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Dec. 8, 2012 at 12:03 PM
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Report: Morsi to broaden military power

CAIRO, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- Egyptian army officials said Saturday further violence will not be tolerated, amid reports President Mohamed Morsi plans to give the military broader authority.

Morsi was conducting what he called a national dialogue at the presidential palace Saturday, following two weeks of sometimes violent demonstrations against his Nov. 22 decree asserting broad new powers.

Protesters gathered again at the palace Saturday. Morsi's opponents said his call for dialogue say is inadequate, al-Masry al-Youm reported.

"The president didn't offer any incentives for dialogue," said Mohamed Abu-Shaqra. "Rather he emphasized the use of haphazard power and referred to opposition protesters across the country as a minority, as well as pointing to a third party. If he wants to start a healthy dialogue at such a critical moment, you need to show an understanding of the opposition's demands."

Protesters said their main demands were for Morsi to repeal the November decree and to scrap plans for a referendum on the draft constitution set for Dec. 15.

Ahram Online said the cabinet has approved Morsi's plan to expand the military's authority to arrest those seen as state security threats. Such a move would require Morsi to issue a constitutional declaration, The Washington Post reported.

The army issued a statement saying it supported Morsi's call for national dialogue, and warning that political division poses "a grave danger" to Egypt and threaten its national security.

Obama seeks $60B in Sandy aid

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- U.S. senators from New York and New Jersey say President Barack Obama's request for $60 billion in Superstorm Sandy emergency aid is a "good head start."

In a statement, the four Democrats -- Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer of New York, and Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey -- said they expect more supplemental requests will be needed, The Washington Post reported.

In a letter to Congress, Obama asked late Friday for $60.4 billion.

"This is going to be a tough fight in the Congress given the fiscal cliff, and some members have not been friendly to disaster relief," the senators said in a statement. "But the care with which the package has been put together has given us a good head start."

The governors of the two states, Republican Chris Christie of New Jersey and Democrat Andrew Cuomo of New York, issued their own statement thanking the president.

Congress could take up the aid request next week, the Los Angeles Times said.

Ghana general election extended for a day

ACCRA, Ghana, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- Presidential and parliamentary voting in Ghana has been extended through Saturday, officials said, citing problems at polling stations Friday.

Biometric machines failed to identify voters and election materials arrived late at some polling places, the BBC reported.

Many voters were unable to cast ballots Friday, so officials decided to extend voting into Saturday.

Eight presidential candidates are on the ballot, including incumbent leader John Dramani Mahama and opposition front-runner Nana Akufo-Addo, the son of a former president, CNN reported.

In addition to the presidential election, 275 parliamentary seats are up for grabs in the election.

Before voting was extended, the electoral commission said it expected to declare a winner -- should one candidate have a majority -- within 72 hours after polls close Friday.

"Ghana has organized five previous successful elections, and there should not be any reason why this year's election should not be successful," the president said in a statement.

Britain worried by Syrian chemical weapons

DAMASCUS, Syria, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- Foreign Secretary William Hague says Britain is "extremely concerned" the Syrian government may use chemical weapons against rebels.

Hague cited the Syrian regime's stockpile of chemical weapons, CNN reported.

"We are extremely concerned," Hague said, adding that Britain and its allies had "contingency plans concerning chemical weapons."

He did not elaborate.

The U.S. military has been revising its plans for a potential strike against Syria over chemical weapons.

"A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of weapons moving around or being utilized," President Barack Obama said during a news conference in August.

The U.S. State Department and the White House warned Syrian President Bashar Assad not to use chemical weapons on Syrians.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday "we are concerned that in an increasingly beleaguered regime, having found its escalation of violence through conventional means inadequate, might be considering the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people."

"The Assad regime must know that the world is watching, and that they will be held accountable by the United States and the international community if they use chemical weapons, or fail to meet their obligations to secure them," Carney said.

Mandela hospital stay no 'cause of alarm'

PRETORIA, South Africa, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- South Africa's president said Saturday Nelson Mandela's admission to a Pretoria hospital was no cause for alarm.

President Jacob Zuma told reporters the 94-year-old Mandela was admitted for tests and there was "no cause for alarm."

"The medical team is assured of our support as they look after and ensure the comfort of our beloved founding president of a free and democratic South Africa," Zuma said.

Zuma added the periodic medical attention was "consistent with" Mandela's age, CNN said.

Few details of Mandela's condition were released by the hospital. Mandela has been described as being frail with some memory issues and has largely been out of public view in recent years. The BBC said he has been described by visitors as generally being in good spirits.

Obama to accept corporate inaugural cash

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- Organizers of U.S. President Barack Obama's second inauguration say they are accepting unlimited corporate donations.

Although corporations are allowed to donate to Obama's inauguration, lobbyists and political action committees are banned from giving to the event, The Hill reported Saturday.

"Our goal is to make sure that we will meet the fund-raising requirements for this civic event after the most expensive presidential campaign in history," Addie Whisenant, the inaugural committee spokeswoman.

A Republican fundraiser who has worked on inaugurations accused Obama of flip-flopping on corporate donations, Politico said.

"Here is this guy that came to Washington, and said, 'I'm going to come and change the way Washington works. I'm going to bring a new, basically, working class to Washington,'" the GOP fundraiser said. "But now that I'm re-elected and I have nothing to worry about in the future, besides possibly my library, that quote-unquote moral compass doesn't exist."

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