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Dec. 9, 2012 at 10:18 PM   |   Comments

Obama, Boehner meet

WASHINGTON, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- With just a few weeks left to avoid the "fiscal cliff," House Speaker John Boehner stopped by the White House Sunday to meet privately with President Obama.

No solutions were announced afterward, with the offices of both men issuing terse, identical statements afterward: "The lines of communication remain open."

The New York Times reported that while details of the discussion between the Democratic president and Ohio Republican were nil, the mere revelation that they met indicated private talks are taking place despite GOP leaders' public denunciation of the lack of progress and Obama's resistance to setting spending reduction levels for entitlement programs in return for their support tax increases for top earners.

Obama's meeting with Boehner followed the president's meeting with congressional Democratic leaders on Friday.


Up to 17 inches of snow coats Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- A big winter storm dumped 17.3 inches of snow on a little southern Minnesota town Sunday, and messed up motorists in the Twin Cities, meteorologists said.

AccuWeather.com said by 4 p.m. CST Sacred Heart had recorded 17.3 inches of snow and winds were blowing it around, reducing visibility to as little as 1 block. Minneapolis and St. Paul and received about a foot.

While the snow was expected to taper off, gusty winds were creating blizzard conditions in eastern South Dakota and southwestern Minnesota Sunday evening, with eastern Minnesota and Wisconsin next in line as an arctic front swept down across the Midwest, AccuWeather.com said.

Sections of Interstate 29 and 90 in South Dakota and numerous other roads throughout southwestern Minnesota were closed by authorities because of the treacherous conditions.

Temperatures were to plunge below zero across the eastern Dakotas and western Minnesota, and highs Monday will only top out in the teens in and around Minnesota, AccuWeather.com said.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported the Minnesota State Patrol said more than 300 collisions were reported, with 32 injuries, since 9:30 p.m. Saturday, said Lt. Eric Roeske, a spokesman for the Minnesota State Patrol. Another 330 vehicles slid off the road or spun out.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune said there had been one storm-related traffic fatality involving a tractor-trailer rig near Red Wing.

Several dozen flights were canceled at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport.


Demonstrators target Egypt's Morsi

CAIRO, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Demonstrators marched on the presidential palace in Cairo Sunday, angry at President Mohamed Morsi's plan to go ahead with a referendum on a draft constitution.

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi had annulled a decree that granted him expansive power and the army was mobilized to maintain security, officials said.

But Morsi took no action on a demand he postpone the referendum set for Saturday that would allow an overhaul of a draft constitution, which critics say has little protection of individual rights and would give Islamic leaders more influence, The New York Times reported.

In a televised statement on al-Arabiya, Vice President Mahmoud Mekki said the army had been mobilized to maintain security. The Egyptian cabinet approved measures permitting the army to use force if "necessary to perform their duty," Al-Ahram newspaper reported.


American doctor rescued from Taliban

KABUL, Afghanistan, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Coalition forces in Afghanistan Sunday rescued an American doctor who had been abducted by the Taliban four days earlier, military officials said.

Dr. Dilip Joseph was freed during an operation in eastern Afghanistan and was being checked out before being reunited with his family, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force said.

Joseph had been abducted by Taliban insurgents Wednesday in the vicinity of Sarobi District of Kabul province.

The rescue operation drew praise from President Obama, who said the soldiers' efforts were "characteristic of the extraordinary courage, skill and patriotism that our troops show every day."

The president noted one American died in the operation.

The New York Times reported at least six people were killed and two Taliban leaders were arrested during the rescue.

The newspaper said Joseph, who is from Colorado Springs, Colo., was with two Afghan men when they were abducted while driving to a rural medical clinic and were taken to a mountainous area about 50 miles from the border with Pakistan. Negotiations led to the release of the two Afghans Saturday, the Times said.

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