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Jan. 27, 2013 at 5:00 PM   |   0 comments

At least 232 die in Brazilian club fire

SANTA MARIA, Brazil, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- The death toll from a fire at a nightclub in Santa Maria, Brazil, has been decreased from 245 to 232, officials said.

Col. Guido Pedroso de Melo, the commander of the city's fire department, said emergency responders counted at least 232 dead, down from a previous estimate of 245, The New York Times reported.

Most of the deaths at the Kiss nightclub appeared to have been the result of smoke inhalation, CNN reported.

Col. Adilomar Silva, the regional coordinator of civil defense, said the death toll was expected to rise as firefighters were still pulling bodies out of the club.

Silva said the acoustic insulation in the nightclub caught fire, adding that a pyrotechnics show going on inside the club when the fire started.

The fire broke out around 2 a.m. local time with an estimated 400 people in the club, CNN said.

There was reportedly only one exit door, O Globo, Rio de Janeiro, said.

"It was a small door for a lot of people" Luana Santos Silva, who was at the nightclub, told O Globo. Santa Maria is home to the Federal University of Santa Maria, as well as a number of other universities, most of which resume classes Monday after summer break.

The injured were taken to three hospitals, the newspaper said.

Rio Grande do Sul Gov. Tarso Genro took to Twitter to lament the fire.

"Sad Sunday! We are taking appropriate action and possible. I'll be in Santa Maria in the late morning," Genro tweeted.

Speaking from Chile where she was attending a regional summit, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said she plans to head to Santa Maria later Sunday.


Feds investigate Stuxnet leak

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- The Obama administration is investigating who leaked classified information about a highly secret cyberwar targeting Iran's nuclear facility, officials said.

The Justice Department investigation started by Attorney General Eric Holder is trying to determine who gave information on the Stuxnet virus to The New York Times, The Washington Post and other media outlets. Stuxnet and a sister virus called Flame were created by U.S. and Israeli cyberintelligence workers and used to infiltrate Iran's nuclear facility. Once installed, Stuxnet caused the enrichment centrifuges to spin out of control and break.

Justice Department officials said only a select handful of U.S. and Israeli officials had knowledge of the Stuxnet program and officials "at pretty high levels" are being questioned about the leaks, one official familiar with the investigation told the Washington Post.

The Obama administration has prosecuted six individuals for leaking classified information to reporters -- more than all other presidential administrations combined.

The Post said the advent of email -- and software that easily allows prosecutors to search large quantities of it in mere seconds -- has helped create a trail for investigators to follow.


Feinstein girds for gun control battle

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- The political support exists to pass legislation cracking down on assault weapons in the United States, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said Sunday.

Appearing on CNN's "State of the Union," Feinstein said restricting access to such high-powered firearms was becoming increasingly important and was gaining support from law enforcement and municipal leaders.

"Do military style assault weapons belong on the streets of our cities? And the answer, according to the United States Conference of Mayors, according to major chiefs of police, according to the largest police organization in the world, is absolutely no," Feinstein said. "So we do have support, don't mistake it."

Feinstein said the most recent mass shooting in the United States were carried out by "younger and younger people" armed with such weaponry.

Feinstein, a ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told CNN that if restrictions on assault weapons were taken out of legislation on ammunition or high-capacity magazines, she would be willing to re-introduce it as an amendment on the Senate floor.

"I have been assured by the majority leader that I will be able to do it as an amendment on the floor," Feinstein said. "So that doesn't particularly bother me."


McCain: Immigration plan to be released

NEW YORK, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. John McCain said Sunday he and his colleagues will be releasing their immigration reform plan this week.

McCain , R-Ariz., said on ABC News' "This Week" he, Sen, Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Senator Richard Durbin, D-Ill., have been working on the plan for weeks.

"It's not that much different from what we tried to do in 2007," McCain told Martha Raddatz, who filled in for George Stephanopoulos Sunday. "Martha, what's changed is -- honestly, is that there is a new ... appreciation on both sides of the aisle."

McCain said border enforcement is an important aspect of the plan, which also will attempt to control drug trafficking.

McCain also said a pathway to citizenship is a large part of the proposal, although many Republicans are against the measure.

"Look at the last election. We are dramatically losing the Hispanic vote, which we think should be ours, for a variety of reasons," he said. "Second of all, this -- we can't go on forever with 11 million people living in this country in the shadows in illegal status. ... So I think the time is right."

Raddatz said President Barack Obama is also campaigning for immigration reform this week and has made it one of his top priorities.

McCain said he believes Obama's commitment helps the cause.

"I think it's important that we all work together on this," he said.

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