In the United States, President Obama’s plan for an historic overhaul of healthcare has taken another step towards being passed by Christmas.
Democrat senators managed to gather 60 votes for the second day running to block debate on the reforms, which are unanimously opposed by Republicans.
Obama’s top priority in Congress has caused heated debate for months.
The Senate passed an amendment that threw out plans for a national insurance scheme, and restricted the level of federal funds available for abortions.
It could pass the Senate on Christmas Eve – but then another battle begins – when that version has to be stitched together with a plan already passed by the House of Representatives.