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News Wrap: U.S., Russia Near New Nuclear Accord

December 18, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT
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In other news, the U.S. and Russia moved closer to reaching a new deal on nuclear arms control, and Democrats blocked a potential GOP filibuster of the Senate health bill.
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TRANSCRIPT

JEFFREY BROWN: Now, for the other news of the day, here’s Hari Sreenivasan in our newsroom — Hari.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The U.S. and Russia moved closer today to a new treaty on nuclear arms control. President Obama met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev along the sidelines of the climate change summit. Mr. Obama said they’re quite close to replacing a Cold War-era treaty that expired this month. The two leaders have already agreed generally to make deep cuts in their nuclear arsenals within seven years.

Democrats in the U.S. Senate pressed today to force action on health care reform. Republicans pressed to stop it. Majority Leader Harry Reid was expected to offer the final version of the bill this weekend. Otherwise, there will not be time to finish it by a Christmas deadline. But Republicans said they would insist on having the full bill, in the hundreds of pages, read out loud.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-Ky.: It is our intention not to pass this bill easily. I think we have made it pretty clear. I have had a practice of not telegraphing procedural moves that may be available to us. And I’m going to continue that practice. But I don’t think anybody in the room has missed it. We don’t think this bill ought to pass, and we’re not in a hurry to — to complete it.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Democrats charge, the Republicans have nothing better to offer, so they are simply obstructing progress.

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN, D-Ill.: The Republicans in the Senate have failed to produce any legislation that has gone through the scrutiny this legislation has faced, in terms it impact on America, its impact on our budget. They are empty-handed. What they bring to us on the floor of the Senate are speeches, press releases, charts and graphs, and an occasional criticism.

HARI SREENIVASAN: A critical series of votes to cut off debate could come on Monday. But that will take 60 votes. And Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson was still holding out for tighter restrictions on abortion funding. He said today there’s been some progress in talks with party leaders.

Wall Street finished the week on an upbeat note. After a three-day slide, the Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 20 points, to close above 10328. The Nasdaq rose more than 31 points, to close at 2211. For the week, the Dow lost 1 percent. The Nasdaq rose 1 percent.

There was word today that Afghan President Hamid Karzai will retain most of his top ministers in a new cabinet. Wire services say they include the ministers of defense, interior and finance. Several other ministers accused of corruption are being dismissed. The reports said Karzai plans to keep former warlord Ismail Khan in the cabinet. Human rights groups have accused him of war crimes. The cabinet is due to be announced on Saturday.

The infamous sign at the entrance to the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz has been stolen. Police in Poland said today it disappeared some time in the wee hours this morning. The iron sign was erected soon after the Nazis built their largest extermination camp in 1940. The German words mean “Work sets you free.” More than one million people, most of them Jews, died at Auschwitz during World War II. Those are some of the day’s main stories.

I will be back at the end of the program with a preview of what you will find tonight on the “NewsHour”‘s Web site — but, for now, back to Jim.