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Jan. 25, 2013 at 4:59 PM
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Priebus: 'Era of permanent politics'

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Reince Priebus, re-elected Friday as Republican National Committee chairman, told Republicans in Charlotte, N.C., "we live in an era of permanent politics."

Priebus was elected to a second two-year term at the RNC Winter Meeting where he told fellow party members the RNC will no longer focus on whether a state is "red," indicating Republican," or "blue," indicating Democratic.

"We must compete in every state and every region, building relationships with communities we haven't before," Priebus said.

He said the RNC must "develop the best technology with the help of the best minds -- and train activists, volunteers and candidates with the modern tools of a modern party."

"As a party, we must recognize that we live in an era of permanent politics," Priebus said. "We must stop living nominee-to-nominee, campaign to campaign. As we saw this election, our opponent benefited from a multiyear head start. Now is the time to begin to develop a permanent, national field infrastructure."

Obama names McDonough chief of staff

WASHINGTON, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama Friday said longtime adviser Denis McDonough will succeed Treasury Secretary nominee Jack Lew as White House chief of staff.

Speaking with reporters at the White House, Obama said McDonough -- who currently serves as deputy national security adviser -- is "a man of deep faith, and he understands that in the end, our policies and our programs are measured in the concrete differences that they make in the lives of our fellow human beings and in the values that we advance as Americans."

The president said he has been "counting on Denis for nearly a decade -- since I first came to Washington, when he helped set up my Senate office."

Obama got a laugh when he said McDonough was among the Capitol Hill veterans who were "able to show me where the restrooms were and -- how you passed a bill."

Court throws out Obama recess appointments

WASHINGTON, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- President Obama violated the U.S. Constitution with three recess appointments, a federal appeals court said Friday.

The court said the president made the appointments to the National Labor Relations Board in January 2012 when the Senate was not in recess, Politico reported. The court said a new session began Jan. 3 while the appointments were made Jan. 4.

"An interpretation of 'the recess' that permits the president to decide when the Senate is in recess would demolish the checks and balances inherent in the advice-and-consent requirement, giving the President free rein to appoint his desired nominees at any time he pleases, whether that time be a weekend, lunch or even when the Senate is in session and he is merely displeased with its inaction. This cannot be the law," said Chief Judge David Sentelle of the District of Columbia circuit.

Sentelle and the two judges who concurred in his opinion were appointed by Republican presidents, the Los Angeles Times said.

The administration is expected to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the ruling stands, it would give more power to the Republican minority in the Senate to block presidential appointments.

Syria calls on refugees to return

DAMASCUS, Syria, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- The Syrian Interior Ministry has called on citizens who have fled deadly conflict in the country to return, officials say.

Even members of opposition political parties are welcome to come back, RIA Novosti reported Friday.

Returnees would receive "all-embracing assistance," the ministry said in a statement.

The U.N. High Commission on Refugees said as of Tuesday more than 678,000 refugees have crossed the Syrian border, with most of them traveling to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, CNN reported.

Each of those countries has now accepted more than 150,000 Syrians.

Some 3,581 Syrians crossed from Syria into Jordan from Wednesday afternoon to Thursday morning, said Anmar Hmoud, Jordan's government spokesman for Syrian refugee affairs.

That broke a one-day record that had only been set Sunday.

Mali conflict leaves lack of food, water

BAMAKO, Mali, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Residents in the path of battles against Islamic militants in northern Mali have been left without water and adequate food, officials say.

In Gao, a city still held by militants, the charity Action Contre la Faim said it had found cases of acute malnutrition, Radio France Internationale reported Friday.

Militants are forcing people fleeing the fighting to give up their food, valuables and vehicles, the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said.

Since French forces began bombing the insurgents Jan. 11, more than 9,000 people have fled to neighboring countries, UNHCR said. Some 150,000 refugees are living outside Mali, the agency said, with 230,000 others internally displaced.

In Timbuktu, militants fleeing the city are blamed for destroying utilities, leaving the city without electricity, water or telephone service, CNN reported.

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