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UPI NewsTrack TopNews

  |   Jan. 26, 2013 at 12:44 PM
Riots erupt in Egypt over death sentences

PORT SAID, Egypt, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- At least 22 people died Saturday in rioting outside an Egyptian prison, officials said.

An estimated 200 other people were hurt in the melees in Port Said after a court sentenced 21 soccer fans to death for the February 2011 riots that left 72 people dead following a soccer match in the city.

Saturday's unrest marred the second anniversary of the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak. The current president, Mohamed Morsi, planned to address the restive nation by television Saturday, Egyptian media said.

Security forces fired tear gas to disperse the crowd as it attempted to break into the Port Said prison where most of the defendants were being held, Ahram Online reported.

A police dorm was looted and set on fire. A police station and a television news minivan were also torched.

"All the shops are closed, and the city is under complete paralysis," a midtown hotelier who declined to give his name told the Washington Post.

Three executives and nine security guards of the al-Masry soccer team were among the 73 defendants charged in the soccer riot deaths. The rest of the defendants expect to hear their verdicts in March.


Anonymous threatens Justice Department

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Hackers claiming to be with the group Anonymous threatened to release sensitive U.S. Justice Department documents as retaliation for the death of Aaron Swartz.

The group posted a message on the U.S. Sentencing Commission's website homepage early Saturday stating that if the commission does not reform federal sentencing guidelines, the group would release incriminating information to news outlets, CNN reported.

The message was prompted by the Jan. 11 suicide of Internet activist Aaron Swartz. His death, which Anonymous blamed on the justice system, "crossed a line," the message said.

Swartz, 26, was facing federal computer fraud charges that carried up to a 35 year prison sentence. Anonymous said he "was killed," because he "faced an impossible choice."

His family says federal charges over allegations he stole millions of online documents -- most of which were scholarly papers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- contributed to Swartz's decision to take his own life.


Fifty said dead in Venezualan prison riot

CARACAS, Venezuela, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- At least 50 people are believed dead and dozens injured as prisoners in a Venezuelan prison clashed with police sent to disarm them, officials said.

The disturbance at the notoriously violent prison in Uribana is the latest incident involving the country's overcrowded prisons, CNN reported Saturday.

Prison advocacy groups said the country's prisons hold about 50,000 inmates, about three times what the facilities were designed for, Voice of America reported.

Prison minister Iris Varela said local media had reported about plans to remove weapons from the inmates. National troops sent to conduct the operation were met with violence Friday.

Prison officials said the reports by news network Globovision and other media were "a detonator for the violence."

Globovision said at least 50 were killed and 90 injured, but the ministry did not release the number of casualties. "Once we have absolute control of the facilities," more details will be released, the prison ministry said in a statement.

The troops were sent to the prison after prison gangs fought this week.

In the first six months of 2012, more than 300 inmates died in Venezuelan prisons, a prison watchdog group said.


Plan for U.S. immigration reform ready

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- A bipartisan working group in the U.S. Senate has quietly neared agreement on the principles of a plan for immigration reform, officials said.

The Washington Post said the six-member group could unveil their deal as early as next Friday and set the stage for the first overhaul of immigration regulations in years.

"We have basic agreement on many of the core principles," Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), a member of the group, said this week. "Now we have to draft it. It takes time."

The working group's deal may carry some political weight since its members include senior and high-profile lawmakers. The members are Republican Sens. John McCain, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham, and Democrats Durbin, Charles Schumer and Robert Menendez.

Details of the strategy were not immediately available, but the Post said the plan was expected to include normalizing the immigration status of illegal immigrants and allowing those without criminal records to obtain legal work permits.

Another potentially controversial aspect of the new move could be the role of President Obama's volatile healthcare reform plan. The Hill said Saturday the normalization of the status of millions of illegal immigrants could allow them to buy health insurance through the insurance exchanges to be set up under the Affordable Care Act.

Proponents say that could be a blessing for hospitals that currently treat scores of immigrants who are currently uninsured. It would also get more immigrant workers on the tax roles.

Critics, however, may also see it as opening the door for more people to seek government healthcare benefits.

The next step will on Capitol Hill where actual legislation will be parsed and debated by a sharply partisan Congress.

The Post said it remained to be seen if the overhaul would take the form of one massive bill or several smaller measures that could make it easier to digest.

"I doubt if there will be a macro, comprehensive bill," said Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. "Anytime a bill is more than 500 pages, people start getting suspicious. If it's 2,000 pages, they go berserk."


Flag protests erupt again in Belfast

BELFAST, Northern Ireland, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Police said a Molotov cocktail was thrown at officers in Belfast during the latest protest over the display of the British flag.

No one was reported hurt in the incident, which occurred amid a series of protests that have been going on since the Belfast City Council voted eight weeks ago to only display the Union Flag at city hall on special occasions.

A number of Belfast streets were blocked by protesters Friday night, the Belfast Telegraph said.


Snowstorm strands drivers in England

LANCASHIRE, England, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Severe snowstorms across northern England left motorists stranded and forced the suspension of a number of flights Saturday, officials said.

More than a foot of snow fell on the M6 highway between Wigan and Standish, causing drivers to abandon their vehicles on the roadway, The Daily Telegraph reported.

The Highways Agency closed a section of the M6 overnight and reopened it Saturday morning, but the highway remained backed up for most of the day.

Motorist Ryan Murray said he was stuck on the highway for seven hours as he made his way from Aberdeen to Lancashire.

"The snow got worse and then started to come in sideways. You could not see at all. The motorway became an absolute car park. What was making it worse was once all the articulated lorries stopped they struggled to get moving again," Murray said.

In North Yorkshire, a couple had to be rescued from a snow drift on the North York Moors by the fire department.

A spokesman for North Yorkshire fire service said: "Due to extreme weather conditions a husband and wife had driven into a snow drift and were unable to get out. The wife had undergone surgery a week before and they had tried to dig themselves out for over two hours."

All flights at Leeds Bradford International Airport were suspended due to the snow, the news report said.

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