The latest Senate Finance Committee’s health care overhaul would expand coverage to 94 percent of all eligible Americans at a 10-year cost that’s expected to reduce federal deficits by $81 billion over the decade, and could lead to continued reductions in federal red ink in the years beyond. (AP)

Italy’s Berlusconi, 73, vows to govern with “even more grit,” and calls the top court’s Wednesday ruling that no long protects the PM-in-office from corruption charges “laughable.” But, the rest of the country may a bit more worried. (Reuters)

A suicide bomber‘s blast kills 17 and wounds more than 60 outside the Interior Ministry and Indian Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Taliban has taken responsibility. (BBC)

Meanwhile, the Pentagon moves to overhaul Afghan prisons — including one jail run by the U.S. — that breed insurgents. (NYT)

U.S. Democrats have blocked a move from Republicans to oust Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) from his powerful chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee, the House’s chief tax-writing team. Mr. Rangel is under investigation for major discrepancies in his personal financial disclosures involving real estate and perks from lobbyists — complicating things for the committee that steers unemployment benefits, Social Security, and Medicare policy. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Today, reforms to New York’s infamously harsh Rockefeller drug laws go into effect. The reforms stress treatment for lower level drug offenders who will also now have the opportunity to petition judges for lighter sentences. (Newsday)

The Pakistani government readies to launch an assault against the Taliban and al-Qaida stronghold of South Waziristan, in defense of a criticized U.S. aid package which would provide Pakistan with $1.5 billion a year over the next five years, tripling the state’s nonmilitary assistance. (Guardian)

Manhattana feasable option? The New York borough’s leasing is now down 59% from last year. (Crain’s)

Some U.S. lawmakers are worried that the Federal Housing Agency may be doing its job too well.  As pillar of the still-wobbly housing market, the FHA provides insurance enabling borrowers to qualify for loans with as little as 3.5% down — but allowing too many people with shaky finances to get loans may, in effect, set up a repeat of the housing bubble fueled in part by no-questions-asked subprime loans. (LAT)

Irving Penn, renowned photographer of fashion and the iconic, is dead at 92. (NYT)



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