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Nov. 24, 2012 at 6:00 PM   |   Comments

Judges join fight against Morsi decree

CAIRO, Nov. 24 (UPI) -- Egyptian judges have joined the fight against President Mohamed Morsi, calling for a strike to protest the decree shielding the presidency from judicial review.

The national lawyers' association said it supports Saturday's action by the judges' group, The New York Times reported.

Thousands of activists joined protests in Cairo Saturday and petitions were filed asking Egypt's highest court to overturn Morsi's decree.

Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, a prosecutor named by former President Hosni Mubarak, spoke to an enthusiastic crowd of judges. He accused Morsi of a "systematic campaign against the country's institutions in general and the judiciary in particular" and said the decree is "null and void."

Earlier Saturday, 13 petitions were filed asking a court to declare Morsi's action unconstitutional, al-Masry al-Youm reported. They argued the president cannot place himself above the law by decreeing himself immune from the courts.

Protesters from a range of parties clashed with police and with unidentified assailants supporting the president, Ahram Online said. Most of the confrontations took place around Tahrir Square, where thousands of protesters converged Friday to denounce Morsi's decree, with many saying it bordered on dictatorship.

Protesters gathered in front of the Judiciary General Assembly, chanting "the people demand the downfall of the regime," Ahram said.

Scores of demonstrators had trouble breathing due to the use of tear gas Saturday, the Egypt Independent reported. Officials at Mounira Public Hospital said 32 people were being treated for injuries and five people were in critical condition from gunshot wounds, although there were no police reports of shots being fired.

State television quoted the Interior Ministry as saying 210 protesters had been arrested by late morning, 44 of them juveniles.

Protesters shouted that Morsi, 61, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, is no better than the autocratic former President Hosni Mubarak, who was unseated last year.

Morsi was elected in June.

His proclamation Thursday said neither parliament nor the courts can overturn anything he has done or will do until a new constitution can be approved in about six months.


Black Friday sales up in United States

CHICAGO, Nov. 24 (UPI) -- Online Black Friday sales were up 20.7 percent this year compared to the day after Thanksgiving in 2011, IBM Smarter Commerce says.

Almost one out of five online shoppers purchased an Apple product, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services reported. About 10 percent purchased iPads and 8.7 percent iPhones, IBM said.

Another 5.5 percent bought Android-powered devices.

The National Retail Federation said the final results from its Black Friday survey will not be available until Sunday. Early results suggest a 4.1 percent increase in holiday sales this year with a total of $586 billion for the season.

The federation's forecast model factors in unemployment, housing and sales in previous months.

Walmart reported its highest Black Friday sales ever despite protests at its stores across the country. The demonstrations, many of them organized by the United Food and Commercial Workers, were aimed at the company policy of beginning Black Friday sales Thursday evening at many stores, depriving employees of the holiday or part of it.

The company reported selling 1.3 million televisions and dolls and 250,000 bicycles.

"I'm so proud of what our more than 1.3 million associates have done to prepare and execute our Black Friday plans, giving our customers a great start to their Christmas shopping season," Bill Simon, Walmart U.S. president and chief executive officer, said. "The work of our associates is even more impressive when you consider they served approximately 22 million customers on Thursday."


Obama goes Christmas shopping

ARLINGTON, Va., Nov. 24 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama did some Christmas shopping on Small Business Saturday, picking up a stack of books at an Arlington, Va., bookstore.

The White House said the store, One More Page Books, is an "independent, neighborhood bookstore."

The president -- accompanied by his daughters Sasha and Malia -- used his BlackBerry, evidently to look up a book title, as he conversed with Eileen McGervey.

"Preparation," he said. "That's how I shop."

When a reporter covering the visit asked Obama a question about the upcoming fiscal cliff, the president said: "We're doing Christmas shopping. Happy Thanksgiving, folks."

Obama and his daughters spent a few minutes walking through the store, where he shook hands with several employees.

The White House said the president bought 15 children's books to be given as family Christmas gifts, but did not release a list of titles.


Dublin march protests Irish budget

DUBLIN, Ireland, Nov. 24 (UPI) -- Thousands of people marched through central Dublin Saturday to protest the Irish government's latest round of budget cuts.

The march started at the Garden of Remembrance, which honors those who died in Irish rebellions from 1798 to the 1920s, The Irish Times reported. A masked woman riding a horse with a banner that said "No to Austerity" led protesters down O'Connell Street to the General Post Office, focus of the 1916 Easter Rising.

The demonstration featured a float with a giant skull labeled "ECB," or European Central Bank.

Michael O'Reilly, president of the Dublin Council of Trade Unions, addressed the crowd at the GPO.

"The evidence is clear -- you cannot cut your way out of a recession," he said. "On the contrary: with each cut in public spending, and with each euro taken out of the pockets of low and average earners in new or increased taxes, we are digging ourselves further into a hole."

Police estimated the crowd at 4,000. But the Times said protesters were still arriving in Dublin. Organizers said they expected about 10,000.

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