US HEALTH CARE: The U.S. House of Representatives votes Sunday on landmark legislation that would bring health insurance to more than 30 million Americans who do not have it. Democratic Party leaders inside the Capitol worked to make sure Saturday they had at least 216 votes, the simple majority of the lower house of Congress needed to pass the legislation, while hundreds of protesters gathered outside. President Barack Obama came to the Capitol to give an impassioned plea to Democratic members of the House to pass the sweeping health care reform bill. Members of the Republican Party are maintaining their staunch opposition to the bill. House Republican leader John Boehner says the bill would mean higher taxes and too much government intervention in health care decisions. The U.S. is alone among developed nations in not offering its citizens comprehensive health care.<!-- IMAGE -->
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ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has arrived in the Gaza Strip on the second day of a visit to the Middle East, where he is urging Israelis and Palestinians to stop finding ways to undermine the peace process. Mr. Ban was met by a small group of Palestinians waving flags Sunday as he passed through the Erez crossing that links Israel with the coastal enclave. Mr. Ban told reporters in the West Bank Saturday that he is traveling to Gaza to express solidarity with the Palestinians. This is Mr. Ban's second visit to the Gaza Strip since the three-week Gaza war that started in late 2008. Some 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis died in the conflict.
Mr. Ban also met with top Palestinian and Israeli leaders Saturday at the start of his two-day visit to the region.
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AFGHANISTAN - BLAST: Afghan officials say a suicide bomber has killed ten people and wounded seven in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan.
Local authorities say the bomber may have been targeting an army vehicle, but set off his explosives in an area where civlians were attending Nowruz gatherings to celebrate the new year. Separately, two people were killed and at least two other were injured in an explosion in Khost province in southeastern Afghanistan.
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THAILAND - PROTESTS: Demonstrators inThailand are holding another protest Sunday with activists planning to use their own blood to paint a canvas. The so-called "blood painting" is part of the protesters' latest tactic in which thousands of demonstrators donated blood that was spilled on government offices, including the prime minister's home.The demonstrators say they will use the remaining blood to create a massive work of art on a giant, white canvas in the Thai capital, Bangkok. On Saturday, tens of thousands of protesters rolled through Bangkok in trucks, cars, buses and on motorcycles to recruit supporters for their campaign against the government. The caravan was part of a week-long effort by so-called "Red Shirts" to oust the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
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CHINA - US: China says it may retaliate if the United States imposes trade sanctions and other penalties in a dispute about the value of the Chinese currency The official People's Daily newspaper quoted Commerce Minister Chen Deming Sunday as saying Beijing will not turn a blind eye if the U.S. Treasury department declares China to be a currency manipulator. Chen's remarks at an economic forum in Beijing follow a proposal by a group of U.S. senators to impose penalties on China if it does not revalue the yuan. Speaking to reporters in Beijing Friday, Commerce Ministry official He Ning said the measure is an "external disturbance" that would complicate negotiations on the issue.
NEPAL - KOIRALA: Thousands of mourners lined up in Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, Sunday to pay their final respects to former Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, who helped guide the Himalayan nation from a centuries-old monarchy to democracy. He died Saturday at the age of 86.
Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal draped the national flag over Mr. Koirala's body at the Dasharath Stadium, where the former prime minister's body is lying in state. Mr. Koirala's body is scheduled to be cremated later Sunday.
Mr. Koirala was the head of Nepal's Congress Party and served five terms as prime minister. He was seen as a stabilizing force in a country that has experienced frequent upheaval.