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News Wrap: Palestine blames Israel in 2004 death of Yasser Arafat

November 8, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
Palestine has blamed Israel in the death of former leader Yasser Arafat, who died in 2004. Israeli officials have denied any role in Arafat's death after Swiss Scientists announced that Arafat was likely poisoned. Also, the U.S. and Russia are expected to destroy all of Syria's chemical weapons by the end of next year.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. economy turned in surprisingly strong jobs numbers for October. The Labor Department reported today that employers added 204,000 positions, despite the partial government shutdown. At the same time, the unemployment rate ticked up a tenth of — a tenth to 7.3 percent. Paul Solman will have more on the numbers and what they mean right after the news summary.

 Wall Street shot higher on the jobs report, led by bank stocks. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 167 points to close well over 15761, another record high. The Nasdaq rose nearly 62 points to close at 3919. For the week, the Dow gained nearly 1 percent, the Nasdaq fell 0.1 percent.

 The one-time top hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors pleaded guilty today to criminal fraud. It also agreed to pay a record $1.8 billion in fines and forfeitures to settle charges that it allowed insider trading. The company formally entered the plea in federal court in New York.

The head of the International Monetary Fund says that the global economic recovery still isn’t strong enough. Christine Lagarde spoke today in Paris after addressing leaders of world financial organizations.

CHRISTINE LAGARDE, International Monetary Fund: I was able to discuss the change of the growth dynamics that we see at the moment, to acknowledge the fact recovery is under way, but unfortunately at too slow a rhythm to actually create the jobs that are needed around the world.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The Paris meeting came as Standard & Poor’s downgraded France’s credit rating by one notch. The agency said the French government’s economic reforms to date are unlikely to boost growth substantially.

The Central Philippines began counting the costs today of one of the strongest storms on record. The super typhoon blasted across a series of islands. It struck with winds of near 150 miles an hour and gusts up to 170. Four people were confirmed dead. At least 750,000 fled before the storm arrived. We will have more on this in a few minutes.

Secretary of State John Kerry has joined the nuclear talks in Geneva, but he says there is not an agreement yet. Instead, Kerry acknowledged today that there are several key obstacles to be overcome before a short-term deal with Iran is done. We will hear more about the talks a little later.

The chief Palestinian investigator in the death of Yasser Arafat declared today that Israel is the only suspect. Arafat died in 2004. Swiss scientists concluded this week that he was probably poisoned by radioactive polonium-210. A Russian report today agreed that poison was involved, but said the findings on polonium were inconclusive.

The Palestinian investigator said, either way, there’s no doubt who did it.

TAWFIK TIRAWI, Palestinian authority investigator (through interpreter): It is not important that I say here that he was killed by polonium or any other thing. But I say, as the investigating committee, with all the security and medical details available that we have about Yasser Arafat’s death, that he was killed and that Israel killed him.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Israeli officials have repeatedly denied any role in Arafat’s death. They say he was already politically isolated, so there was no reason to kill him.

 Today, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said it again.

YIGAL PALMOR, Israeli Foreign Ministry: Let me say this as simply as — as clearly as I can. Israel didn’t kill Arafat, period. It’s as simple as that. We have nothing to do with this. And the Palestinians should stop leveling all these baseless accusations without the slightest shadow of a proof. Enough is enough.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The Palestinians say they plan to continue their investigation, and Arafat’s widow has called for international action.

The United States and Russia now expect to miss a deadline for destroying all of Syria’s chemical weapons by mid-2014. The Reuters news service reported today that a draft timeline shows the real date will likely be closer to the end of next year. The document still calls for all toxic agents to be removed from Syria by the end of this year, and for chemical facilities to be destroyed by March 2014.

A campaign to vaccinate 20 million children against polio is under way in the Middle East, after an outbreak in Syria. The United Nations said today they are working in Syria in refugee camps like this one in Lebanon and in other neighboring countries.

ANNAMARIA LAURINI, UNICEF representative: The vaccination is across the country, so it’s at the border point. It’s in the settlement as the one that you will see here. And it’s all public health facilities, all shelters, and then door to door. All the children under 5, irrespective of nationality, are vaccinated.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Children are especially vulnerable to contracting and spreading polio. The vaccinations will be administered over the next six months.

The Obama administration issued sweeping new rules today to expand mental health care coverage. The regulations mandate that health insurers cover mental illness and addiction the same as they would a physical ailment. We will delve into the new rules later in the program.

The White House promised help today for Americans whose health insurance policies have been canceled. A spokesman said that officials are looking at administrative solutions. President Obama apologized yesterday for the cancellations. He had given assurances that people could keep existing coverage. Meanwhile, Jeff Zients, the man tasked with fixing the healthcare.gov website, said today that it is making progress, but still has a long way to go.