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Dec. 6, 2012 at 10:00 PM   |   Comments

Morsi vows crackdown on violence

CAIRO, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama Thursday told Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi the country's leaders should make clear "violence is unacceptable," the White House said.

During a phone call with Morsi, Obama expressed "deep concern about the deaths and injuries of protesters in Egypt," the White House said in a statement.

"The president emphasized that all political leaders in Egypt should make clear to their supporters that violence is unacceptable," the statement said. "He welcomed President Morsi's call for a dialogue with the opposition but stressed that such a dialogue should occur without preconditions."

Obama noted the United States has urged Morsi's opponents to engage in such dialogue as well.

Morsi said Thursday he respects peaceful opposition but protesters who resort to violence "will not escape punishment."

Morsi spoke on television at the end of a day on which more government officials resigned amid violence in Cairo in which at least six people died in clashes with military forces at the presidential palace.

Morsi addressed his comments to supporters and opponents alike, condemning in particular those who have used weapons against protesters -- and who are supported by members of the "corrupt ... ex-regime" of former President Hosni Mubarak, CNN reported.

They "will not escape punishment," he said.

With Egypt facing its most serious conflict since the ouster of Mubarak, a tense calm prevailed in Cairo's streets Thursday after a night of violence between Morsi opponents and supporters.

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.


'Right-to-work' bill advances in Mich.

LANDSING, Mich., Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Republicans in the Michigan House of Representatives approved a bill Thursday to make it illegal for companies or unions to require employees to pay union dues.

The 58-52 vote was mostly along party lines, with a few Republicans joining all Democrats in voting against the measure, the Lansing State Journal reported.

The White House issued a statement saying President Barack Obama opposed so-called right-to-work laws, including the one under consideration in Michigan.

"The President believes our economy is stronger when workers get good wages and good benefits, and he opposes attempts to roll back their rights," the statement said. "Michigan -- and its workers' role in the revival of the U.S. automobile industry -- is a prime example of how unions have helped build a strong middle class and a strong American economy.

The vote came as union members and supporter demonstrated at the state capital in opposition to the bill. At one point state officials ordered the Capitol building locked down but an Ingham County Court judge issued an injunction ordering the building be reopened. When the building remained closed, all 46 House Democrats staged a walkout in protest before returning for the vote, the newspaper said.

Republican Rep. Mike Shirkey called the vote "a monumental decision that will give unions the freedom to make their case while giving workers the freedom to make a choice."

Democratic leaders said they would request the House bill be reconsidered.

The Michigan state Senate has been debating a similar bill.


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."

Late Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported talks between Boehner's office and the White House had resumed.

"Lines of communication are open," Boehner Michael Steel said.

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.


Woman alive, man dead after being stranded

CITRUS HEIGHTS, Calif., Dec. 6 (UPI) -- A Nevada couple missing in the California mountains during a sudden snowstorm have been found -- the woman survived but her boyfriend died, police said.

The couple, Paula Lane, 46, and Roderick Clifton, 44, had left his mother's home in Citrus Heights, Calif., headed home to Nevada, but were reported missing Nov. 29, ABC news reported.

Apparently they took their Jeep off-roading, the report said, and became stranded off Highway 88/89 in the Sierra Nevadas.

After a day, Clifton went to find help, but never came back, police said. Lane set out several days later, and was found alive Wednesday by a relative who was part of a massive two-state manhunt, ABC said.

Clifton's body was found several miles from the highway, ABC said, and though police have not said how he died do not suspect foul play, ABC reported.

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