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Dec. 26, 2012 at 10:00 PM
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Abercrombie names Schatz to succeed Inouye

HONOLULU, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie Wednesday named Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz to succeed U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, who died Dec. 17 of respiratory complications at age 88.

Schatz, 40, said after his appointment was announced he would travel immediately to Washington and take the oath of office Thursday, and he intended to take part in Senate votes on a budget deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff of tax increases and spending cuts, The (Honolulu) Star-Advertiser reported.

Schatz, a former chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii who was elected lieutenant governor in 2010, was chosen from a list of candidates recommended by the state party that included U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and Esther Kiaaina, a state Department of Land and Natural Resources official, the newspaper said.

Inouye, who was elected to the Senate in 1962 and re-elected for a ninth term in 2010, had asked before he died that the appointment go to Hanabusa.

Hawaii voters will decided in 2014 who will serve the last two years of the term to which Inouye was elected in 2010.

George H.W. Bush moved to ICU

HOUSTON, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush has been placed in intensive care at Methodist Hospital in Houston, where he is being treated for a persistent fever.

Bush family spokesman Jim McGrath said Bush, 88, was moved to the intensive care unit Sunday and has been kept on a liquids-only diet, the Houston Chronicle reported Tuesday.

Doctors are treating the fever with acetaminophen and remained unable to determine the cause, but McGrath said the former president is upbeat, the newspaper reported.

"All the kids are making their own plans to come back to Houston to visit him and help him rally -- rally to recovery," McGrath said.

Bush's daughter Dorothy visited him Wednesday, and his sons former President George W. Bush and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush are expected to visit soon, the report said.

The 41st president was initially hospitalized Nov. 23 for a persistent cough due to bronchitis. He was kept in the hospital after taking a turn for the worse, but doctors said in early December his condition was not life-threatening.

GOP: Move fiscal bill as is to president

WASHINGTON, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- U.S. House Republican leaders Wednesday said bringing the House back into session is conditioned on the Senate passing legislation to avoid the "fiscal cliff."

The Republicans said Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid must move forward a bill to avert the so-called fiscal cliff or else he would be derelict in his duties, The Hill and Politico of Washington reported.

House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers said the Senate must either send the legislation to President Obama as it reads currently or amend and return it to the House.

"Once this has occurred, the House will then consider whether to accept the bills as amended, or to send them back to the Senate with additional amendments. The House will take this action on whatever the Senate can pass, but the Senate first must act. The lines of communication remain open, and we will continue to work with our colleagues to avert the largest tax hike in American history, and to address the underlying problem, which is spending," the representatives' statement read.

GOP leaders have promised Congress 48 hours' notice if they decide to convene the House. The earliest that could happen is Friday.

China opens longest high-speed rail line

BEIJING, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- China said it has opened the world's longest high-speed railway, cutting a day's travel time between Beijing and the southern city of Guangzhou to 8 hours.

The 2,298-kilometer-long (1,428-mile-long) line between the Chinese capital and the country's major commercial center in the south, formerly called Canton, spans more than half of the country and cements the country's high-speed railway development ambitions, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The rail route has four main sections, running between Beijing and the central transport hub Zhengzhou in Henan province, and then to Wuhan in central China, and on to Guangzhou.

The Xinhua report was accompanied by spectacular color photographs of the gleaming, luxury trains running on the line. Guangzhou is the capital of Guangdong province and is just north of Hong Kong.

The news agency said two trains departed from stations in Beijing and Guangzhou in the morning, traveling at average speeds of 186 mph, to mark the opening of the line, which will have 35 stops in major cities and eventually will operate 155 trains daily.

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