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News Wrap: House Vote on Tax-Cut Bill Hits Democratic Roadblock

December 16, 2010 at 6:10 PM EDT

HARI SREENIVASAN: A U.S. House vote on President Obama’s tax cut deal ran into a roadblock today. Liberal Democrats, who’ve opposed the deal, demanded more chances to amend it to their liking. In response, Democratic leaders pulled the bill to avoid a procedural defeat that could scuttle the whole thing. Later, they huddled to work out an agreement on how to proceed.

The measure sailed through the Senate yesterday.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin today defended the government’s response to racist riots over the weekend. Some 5,000 far-right protesters demonstrated outside the Kremlin on Saturday. The crowds attacked Muslim minorities, and more than 30 people were wounded. Today, Putin insisted the government will respond harshly to the violence. He also dismissed criticism of police for breaking up anti-government protests.

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Ireland’s abortion ban violates a woman’s right to proper medical care. By an 11-6 vote today, the judges, including one from Ireland, said the Irish government must allow abortions when the mother’s life is at risk. The court upheld Ireland’s right to outlaw abortion in some other cases. Such decisions are legally binding, but they can take years to enforce.

The founder of the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks was freed on bail today. A British judge refused to keep Julian Assange in jail while he fights extradition to Sweden to face sexual misconduct allegations.

We have a report from Rohit Kachroo of Independent Television News.

ROHIT KACHROO: Julian Assange held his hand in victory as he walked from court to the limited freedom of conditional bail.

JULIAN ASSANGE, founder, WikiLeaks: Well, it’s great to smell fresh air of London again. First, some thank-yous to all the people around the world who’ve had faith in me.

ROHIT KACHROO: And he said the revelations from his WikiLeaks website wouldn’t stop.

JULIAN ASSANGE: I hope to continue my work and continue to protest my innocence in this matter.

ROHIT KACHROO: With Assange sat in the dock, now familiar arguments were made again in court.

The lawyer representing the prosecution said there was a real risk of him taking flight aided by WikiLeaks supporters. Assange’s defense said he had not acted like a fugitive trying to avoid the authorities. The judge ruled that there was no substantial risk of the man, glimpsed through the window of a prison van, absconding.

Assange was taken from the court towards the Suffolk stately home where he must stay as part of his bail conditions, wearing a tag, observing a curfew, and reporting to the police every day.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Assange now faces a hearing on his possible extradition to Sweden next month.

The Food and Drug Administration is recommending that doctors no longer use the world’s bestselling cancer drug, Avastin, to treat breast cancer. The decision today was based on four independent studies. FDA officials said the drug didn’t prolong survival in breast cancer patients, and it didn’t slow the disease enough to outweigh the risk of dangerous side effects. Avastin is made by the Swiss company Roche. It is still approved for treatment of kidney, brain and lung cancers.

Movie director and producer Blake Edwards has died. He passed away last night in Santa Monica, California, after contracting pneumonia. Edwards directed a string of “Pink Panther” movies starring Peter Sellers as the bumbling Inspector Clouseau. His other well-known films included “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Days of Wine and Roses,” and “10.”

His wife, actress Julie Andrews, starred in several of his movies. In a statement today, she said, he will be missed beyond words.

Blake Edwards was 88 years old.

Wall Street moved higher today on word that claims for unemployment benefits have dropped again. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 41 points to close at 11499. The Nasdaq rose 20 points to close at 2637.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.