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News Wrap: FDA Proposes Strict New Safety Rules for Farmers, Food Companies

January 4, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT

HARI SREENIVASAN: The Food and Drug Administration proposed the most far-reaching food safety rules in decades today. It’s a response to outbreaks of food poisoning that kill 3,000 Americans every year. Under the new rules, farmers would have make sure that workers’ hands are washed and animals stay out of fields. And food companies have to submit new safety plans.

Wall Street managed some small gains to close out the week. The Dow Jones industrial average added 44 points to end at 13,435. The Nasdaq rose one point to close at 3,101. The S&P 500 ended the day at 1,466, its best finish in five years. For the week, the Dow gained nearly 4 percent; the Nasdaq rose almost 5 percent.

President Obama’s re-election is now official. The 538 Electoral College votes were certified and tallied today in a joint session of Congress. The president won 332 votes, far more than needed. Republican Mitt Romney was awarded 206. The president also won just over 51 percent of the popular vote, according to final counts. He’s the first since Eisenhower to achieve that mark in both his runs for the White House.

The House voted today to approve more than $9 billion for flood insurance claims from Hurricane Sandy. The Senate quickly followed suit. The House vote came just days after Speaker John Boehner delayed a vote on a larger aid bill worth $60 billion. That decision sparked an outcry from Northeastern Republicans.

Congressman Peter King of New York argued today the funds are urgently needed for thousands who lost their homes.

REP. PETER KING, R-N.Y.: People are suffering. People are suffering, and the suffering increases each day. I want to emphasize that this legislation is vital. This is not a handout. This is not something we are looking for as a favor. What we are asking for is to be treated the same as victims in all other storms, all other natural disasters have been treated.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Others in the Republican ranks called for approving aid in installments and cutting spending elsewhere to offset the cost. But Democrats like Congressman Bill Pascrell of New Jersey said there has to be action now.

REP. BILL PASCRELL JR., D-N.J.: This is a total, total disaster in helping those people that we are pompously saying today and pontificating about we’re helping them. Isn’t that wonderful?

What’s our jobs? We’re not doing anybody any favors. That’s why we were sent here. Try it once in a while, democracy. You may like it.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The House will vote on January 15 on an additional $51 billion in recovery aid.

A former congresswoman who has survived a mass shooting, Gabrielle Giffords, visited Newtown, Conn., today. It was three weeks to the day since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Giffords met with town officials, then with families of the victims. The Arizona Democrat was shot in the head two years ago. Six people were killed in that attack.

A Pakistani teenager has been released from a British hospital three months after the Taliban tried to kill her for advocating education for girls. Fifteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai was airlifted there after being shot in the head in October in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. Today, the hospital in Birmingham, England, released video and photographs of Malala waving to the staff and hugging her nurses as she left on Thursday. For now, she will stay in Britain with her family, and, next month, she will have skull reconstruction surgery.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians rallied in Gaza today in a rare show of support of the Fatah movement there. The yellow flags of Fatah were seen waving all over Gaza in large squares, in processions, and from rooftops. It was the first such event since the rival group Hamas seized power in Gaza in 2007. Hamas approved today’s rally, and its prime minister voiced hopes for reconciling differences over how to deal with Israel.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.