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Dec. 22, 2012 at 10:31 PM   |   Comments

Egypt votes on constitutional draft

CAIRO, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- Following a second weekend of voting, the new Egyptian Constitution appeared assured of passage, early results compiled by the Muslim Brotherhood indicated.

The Islamic political party said late Saturday results showed the charter was garnering 70 percent of the vote with more than 60 percent of the polling places counted, The New York Times reported.

The newspaper said Egyptian Vice President Mahmoud Mekki resigned Saturday. His position would be eliminated under the new constitution.

The former judge had originally submitted his resignation in early November, but stayed on during the turmoil leading up to the constitutional referendum.

"The nature of political work does not suit my nature as a judge," he said.

Once the votes are officially tabulated in the coming days, President Mohamed Morsi will deliver a nationally televised address urging unity and reconciliation, his aides said.

His advisers said he plans to appoint some of his opponents to the Islamist-dominated upper house of Parliament that will act as the main legislative body until upcoming elections for the lower house.

Ahram Online reported Morsi spokesman Yasser Ali announced the names Saturday of 90 members of the 270-member upper house, the Shura Council.


Obama golfs on 1st day of vacation

HONOLULU, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- President Obama and his family landed in Honolulu early Saturday for their Christmas vacation and the president got in a round of golf later in the day.

Air Force One touched down at Honolulu Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam at 12:06 a.m., the White House reported. The first family quickly deplaned and headed to their vacation home in Kailua, a small town on the east end of Oahu island.

By late morning, with the temperature about 80 degrees and partly cloudy skies, Obama ventured out for a golf outing with White House chef Sam Kass, aide Marvin Nicholson, and Hawaii friends Bobby Titcomb and Mike Ramos at the Kaneohe Clipper course at the U.S. Marine Corps Base.

The president left Washington for Honolulu Friday evening, a few hours after delivering remarks at the White House in which he encouraged Congress "to work toward [a debt and deficit] package that prevents a tax hike on middle-class Americans."

"Once this legislation is agreed to, I expect Democrats and Republicans to get back to Washington and have it pass both chambers," he said. "And I will immediately sign that legislation into law, before Jan. 1 of next year. It's that simple."

The White House said the president and first lady Michelle Obama will attend a memorial service Sunday for the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Otherwise, the president has no public events scheduled.


2 dead, 471 arrested in Argentina looting

BUENOS AIRES, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- Hundreds of people were arrested following widespread looting of supermarkets in Argentina that left two people, authorities said.

The Buenos Aires Herald reported Saturday 471 people were arrested, primarily in the Greater Buenos Aires area that was hardest-hit Friday. Police said there were more disturbances in Campana and Zarate late Friday.

A union official blamed the unrest on "the difficult situation the people of Argentina are facing."

The looting started Thursday afternoon at a supermarket in the Patagonian resort town of Bariloche, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Incidents of looting were also reported in Rosario, where two people were killed during the unrest and 137 people arrested.

Government officials have called the looting acts of vandalism and not social protests.

"These are isolated incidents that are clearly organized and structured. In none of them did people seek food. They took televisions and drinks," said President Cristina Kirchner's cabinet chief, Juan Manuel Abal Medina.

The government has also blamed unions for the attacks, the BBC reported.


French law bans training at terror camps

PARIS, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- A law that took effect Saturday allows France to prosecute its citizens who get military training in terrorist camps outside the country.

Under the measure approved Friday by President Francois Hollande, those involved in "criminal association with a terrorist group" face up to 10 years imprisonment and heavy fines, Radio France Internationale reported. The bill also extends a 2006 law allowing law enforcement agencies to monitor telephones and the Internet.

The law was inspired by a killing spree in Toulouse and Montauban carried out by Mohamed Merah, who had dual Algerian-French citizenship. Merah killed three French soldiers, one of them a Muslim, and four Jews, including three children, at a day-care center before he was killed by police.

Merah, who had Islamist views and justified his actions in a phone conversation with a TV news reporter during the police siege of his apartment, is believed to have received training at a camp on the Afghan-Pakistan border.

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