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Dec. 1, 2012 at 10:42 PM   |   Comments

Egyptians to vote Dec. 15 on constitution

CAIRO, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- President Mohamed Morsi announced Saturday Egyptians will vote Dec. 15 on the new constitution drafted by the Islamist-dominated assembly.

In a national address Saturday evening, Morsi called it a "historic day," Ahram Online reported.

"We hope to ascend into a new era of Egypt's history, to a bright future for our beloved people," he said.

"This is a breakthrough, the first truly representative constitution that protects the rights, freedoms and human dignity of all Egyptians," Ahram Online quoted Morsi as saying. "It was born out of the 25 January revolution; the last one came 175 years ago, from Mohamed Ali Pasha.

"While we stand here, we cannot forget the sacrifices of the martyrs of the revolution, and all those who were injured and their families.

"All Egyptians are adamant to see this process move forward, in order to see the objectives of the blessed revolution realized.

"All Egyptians will vote on the constitution; I hope it will be a new day for a stable and independent Egypt.'

Morsi said the referendum "will be a new step in Egypt's democratic process."

"The world looks at us and our experience with great enthusiasm; they are eager to see how Egypt will build itself," he said.

Anti-Morsi protesters gained international headlines when he announced Nov. 22 he was assuming absolute power until a new constitution was approved by parliament.

Countering days of protests by pro-democracy demonstrators, tens of thousands of Islamist supporters rallied in Cairo and Alexandria Saturday to cheer Morsi, the Middle East News Agency reported.


Internet back on in Syria

DAMASCUS, Syria, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Residents of Damascus and some other areas in Syria were able to access the Internet and use cellphones Saturday after a two-day countrywide blackout.

Fighting between rebel forces and the government of President Bashar Assad was unabated, with Syrian forces bombarding rebel-held areas around the Damascus airport, CNN reported. The Local Coordination Committees of Syria said 73 people were killed Saturday, 23 of them in Damascus and 20 in Aleppo.

The government blamed the rebels for the Internet outage that began Thursday. But Matthew Prince, chief executive officer of the Internet security firm CloudFlare, told CNN that was unlikely because four major cables would have had to be cut simultaneously for the Internet to go down across the entire country.

The BBC reported many flight cancellations Thursday and Friday at the Damascus airport. In an audio statement Friday, a man using the name Abu Eyaad, speaking for the Revolutionary Military Council in Damascus and its suburbs, said the airport had been completely closed down, something the government disputed, CNN said.

Eyaad called the airport "the gate of death that supplies the regime in Damascus and its suburbs with more tools to kill the Syrian people," saying that is how military supplies from Russia reach Syria.


26 Taliban fighters reported killed

KABUL, Afghanistan, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- At least 26 Taliban fighters were killed in a 24-hour period in seven joint operations, Afghan officials said Saturday.

The operations were carried out by Afghan police working with the intelligence services, the military and NATO coalition forces, Khaama Press reported. Officials in the Interior Ministry said weapons were seized and 14 Taliban militants detained.

The Taliban released their own statement, saying only three of their fighters had been killed and five injured. The statement said Afghan forces suffered heavy casualties.

Officials also said seven civilians were killed by a roadside bomb in Uruzgan province in southern Afghanistan. Another bomb killed a soldier in Kunar province.


Ariz. governor 'not surprised' by lawsuit

PHOENIX, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said she was "not surprised" by a lawsuit filed against her over an order to deny driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants.

The lawsuit was filed by immigrant-rights advocates seeking to overturn the executive order, The Washington Times reported.

Brewer said Friday she was "not surprised" by the lawsuit.

"The state is the one that licenses the people to be able to drive around the streets. It's not the federal government and we don't license kids under 16, we don't license DUI drivers, and our laws are very clear and I took an oath to uphold that," she said.

The lawsuit, brought forth by the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Immigration Law Center and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, alleges Brewer's order is unconstitutional because it is superseded by federal law, The Arizona Republic reported.

"Not only is this wrong and mean-spirited, it's completely out of line with the constitutional guarantees that prevent government from treating people differently based on race, ethnicity or, in this case, immigration status," said Alessandra Soler, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona.

Gubernatorial spokesman Matthew Benson, however, disagreed, saying, that unlike "all previous classes granted deferred action, the DACA program is neither congressionally authorized nor enshrined in federal law."

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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