songs.
December 9, 2009 | By Alana Semuels
California's jobless rate is close to peaking, but the recovery will be sluggish, with employers not expected to resume hiring until at least next spring, according to new forecasts by UCLA and other analysts. The state's unemployment rate, which hit 12.5% in October, will probably peak at 12.7% this month. Still, it won't fall below 10% until 2012, according to a UCLA Anderson forecast released today. That means California's economy almost certainly will continue to struggle for the foreseeable future.
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