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Dec. 6, 2012 at 12:00 PM   |   Comments

Tanks deployed at Morsi's palace

CAIRO, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Tanks and armored personnel carriers were deployed outside the presidential palace in Cairo Thursday, where violent clashes claimed at least five lives.

Facing the largest conflict since Hosni Mubarak's ouster, a tense calm prevailed in Cairo's streets after a night of violence between opponents and supporters of President Mohamed Morsi.

Five protesters were killed by gunfire, the state news agency MENA said. The Interior Ministry said some 3,000 security personnel were deployed around the presidential palace late Wednesday and fired tear gas at protesters to disperse them, Egyptian Independent said.

Four Morsi senior advisers, including the chief of the constitutional committee, resigned during the clashes, blaming Morsi for the bloodshed.

Morsi didn't immediately respond to the situation.

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


DeMint resigns to lead Heritage Foundation

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., a conservative firebrand in Washington, announced Thursday he will leave the U.S. Senate to head The Heritage Foundation.

"It's been an honor to serve the people of South Carolina in United States Senate for the past eight years, but now it's time for me to pass the torch to someone else and take on a new role in the fight for America's future," DeMint said in a statement posted on his website.

While he said he was leaving the Senate, he was not "leaving the fight."

"I've decided to join The Heritage Foundation at a time when the conservative movement needs strong leadership in the battle of ideas," DeMint said. "No organization is better equipped to lead this fight and I believe my experience in public office as well as in the private sector as a business owner will help Heritage become even more effective in the years to come."

DeMint, who will leave the Senate in January, takes over for Edwin J. Feulner, who announced Thursday he will step down in April as president of the well-respected conservative think tank he envisioned then founded.

DeMint said he was "humbled" to succeed Feulner, "who built the most important conservative institution in the nation. He has been a friend and mentor for years and I am honored to carry on his legacy of fighting for freedom."

"This is a crucial moment for America and for the conservative movement, and we are seizing it," said Heritage Chairman of the Board Thomas A. Saunders. "Ed Feulner has made Heritage not just a permanent institution on Capitol Hill, but the flagship organization of the entire conservative movement."

DeMint, Saunders said, "has shown that principled conservatism remains a winning political philosophy. His passion for rigorous research, his dedication to the principles of our nation's founding and his ability to translate policy ideas into action make him an ideal choice to lead Heritage to even greater success."

His conservative stance made him beloved among the party's grassroots members. DeMint exercised influence through his Senate Conservatives Fund, which supported more ideologically "pure" candidates over candidates preferred by the GOP establishment.

DeMint also authored legislation concerning balancing the budget, banning earmarks, revising the tax code and reforming entitlement programs.

DeMint was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998, leaving after a three terms. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004 and re-elected in 2010.

Feulner will remain at the foundation as its chancellor and chairman of its Asian Studies Center, Saunders said.


Governors sign same-sex marriage into law

ANNAPOLIS, Md., Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Same-sex couples in Maryland and Washington can apply for marriage licenses as of Thursday in some courthouses.

Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler issued an opinion that the initiative, approved by voters on Election Day, would allow county and city courts to take applications for licenses as of Thursday, with the provision that couples could not become legally married until the law becomes effective Jan. 1, WBAL-TV, Baltimore, reported.

Gov. Martin O'Malley is to sign the documents Thursday that will allow same-sex couples to apply for marriage licenses that would allow them to marry with all the legal standing that opposite-sex couples enjoy, beginning Jan. 1. Cities and counties have the option of whether to issue licenses before the new year.

A similar same-sex law was signed Wednesday in Washington state and was effective Thursday, CNN reported. A lesbian couple, together since 1977 received the first license in King County shortly after midnight.

"Oh, my goodness!" Jane Abbott Lighty, 77, told CNN, noting she and her partner, Pete-e Petersen, 88, have "been together 35 years and seen all kinds of change."

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire and Secretary of State Sam Reed certified the initiative Wednesday.

Besides Maryland and Washington, voters in Maine also approved a same-sex marriage initiative. Maine's law will take effect Dec. 29, the Bangor Daily News reported.

The Secretary of State's Office said Monday Gov. Paul LePage signed off on the certified election results Nov. 29.

Minnesota voted down a constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

Nine states and the District of Columbia have approved same-sex marriage.


Typhoon death toll at 327 in Philippines

NEW BATAAN, Philippines, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Typhoon Bopha moved northwest of the Philippines Thursday one day after ravaging the island nation, leaving 327 dead and 380 missing, officials said.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said about a quarter of a million people are homeless after the most powerful typhoon in decades ripped through the country Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Category 5 storm, measuring more than 500 miles in diameter, roared onto the densely populated Mindanao island Tuesday with sustained winds of 110 mph, forcing more than 50,000 people out of their homes and into shelters.

The storm, known locally as "Pablo," sent roofs flying, uprooted acres of coconut trees, and sent rivers and streams bursting over their banks.

One of the hardest hit towns was New Bataan, which President Benigno Aquino III plans to visit Friday to oversee the distribution of aid, the official Philippine News Agency reported.

Arnaldo Arcadio, an emergency response program manager for humanitarian group Catholic Relief Services, told CNN about 90 percent to 95 percent of homes in New Bataan were destroyed or damaged by Bopha.

"The mood is really gloomy," he said, noting that the biggest concern for the town is obtaining drinkable water. "They are just trying to survive."

Eighty-five people in the town died and about 340 are still unaccounted for suggesting the death toll might rise further.


Afghan intel chief injured in bomb blast

KABUL, Afghanistan, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- The chief of Afghanistan's intelligence service was wounded in a suspected suicide bombing in Kabul Thursday, Interior Ministry officials said.

Officials said Asadullah Khalid was injured in the lower part of his body when the bomb detonated, but couldn't confirm if he was the target, the BBC reported.

The British broadcaster said attack occurred at one of the properties owned by Khalid, who is known for moving from residence to residence to avoid assassination attempts.


Berlusconi mulls another bid for office

ROME, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi hinted he may try for his old office again during next spring's national elections.

The Italian media mogul said he would retire from politics after he was forced to resign to make way for Prime Minister Mario Monti's emergency administration last year, when Italy's debt crisis threatened to spin out of control.

But Berlusconi, 76, said he was having a change of heart as he watches his center-right People of Freedom Party struggling in the opinion polls and beset with internal divisiveness, Italy's ANSA news agency reported Thursday.

Berlusconi said he was "besieged by requests from the party to announce as soon as possible my return to politics to guide" the People of Freedom Party after meeting with party officials Wednesday.

"Today the situation is worse than it was a year ago when I left the government out of a sense of responsibility and love for my country," he said. "Today Italy is on the verge of the abyss. ... There are a million more people unemployed, the national debt is increasing, spending power is collapsing and the tax burden is at intolerable levels."

If he chooses to run, Berlusconi would be seeking a fourth term as prime minister.

Berlusconi is currently on trial on abuse-of-power accusations for allegedly convincing police to release a Moroccan belly-dancer and underage prostitute after she was arrested, which he denies. He also is accused of having sex with her, a charge they both deny.

Berlusconi earlier was convicted on tax fraud charges and sentenced to four years in prison.

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