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Jan. 28, 2013 at 4:59 PM   |   Comments

Senators reveal immigration overhaul plan

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- A bipartisan group of eight U.S. senators offered a proposal to revamp the country's immigration laws Monday, saying the time is here to begin fixing the system

"We have a long way to go, but this bipartisan blueprint is a major breakthrough," Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said, adding he thought the chamber could pass the bill by late spring or summer.

"The key to our compromise is to recognize that Americans overwhelming oppose illegal immigration, and support legal immigration," Schumer said. "To this end, our framework contains four basic pillars. First we create a tough, but fair path to citizenship for illegal immigrants currently living in the United States that is contingent upon securing our borders. Second, we reform our legal immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help build the American economy and strengthen American families."

"Third, we create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers," he said. "And lastly, we establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our nation's workforce needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers."

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said no one benefits by having undocumented workers "here hidden in the shadows. Let's create a system to bring them forward, allow them to settle their debt to society and fulfill the necessary requirements to become law-abiding citizens of this country. This is consistent with our country's tradition of being a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants."

The other senators who worked the proposal were Democrats Richard Durbin of Illinois, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado, and Republicans Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marco Rubio of Florida and Jeff Flake of Arizona.


Army may get new power to end Egypt unrest

CAIRO, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Unrest in Egypt widened Monday, with the Egyptian Cabinet proposing to give the army the power to arrest civilians, officials said.

In Port Said, protesters armed with rocks and shoes forced armored personnel carriers to retreat during a funeral procession for some of those killed in the current violence, The New York Times reported.

Demonstrators called for city residents to ignore President Mohamed Morsi's 9 p.m. curfew.

Police in Cairo fired tear gas at protesters on a bridge that was the site of a battle during the uprising against Hosni Mubarak.

In response to the violence, the Egyptian Cabinet proposed granting the military power to arrest civilians, The Egyptian Independent and MENA reported.

The armed forces would act as police officers, so those arrested would be tried in civilian, rather than military, courts.

The death toll from five days of protests was estimated Monday at 50 by local news media.


U.S. wants Africa drone base

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The U.S. military wants to put a drone base in northwestern Africa to deal with the threat of Islamic terrorists operating in the region, officials say.

The New York Times reported Monday officials say only unarmed surveillance drones are anticipated for the time being though arming the unmanned aircraft with missiles would be an option if the situation deteriorates.

The newspaper said the drone base, still in the planning stage and in need of Pentagon and White House approval, would most likely be in Niger, which borders restive Mali in the east.

The U.S. military's Africa Command is discussing its plans with other countries in the region, including Burkina Faso, officials said.

"This is directly related to the Mali mission, but it could also give Africom a more enduring presence for ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance]," an unnamed U.S. military official told the Times Sunday.

The U.S. military has a permanent base in Djibouti, more than 3,000 miles from Mali, and a few other small air bases in Africa.


Queen Beatrix to step aside for son

THE HAGUE, Netherlands, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands announced Monday she will end her 33-year rule in favor of her son, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander.

The queen said this year, which includes her 75th birthday and fetes to mark the bicentennial of the monarchy, would be good time to abdicate and turn the crown over to a new generation, DutchNews.nl reported.

She will leave the throne April 30, the date 33 years ago that she ascended to the thrown after her mother, Juliana, abdicated, CNN reported. The position of queen or king in the Netherlands is largely ceremonial.

The queen will celebrate her 75th birthday Thursday.

Willem-Alexander and his wife, Princess Maxima, are "fully prepared for their future role," she said.


U.S. soldier gets double arm transplant

BALTIMORE, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- A U.S. infantryman who lost all four limbs in a 2009 roadside bomb attack in Iraq received a double arm transplant, his physicians say.

Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee, director of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine's Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and head of the team that performed the transplant said the soldier received a transplant of two arms from a deceased donor last month.

The patient became one of only seven people in the United States who have undergone successful double arm transplants, Lee said.

The transplants involved the connection of bones, blood vessels, muscles, tendons, nerves and skin on both arms. The patient also agreed to participate in a study of a new anti-rejection regimen, Lee said.

The study of the anti-rejection regimen was sponsored by the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine of the U.S. Department of Defense.

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