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Jan. 29, 2013 at 12:13 PM   |   Comments

McConnell to Obama: No immigration politics

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama headed for Las Vegas Tuesday to unveil his approach to immigration reform -- a plan closely mirroring an outline presented by a bipartisan group of senators.

Obama's proposal, as previewed on the White House website, differs in at least one key way from the senators' framework, which requires the border with Mexico be deemed secure before letting anyone in the United States illegally get citizenship.

Obama will not endorse such a proposal, an administration official told The Washington Post.

White House spokesman Jay Carney declined to say if the White House objects to the Senate group's border-security proposal.

Instead, he said the overall Senate proposal, announced Monday, was "a big deal" because it includes a path to citizenship supported by four senators from each party.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement he hoped Obama would "take a bipartisan approach."

The White House said Obama's remarks would focus "on the need to fix the broken immigration system so that it is fairer for and helps grow the middle class by ensuring everyone plays by the same rules."


Transportation Sec. LaHood stepping down

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- President Obama Tuesday thanked outgoing U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, saying traveling Americans are safer because of him.

LaHood, a former Republican congressman from Obama's home state of Illinois, was appointed in 2009 and announced Tuesday he was stepping down when the president chooses a successor.

"I want to thank Secretary LaHood for his dedication, his hard work and his years of service to the American people," Obama said in a statement released by the White House. He also thanked LaHood for his friendship.

"Years ago, we were drawn together by a shared belief that those of us in public service owe an allegiance not to party or faction, but to the people we were elected to represent," Obama said. "And Ray has never wavered in that belief. As secretary of transportation, he has fought to create jobs and grow our economy by rebuilding our roads, bridges and transit systems. Under his leadership, we have made significant investments in our passenger rail system and laid the groundwork for the high-speed rail network of the future. And every American who travels by air, rail or highway can thank Ray for his commitment to making our entire transportation system safer and stronger."


Senate panel approves Kerry

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- The Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday approved the nomination of Sen. John Kerry to be the next secretary of state.

The nomination next goes to the Senate floor.

Kerry, D-Mass., who formerly chaired the panel, was approved unanimously on a voice vote.

The Hill said the approval never was in doubt, given that Republicans had urged President Obama to nominate Kerry instead of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who ran into opposition for voicing what turned out to be a false analysis of the events at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, dead.

If approved as expected by the full Senate, Kerry will replace Hillary Clinton, whose last day is Friday.


Miami clinic said linked to sports figures

MIAMI, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- The records of a defunct Miami clinic linked to steroids contain the names of a number of famous sports figures, the Miami New Times reported Tuesday.

The newspaper, which conducted a three-month investigation, said the records were given to it by a former employee of Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic not far from the University of Miami campus. The clinic closed last month and its records "are clear in describing the firm's real business: selling performance-enhancing drugs, from human growth hormone to testosterone to anabolic steroids," the New Times said.

The newspaper said names in the records include New York Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez, and other athletes with Miami ties: San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera, Oakland A's pitcher Bartolo Colon, pro tennis player Wayne Odesnik, Cuban star boxer Yuriorkis Gamboa and Texas Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz.

The names also include former University of Miami ace Cesar Carrillo, Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal. Washington Nationals star Gio Gonzalez and notable coaches, including UM baseball conditioning coach Jimmy Goins, the newspaper said.

The New Times said interviews with six customers and two former employees corroborate the patient files, payment records and handwritten notebooks from the clinic's director, Anthony Bosch.


U.S. Embassy closes amid Egyptian violence

PORT SAID, Egypt, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- The U.S. embassy in Cairo closed to the public Tuesday amid civil unrest across Egypt that injured more than 120 people overnight, officials said.

"Due to the security situation in the vicinity of the U.S. Embassy, our public services will be closed ... Tuesday ... including visa services and the Information Resource Center," the embassy said in a statement.

Emergency services for American citizens will be offered "to the extent possible," the statement added.

At least 128 people, including 48 security officers, were injured in overnight clashes that continued into Tuesday morning in Kafr al-Sheik, the MENA news agency reported.

Two officers and 14 recruits were hurt by stones thrown during protests, while another 30 people, including recruits and protesters suffered breathing problems brought on by tear gas.

Six protesters were arrested.

Some 51 people have died in the violence since Friday, the Health Ministry said Sunday, Egypt Independent reported.

The ministry said Monday the death toll from rioting in Port Said had risen from 37 to 40 after three people died in the hospital from their injuries.

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