Washington, Capitol Hill, 2:00 GMT
The most important U.S. issue of those days is President Obama's healthcare bill to pass the lower house of Congress. This historic vote is expected to take place within a few minutes. It is still unclear whether the President's bill will receive the necessary support of 216 votes, even though there are rumours that opposing Democrates have agreed to compromise on the abortion issue voted for earlier this evening.
Healthcare bill passes the House 219 vs. 212 votes (216 needed).
Pictures: Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi giving final argument. (above/left) - The moment of victory. (above/right and below)
March 26, 2010: Bill Signed into Law
Today, the final version of Obama's healthcare bill was signed into law by the President. It only needed some further days for final changes to pass the Congress for a second time. Even though that healthcare reform is only a reduced version of Obama's original draft, it still remains a historic achievement as the first healthcare reform since President Lyndon B. Johnson. Many presidents have tried that subject but only few succeeded in ameliorating an outdated law that needed to be adapted to the level of national healthcare laws of other Western nations like Britain and France.
The new law extends healthcare coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans. Thus 95% of eligible Americans are now entitled to healthcare insurance comparing to 85% before. Further points of the new law are listed on the following tables, provided by Al-Jazeera:
In the aftermath of the bill passing both Houses on Capitol Hill and the ceremony of its signing into law, manifestation of protest against the new law has reached another peak. At least 10 Democrats have received death threats over the healthcare bill. Two congressional district offices have been vandalised after the vote while critics insist that the "Government has no power to force Americans to purchase insurance".
North Korea's Allegations
On U.S. Biological Warfare
Another long-standing subject that needs to be dealt with is the North Korean issue. As we recently heard, there is now further and even stronger evidence that U.S. military used biological weapons during the Korean war, weapons that had been developed with the aid of Japanese experts who, on their part, had been rewarded for their cooperation by shielding them from treatment as war criminals. Unfortunately, former U.S. presidents of the Cold War period failed to put their house in order such that the Pentagon is still insisting on their traditional position, the whole story might be nothing else than a "disinformation campaign that refuses to die".
President Obama would be well advised to have a closer look at the original documents that are still being withheld by, both, U.S. military and security administration. It shouldn't be so difficult to bring about a formal apology towards North Korea (and China, if the Chinese really want to hear it) for such historic mess that once lay in the hands of some U.S. officials who probably died long ago. At the same time, any demand for recompensation from the Nort Korean side could easily be rejected by referring to the cruelties U.S. soldiers had suffered from during their time as prisoners of war. That, at least, would establish a credible position of the U.S.A. towards North Korea when it comes to the nuclear item being solved or the question of human rights. Everything else would only enforce allegations of U.S. hypocrisy and help North Korea survive as the last remnant of Stalinism.