Top Stories: Worldwide

The following are the day's top general news stories:

1. House Sets Vote on Middle-Class Tax Cuts as Geithner Tries to Broker Deal 2. Putin Dismisses Gates's Criticism of Russian Democracy After Cable Release 3. China's Opposition Stalls UN Talks on Condemning North Korea Nuclear Work 4. Overweight People, Not Just Obese, More Likely to Die Sooner, Study Says 5. Samuel T. Cohen, Neutron Bomb Inventor, Dies at 89 After Fighting Cancer

1. House Sets Vote on Middle-Class Tax Cuts as Geithner Tries to Broker Deal

House Democrats scheduled a vote tomorrow on their plan to extend middle-class tax cuts and let them expire for higher-income Americans as lawmakers and the Obama administration sought a bipartisan compromise. Negotiators discussed "everything on the table," Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told reporters after the first of two meetings in Washington today. The discussions were "civil" and "constructive," he said. Senator Jon Kyl, an Arizona Republican, described the talks as "congenial, potentially productive." Democrats announced their plan for a House vote tomorrow which would force Republicans to choose whether to support extending tax cuts just for the middle class. Senate Republicans, meanwhile ratcheted up pressure for extending the cuts for all taxpayers. Republicans told Majority Leader Harry Reid they will refuse to move forward with any legislation until the Senate votes to extend the tax cuts and fund the government´s continued operation. "It is a shame that what we have agreement on is being held hostage by that on which we do not have agreement," said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat. "The American public wants us to find places for agreement" and "nobody wants working Americans to get any kind of an increase on Jan. 1."

2. Putin Dismisses Gates's Criticism of Russian Democracy After Cable Release

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the U.S. shouldn´t interfere with Russian politics after a leaked diplomatic cable showed that Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggested "Russian democracy had disappeared." Putin said Gates had been "badly misled," according to excerpts of an interview with CNN´s Larry King that is scheduled to be broadcast at 9 p.m. Washington time. He also said that some U.S. presidents received fewer popular votes than their opponents, taking office after winning a majority in the Electoral College, where votes are allocated by state. "When we are talking with our American friends and tell them there are systematic problems" in the U.S., "we can hear from them, `Don´t interfere in our affairs," Putin said. "To our colleagues I would also like to advise you, don´t interfere either with the sovereign choice of the Russian people." WikiLeaks.org this week released a diplomatic cable in which Gates was cited as saying "Russian democracy has disappeared, and the government was an oligarchy run by the security services." Putin served as president for eight years before becoming prime minister in 2008, when legal limits prevented him from running for a third consecutive term.

3. China's Opposition Stalls UN Talks on Condemning North Korea Nuclear Work

China´s opposition has stalled negotiations on a statement by the United Nations Security Council condemning North Korea´s expanding nuclear program and its attack on a South Korean island, Japan´s ambassador said. "The Chinese have always been resistant" to directly accusing North Korea of wrongdoing, Ambassador Tsuneo Nishida said in an interview. "This is always the argument." As the Security Council remains deadlocked, President Barack Obama´s top military adviser called on China to use its influence to persuade North Korea to end its "deeply destabilizing behavior" and the U.S. prepared for high-level talks next week with South Korea and Japan. The diplomatic efforts show the challenges the U.S. and its allies confront in easing tensions in Korea without China´s intervention. "China shares a relationship with the North that is not matched anywhere else in the world," Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at the Center for American Progress in Washington today.

4. Overweight People, Not Just Obese, More Likely to Die Sooner, Study Says

People who are overweight or obese are more likely to die sooner from varying causes than those with healthy weight, according to the first government study to pinpoint risks from findings on 1.5 million white Americans. Women who never smoked and were classified as merely overweight and not obese -- a 5-foot 5-inch female weighing 150 to 179 pounds -- had a 13 percent greater risk of dying sooner than normal weight peers, the research found. Women who were obese -- 5-foot 5-inches and more than 180 pounds -- had a 44 percent higher risk. The results for men were similar. Two-thirds of Americans and at least half the people in many developed countries are now considered overweight or obese, according to the authors. Previous studies have documented higher death rates in the obese, while being inconclusive about the risks of being overweight. The research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, pooled the results of 19 studies and excluded smokers to provide precise estimates of increased death risks. "Both overweight and obesity are associated with increased all-cause mortality," wrote the authors led by Amy Berrington de Gonzalez at the National Cancer Institute. "The results of our analysis are most relevant to whites living in affluent countries."

5. Samuel T. Cohen, Neutron Bomb Inventor, Dies at 89 After Fighting Cancer

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-0- Dec/02/2010 00:35 GMT

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