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Dec. 16, 2012 at 9:01 AM   |   Comments

Police seek a motive in school shooting

NEWTOWN, Conn., Dec. 16 (UPI) -- Police sought a motive in the Newtown, Conn., school massacre that killed 26 -- including 20 children -- as the town prepared for a visit by President Obama.

The president was to meet with stricken families and responders and attend a private vigil Sunday night, the White House said.

Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed six adults and 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Friday before turning his gun on himself. His mother, Nancy, was found dead in their home.

Authorities have been working since Friday to come up with any motive for the shootings, The Hartford (Conn.) Courant reported.

State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance said investigators have found some "very good evidence" at the school and the Lanza home.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy addressed the state via TV Saturday night, saying: "What's important right now is this: love, courage, and compassion.''

The president of the Connecticut Funeral Directors Association told The Courant that more than 60 funeral directors have volunteered to help the families of the victims bury their dead and caskets and vaults were being donated as well.

The White House announced Saturday that Obama would travel to Newtown Sunday for private meetings with family members and responders and attend a private vigil scheduled for 7 p.m. EST.


Egyptians said to favor constitution

CAIRO, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- Initial results Sunday indicated 61 percent of Egyptians approved a new constitution while 39 percent of the voters opposed it, al-Arabiya said.

The pan-Arab network said the results came after 58 percent of the votes were counted. The second round of voting takes place next Saturday with the final results to be announced Dec.22, Ahram Online said.

The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom & Justice Party declared, "The Egyptian people have spoken their mind," Ahram Online said.

The National Salvation Front opposition group cited about 750 violations at polls in 10 governorates during Saturday's vote and claimed the referendum was defeated, but did not give numbers or detail the alleged violations.

Former presidential candidate and opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei said the initial results of the vote emphasize the increasing levels of division in the Egyptian society.

"Poverty and illiteracy provide fertile ground for trading with religion," he said on his Twitter account.

Human Rights Watch issued a statement saying the draft "protects some rights but undermines others," and "fails to end military trials of civilians or to protect freedom of expression and religion."


Iran warns against Patriot deployment

TEHRAN, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- An Iranian general has warned the deployment of Patriot missiles along Turkey's border with Syria could lead to a world war.

Iranian Chief of Staff Maj.Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi Saturday said: "Every one of these patriot missiles is a dark spot on the world map and is aimed at starting a world war," Press TV reported.

"Unfortunately one by one, the Western countries are approving deployment of Patriot missiles on Turkey's border with Syria while they are planning a world war which is very dangerous for the future of humanity and Europe itself," he said.

Firouzabadi said the Patriot missiles "are a defense line for the Zionists and a result of [the West's] concerns over Iran's missiles and Russia's presence to defend Syria."

NATO recently approved Turkey's request to deploy Patriot missiles along its border with Syria to defend Turkey from Syrian missile attacks.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta signed orders for the Patriot missiles saying it would send a clear message to Syria that NATO will defend Turkey.

Some 400 American forces and two Patriot missile batteries will deploy in Turkey as early as mid-January, the Pentagon said.


6 die in Nigerian copter crash

ABUJA, Nigeria, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- A military helicopter crashed in Nigeria, claiming the lives of a state governor, a former national security adviser and four others, officials say.

The National Emergency Management Agency said the bodies of the victims were recovered from the crash site in Bayelsa state Saturday and taken to a morgue, PM News, Lagos, reported.

The ruling People's Democratic Party issued statement, saying Kaduna state Gov. Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa and ex-national security adviser Owoye Azazi were among the victims, the newspaper said.

The other four were two security aides of the governor and the pilot and co-pilot of the naval aircraft, identified as Dauda Tsoho, Warrant Officer Mohammed Kamal, Commander Muritala Mohammed and Lt. Adeyemi Sowole.

The victims were returning to Port Harcourt after attending a funeral in Bayelsa state crashed and burst into flames, killing all six on board.

President Goodluck Jonathan said an investigation would be conducted into the cause of the crash.


Japanese vote in national elections

TOKYO, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- Japanese voters went to the polls Sunday to decide whether to stick with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda or return Shinzo Abe to power.

Noda and Democratic Party of Japan have been under fire for the country's faltering economy, which has been further battered by last year's devastating earthquake and tsunami.

The Liberal Democratic Party, led by Abe, who served as prime minister in 2006-07, is looking to return to power after a three-year hiatus that followed nearly 54 years governing Japan.

The LDP campaigned on a platform that calls for a stronger defense and conservative nuclear energy policies, Kyodo News said.

The Mainichi Daily News reported its latest poll indicated the New Komeito Party could capture 30 House of Representatives seats. If the LDP then picks up about 290 seats, a coalition of the two parties would have the power to force bills through the House of Representatives over any objections in the House of Councilors.

If the two parties fall short of the 320 spots, they still gain control government with 241 seats in the 480-seat lower chamber, and if they win 269 seats they receive the right to name members of their own parties chairmen of all 17 standing committees in the lower house and give them majorities on the panels. Tradition, however, dictates that opposition parties are given the chairmanships of some committees, Mainichi said.

The newly formed Japan Restoration Party is seeking 51 seats, which would allow it to submit budget bills and no-confidence motions on its own, the newspaper said.

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