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UPI NewsTrack TopNews

  |   Jan. 21, 2013 at 5:13 PM
Obama: Act even if action is 'imperfect'

WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- President Obama said Monday the United States has "limitless" possibilities and called on Americans to carry on the tasks of the nation's pioneers.

"We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths -- that all of us are created equal -- is the star that guides us still," Obama said in his second inaugural address. "It is now our generation's task to carry on what those pioneers began."

After some bruising fiscal fights in recent weeks, Obama said Americans "are made for this moment, and we will seize it -- so long as we seize it together."

While history says the truths of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness "may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by his people here on Earth."

This generation has been tested by crises that have steeled its resolve, the president said.

"America's possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands," he said.

While he did not address the specific policy issues, Obama did call for action, saying that the nation "cannot afford delay."


Obama takes final inauguration day walk

WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama drew wild applause Monday when they walked along the parade route from the U.S. Capitol to the White House.

Twice they walked the streets and twice the crowds erupted into cheers and waved American flags wildly. Parade-goers jumped up and down, took pictures with their phones and tablets and hoisted small children into the air as the Obamas waved, pointed to the crowd and clapped.

Obama's final inaugural day walk was in front of the White House and the reviewing stand.

Vice President Joe Biden broke away from the stroll with his wife, Jill, to shake hands with some of the parade-watchers several times as they went to the reviewing stand as Secret Service men sprinted behind him.

Fife-and-bugle corps, marching bands floats and animals wowed the parade-watchers who lined both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue for 1 1/2 miles as they waited for the first couple to emerge from their limousine and walk a couple of blocks en route to their reviewing stand.


Algeria PM: At least 37 hostages killed

ALGIERS, Algeria, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- Algeria's prime minister said Monday the known hostage death toll in a gas-plant crisis was 37, with five people missing. Twenty-nine kidnappers also died.

Abselmalek Sellal announced the figures in a televised news conference.

The five people missing are foreigners, he said.

Sellal said the Islamic militants who took the hostages last week came from countries including Egypt, Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Tunisia.

Two of them were from Canada, the Canadian television newtork CTV reported.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said he was aware of reports of involvement by Canadian citizens.

Nearly 700 Algerians and 107 foreigners were freed or escaped from the gas field operated by British multinational oil and gas company BP PLC in partnership with Norway's Statoil ASA and Algerian government-owned energy company Sonatrach.

An Algerian warlord linked to al-Qaida claimed responsibility for the gas-plant siege.


French, Malian troops reclaim Diabaly

BAMAKO, Mali, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- French and Malian troops finished shoving Islamic insurrectionists out of Diabaly Monday as more troops arrived in Mali from other African nations.

Mop-up operations backed by French tanks sought to root out any rebel stragglers, the British newspaper The Guardian reported from Paris.

About 200 French troops were combing the town as a half-dozen combat helicopters and reconnaissance planes flew support cover.

The Guardian said some locals who left their homes to welcome the French and Malian forces said the insurgents started pulling out after French warplanes bombarded their positions Thursday.

With the arrival of reinforcements, there are now about 1,000 African troops in Mali in addition to French forces, the newspaper said.

U.S. military cargo aircraft are being used to transport the French troops and equipment to the troubled region, a U.S. military official said.


Women's prison inmate dies as guards watch

KITCHNER, Ontario, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- An Ontario women's prison is being investigated for allegedly allowing a problematic inmate to choke herself to death as guards idly stood by.

Ashley Smith, 19, had repeatedly tried injuring or killing herself while being held at Grand Valley Institution, a women's prison in Kitchner, Ontario, prison officials said. After determining she was trying to get attention, prison managers ordered guards not to enter her cell if she was trying to injure herself unless she wasn't breathing.

Smith, guards said, would regularly cut herself with objects or tie bedsheets or clothing around her neck to try to choke herself.

Under Canadian law, any time a guard has to enter a cell to stop an inmate from injuring himself or herself, a full use-of-force report including video evidence and witness interviews must be produced.

Inmate advocates said Smith was allowed to die because prison officials had grown tired of generating the reports and thought she was making the prison look bad to federal officials.

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