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1.7M line up for deportation deferral

CHICAGO, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Some 1.7 million young illegal immigrants sought information on a deportation deferral program that would grant them two-year work permits, U.S. officials said.

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The program -- initiated June 15 by President Barack Obama after the Dream Act legislation stalled in Congress -- would allow illegal immigrants less than 31 years of age who have lived in the country since they were children to defer deportation for two years, The New York Times reported. The referral does not provide any legal immigration status, but grants them the ability to work legally.

Information sessions on the program Wednesday drew throngs of people in cities across the country. Navy Pier in Chicago saw some 11,500 people line up as early as Tuesday night, the Times reported. More than 2,000 of them were turned away because the dozens of lawyers and volunteers explaining the program and required documentation to apply didn't have time to reach them all.

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Maricopa County Community Colleges in Arizona said those granted the deferral would be eligible for in-state tuition because a work permit is acceptable documentation to prove in-state residency, The Arizona Republic reported. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, though, issued an executive order Wednesday telling state agencies not to issue driver's licenses and other public benefits to all undocumented immigrants, even those granted deportation deferral, the newspaper reported.

The school said it would review its decision to grant in-state tuition because of Brewer's order.


Three killed in car blast in Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- A car bomb was detonated outside a real estate building in northeastern Baghdad, Thursday, killing three people and wounding 11 others, police said.

Police said another car bomb on a busy highway on the northern edge of the Iraqi capital went off, wounding nine people, CNN reported.

The bombings in Baghdad came a day after attacks in Diyala province left at least 10 people dead and 36 people injured.

A car bomb exploded Wednesday near an outdoor market in eastern Baquba, killing three people and wounding nine others, police officials said.

In Muqdadiya, a car bomb exploded near a busy outdoor market, followed by a second blast minutes later after Iraqi security forces arrived to investigate and curiosity-seekers gathered, CNN said. Seven people died and 27 were wounded in those attacks, police said.

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Gulf states tell citizens to leave Lebanon

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates urged their nationals to leave Lebanon following a spate of kidnappings, officials said.

A Kuwaiti foreign ministry source told the Kuwaiti news agency KUNA all Kuwaiti citizens currently in Lebanon "should leave, given fears that the security situation might deteriorate in Lebanon due to the rapid developments in Syria, " the Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star said.

Security sources told The Daily Star gulf countries have warned Lebanon through diplomatic channels any kidnapping on Lebanese soil would be met by actions against Shiites in their own countries.

Lebanese authorities Thursday more than doubled the number of flights to Saudi Arabia from Beirut, the paper said.

Ali Awad Asiri, Saudi's ambassador to Lebanon denied reports claiming a Saudi citizen had been kidnapped in Lebanon along with more than two dozen Syrians and a Turkish national.


U.N. blames Assad regime for Houla carnage

GENEVA, Switzerland, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- The Assad regime is guilty of crimes against humanity and of the worst-known Syrian-conflict atrocity, a massacre of 108 villagers, a U.N. panel concluded.

The regime and semi-criminal Shabiha mercenary gangs hired by the regime summarily executed the villagers -- including 34 women and 49 children -- in two Sunni villages in Syria's Houla region 17 miles northwest of Homs, said the independent panel appointed by the 47-nation U.N. Human Rights Council to investigate rights abuses in Syria.

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"The commission found reasonable grounds to believe that government forces and the Shabiha had committed the crimes against humanity of murder and of torture, war crimes and gross violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including unlawful killing, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, sexual violence, indiscriminate attack, pillaging and destruction of property," said the 102-page report led by veteran human rights investigator Paulo Pinheiro, a Brazilian diplomat and legal scholar.

The finding was based on testimony from hundreds of witnesses and survivors who had fled Syria, as well as medical evidence, satellite images and photographs, all of which contradicted the regime claim that extremist insurgents had carried out the May 25 massacre.


British police surround Ecuadorian Embassy

LONDON, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Elite British police closed off areas outside Ecuador's Embassy early Thursday ahead of Quito's decision on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's asylum request.

The New York Times reported early Thursday Ecuador was prepared to let Assange stay in the embassy indefinitely under a type of humanitarian protection. The newspaper cited an Ecuadorian government official as saying London made clear it would not let Assange leave the country to travel to Ecuador, so even by granting asylum or similar protection he would probably remain stuck in the embassy.

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Ecuadorian officials said they would announce President Rafael Correa's decision at 7 a.m. Quito time (8 a.m. EDT, 1 p.m. in London) Thursday.

The tight surveillance outside the embassy -- with five police vans surrounding the embassy, police tape and tactical officers blocking the embassy's entrance and other police patrolling outside the red-brick building near Harrods department store -- followed a threat by Britain to barge into the embassy if Ecuador did not hand over Assange.

Assange walked into the embassy two months ago in a bid to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where he faces allegations of sexual assault.

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