Dec 17, 2011

Newt Has Peaked

Today: Typhoon Strikes Philippines, Obama Defers to States on Health Care, Troops Charge at Egypt Protesters
The Daily Beast Cheat Sheet: Morning

December 17, 2011

Get ready for a train wreck out of Iowa. The Daily Beast's Mark McKinnon and George Caudill say Newt Gingrich is starting to lose steam, Ron Paul is surging, and it's showtime for Jon Huntsman. Iowa won't be the crystal ball that predicts the clear winner of the GOP presidential nominee—rather, the verdict is likely to be muddled coming out of the nation's first caucuses, and could even result in a five-way tie.


Landslides and flash floods in the Philippines caused by a typhoon have killed more than 250 people and left almost 400 people missing. Typhoon Washi hit the island of Mindanao on Friday night, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate their homes. Most of the missing are from a coastal village where houses were swept into the sea while people slept. The Philippine social-welfare department estimates that about 100,000 people have been displaced.


In an attempt to deflect one of the main Republican lines of attack on the health-care-reform program, President Obama announced that the new law will not set standard health benefits that insurers must provide. Instead, states can specify their own benefits by picking an existing health-care plan as a benchmark, and requiring all other insurers provide benefits of the same or greater value. Under this plan, the program will resemble the regional differences in state Medicaid programs.


Things are getting ugly in Egypt, where soldiers baton-charged protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square, beating them and setting their tents on fire. This came a day after deadly street clashes in the city killed eight people and wounded more than 300, following the country's second round of voting. Both Islamist and liberal politicians criticized the Army's handling of the protests.


The new Libyan government finally has some money to spend, now that the United Nations has lifted sanctions on its central bank. The move unfreezes tens of billions of dollars in assets. Meanwhile, Leon Panetta is in Tripoli to meet with the new government—it's the first ever visit by a U.S. defense secretary. He'll meet with Libyan interim Prime Minister Abdurrahim al-Keib and Defense Minister Osama al-Juwali, as well as visit the graveyard of 13 U.S. sailors killed in a raid on a pirate ship in Tripoli's harbor in 1804.

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Afghan Woman Won't Wed Rapist
Karzai says she can marry whomever she wants.
Kobe Bryant's Wife Files for Divorce
Allegedly had enough of his cheating.
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