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Dec. 10, 2012 at 5:06 PM
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Obama touts fiscal cliff plan at plant

REDFORD, Mich., Dec. 10 (UPI) -- President Obama took his plan to avert the fiscal cliff of higher taxes and spending cuts to Michigan Monday, arguing his plan would be fair and responsible.

Obama visited the Daimler Detroit Diesel plant in Redford where he praised the crowd of current employees and previous generations of workers who, for more than 70 years, "have done your part to build up America's manufacturing strength."

Companies such as Daimler, based in Germany, know that investing in America's workers is a "smart bet," Obama said.

"The competitive balance is tipping a little bit" in America's favor and companies are seeing "it makes sense to invest here in America."

The economy is growing again, business has created more than 5.5 million new jobs during the last 33 months and the country is "making progress ... moving in [the] right direction ... going forward."

If nothing is done, Obama said, taxes for a typical middle-class taxpayer will jump by about $2,200 come Jan. 1.

Report: Rebel military support considered

DAMASCUS, Syria, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Britain has talked with other nations about bolstering Syrian rebels not only with training but naval and air support, The Independent reported Monday.

The British newspaper said it has learned Gen. David Richards, who heads up Britain's armed forces, met secretly in London a few weeks ago with the military chiefs of France, Turkey, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, as well as a three-star American general to discuss the ways in which the rebels could be supported without boots on the ground. The meeting came at the best of Prime Minister David Cameron, senior Whitehall sources told The Independent.

The newspaper said other U.K. government departments and their counterparts in allied states also have conducted extensive meetings.

Syrian opposition forces have been battling the military of Syrian President Bashar Assad for nearly 22 months. The death toll has reached an estimated 40,000 lives.

SEAL killed in Afghanistan identified

WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- A U.S. Navy SEAL killed in a weekend rescue mission in Afghanistan was identified Monday as Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas Checque of Monroeville, Pa.

Checque, 28, died of a single gunshot wound to the head during the rescue Sunday of Dr. Dilip Joseph of Colorado Springs from the Taliban, CBS reported.

Seven Taliban also were killed in the operation.

Joseph had been abducted by Taliban insurgents Wednesday while driving to a rural medical clinic with two Afghans in the vicinity of Sarobi District of Kabul province. The other two were freed shortly before the rescue effort, following days of negotiations, CBS said. Joseph was expected to return to his family shortly.

Checque was a member of SEAL Team 6, the unit involved in the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

Colorado gov signs pot proclamation

DENVER, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper Monday signed a proclamation that officially makes an amendment legalizing marijuana part of the state's constitution.

While Colorado voters approved the amendment last month, marijuana is still illegal under federal law.

Hickenlooper said a 24-member task force will be charged with resolving legal and logistical details needed to implement the amendment, which makes the use, possession and limited home-growing of marijuana legal for those 21 and older, The Denver Post reported.

"Voters were loud and clear on Election Day," Hickenlooper said in a statement. "We will begin working immediately with the General Assembly and state agencies to implement Amendment 64."

The panel that will work out the details of implementing the legalization will be comprised of lawmakers, cabinet officials, civic leaders and officials from groups representing employers, the legal community and marijuana advocates. It will be led by Jack Finlaw, the governor's chief legal counsel, and Barbara Brohl, executive director of the Colorado Department of Revenue, the Post said.

Japanese troops to leave Golan Heights

TOKYO, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Japan will soon begin the withdrawal of its Self-Defense Force members in the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria, government sources said.

The troops, which now total 47 in the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force monitoring the cease-fire, will leave because it has become difficult to secure their safety, the Tokyo newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported Monday.

Considering the erosion of security, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba and Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto concluded it would be difficult to ensure the troops' safety, and will make a final decision after Japan's Dec. 16 House of Representatives election, government sources said.

Japan has had personnel in the Golan Heights since 1996, but the civil war in Syria had led to a deteriorating security situation, the newspaper said.

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