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Feb. 16, 2013 at 10:00 PM   |   Comments

Sectarian bombing in Pakistan kills 65

QUETTA, Pakistan, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Protesters in Pakistan threw rocks at police cars and set fires in the street Saturday after a bomb attack in a Shiite neighborhood killed at least 65 people.

The bomb -- apparently detonated by remote control -- injured at least 175 people in a crowded market in Qetta, including a number of women and children, the Los Angeles Times said.

"The death toll may rise," senior police officer Wazir Khan Nasir told DAWN.com. "It was a remote-controlled bomb."

The explosion occurred along a busy street near a school in a section of town with a large population of ethnic Hazaras, a group tied to the Shiite branch of Islam.

"It was a sectarian attack," the officer said. "the [Shite]community was the target."

DAWN.com said the explosion brought scores of police and troops to the area, and Hazara leaders issued calls for a strike Sunday to protest the attack.


Karzai to limit NATO airstrikes

KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Saturday he plans to prohibit Afghan ground forces from requesting NATO airstrikes "on Afghan homes or Afghan villages."

Karzai announced his intentions during a speech at a military academy in Kabul, four days after 10 civilians -- including five women and four children -- were killed in a NATO airstrike in a village in eastern Kunar province, The Washington Post reported.

The strike was one in a long-running string of such attacks called in by Afghan forces, the newspaper said.

"Our forces ask for air support from foreigners, and children get killed in an airstrike," Karzai said Saturday.

He said he would issue a formal order Sunday "stating that under no conditions can Afghan forces request foreign airstrikes on Afghan homes or Afghan villages during operations."

NATO is investigating the Tuesday strike -- which officials said also killed three militants, including one who was associated with al-Qaida.

The new commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, U.S. Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., has expressed condolences personally to Karzai, government and military officials said.

NATO declined to comment on Karzai's announcement Saturday, the Post said.


1 percent of incomes growing in recovery

BERKELEY, Calif., Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Wages grew 11.2 percent for top U.S. earners as the economy recovered in 2011, but fell 0.4 percent for all others, an economics researcher said.

A report authored by University of California, Berkeley, economist Emmanuel Saez says U.S. incomes rose 1.7 percent overall in data that include 2011, The New York Times reported Saturday.

Lawrence Mishel, president of the non-profit, non-partisan Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank in Washington, told the newspaper the way the top 1 percent and the bottom 99 percent earn money accounts for much of the disparity -- with the wealthy cashing in on stock market growth and wage earners paying the price for high unemployment.

"That high unemployment we know depresses wage growth throughout the wage scale," Mishel said, "but more so for the bottom than the middle and the middle than the top."

Saez said "the Great Recession has only depressed top income shares temporarily and will not undo any of the dramatic increase in top income shares that has taken place since the 1970s."

Saez's report suggests the income-growth figures for 2012 will resemble those for 2011.


Plane intercepted near Obama vacation spot

PALM CITY, Fla., Feb. 16 (UPI) -- U.S. officials said a plane was escorted from restricted air space in Florida, where President Obama is spending President's Day weekend at a gated golf club.

Army Lt. Col. Mike Humphreys said an F-16 jet and a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter intercepted a Cessna 152 around noon EST Saturday, as it entered restricted flight space over Florida's Treasure Coast, the Los Angeles Times reported. The military escort forced the light plane's pilot to land at Witham Field in Stuart, Fla., the newspaper said.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it is investigating.

Obama is staying at The Floridian National Golf Club, an exclusive golf club owned by Democratic donor and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane, located on the St. Lucie River. The president and several friends and administration officials have set up camp at the club for the holiday weekend, while first lady Michelle Obama and the couple's daughters were off to Colorado for a ski trip, the White House said.

The president played a round of golf Saturday under sunny skies with temperatures in the 70s. His golf partners included Crane, outgoing U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, campaign fundraiser Tony Chase, longtime Obama friend Dr. Eric Whitaker, and Milton Carroll, chairman of CenterPoint Energy and an Obama campaign donor.

Obama may have gotten a few pointers from acclaimed golf coach Butch Harmon, a longtime presidential swing confidante.

"I've played golf with Ike, Nixon, Ford and President Bush 41," Harmon told Golf Digest. "I know the president is a real keen golfer. I'm looking forward to it. It should be fun."

Asked what advice he would have for the president having seen his swing on television, Harmon -- who once worked as swing coach for Tiger Woods -- told CNN he'd advise the left-handed swinging Obama to turn his hips more on his backswing.


Papal enclave may happen sooner

VATICAN CITY, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- The meeting of Roman Catholic Church cardinals to choose a successor to Pope Benedict XVI could happen sooner than first thought, a Vatican spokesman said.

Benedict is scheduled to step down from his position Feb. 28, and the conclave, or the meeting to determine his successor, was scheduled to take begin March 15, CNN reported.

The meeting may begin sooner if all of the cardinals are already in Rome, said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Holy See Press Office director.

Lombardi said because the conclave is not triggered by Benedict's death, there is some scope for the time frame of the meeting to be brought forward.

During the conclave, all of the 117 cardinals will be cut off from outside communication until a new pope has been selected, Italy's ANSA news agency reported.

Under the apostolic constitution Universi Dominici Gregis, or "The Lord's Whole Flock", written by Pope John Paul II in 1996, there must be absolute discretion when electing a new pope.

More than 35,000 people have registered with the Pontifical Household to attend Pope Benedict XVI's departure from the papacy Feb. 28, Vatican Radio reported.

Lombardi said the event will be broadcast live on the Vatican Television Center.

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