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Dec. 26, 2012 at 8:32 AM   |   Comments

Obama returning to Washington

HONOLULU, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- President Obama will break off from his Hawaiian vacation and return to Washington Wednesday evening, the White House said.

A statement issued by the White House press secretary's office Tuesday said first lady Michelle Obama and the Obamas' two daughters would remain in Honolulu.

The president was scheduled to fly out of Hawaii at 10 p.m. local time.

The New York Times reported both chambers of Congress would return from their holiday break Thursday and get back to work.

The president and Congress face the daunting task of finding a compromise to ward off the package of hundreds of billions of dollars of spending cuts and tax hikes collectively known as the "fiscal cliff" that otherwise goes into effect with the New Year.

The Obamas spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at their vacation home in Kailua.

"The president made holiday telephone calls to U.S. service members, then sat down with his family for Christmas Eve dinner," the White House said.

On Christmas morning, the first family opened their gifts about 8 a.m. and then ate breakfast and sang carols.

During the afternoon, the president and Mrs. Obama traveled to the Marine Base to visit with service members and their families.

The president greeted the diners warmly and delivered a short speech.


Christmas weather turns deadly in U.S.

NEW ORLEANS, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- Georgia, the Carolinas and Florida Wednesday braced for a series of powerful storms that raked points West, leaving at least three dead.

The National Weather Service said Christmas Day storms produced dangerous winds and tornadoes and left more than 190,000 customers without power.

CNN said weather-related deaths occurred in Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.

A man driving in Houston died when a tree fell on his pickup, Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Thomas Gilliland said. In Woodward, Okla., a woman died in an accident on a snow-covered, two-lane highway. In Louisiana, a man died when a tree fell on his home.

Blizzard and winter storm warnings were in effect from the Deep South to New England and as much as 15 inches of snow was predicted for parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania to northern Maine and Canada.

Accuweather.com said flash floods were possible as the storm moves northeast to the central and southern Appalachians before heading into the Carolinas and Maryland, then out to sea.

Strong winds, predicted to hit 60 mph, were expected to whip the East Coast from Long Island, N.Y., to Boston.


Afghan bombing near U.S. base kills 3

KABUL, Afghanistan, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- A suicide bomber struck Wednesday outside a U.S. camp in Khost in eastern Afghanistan, killing three people and injuring six more, all Afghans, police said.

Those killed in the attack outside Camp Chapman included a security guard and two delivery truck drivers, CNN reported, quoting provincial police chief Abdul Qayoom Baqizoy. Those injured were civilians.

The blast occurred a minibus was stopped at the gate of the base for security check at the city near the Pakistani border.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, CNN said.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force said the base had been secured.

Camp Chapman is where seven CIA operatives and a Jordanian intelligence official died in a suicide bombing Dec. 30, 2009.


New Egyptian Constitution now law

CAIRO, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi Wednesday put the country's new constitution into effect, signing it just hours after it was declared approved by voters.

Ahram Online reported Morsi signed the document, which the Supreme Electoral Commission said was approved by 63.8 percent of voters in balloting the past two Saturdays.

The constitution was drafted largely by Muslim members of the Constituent Assembly. Opponents say it mixes politics and religion and have organized street protests against it. Morsi, however, said the document protects minorities sufficiently, denouncing the opposition as creating unnecessary turmoil.

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