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Jan. 29, 2013 at 5:15 PM   |   Comments

Obama: Time to fix immigration

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- President Obama told a cheering crowd in Las Vegas Tuesday it's time to fix "an immigration system that's out of date and badly broken."

The president said the principles he would be advancing had three prongs: tighter border security; helping the 11 million illegal aliens earn citizenship -- "It won't be a quick process but it will be a fair process" -- and bringing "our immigration system into the 21st century. You shouldn't have to wait years to join your family here in America."

Obama appeared to be letting Congress take the lead. But if Congress delays action, Obama said he will send up his own bill to Congress "and insist they act on it right away."

Obama warned, "The closer we get [to immigration reform] the more emotional this debate is going to come," taking an "us versus them" tenor.

However, "A lot of folks forget that most of us used to be them," Obama said. "All those folks before they were us, they were them."

Before outlining his immigration plan at Del Sol High School, Obama said, "A broad consensus is emerging and ... a broad call for action can be heard from all across America" for "common sense immigration reform."


Kerry confirmed as secretary of state

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate Tuesday confirmed Sen. John Kerry to be the next secretary of state, replacing Hillary Clinton.

The Senate action followed approval by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which Kerry formerly led, earlier in the day.

The Massachusetts Democrat, who was his party's failed presidential nominee in 2004, was approved 94-3.

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., cited Kerry's extensive experience with foreign leaders in supportint the nomination, Roll Call reported.

"I can think of no one better prepared to take on the challenges of this position," Menendez said.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn, said Kerry had been preparing for the job since his father was a diplomat.

"I'm honored beyond words," Kerry said following the vote.

Kerry, who has been in the Senate for three decades, told reporters after the vote he was "wistful" about leaving the Senate.


Syrian rebels report massacre near Aleppo

ALEPPO, Syria, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Scores of bodies, victims of apparent mass execution, were found in an Aleppo suburb, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday.

The group posted video on its website showing the bodies of young men with their hands tied, the Financial Times reported. The men were in their 20s and had been shot.

Rebel groups said the killing was done by forces loyal to President Bashar Assad.

The observatory said there were 65 victims. Another group, the Local Co-Ordination Committees, said there were 80.

Syrian dissidents said the victims appeared to be Sunni Muslims, The New York Times reported.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said Tuesday the flow of refugees from Syria into neighboring countries has increased, The New York Times said. Sybella Wilkes, a UNHCR spokeswoman, said there are now more than 700,000, up from 500,000 two months ago.

Turkey is hosting the largest number of refugees, followed by Jordan and Lebanon, but there are also some in Egypt and other northern African countries.


Bag from Missoni plane found

MILAN, Italy, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- A bag from the missing plane carrying Italian fashion executive Vittorio Missoni and five others was found on a Caribbean island, a family spokeswoman said.

A German tourist found the piece of luggage Jan. 10 on the island of Curacao, Women's Wear Daily reported Monday.

The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported the bag belonged to Italian tourist Giorgio Neri and was placed on Missoni's plane Jan. 4 because there wasn't enough room on the plane he was taking from Los Roques, Venezuela, to Caracas.

The bag was empty when the German tourist found it but still had Neri's contact information. The German contacted Neri by email once he returned to Germany and Neri alerted the Missoni family, Corriere della Sera said.

The Missoni spokeswoman said the family was aware the bag had been found, Women's Wear Daily said.


Judge halts execution of Texas woman

HUNTSVILLE, Texas, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- A Texas judge delayed Tuesday's scheduled execution of Kimberly McCarthy until April after defense attorneys argued her conviction was tainted by racism.

McCarthy, 51, was to be executed Tuesday by lethal injection at the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville for the July 21, 1997, slaying of her neighbor, retired college Professor Dorothy Booth, 71.

Dallas County Judge Larry Mitchell rescheduled the execution for April 3 after University of Texas law Professor Maurie Levin argued McCarthy, who is black, was a victim of racial discrimination when a jury of 11 whites and one black convicted her, KWTX-TV, Waco, reported.

Prosecutors -- who had argued the record does not support the defense argument of discrimination -- said they will not appeal the ruling, KWTX-TV said.

McCarthy was convicted of beating Booth to death with a candelabra then cutting off the victim's finger to steal her wedding ring.

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