By Mark Memmott

Good morning.

The Senate continues its work on legislation to overhaul the nation's health care system. As we just reported, two key votes are scheduled for this hour.

And there's also breaking news this morning from Israel, where the government is said to be moving closer toward a prisoner exchange deal that could free a soldier who's been held by Hamas for 3 1/2 years.

As for other stories making headlines, they include:

-- The Wall Street Journal -- "Bonds Are Signaling A Stronger Recovery": "A closely watched bond-market measure of investor optimism hit a record Monday, amid signs the U.S. economy's recovery is strengthening. That measure is the yield curve -- the difference between short-term and long-term interest rates on government bonds. That number is at its highest level ever, surpassing the record set in June, and signals that investors are expecting a stronger economic turnaround ahead."

-- Detroit Free Press -- "Improving Ford Motor Co. Offers 2nd Buyout Of Year": "Less than two weeks after Ford Motor Co. said it would restore merit pay and other benefits to its salaried workers, the increasingly successful automaker is offering its 41,000 U.S. hourly workers their second buyout program of the year -- saying it has more workers than it needs."

-- Morning Edition -- "For U.S., Vast Challenge To Expand Afghan Forces": A planned rapid expansion of Afghan forces "could create many more problems than it solves. And there's the cost: $10 billion a year, according to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who predicts it will have to be funded by the West for the next two decades."

-- The Guardian -- Snow And Ice Cause Travel Chaos In Britain: "More ice and snow caused fresh delays on the roads, railways and at airports today as transport operators struggle with a backlog of stranded passengers."

Related story by BBC News -- "Eurostar Resumes Channel Tunnel Train Services."

Passengers arrive on a Eurostar train from Paris to Kings Cross St Pancras station in London, after a 3 day suspended service due to winter weather conditions, on December 22, 2009. Packed Eurostar trains began to haul thousands of angry passengers between Paris, Brussels and London on Tuesday as the firm started to clear a backlog of 75,000 stranded by a winter weather shutdown. (Photo by Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images)

Back on track. (Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images)


-- Coming up later this morning:

At 8:30 a.m. ET, the Bureau of Economic Analysts releases its latest estimate of third-quarter gross domestic growth. Last month, it said GDP grew in that quarter at a 2.8% annual rate.
At 10 a.m. ET, the National Association of Realtors is due to release figures on sales of so-called existing homes in November.

Contributing: Chinita Anderson of Morning Edition.

categories: Morning Roundup

7:15 - December 22, 2009