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Jan. 26, 2013 at 8:13 AM
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Obama: White, Cordray 'cops on the beat'

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said Saturday his nominees to head two powerful federal agencies will serve as "cops on the beat to enforce the law."

In his weekly radio and Internet address, the president said Mary Jo White, his choice to head the Securities and Exchange Commission, "has decades of experience cracking down on white-collar criminals and bringing mobsters and terrorists to justice."

"At the SEC, she will help complete the task of reforming Wall Street and keep going after irresponsible behavior in the financial industry so that taxpayers don't pay the price," he said.

Obama said Richard Cordray -- who has been served as interim head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -- is "a champion for American consumers."

"After the Senate refused to allow Richard an up-or-down vote when I nominated him in 2011, I took action to appoint him on my own," the president said. "And since then, he's helped protect Americans from predatory lenders, launched a 'Know Before You Owe' campaign to help families make smart decisions about paying for college, and cracked down on credit card companies that charge hidden fees.

"But Richard's appointment runs out at the end of the year, and in order for him to stay on the job, the Senate needs to finally give him the vote he deserves."

Obama said consumer protection and other financial reforms instituted during his first term will protect the U.S. financial system "from the kind of abuse that nearly brought our economy to its knees."

"But it's not enough to change the law -- we also need cops on the beat to enforce the law," he said.

Riot over Egypt sentences leaves 16 dead

PORT SAID, Egypt, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- At least 16 people were killed and more than 200 injured in rioting Saturday after an Egyptian court sentenced 21 soccer fans to death, officials said.

Security forces fired tear gas to disperse the crowd as it used rocks and firearms in an attempt to break into the Port Said prison where most of the defendants were being held, Ahram Online reported.

Two police officers were among the dead in the prison violence.

A police dorm was looted and set on fire, while a police station and a television news minivan were also torched.

Nine security officers and three officials of the al-Masry soccer club are among 73 defendants being tried in the deaths of 72 fans of the opposing al-Ahly team at a match in Port Said in February 2012.

No Ahly fans were charged in the 2012 melee.

The rest of the defendants will be sentenced March 9, al-Masry al-Youm reported.

The violence at the soccer game began shortly after the match began when al-Masry fans invaded the pitch and threw rocks and fireworks at supporters of the visiting al-Ahly club, BBC reported.

The soccer league was suspended following the game.

Obama: U.S. supports France in Mali

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama Friday told French President Francois Hollande he supports French leadership in countering terror in Mali.

The two leaders spoke to "continue their ongoing consultations on shared security concerns, including Mali, Algeria, Libya, and Syria," a White House readout of their phone call stated.

"On Mali, the president expressed his support for France's leadership of the international community's efforts to deny terrorists a safe haven in Mali. President Hollande thanked President Obama for the significant support provided by the United States to this effort," the statement said.

"The two leaders emphasized the need to rapidly establish the African-led International Support Mission in Mali, as well as the importance of the Interim Government of Mali establishing a political roadmap that will lead to elections and restoration of democratic governance.

The leaders "condemned last week's terrorist act in Algeria and affirmed their mutual commitment to countering terrorism more broadly in North Africa" and "noted the importance of sustained assistance to Libya as it works to build effective security sector institutions."

They also discussed Syria, "expressing their strong concern about the humanitarian crisis affecting not just Syria but also neighboring countries and reiterating their commitment to assisting the Syrian people achieve political transition to a post-Asad Syria," the White House said.

Cold and ice turn roads dangerous in N.C.

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Charlotte, N.C., endured a blast of unusual cold accompanied by snow and freezing rain Friday that turned area roads into skating rinks.

By late Friday, the temperature had been below freezing for 27 hours, WCNC reported. This is in a city that averages one or two days a year when the temperature fails to rise above freezing.

Police reported more than 200 vehicle crashes Friday, The Charlotte Observer reported. At least 22 people were hospitalized, including two with life-threatening injuries, emergency workers said.

Crashes closed a 4-mile stretch of Interstate 40 in Catawba County, northwest of Charlotte, during the afternoon, police said. Sleet was falling in the area.

Much of the east has been cold for several days. In the Philadelphia area, temperatures have been below freezing, dropping into the teens at night.

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