The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
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CNN: Senate approves health care reform bill
The Senate passed a historic $871 billion health care reform bill Thursday morning, handing President Obama a Christmas Eve victory on his top domestic priority.
The Hill: Special interests offer mixed reactions to Senate healthcare vote
K Street’s powerhouses have weighed in on the Senate’s passage of a historic healthcare reform bill — and the verdict is decidedly mixed.
Boston Herald: Sen. Paul Kirk honors Ted Kennedy in casting health vote
Interim U.S. Sen. Paul Kirk yesterday held out hope a controversial public health insurance option could still be included in the sweeping health-care reform, just hours after the Senate passed its own version. With the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s wife, Vicki, and her two children looking on, Kirk gave fellow Democrats the 60th vote they needed yesterday to overcome a GOP filibuster and pass the measure.
New York Times: For Reid, a Hard Climb to the Pinnacle
It was the pinnacle moment of his political career. The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, on the verge of making history by shepherding through far-reaching health care legislation, was called upon by the clerk to cast his vote.
Hartford Courant: Gov. Rell Threatens To Sue Over "Ben Nelson Provision" For Medicaid For Nebraska; Part Of National Health Bill
In a move being made by other states, Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell called for legal action Wednesday if Nebraska receives more Medicaid money than the other 49 states as part of the national health care bill.
Boston Globe: Coakley won’t debate Brown one-on-one
The US Senate campaign of Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley formally rejected for the first time yesterday an invitation to participate in a two-person televised debate with Republican state Senator Scott P. Brown.
USA Today: Obamas' affection for Hawaii means better times for state
When President Obama and his family arrive at Hickam Air Force Base for a Christmas vacation, it will be the fourth time he has visited the Islands in less than 18 months. The fact the president of the United States was born and largely raised in Hawaii is bearing fruit for the state, says Dan Boylan, political columnist and history professor at the University of Hawaii-West Oçahu.
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CNN: Reunited dad, son head to Disney World
A father and son reunited after an international custody battle planned to spend their first holiday season together in five years at Disney World in Florida, a family friend said.
Salt Lake Tribune: New law requires Utah drivers to prove legal status
Starting Jan. 1, Utahns accustomed to renewing their licenses every five years online or by mail will have to line up at Utah Driver License Division offices and prove anew their identity and legal presence in the United States to get a new license.
Cincinnati Enquirer: Ohio may lose 2 House seats
New York and New Jersey would each lose one U.S. House seat while the Texas congressional delegation would increase by four members for the 2012 elections, according to an independent analysis of new Census Bureau data.
New York Times: From New Deal to New Hard Times, Eleanor Endures
Over the years, these New Deal towns have been praised as a sound response to paralyzing poverty and criticized as flawed, communism-tinted social experiments. But in this hard time, as half-built subdivisions stand as ghostly testaments to economic failure, a place like Eleanor reflects a government action that worked, and works.
St. Petersburg Times: As Ponzi scheme unraveled, Rothstein repaid millions
In the weeks before his $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme was revealed, lawyer Scott Rothstein repaid hundreds of millions of dollars to the investors he had swindled, according to records filed in bankruptcy court this week.
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CNN: Al Qaeda militants killed in Yemeni airstrikes
Yemeni jets launched an aerial assault Thursday against suspected senior al Qaeda operatives meeting in a remote location, and about 30 militants were killed, according to the Yemen news agency SABA.
Christian Science Monitor: Israel lets 300 Gazan Christians travel to Bethlehem for Christmas
Some 300 Gaza Christians received an early Christmas gift from Israel today: permission to travel to Bethlehem, revered by Christians around the world as the birthplace of Jesus. Tens of thousands of pilgrims descend on the West Bank city every year between Dec. 25 and the Eastern Orthodox Christmas on Jan. 7 to pray and hold services, many in the Church of the Nativity.
New York Times: Russia and Georgia Agree to Reopen Major Border Crossing
Russia and Georgia have agreed to reopen their major border crossing, officials said Thursday, signaling the first thawing of ties between the countries since they went to war last year over a separatist enclave.
CNN: Woman knocks down pope at Mass; Christmas celebrations begin
A woman jumped a barrier at the start of Christmas Eve Mass at St. Peter's Basilica and knocked down the pope, briefly disrupting ceremonies.
CNN: Lawyer: China dissident sentenced to 11 years
Prominent Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who was arrested in 1989 for his role in the Tiananmen Square protest, has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for his role in a separate subversion case, his lawyer said Friday.
Miami Herald: More African immigrants finding a home in Latin America
As European countries tighten up border controls, more and more Africans fleeing war and poverty in their homelands are landing at ports in Latin America.
Der Spiegel: Scientists Seek to Clone Perfect Christmas Tree
Some people spend weeks looking for the right Christmas tree. In Copenhagen, Danish scientists are mapping the genome of the conifer for the first time. They hope to use the data to breed the perfect Christmas tree.
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Dallas Morning Star News: Stores ready for spike from Christmas Day shoppers
Today is Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc.'s biggest day of the year. Sales jump 25 percent as most stores are closed and really busy people forget the dinner rolls, wine and chocolates for the hostess and one more stocking stuffer for that last-minute guest.
CNNMoney: Santa showers Fannie, Freddie with cash
For top executives, 'tis the season to get paid in company stock – unless you happen to work at Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. The taxpayer-backed mortgage giants disclosed Thursday that they could pay out as much as $40 million to their top 10 executives for work in 2009.
The Guardian: Barclays hands out pay rises to investment bankers
Up to 23,000 investment bankers at Barclays have been handed pay rises in the last few days in a move that may inflame the ongoing row about City pay. It comes as the bank revealed that high-profile board director Bob Diamond had sold £5m of shares.
CNNMoney: Senate OKs $290 billion hike to debt limit
With the federal government inching close to the debt ceiling, the Senate on Thursday passed a $290 billion increase to the amount of debt the Treasury is allowed to have. The 60-39 vote follows House approval earlier this month of the same measure. President Obama is expected to sign the bill soon.
Los Angeles Times: Apple stock soars to all-time high
Santa arrived early for Apple Inc. shareholders: The stock surged $6.94, or 3.4%, on Thursday to close at a record high of $209.04. That topped the previous closing high of $207 on Nov. 17.
The Detroit News: Toyota revs up smaller hybrid
Toyota Motor Corp. is moving to expand its renowned hybrid franchise by developing an all-new hybrid-only model that will be smaller and more affordable than its wildly popular Prius.
Business Week: Berkshire Eliminates 21,000 Jobs amid Slump
Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A) reported 21,000 fewer employees than it had at the end of 2008 amid a slump at the firm's manufacturing and retail units.
In Case You Missed It
The U.S. Senate passes a major health care overhaul bill. CNN's Jessica Yellin reports.
The first family arrives in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Christmas Eve.
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