train in time the ntsb will continue to interview the engineer and also look back at welcome al jazeera america. i'm ste -- stephanie sy. president obama is set to speak in a few minutes about the economy. a top hezbollah leader is killed. the lebanese group says he was assassinated. ♪ the u.s. economy is growing but so is the income gap between the rich and the poor. president obama will talk about how to change that and other aspects of the economy when he
speaks at a washington think tank in just a few minutes. mike viqueira joins us from washington. mike, good morning, what are some of the main points the president is expected to address? >> reporter: you are right, the president turning a page now after the last two months healthcare.gov debacle. he is going to talk about the grows gap between rich and poor. it's not a new story or a new subject for president obama. he talked ariel castro it two years ago in a benchmark speech in kansas. and he spoke a little bit about in this year's state of the union. the top 1% in this country have seen their income triple over the course of the last 28 years, meanwhile the middle class has scene their income grow at a modest 1% on average over the course of that same time annually. so the president will be talking
about that. he'll be talking once again renewing his call to raise the minimum wage. a lot of talk about that here in d.c. where the city council is voting to raise the minimum wage. democrats are now worried about heading into the midterm election, and with the senate up for grabs, so the president is going there, speaking to a liberal think tank, the center for american progress who is sponsoring the talk. he is bolstering his base, renewing some of his themes he has been talking about and setting his agenda not only for the state of the union speech coming up presumably last month, but also for the last three years of his presidency,
stephanie. >> all right. we'll check back with you later the president and other senior officials will take part in a youth summit at the white house. dozens of young people will gather to discuss the affordable care act, the economy and other important issues. congress has a lot to get done before the end of the year, but it's not clear if the work will be finished since lawmakers don't plan to spend a lot of time in washington. libby casey good morning. what are the pressing items, and how much hope that they will getdown? >> there is not much time. they are only in session through next week. they plan to go into recess in a
week and a half. there is a big to do list. here are some of the major items. unemployment benefits. those are set to expire december 28th, just a couple of days after christmas. these long-term benefits were put into place after the recession, and give the americans 18 months of unemployment benefits. if it is not extended that would drop down to what states provide, about six months. also medicare reimbursement for doctors. a 24% cut in reimbursement is supposed to kick in january 1st, meaning doctors will be less inclined to take medicare and medicaid patients. and there are a number of tax provisions set to expire at the end of the year. congress often comes in and goes back and deals with some of that unfinished business, but they would love to get it done now. also the farm bill, that includes the food assistance
program, or snap, and the defense bill. the national defense authorization act. and budget negotiations, stephanie. this is one that everyone is watching. because the last time congress couldn't come to terms we saw that government shut down back in october. they would like to get some work done now to get some ground work laid, stephanie. >> a lot of important stuff to deal with and not a lot of time. libby thank you. mexican authorities are searching for a stolen truck carrying extremely dangerous radioactive material. it was taken on monday. it's not clear how much of the material was in the truck or who may have stolen it. cobalt 60 is used in cancer treatments but could also be
used in a dirty bomb. vice president joe biden is in china, but they haven't spoken publicly about the air defense zone over the china sea. however, there was an editorial accusing the u.s. of taking japan's side. biden and the chinese president did talk about improving relations between the two countries. u.s. and other nato leaders are hoping to pressure hamid karzai to sign a bilateral peace pack. afghan officials say no deal will be signed unless president karzai's demands are met. >> reporter: this is not fooling around. this is serious business. they are the worlds of the u.s. secretary of state john kerry here in brussels on tuesday evening and addressing the afghan president, hamid karzai. why hasn't the agreement been
signed? john kerry wouldn't speculate. john kerry believes the document was agreed last month.. susan rice went to kabul last week, she came away empty handed. what is at stake here is the legal basis upon which troops and trainers can operate in afghanistan in a post 2014 environment. it can't be switched on and off like a light switch, that is the message from nate toe and john kerry. what they are trying to do is impress on karzai the necessity of signing this paper before the end of the year. it will be a tough ask because karzai at the moment appears adamant that he won't budge. hezbollah is blaming israel for the death of one of its senior commanders, accusations that israel is denying. a spokesman for the lebanese
organization says he was assassinated outside of his home in beirut. hezbollah is a powerful organization made up mostly of shiite muslims. the same group is pointing to saudi arabia for an attack on an u.s. embassy last month. russia's prime minister is urging stability and order in ukraine. his statement to a ukrainian official comes as protesters are threatening to tighten their circle. protesters say they will not
stop until the current government is removed from power. the clashes are the result of the president not signing an trade agreement with the european union. >> reporter: it seems like we have reached a bit of a steal mate here after the political activity on tuesday when the government managed to survive the no confidence vote. the president is out of the country in china on diplomatic business, and the protesters here in independence square and other parts of the capitol seem like they are here for the long hall. they are digging in , and dis -- this place seems to be turning into a bit of a canvas city. there are tents being put up, and pegs have beening driven
into the tarmac of the road. you have burners where people are keeping warm. a big stage behind me where music and speakers are keeping people motivated. the protesters it seems are going to be here for a while. two solutions possibly, either the go gets more hard line than it has been at the moment and tries to clear all of the protesters out, or the protesters get what they want, which is the resignation of the government and of the president. anti-government protesters in thailand accusing leaders there of corruption are demanding they step down, but the political standoff is coming down, at least for now. the thai king turns 85 years old, and rival sides arement coming together to clean up the capitol city.
>> reporter: in less than a day it went from rows of riot police to rows of street sweepers. with a truce in place, workers cleared and scrubbed the area around the monument. these two pitched in. in previous days protesting. but today cleaning. traveling in from the privileged part of bangkok, the two have been friends for years. >> at least we make a point and make the -- our presence felt. and that even though the goal may be remote -- >> reporter: that goal being the resignation of the prime minister. >> the government still insists that they -- they don't care about millions of people that come out, and they still think that things are normal. >> reporter: on the other side of town they are still protesting. they came to the police
headquarters demanding there be investigations into the shootings over the weekend. among them were these two. the friends work for the same company in a nearby office. they too have been protesting together. for over a month, heading to the rallies during their lunch break. how do you think the future looks right now? this >> i think everybody now expecting for the revolution from the -- from the military. it's not a good solution, but it's only one hope that we have now. >> reporter: the army has made it clear, it is staying neutral. so it's difficult to see what could break in impasse. but for one day, thursday, the nation will be in agreement, celebrating the king's birthday. the man accused of going on a shooting spree at lax last november will be arraigned today
but not asked to enter a plea. he is alleged to have opened fire killing a tsa officer and injuring three others. seven 911 calls made from inside sandy hook elementary school will be released today. connecticut's attorney previously tried to hold the tapes saying they would be too stressful for families. well you may not be able to get a job if you smoke. next on al jazeera america, one company says they won't higher people who light up, and it may be a growing trend. ♪
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rich and the poor. president obama will talk about how to change that and other aspects of the economy when he speaks at a washington think tank in just a few minutes. vice president joe biden is meeting with chinese leaders in beijing but they didn't make any public comments over a dispute over a small group of islands in the east chai sea. a senior leader of hezbollah is gunned down outside of his home in beirut. and they a blaming israel. israel is denying the accusations. cigna announced it will no longer hire people who test positive for tobacco use. >> reporter: it is one of the leading insurance companies on the planet. and today the company announced its changing its hiring policy,
effectively telling future employees you cannot work for us, if you smoke, chew tobacco or even use e-cigarettes. on tuesday the company announced starting january 1st, 2014, all perspective employees will not only be tested for drug use but also nicotine use. >> a nationwide company is going to have to taylor their policies to the particular state they are in. >> reporter: cigna plans to roll out its policies in select states where it is legal to do so. based on the results of screening, cigna now reserves the right to rescind job offers. they say current employees will not be effected unless they leave cigna and are rehired
after six months or longer. it says it has a responsibility to encourage its employees to be healthy. the move also designed to reduce long-term health care costs. smoking is estimated to be responsible for almost $200 billion in annual health related economic losses. nicotine is detectable in in blood days after use, and some biproducts can be measured in urine, hair and saliva. cigna is joining a long list of companies that include . . . ♪ important news out this morning on housing. the sales of new homes, posting their big jump in more than 33 years.
rising 25% last month. falling prices and demand for lower-priced homes helped fuel the increase. the housing numbers are having a positive impact on wall street. the dow now trading up about 19 points, also boosting stocks. new data suggesting economic growth isn't strong enough for the fed to pull back on its stimulus. the private payroll firm reports u.s. businesses added the most jobs in a year. 215,000 jobs were created in november thanks to big gains in manufacturing and construction. the report coming just ahead of the important labor department employment numbers on friday. as detroit moves forward with his bankruptcy case, other cities are struggling with financial collapse. >> reporter: father gregory is a
crime-fighting priest on a mission. >> what we're looking at here is formally six blighted, bordered up, burned out, knew sense houses that had been used for criminal activities such as gang hangouts, drugs, prostitution. so we needed to get rid of them. >> reporter: after two perishers were murdered nearby, he persuaded officials to let the church replace 40 abandoned homes with sports fields and parks. >> crime has dropped drastically. in the last two years i think violent crime has been cut in half. >> reporter: it's just part of a renewal project going on out there blighted youngstown, ohio. >> it was this huge tsunami that hit town, and it has taken 30 years for the waters to reseed.
>> reporter: like many blighted berbs youngstown is tearing many houses down. >> we would offer the house through our website and through some other means to someone who intends to renovate it. >> reporter: every house that is attorney down is one less neighborhood eye sore, one less potential crack house. other cities have turned to big projects like gary, indiana's under used convention center. but now many towns are going smaller instead. >> sometimes i think putings too lofty of a goal up there, if you don't get there, people say it was a failure, so i think if we can do some smaller things, get some momentum going.
get the health insurance along with it. a new non-profit in nashville, tennessee is trying to help musicians get affordable insurance. >> reporter: look in any direction on any corner, and there is a singer, a song writer, and melody maker. nashville. ♪ >> where local drummer andy peek has been playing clubs for nearly 30 years giving gig to gig with little and sometimes no insurance. >> they were experiencive. and if you had any preexisting conditions you were out of it. >> the music industry has a major economic impact around the country, perhaps that's most visible here in nashville. but us dissite all of the money, over 76% of them have no access to health care benefits. >> you would be surprised at the
number of people that we have talked to that probably make less than $12,000 a year. >> reporter: and that's one of the reasons a new organization, the music health alliance based in nashville, has been counseling members about health services soon to be available. >> we're helping the people before they get on the radio, and we're helping those people after they have hit their heyday. >> reporter: it's artists like andy peek who received help dealing with the healthcare.gov website over the past few months. >> you keep getting kicked off and kicked off and kicked off, and getting back on the system. it's difficult. >> reporter: former record industry workers like these two, say it is worth the
frustrations. >> a lot of it is the education. they just don't understand what it is. and they are almost afraid to go through the process. >> reporter: for andy peek confusion was created about the affordable care act, so he stopped his application process. >> i didn't want to push the button and sign up for 280, $300 a month and add that to my meager month to month income. >> reporter: as the dust settled he said counciling allowed him to take another look and finally sign up. now he will pay around $150 a month for insurance. ♪ i'm meteorologist dave warren, the arctic air is continuing to push through north dakota now into nebraska, kansas and right around denver.
these are the current temperatures, single digits now. as this air pushes south. there is some snow with it. fairly light, but continuing toment come down in minnesota there, through michigan and over the great lakes. additional accumulation just a few inches. another three to six inches possible. the snow and rain down to the south is what is coming. these are wind chills, 30 to 40 below with the wind chill. that's what it will feel like on your skin if you are exposed. freezing rain will be the next proob. this is when you get rain that coats surfaces anywhere from a quarter inch to a half inch of ice cumulation can really cause problems on the roadways and power lines. we have a low-pressure system developing, and that will bring
the warm air up over the cold air, that's when you get the rain that freezes. this area looks to be that area of freezing rain in texas, oklahoma, through arkansas, and up into the warmer air you see that area shrink just a bit. overnight thursday to early friday, oklahoma and texas will see a lot of that rain falling and freezing on contact. if it falls before it hits the ground it could be sleet, but we could get a quarter inch to half inch of ice accumulation there. so most likely power outages and travel will be a problem there. temperatures in the 50s and 60s, but only 5 to 15 in much of the midwest. stephanie? all right. we're waiting for president
the u.s. economy is growing but so is the income gap between the rich and the pour. we are waiting for president obama to talk about changing that and other aspects of the economy. that is the woman that will be introducing him. and we'll have him in just a few moments. mike viqueira joins us for now with more on what to expect from the president. good morning. >> stephanie. good morning. as usual when it comes to politics and policy in washington, it is complicated. the president is trying to put forward his agenda for the state of the union speech and for the last three years of his presidency. he is going to take the populous