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Jan. 1, 2013 at 6:17 PM   |   Comments

Leaders wrangle House votes for compromise

WASHINGTON, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. House Speaker John Boehner wrangled support Tuesday for a vote on a fiscal cliff compromise but Republican opposition mounted.

The House was expected to vote later Tuesday on the bill that passed the Senate in the early hours of 2013 but House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., the No. 2 Republican in the House, said he opposed the measure. Other Republicans also criticized the legislation, which passed the Senate early Tuesday.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated the measure will add nearly $4 trillion to the U.S. debt in the next 10 years because of lost revenue or payments on refundable tax credits, Politico reported.

"There's not a lot of support for the bill as is. I personally hate it," Rep. John Campbell, R-Calif., told The New York Times. "The speaker the day after the election said we would give on taxes, and we have, but we wanted spending cuts. This bill has spending increases. Are you kidding me?"

Biden met with House Democrats, the Los Angeles Times reported. Some liberal groups have been calling on them to reject the compromise on the grounds that the threshold for tax increases is too high.

"It is clear that the vice president and the president are convinced that they have done the right thing. They don't see it as a perfect deal though, and nobody else does," Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., told The New York Times.


60 dead in stampede in Ivory Coast

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- A New Year's Eve fireworks display in Ivory Coast ended in tragedy when 60 people died in a stampede as they left a stadium early Tuesday, officials said.

Many others were injured in the disaster at Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan, the Ivory Coast capital, the Los Angeles Times reported. The stampede began about 2 a.m.

Officials said most of the dead were children and teenagers, CNN reported. Minister of Youth Alain Lobognon in a tweet on his official feed said 26 were children, 28 women and six men.

Parents who had stayed home while their children went to the fireworks searched for them Tuesday. Mamadou Sanogo was looking for her 9-year-old son.

"I saw all the bodies, but I cannot find my son. I don't know what to do," she told L'infodrome, a local news website.

Officials were still unsure what caused people leaving the stadium to panic. One official who did not want his name used told CNN the stampede began in a neighborhood of narrow streets near the stadium.


Moscow protesters arrested, released

MOSCOW, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- All protesters arrested at Moscow's year-end rally highlighting freedom of assembly have been released, the Interior Ministry said.

A demonstration in Moscow's Triumfalnaya Square, in defense of the Russian Constitution's Article 31 guarantee of the right to peacefully assemble, occurs on the last day of every month with 31 days in it, referred to as "Strategy-31."

Writer and leader of the unregistered Other Russia party Eduard Limonov was arrested Dec. 31 with about 25 other demonstrators, the Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported Tuesday.

"About 50 people took part in the unsanctioned action in Triumfalnaya Square, which is one-fourth the number that took part on December 31 last year," a police spokesman said.

"All detainees have been released," the Interior Ministry said Tuesday.


Drilling rig grounded off Kodiak Island

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- A winter storm grounded a Royal Dutch Shell drilling rig in waters off the southern coast of Alaska's Kodiak Island, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard said the drilling rig broke loose from a Shell-contracted ship, the tow vessel Aiviq, Monday afternoon, the Anchorage Daily News reported Tuesday.

The rig had been secured to a second tow vessel but when grounding was imminent, the second vessel was directed to abandon its tow line to avoid endangering the crew, the crisis command team said.

No one was hurt, the Coast Guard said.

When the Kulluk was removed from its final towline, it was 4 miles from land, a command team said late Monday. The 250-member command team includes members of the Coast Guard, representatives from the state and contractors.

The grounding was the latest development in the crisis that began Thursday when the $290 million, 266-foot-diameter Kulluk rig lost a towline after a mechanical failure in the shackle used to connect it to the Aiviq, the Daily News said.


First Colo. marijuana shop opens, closes

DEL NORTE, Colo., Jan. 1 (UPI) -- The first marijuana club to open in Colorado was forced to close Tuesday when the landlord canceled the lease, the operator said.

Paul Lovato, proprietor of the White Horse Inn in Del Norte, a small town in southern Colorado, said he opened the business Monday, The Denver Post reported. The owner of the building shut him down because his lease did not begin until Jan. 1, Tuesday.

"By opening early I kind of screwed myself out of my building," Lovato said Tuesday.

Lovato said he wanted to be the first to open in the state and did manage to beat Club 64, a members-only operation in Denver.

Colorado voters approved a referendum in November legalizing recreational marijuana use. Selling pot for non-medical purposes remains illegal until next year but giving it away is now legal.

Lovato's plan was to operate a coffee shop and to sell T-shirts and other items. Customers would be able to get free samples of marijuana next door to the shop, the newspaper said.

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