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Jan. 28, 2013 at 12:05 PM
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Senators agree on immigration overhaul

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- A bipartisan group of U.S. senators say they have agreed on an immigration plan that could be the basis for overhauling the system this year.

The Senate proposal, drafted behind closed doors for several weeks by leading senators from both parties, would grant legal status to most of the approximately 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday. The Times received a copy of the proposal.

The eight senators involved in developing the plan said they intend to release their proposal Monday.

The Senate plan is more conservative than the proposal President Obama intends to reveal Tuesday, the Times said, but its language for legalizing millions of illegal immigrants goes beyond measures that didn't advance in Congress in previous years.

The Senate proposal would allow most of the undocumented immigrants in the country to obtain probationary legal status immediately by paying a fine and back taxes, as well as passing a background check, the Times said. Probationary legal status would make them eligible to work and live in the United States, and even earn a green card -- permanent residency -- after the government certifies the U.S.-Mexican border has become secure. Those eligible under this scenario might face a lengthy citizenship process.

Ancient texts lost as French near Timbuktu

TIMBUKTU, Mali, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- French and Malian troops were poised to retake Timbuktu from Islamic militants who burned a museum and destroyed "priceless" ancient texts, officials said.

Troops had captured Timbuktu's airport and were set to take the entire storied city itself, al-Jazeera reported.

The official, Halle Ousmani Cisse, said destruction of the books, some of which dated to the 13th century, was a "devastating blow" to world heritage, the British newspaper The Guardian reported Monday.

The rebels burned both buildings in which the books were kept: a warehouse and a South Africa-funded research center.

Cisse said he did not know if any books survived.

Rebels also burned down city hall and the governor's office.

The books covered a wide range of topics including astronomy, poetry, medicine and women's rights. While the majority was written in Arabic, some were in African languages, Hebrew and Turkish.

Seydo Traore, a researcher at the institute, said the rebels also destroyed 300 shrines around the city dedicated to Sufi saints.

3 arrested in Brazil fire that killed 231

SANTA MARIA, Brazil, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Three people were arrested in a fire that swept through a nightclub in Santa Maria, Brazil, killing 231 people and injuring more than 100, police said Monday.

Police said an owner of the Kiss nightclub, the club's head of security and a member of the band Gurizada Fandangueira were being questioned, the BBC reported. A fourth person, believed to be another club owner, was being sought.

More than 100 people were being treated in hospitals.

Brazil declared three days of mourning beginning Monday, when the first funerals for victims were conducted, the BBC reported.

In Santa Maria, a 30-day mourning period was declared.

The country's deadliest fire in five decades reportedly started Sunday after a Gurizada Fandangueira band member lit a prop on stage. A band member said one of group's members died in the fire.

10 more militants die in Pakistan clashes

TIRAH, Pakistan, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Clashes between two militant groups Monday in a tribal area of Pakistan killed at least 10 people, raising the toll in the fighting to 81,officials said.

The clashes erupted Friday in the Khyber area of northwest Pakistan, Geo TV reported.

Thousands of residents have been displaced by the battles between groups identified as Ansarul Islam Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.

Authorities said the fighting began when TTP militants launched a mortar and rocket attack on the Ansarul Islam in a valley located in the Tirah region, capturing five AI positions.

The head of AI, in a radio broadcast, called for supporters to help retake the positions. Hundreds of local tribesman and volunteers then assembled and launched a counterattack.

After an 8-hour fight, AI forces reclaimed four of the positions, they said.

Landslides cause thousands in damage

LUBUKBASUNG, Indonesia, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- A number of landslides that hit the Agam district of Indonesia's West Sumatra province have caused about $826,704 worth of damage, officials said Monday.

Nine people were missing. Rescue workers have found 11 since the Sunday disaster, triggered by recent rains, Antara news agency reported. Seven people were injured.

"The calculation of the damages was based on the combined worth of some damaged properties, such as 3 hectares [about 7 1/2 acres] of rice fields, 800 meters [about 2,624 feet] of roads, 12 houses and 2 hectares [about 5 acres] of peanut farms, among other things," said Bambang Warsito, the Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency head for Agam.

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