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US HEALTH CARE: The U.S. House of Representatives has narrowly passed a sweeping overhaul of the U.S. health care system, handing President Barack Obama a victory on his top domestic priority. The Democratic-controlled House approved a Senate-passed health care bill late Sunday by a vote of 219 to 212. Minority Republicans were unanimous in opposition, and 34 Democrats joined them in voting no. Two-hundred-sixteen votes were needed for passage. Mr. Obama praised the vote, which came after a year-long political battle with Republicans. The measure is the biggest reform of the U.S. health care system in four decades. The bill is designed to make health insurance available to the 32 million Americans who do not have it, bringing the United States closer to providing universal health coverage. Critics warned the bill will hurt Americans by raising taxes, driving up insurance premiums and increasing government intrusion into medical decisions.
ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington, one day after he
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vowed not to restrict building in disputed East Jerusalem. Mr. Netanyahu's meeting with Clinton Monday comes amid a rise in U.S.-Israeli tensions triggered by Israel's recent decision to build 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem. Israel announced the plan during a visit to Jerusalem by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden earlier this month, a move the Obama administration called an "insult."Mr. Netanyahu and Secretary Clinton spoke by phone last week in a bid to defuse the tensions. Clinton said Mr. Netanyahu provided a "useful and productive" response to U.S. concerns about the settlement issue.
AFGHANISTAN - INSURGENTS: Afghan officials say President Hamid Karzai began talks Monday with one of the main insurgent groups fighting against his government and foreign troops. Authorities say President Karzai met in Kabul with a senior delegation from Hezb-i-Islami, a militant Islamist group that rivals the Taliban. Media reports say the meeting is thought to be Mr. Karzai's first direct contact with the rebel group. Officials say Hezb-i-Islami has presented a peace plan to the president which includes a demand for the withdrawal of foreign troops.
President Karzai plans to convene a three-day peace conference in Kabul on April 29 to discuss reintegrating Taliban militants into civilian life.
US - IMMIGRATION RALLY: Tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered Sunday in Washington to urge U.S. lawmakers to reform the country's immigration system. March organizers said people traveled from across the United States to champion the cause of foreign workers. Many carried signs urging President Barack Obama to remember his campaign promise to fix immigration problems in the U.S. The demonstrators said they are disappointed that after more than a year in office, health care, jobs and the economy have dominated Mr. Obama's agenda. An estimated 11 million illegal immigrants live in the United States. During his campaign, Mr. Obama said he would work to create a legal path to citizenship for many of those immigrants.
Republicans have opposed what they call amnesty programs.
BURMA - UN: Three Burmese dissident groups have sent an open letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, calling for the international community to reject a set of electoral laws issued by Burma's military government.
In the letter, the All Burma Monks' Alliance, The 88 Generation Students and the All Burma Federation of Student Unions, called on Mr. Ban to repeat his recent remarks that without the participation of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and all key political prisoners, the elections would not be inclusive.
The groups also urged Mr. Ban to ask the members of the Security Council to convene an emergency meeting to discuss the situation in Burma as soon as possible to get the military government to start negotiating with democratic forces and ethnic representatives for a peaceful political settlement.
CLINTON - BUSH: Former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are visiting Haiti Monday as part of their joint fundraising effort to help rebuild the earthquake-ravaged country.