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Dec. 6, 2012 at 5:00 PM   |   Comments

Tanks deployed at Morsi's palace

CAIRO, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- More government officials resigned in Cairo Thursday where at least six people have died in clashes with Egyptian military forces at the presidential palace.

With Egypt facing its biggest conflict since the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak, a tense calm prevailed in Cairo's streets after a night of violence between opponents and supporters of President Mohamed Morsi.

An estimated 450 people have been injured in the clashes, The New York Times reported. The Interior Ministry said about 3,000 security personnel were deployed around the presidential palace late Wednesday and some fired tear gas at protesters to disperse them, the privately owned Egypt Independent said.

Nine Morsi government officials, including Zaghoul el-Balshi, who headed the commission overseeing a Dec. 15 referendum on a proposed new constitution, have resigned, blaming Morsi for the bloodshed.

The director of state broadcasting resigned Thursday, along with Rafik Habib, vice president of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party. Habib, a Christian, had been held up as evidence of the Muslim Brotherhood's tolerance and diversity, the Times said.

Balshi was among those who resigned late Wednesday.

"I will not participate in a referendum that spilled Egyptian blood," he said.

Official government media reported Morsi was meeting with advisers and would address the nation but he had not spoken publicly as of 7 p.m., the Times reported.

Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Qandil implored both sides in a statement to pull back to allow for "a national dialogue."


Democrats dig in on tax hikes

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Thursday warned Republicans the nation will go off the "fiscal cliff" if taxes aren't raised on the wealthy.

The warning came as some Republicans urged House Speaker John Boehner to stop fighting tax increases for the wealthiest 2 percent of taxpayers and President Obama traveled to the apartment of a middle class family in Virginia fearing a possible $2,200 increase in their tax bill if no agreement is reached.

The nation faces a Jan. 1 deadline for the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts and draconian budget cuts that could send the economy back into recession.

Boehner said Monday negotiations are at a standstill and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said Wednesday the White House is "absolutely" prepared to go over the "fiscal cliff."

"If there is no agreement, then the fiscal cliff has to be dealt with," Pelosi said Thursday. "Let's hope that we can have an agreement."

Pelosi called the Republican plan calling for $800 billion in revenue and $900 billion in spending cuts "an assault on the middle class, on our seniors and on our future," CBS reported.

"It was not in furtherance of finding common ground," she said.

Obama has called for $1.6 trillion in new revenue -- $950 billion coming from incomes of more than $250,000 -- and $2.4 trillion in spending cuts.

Obama visited the ground floor apartment of Tiffany Santana of Falls Church, Va., a high school English teacher, who responded to the president's email encouraging people to share their stories about how paying $2,200 more in taxes next year would affect their families. She and her husband Richard live with their son Noah, 6, and her parents.


McAfee suffers possible heart attack

GUATEMALA CITY, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- John McAfee, the software designer turned homicide suspect, suffered a possible heart attack Thursday after he was denied asylum in Guatemala.

The American software millionaire faces deportation to Belize, where he is wanted for questioning in the Nov. 11 shooting death of his neighbor, American businessman Gregory Faull.

ABC News said McAfee, 67, was found unresponsive on the floor of his cell at a detention center in Guatemala City Thursday and was being treated by medics. He had complained of chest pains earlier.

McAfee, an Internet security software pioneer, said he fled to Guatemala, where he was arrested for entering the Central American country illegally Wednesday, to escape persecution in Belize.

A spokesman for Guatemalan President Francisco Cuevas said McAfee's asylum request had no basis and was rejected, clearing the way for his extradition to neighboring Belize, CNN reported.

Before his arrest, McAfee told ABC News Guatemala is a place with "some sanity." He said Guatemalans believe him when he says police in Belize are trying to kill him.

"Instead of going, 'You're crazy,' they go, 'Yeah, of course they are,'" he said. "It's like, finally, I understand people who understand the system here."

Faull, who moved to Belize from Florida, was found dead in his beachfront house on an island in Belize shortly after McAfee's dogs were poisoned. Faull had led a neighborhood petition drive against the dogs, describing them as a dangerous nuisance.

McAfee moved to Belize in 2008, 14 years after he sold his interest in McAfee Associates, the computer security firm he founded in 1987.

The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City said it would have no comment on specifics of the McAfee situation "due to privacy considerations."


Ill. Sen. Mark Kirk plans Senate return

CHICAGO, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., plans to return to his Senate duties in January, nearly a year after he suffered a debilitating stroke, an Illinois lawmaker said.

Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Ill., told the Chicago Tribune Thursday Kirk hopes to be on the Senate floor for the first day of the new Congress Jan. 3, and a Senate official indicated Kirk would walk up the Capitol steps to enter the chamber.

"I'm just really excited," said Hultgren, who said he had talked to Kirk on the phone. "I'm so grateful for the recovery he's been able to make."

Kirk, 53, wearing a brace on his left leg, climbed 37 floors of the Willis Tower, the tallest building in North America, for a fundraiser last month for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. He appears physically strong and mentally sharp although he walks with the aid of cane.

Kirk was elected to the Senate in 2010 after serving nearly a decade in the House of Representatives.

Hultgren said the Illinois congressional delegation plans a "big party and celebration" to welcome Kirk back to work.


Trooper charged with stealing cash

FAIRFIELD, Conn., Dec. 6 (UPI) -- A Connecticut state trooper is charged with stealing $3,700 cash and a gold chain from a man killed in a motorcycle accident, prosecutors said.

Trooper First Class Aaron Huntsman, 43, an 18-year veteran of the force, was the lead investigator of a Sept. 22 crash in Fairfield, Conn., that killed John Scalesse Jr., 49, of Orange, Conn. Prosecutors said a dashboard camera in Huntsman's patrol car offers evidence Huntsman took the cash and chain -- then was one of two troopers who went to Scalesse's mother's home to inform her of his death, the Hartford Courant said Wednesday.

While investigating the scene, Huntsman, the ranking officer, asked a paramedic transporting Scalesse if there was a wallet on him. Noticing a bulge in his pocket, the paramedic cut open his pants, revealing a large wad of cash and some credit cards. One trooper told the paramedic to put the cash back in the man's pocket, but Scalesse said he would take the money for evidence. The same was done for a gold chain found on the ground at the accident scene.

Scalesse's father, John Sr., who said his son always carried between $2,000 and $4,000 in cash on him, called Huntsman to ask whether the money had been recovered -- and about a gold chain his son always wore, but wasn't returned by the hospital with his other belongings. Huntsman allegedly told the elder Scalesse on multiple occasions no money or chain had been recovered.

After the family made contact with Huntsman's supervisor, a review of the patrol car tape shows the back of the ambulance and Huntsman can be heard saying he would take the money as evidence. The trooper initially denied taking the money, but a month later police found the cash under the passenger seat of his patrol car.

Huntsman is charged two counts of third-degree larceny and one count each of interfering with an officer and tampering with physical evidence. He was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the case.

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