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Feb. 8, 2013 at 10:36 PM   |   Comments

Protests turn violent in Egypt

CAIRO, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Protesters clashed with police in Cairo, Alexandria and other Egyptian cities Friday with hundreds gathered at the presidential palace in the evening.

A demonstration in Cairo's Tahrir Square was largely peaceful, Ahram Online reported. But later at the presidential palace protesters tore down barbed wire barricades set up to protect the gates and threw Molotov cocktails and fireworks. Security forces responded by firing shots into the air and dispersing protesters with water cannons, the Egyptian newspaper said.

The demonstrators demanded the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, a longtime member of the Muslim Brotherhood and one of the founders of its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party.

"Down, down with the Muslim Brotherhood," protesters chanted.

Last week, two people were killed in a similar protest at the palace.

The day began with a sermon by Sheik Mazhar Shaheen at the Omar Makram mosque in Tahrir Square, al-Masry al-Youm reported. Shaheen denounced a fatwa issued last week by Mahmoud Shaaba, an Al-Azhar University professor who hosts a conservative TV show. Shaaba suggested those trying to bring down an elected leader are deserving of death and specifically named two leaders of the National Salvation Front.

"It is unbelievable that when a person opposes the ruling regime, he is threatened with death," Shaheen said.

In Alexandria, police used tear gas on stone-throwing protesters, Ahram Online said. In the Gharbiya governate in the Delta, demonstrators stormed a government building in Tanta. A confrontation in front of a police station in the Gharbiya city of Kafr el-Zayat wound up with rocks flying back and forth. The newspaper said 29 people were injured in the various altercations.

Police in Mahalla stopped a group from breaking into the city council chamber. The protesters responded to tear gas by throwing Molotov cocktails.


Amish hair, beard cutters sentenced

CLEVELAND, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- An Amish bishop and 15 followers convicted of hate crimes for cutting rivals' beards and head hair were sentenced to federal prison Friday in Ohio.

Samuel Mullet Sr., the group's 67-year-old leader who received the stiffest sentence at 15 years, and his co-defendants were convicted in September of conspiracy to violate a federal hate-crime law. Mullet was found guilty of orchestrating the forcible cutting of nine men's beards and hair in 2011.

Mullet followers Johnny S. Mullet, 39; Lester Mullet, 28; Levi F. Miller, 54; and Eli M. Miller, 33, were sentenced to seven years in prison. Three of the senior Mullet's followers were sentenced to five years, two were given two-year sentences and six were sentenced to a year and a day, the Justice Department said.

Prosecutors said the victims had left Mullet's group because of religious differences.

A beard is a symbol of faith and manhood, and Amish women express their faith through the way they wear their hair.

"The Department of Justice and the Civil Rights Division will vigorously defend every American's right to worship in the manner of their choosing, including the members of the defendants' community," said Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division. "However, violent assaults are not a form of religious expression. The actions of the defendants were designed to terrorize the victims, desecrate sacred symbols of their faith, and interfere with their right to worship."

U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster told the defendants their offenses went beyond physical injury or mental anguish, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported.

"Each and every one of you did more than terrorize, traumatize and disfigure the victims," the judge said. "You trampled on the Constitution."


Obama praises Panetta in send-off

FORT MYER, Va., Feb. 8 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama, in a ceremony Friday honoring Leon Panetta, praised the outgoing defense secretary for "keeping America safe."

The president told an audience at Fort Myer, Va., Panetta -- who served as CIA director before taking over at the Pentagon -- was instrumental in ending the war in Iraq, winding down the war in Afghanistan and putting "the core of al-Qaida on the path to defeat."

"Your leadership of the CIA will forever be remembered for the blows that we struck against al-Qaida and perhaps the greatest intelligence success in American history -- delivering justice to Osama bin Laden," he said.

Obama said under Panetta's leadership, the United States is improving medical care for wounded military veterans, "stepping up support for our military families, and doing more than ever to help our newest veterans transition to civilian life -- and that includes the jobs our veterans need as we do some nation-building here at home."

The president praised Panetta for guiding the Defense Department through the transition to allowing openly gay men and women to serve in uniform and for opening combat service to women.

Panetta -- who is concluding 50 years of public service during which he served as a member of the House of Representatives, White House chief of staff and director of the White House Office of Management and Budget -- thanked the president and his colleagues, as well as the "brave men and women who are putting their lives on the line every day for this country."

"It's been a hell of a ride for me," the 74-year-old public servant said.


Canadian spy gets 20 years in prison

OTTAWA, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Jeffrey Delisle, a junior Canadian naval officer who sold military secrets to Russia, was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison.

Delisle -- a 41-year-old sub-lieutenant who is the first person sentenced under Canada's Security of Information Act passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States -- will be given credit for 19 months he has been behind bars since his arrest, The Globe and Mail reported.

Patrick Curran, the Nova Scotia provincial chief judge who passed sentence on Delisle in Ottawa, also ordered Delisle to pay a fine of $111,000, the value of the money and other benefits he received from the Russians during the 4 1/2 years he provided them with information beginning in 2007, the Toronto newspaper said.

Delisle has 20 years to come up with the money.

Dressed in denim jeans and a blue hoodie, Delisle, whose mother, sister and daughter were in the courtroom, said nothing after the sentence was delivered, the newspaper said.

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