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Obama signs unemployment extension bill

WASHINGTON, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama Friday signed legislation to help boost the sagging U.S. economy and to visit some of the country's wounded soldiers.

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Obama signed the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009, legislation aimed at spurring job creation by providing an additional tax cut for businesses, extending unemployment benefits up to 20 additional weeks, and stabilizing the housing market with a one-time extension of the $8,000 home buyer tax credit.

The president also was to visit injured soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the White House said.

The newest member of the House of Representatives, Rep. Tom Owens, D-N.Y., was scheduled to visit with Obama during the afternoon.

Obama rescheduled a trip to Capitol Hill to discuss the House version of healthcare reform from Friday to Saturday, the White House said.

The House was scheduled to vote on the bill Saturday evening. Among other things, the $1 trillion bill would extend healthcare to 96 percent of the U.S. population and would create a government-run health insurance plan.

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Brown to Karzai: Clean up your government

LONDON, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown warned Afghan leaders he won't leave British troops in Afghanistan as long as government corruption exists.

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In a speech given Friday to shore up wavering public opinion in Britain about the Afghan war by saying the conflict was a "necessity, not choice," Brown seemed to open the door for a possible exit strategy, The Times of London reported.

"I am not prepared to put the lives of British men and women in harm's way for a government that does not stand up against corruption," Brown said.

Unless Afghan President Hamid Karzai embraces reform and cleans up his government, he will have "forfeited" his right to international military intervention, Brown said.

A poll Thursday indicated opposition to the war has swelled in the last several weeks, The Times said. Only 33 percent of Britons polled for the Channel 4 News survey said they thought the war can be won, while 57 percent said they did not.

Brown said Britain was involved in the war in Afghanistan to defend itself against potential terrorist attacks.

"The biggest domestic threat continues to come from the mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan. So it is right that our first line of defense is there," he said.

Brown also emphasized a need for unity among countries that sent troops to Afghanistan. British diplomatic and defense leaders have criticized U.S. President Barack Obama's deliberate pace on deciding a new strategy for Afghanistan.

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"It is not the U.S. that is being tested in Afghanistan, nor Britain, but the international community," Brown said. "We must persist together; in our different ways we must all contribute. In the end we will succeed or fail together."

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Powerful Afghan governor opposes Karzai

MAZAR-E-SHARIF, Afghanistan, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- One of Afghanistan's most prosperous provinces could be headed for trouble due to its powerful governor's opposition to President Hamid Karzai, observers say.

Gov. Atta Mohammad Noor of Balkh Province was the only one of Afghanistan's 34 governors to openly back Karzai's challenger Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister, in the country's recent presidential election, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Campaign banners with portraits of Dr. Abdullah and Gov. Atta hang all over Mazar-e-Sharif, marking the provincial capital as solid opposition territory to Karzai, the Journal says.

"Karzai is a thief of people's votes. Democracy has been buried in Afghanistan," Atta said in an interview.

Many of Karzai's supporters want the Afghan president to fire the northern provincial governor.

"He's been in power for too many years, and if water stand still, it turns into a cesspool," says Sardar Mohammad Saeedi, the deputy head of Karzai's re-election campaign in the north.

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Turkey makes new overtures to Greece

ANKARA, Turkey, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Sources say Turkey's prime minister has personally proposed a new level of cooperation with Greece, its neighbor and long-time rival.

The proposal was delivered to the Greek government this week in the form a personal letter from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Greek counterpart George Papandreou that was hand delivered by Turkey's new ambassador to Athens.

Sources told Turkish media that Erdogan proposed modeling Turkish-Greek relations on the same basis as recently the established cooperation mechanism his country has established with other neighboring nations, Kathimerini reported Friday.

The letter specifically proposes a joint council to discuss key Aegean matters including the reunification of Cyprus and illegal immigration.

A top Turkish diplomat told the Daily Zaman that his government acknowledges there are long-running issues between the two nations but nothing serious enough that it should prevent an increased level of cooperation between governments.

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Abandoned buildings plague Detroit

DETROIT, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- The thousands of abandoned buildings in Detroit have become a prime attraction for everyone from vandals and scavengers to urban explorers, police say.

With more than 80,000 abandoned buildings and lots, Motown has more vacant space than nearly any other big city in the United States, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

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The city's police department doesn't have the time or the resources to deal with all the people rummaging around abandoned buildings, says spokesman John Roach.

Karen Nagher, executive director of a local non-profit preservation group, says it infuriates her that people come from all over to poke around Detroit.

"Piece by piece, they're disassembling those buildings, making it harder and harder to restore them," she says.

In September someone pushed an old dump truck from the fourth floor of an abandoned Packard auto plant.

Videographer Stephen McGee captured the event on tape.

Two boats and the remains of a yellow Volkswagen also left the upper floors of the Packard plant.

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