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What we’re watching Friday

Good morning. Here are some of the stories we’re keeping an eye on today while not finishing holiday shopping online:

In a move on the ACA front that the insurance industry warns will lead to further confusion and disruption, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that those with canceled policies will not face tax penalties and can buy bare-bones catastrophic plans. The agency also said under 500,000 who lost policies have failed to find new coverage.

In a late-night vote, the Senate approved by 84-15 a $633 billion defense bill, sending the measure to President Obama. The new bill is considered a huge win for victims of sexual assault, with a provision that strips commanders of the ability to overturn jury convictions, and criminalizes retaliation against those claiming assault. A Guantanamo provision gives President Obama greater flexibility in deciding the fate of remaining detainees.

In the Central African Republic, heavy new gunfire erupted in the capital city Bangui as Christian militia fighters attacked Muslim neighborhoods, reportedly killing at least 1,000.

Citing “the overall weaker creditworthiness of the EU’s 28 member states,” the S&P striped the EU of it’s long-held top AAA credit rating, moving it down a notch to AA+.

And keep an eye on President Obama, he may give a possible year-end news conference.

Stay with us.

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