National News for Dec. 13 - Jan. 3

Jan. 4, 2010, 7:51 p.m. | By Lauren Kestner | 14 years, 5 months ago

This is not original reporting. All information has been compiled from The Washington Post and The New York Times. Silver Chips Online posts this news summary to provide a forum for discussion.

Northern Virginia
Dec. 16 – Police in Northern Virginia arrested 38 people suspected of dealing heroin and prescription drugs to high school students and young adults in Prince William and Fairfax Counties. The police sting was launched in response to the recent overdose deaths of Matthew Mittong and Mindy Weakly in Prince William County. Reports that area drug use has skyrocketed this past decade also prompted police to conduct far-reaching investigations that led to the recent arrests. The Virginia medical examiner's office found a 91 percent increase in the number of deaths caused by overdosing on heroin or prescription drugs between 1999 and 2008.

Washington, D.C.
Dec. 24 – The Senate version of healthcare reform passed 60 - 39 in a party-line vote led by Vice President Joe Biden on Christmas Eve Day. Like its House counterpart, the Senate law will require all Americans to obtain healthcare coverage by 2014. Employers with more than 50 workers who fail to offer coverage and uninsured individuals who can afford coverage will be fined under the Senate law. In an effort to decrease the financial burden of healthcare payments, Senate lawmakers included a provision that calls for the creation of two nationwide insurance exchanges that will offer more affordable policies. Under the Senate law, the federal government would also cover the cost of healthcare for individuals and families with incomes between 133 and 400 of the federal poverty level. The Senate healthcare reform would also impose new restrictions on insurance companies, prohibiting them from dropping clients when they become sick and charging co-payments and deductibles on preventive services.

Detroit, Mich.

Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab was an engineering student at University College London (UCL). Photo courtesy of Telegraph.

Dec. 25 – Nigerian student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was arrested Christmas Day after attempting to detonate 80 grams of PETN on a Northwest Airlines plane traveling to Detroit. On Nov. 19, Abdulmutallab's father visited the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria to warn officials that his son, who had stopped communicating with the family, might have ties with religious extremists in Yemen. The embassy sent this information to the State Department, which passed Abdulmutallab's name to the National Counterterrorism Center for entry into the terrorist watch list database. Government officials at these agencies never checked Abdulmutallab's visa information or travel history, an oversight that many have identified as a gaping hole in our antiterrorism security procedures. In the days following the bomb scare, federal investigators uncovered links with radical clerics in Yemen, where Abdulmutallab had studied since August at an Arabic language institute. Al-Qaeda operatives based in Saudi Arabia and Yemen have since claimed responsibility for the bomb plot, which was launched in response to U.S.-led air assaults on a group stationed in Yemen.

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Lauren Kestner. Lauren Kestner loves Trader Joe's chocolates, cheesy television soap operas, summer trips to Lake Anna, coffee ice cream from Coldstone Creamery, hikes at Northwest Branch and shopping at Heritage. Playing soccer for Blair or her MSC club team and running at the gym consumes much … More »

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