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Jan. 22, 2013 at 5:09 PM   |   Comments

Obama would sign debt limit suspension

WASHINGTON, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- President Obama would sign a Republican-backed measure suspending the U.S. debt ceiling through mid-May if it lands on his desk, a spokesman said Tuesday.

White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters the president would not block such legislation but would prefer a long-term solution.

The United States hit its $16.4 trillion debt limit New Year's Eve, forcing Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to use accounting tricks to keep U.S. payments current. Geithner has warned he cannot keep up the actions indefinitely.

The House was scheduled to vote Wednesday on suspending the debt ceiling through May 19.

The administration issued a policy statement saying it was encouraged by the measure, which "lifts the immediate threat of default and indicates that congressional Republicans have backed off an insistence on holding the nation's economy hostage to extract drastic cuts in Medicare, education, and other programs that middle-class families depend on. For these reasons, the administration would not oppose a short-term solution to the debt limit and looks forward to continuing to work with both the House and the Senate to increase certainty and stability for the economy."

Carney noted the president has always said it is bad for the economy to raise the debt ceiling in increments.


At least 3 shot at Lone Star College

HOUSTON, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- At least three people were shot Wednesday at Lone Star College near Houston, where police said they detained one person and were searching for a suspect.

Harris County Sheriff's Department Maj. Armando Tello said "a person of interest" had been detained, ABC News reported.

Student Brittany Mobley said two males were arguing when one pulled a gun and started shooting, KHOU-TV, Houston, reported.

"I saw two dudes basically get into an altercation and the dude that shot, he basically got angry and started shooting the other guy," she said.

The man involved in the argument was one of those wounded, witnesses said.

Citing witnesses, KHOU-TV said a male shooting victim was carried out of the library handcuffed to a stretcher.


Rebels attack Syrian airbase

DAMASCUS, Syria, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Rebels in northern Syria have their hopes pinned on the fall of the Mannagh airbase, a major piece of the region's remaining government-controlled territory.

In what they call "the final battle," rebels have been engaged in a month-long siege of the well-fortified helicopter base near the Syrian border with Turkey, underscoring a year-long transition from being the hunted to now encircling and attacking some of the largest military bases in the country, CNN reported Tuesday.

"The day the airport falls will be a holiday," said a local farmer who identified himself as Abu Yashar.

Syrian warplanes and tanks targeted rebel strongholds around Damascus, officials said.

Fighter jets struck Douma, northeast of Damascus, and tanks shelled Darya and Moadamiyat al-Sham, southwest of the capital, as well as Yalda and Beit Sahem, south of Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights in London said Tuesday.

Fighting continued in the predominantly Kurdish city of Ras al-Ein near the Turkish border, the human rights group said, noting so far some 56 people have been killed in six days of fighting in the border town.


Netanyahu Israel's next prime minister

JERUSALEM, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Initial exit polls for Israel's national elections showed a disappointing win for the Likud-Beitenu Party with 31 seats in the next Knesset.

The outcome of Tuesday's elections guaranteed Binyamin Netanyahu a second consecutive term as prime minister but a weaker mandate. Talks to form the next coalition will begin Wednesday and are expected to last several days.

The biggest surprise of Tuesday's elections was newcomer to politics, former journalist Yair Lapid whose Yesh Atid party became the country's second largest, with exit polls predicting 19 seats in the next Knesset. The Labor party according to initial estimates won 17 seats. Another political newcomer, Naftali Bennet's Jewish Home party was projected to win 12 seats, Shas 11 and Tzipi Livni's Hatnua party 7 seats, Israel's three television stations said in exit polls broadcast at 10 p.m. as polls closed.

The exit polls give the right-wing bloc 61 seats and the left-wing bloc 59 in the next Knesset.


Beyonce lip-synched at inauguration

WASHINGTON, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Beyonce lip-synched "The Star Spangled Banner" at President Barack Obama's inauguration, a representative for the U.S. Marine Band told the New York Post.

"All music is prerecorded for the ceremony because there are so many eventualities and conditions that day," Kristin DuBois, the band's spokeswoman told the newspaper of Beyonce's performance Monday in Washington. "We performed, live, the band. But we received last-minute word that Beyonce was going to use the prerecorded vocal track. Those were the instructions we were given. We don't know what the reason why [was.]"

A publicist for Kelly Clarkson, who sang "My Country 'Tis of Thee" at the ceremony, told the Post, "Kelly did sing live!"

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