Obama wants McDonough as chief of staff
WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama plans to name deputy national security adviser Denis McDonough as his next chief of staff, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
Obama is expected next week to announce McDonough, arguably his closest foreign policy aide, as his choice to succeed White House Chief of Staff Jacob Lew, his nominee for treasury secretary.
Former Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., told the Times McDonough will face "a new set of challenges."
"He has an extraordinarily close relationship with the president. What the president wants is a fairly tightly knit, cohesive team that he trusts, rather than to bring in people who would have to learn anew his style and positions," Daschle said.
McDonough, 43, worked for Daschle before joining Obama's team when he was a U.S. senator from Illinois.
White House sources told the Times McDonough is known for taking on problems no one else wants, such as coordinating the response to the terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
McDonough has been described as fiercely loyal to Obama.
"People throughout the foreign policy apparatus found out very quickly that when the national security adviser called, he might be calling for himself or for the president. But if Denis McDonough called, he was really calling for the president," James Mann, author of "The Obamians," a book about Obama's foreign policy team, told the newspaper.
Morsi: Remarks about Jews out of context
CAIRO, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- A spokesman for Mohamed Morsi said Wednesday the Egyptian president said anti-Semitic remarks attributed to him were taken out of context.
In a videotape of a 2010 speech before he became president, Morsi urged Egyptians to "nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred" for Jews and Zionists. He described Zionists as "bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians."
The remarks drew a sharp rebuke from the U.S. government Tuesday.
"The president affirmed that his remarks were regarding the Israeli aggression on Palestinians in Gaza and emphasized that statements must be put into context," Egypt Daily News quoted presidential spokesman Yasser Ali as saying.
The Egyptian newspaper said Ali added Morsi said the Jewish faith and its adherents should be viewed separately from the aggression Palestinians face against their lives and property.
"The president reiterated his view that the basic principles of full respect to religions and freedom of belief must be fully adhered to," Ali said, "especially now that the Egyptian people have adopted a new constitution that grants adherents of heavenly [Abrahamic] religions full citizenship rights and the right to adhere to their religious laws in personal matters.
"The president also emphasized the need to build strong strategic relations between Egypt and the United States."
White House press secretary Jay Carney had said Tuesday the Obama administration condemned Morsi's remarks as "deeply offensive."
"We completely reject the statements, as we do any language that espouses religious hatred," Carney said. "President Morsi should make clear that he respects people of all faiths, and that this type of rhetoric is not acceptable or productive in a democratic Egypt."
Carney did note Morsi has reaffirmed Egypt's commitment to its peace treaty with Israel and has shown a willingness to work to preserve peace in the region.
FAA grounds U.S. Boeing 787s
TOKYO, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- On the same day two Japanese airlines grounded their Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets, U.S. regulators ordered airlines to take their Dreamliners out of service.
An All Nippon Airways Boeing 787 made an emergency landing in Japan with all aboard safe, but the incident led ANA and Japan Airlines to ground all their new 787s.
Wednesday's emergency landing, with 137 crew and passengers aboard, was the latest in a series of recent incidents involving the U.S. aircraft maker's much-admired, technologically advanced plane.
The Japan Transport Safety Board has begun an investigation, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board reported. An NTSB investigator, Lorenda Ward, has been assigned to assist the Japanese agency.
The Federal Aviation Administration ordered U.S. airlines late Wednesday to stop flying their Dreamliner jets until they can demonstrate they have patched a fire risk associated with battery failures aboard the crafts, CNN reported.
"The battery failures resulted in release of flammable electrolytes, heat damage, and smoke on two model 787 airplanes," the FAA said. "The root cause of these failures is currently under investigation. These conditions, if not corrected, could result in damage to critical systems and structures, and the potential for fire in the electrical compartment."
Detroit offers tax amnesty
DETROIT, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced a tax amnesty program, offering an opportunity to those owing taxes to pay without penalty.
City officials expect to generate about $4 million through the effort, part of Bing's strategy to generate an additional $50 million for the cash-strapped city in 2013, the Detroit News reported Wednesday.
People and organizations with outstanding tax balances from 2011 and from prior years are eligible, the mayor's office said.
The program will begin Jan. 22 and run through Feb. 22, the Detroit Free Press said.
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