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Nov. 28, 2012 at 7:59 AM
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Obama begins campaign-like 'cliff' effort

WASHINGTON, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama's plan to avoid the "fiscal cliff" includes a campaign-like effort away from Washington starting this week, the White House said.

Obama is to travel to Hatfield, Pa., Friday to visit toymaker K'nex Brands, "a business that depends on middle-class consumers during the holiday season, and could be impacted if taxes go up on 98 percent of Americans at the end of the year," the White House said.

The tax increase refers to George W. Bush-era tax cuts set to expire Jan. 1. Obama wants to preserve the Bush-era tax rates for incomes up to $250,000 but increase the marginal rate on taxable income above that threshold.

Obama was to play host Wednesday to middle-class Americans the White House said would be affected by the tax increases if Congress does not act to avoid the fiscal cliff's more than $500 billion in annual automatic tax hikes and spending cuts set to kick in after New Year's Day.

Obama also was to meet with 14 chief executives from big businesses, the White House said.

The president's campaign-like push comes as top Democratic and Republican leaders were at a standoff on the issue.

McConnell: Filibuster change, cliff poison

WASHINGTON, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned Democrats not to contaminate fiscal-cliff talks by threatening to force a contentious filibuster rule change.

"So here we are as a result of this suggestion that we employ a 'nuclear option,' [arguing] about arcane rules changes, when we ought to be sitting down together and trying to solve the nation's huge, huge deficit and debt problems," the Kentucky Republican said during a nearly hourlong feud on the Senate floor over a proposal by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to eliminate some filibusters.

"This is exactly the wrong way to start off on a new year and end an old year with a ton of problems that we have to deal with," McConnell said.

The nuclear option, known by proponents as the constitutional option, is a filibuster-reform plan for the majority party to change Senate precedents and end a filibuster or other delaying tactic with a 51-vote simple majority instead of a 60-vote supermajority now needed.

Cairo protesters demand Morsi resign

CAIRO, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Egyptian police fired teargas in Cairo's Tahrir Square at tens of thousands of protesters demanding President Mohammed Morsi step down, officials said.

Morsi is facing his most serious domestic challenge since taking office in June following a decree last week giving him sweeping powers that would shield his decisions from legal challenge until a new Parliament is elected

The protesters demand Morsi reverse the decree or resign, Egyptian media reports said.

At least two people have been killed and hundreds injured in clashes involving anti-Morsi protesters, Muslim Brotherhood supporters and police in Cairo, Port Said, Mahallah and Mansoura, Ahram Online said.

"Today's protests are to overthrow oppression and stand up to the new dictatorship of Morsi, his decree and a constitution far removed from the revolution," Haytham Mohamedeen of the Egyptian Revolutionary Socialists movement told the BBC.

Car bombs kill 30 in Damascus neighborhood

DAMASCUS, Syria, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Two car bombings in southeast Damascus, killed at least 30 people and injured dozens more Wednesday, opposition activists and Syria's state-run media reported.

The neighborhood, home to mostly Christian and Druze residents, is considered supportive of President Bashar Assad's government and has been targeted previously, The Washington Post reported.

The blasts occurred a day after rebel fighters seized two military bases in Syria, the latest in their capture of several key government military installations.

Video of bloody streets and demolished cars at the explosion site in the Jaramana neighborhood was aired on state-run television and the official Syrian Arab News Agency blamed "terrorists" -- the characterization used by state media for opposition fighters -- for the attack.

The BBC reported no group has claimed responsibility for the blasts.

Kidnapped mayor found dead

TIQUICHEO, Mexico, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- A former mayor who put her town's interests above her own safety was found dead after being kidnapped while driving her daughter to school, Mexican police said.

Maria Santos Gorrostieta escaped assassination twice before while serving as mayor of Tiquicheo, a small town in the state of Michoacan in southwestern Mexico that has seen some of the worst drug-related violence, CNN reported.

The first failed assassination attempt occurred in 2009 when assassins killed Gorrostieta's husband.

She survived a second attempt in January 2010 and remarried in 2011 after finishing her term as mayor.

Last week Gorrostieta was found dead of an apparent blow to the head.

Deputy Attorney General Marco Aguilera of Michoacan state told CNN investigators are not ruling out any possible motive in her killing.

Initially they are focusing on reconstructing the last 11 months of her life, Aguilera said.

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