Obama tells Morsi violence in Egypt 'unacceptable'
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says President Barack Obama has called Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to express "deep concern" about the deaths and injuries of protesters in Egypt.
A White House statement says the president told Morsi that he and other political leaders in Egypt must make clear to their supporters that violence is unacceptable.
The statement Thursday night said that Obama welcomed Morsi's call for a dialogue with opposition leaders in Egypt but stressed that such a dialogue should occur without preconditions. The United States also has urged opposition leaders to join in talks without preconditions.
Obama's call to the Egyptian president came after thousands of Morsi supporters and opponents fought pitched battles outside his Cairo palace that left at least six dead and nearly 700 injured.
Clinton highlights religious freedom at human rights conference
DUBLIN (AP) — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the U.S. is pressing Egypt and other countries in transition to protect the rights of their religious minorities.
At a human rights conference in Ireland, Clinton said, "In many places in the past year, we've seen religious minorities become targets," and she said faith communities report "the pressure is rising."
Clinton stressed that religious liberty is essential because it entails other rights like freedom of thought, speech and assembly.
As Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi vowed to press ahead with a Dec. 15 referendum on a disputed constitution, Clinton said the people of Egypt deserve a document "that protects the rights of all Egyptians, men and women, Muslim and Christian."
Images: Snow may have slowed NKorea launch prep
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — New satellite images show that heavy snowfall may have slowed North Korean rocket launch preparations but that Pyongyang could still be ready for liftoff starting Monday.
Analysis of GeoEye satellite images from Dec. 4 by the website 38 North in cooperation with NorthKoreaTech shows that snow may have kept Pyongyang from erecting its three-stage Unha rocket at its west coast launch site by Wednesday. That contradicts South Korean media reports that the rocket had been set up by then.
The analysis provided to The Associated Press was written by imagery expert Nick Hansen.
Washington believes Pyongyang's rocket launch is a cover to test technology for missiles that could one day attack the United States.
North Korea says it wants to launch a peaceful satellite between Monday and Dec. 22.
Obama looks to put human touch on cliff talks
FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) — President Barack Obama says the approaching "fiscal cliff" is going to add to holiday stress for American families as the end of the year approaches.
Visiting a basement apartment of a family in suburban Virginia, Obama said Americans "are counting on this getting solved." He said he's "optimistic" that there will be an agreement that is good for families and good for the American economy.
He and Congress have until the end of the year to find a way to avert across-the-board spending cuts and tax increases.
Obama is warning that he's willing to let that double whammy take effect if Republicans don't drop their opposition to higher tax rates for the wealthy. He again vowed not to sign any package that doesn't include an increase in the tax rate for the top 2 percent of American earners.
UPDATE: Tea party leader leaving US Senate
WASHINGTON (AP) — Tea party ideological leader Sen. Jim DeMint says he's leaving the U.S. Senate in better shape than when he entered it.
DeMint shocked Washington on Thursday when he said he would step down on Jan. 1 to join the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. His departure comes just two years into a second, six-year term representing South Carolina.
The state's senior senator, Republican Lindsey Graham, says he didn't see DeMint's resignation coming.
While most of his colleagues were stunned, not all were saddened. DeMint sometimes frustrated follow Republicans by prizing ideology over electability.
He used his political action committee, the Senate Conservatives Fund, to bankroll candidates he backed. But candidates he actively supported in 2010 cost the GOP seats observers expected the party to win easily.
Final campaign reports: 2012 election nears record
WASHINGTON (AP) — Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife poured $33 million into "super" political action committees helping former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in the final weeks of the election.
Adelson's family's contributions to two prominent pro-Romney super PACs bring his total giving in federal races to about $95 million this election cycle. Those donations include $10 million to the Restore Our Future PAC and $23 million to the Karl Rove-backed American Crossroads PAC since mid-October.
Campaign finance filings are due to the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday and will detail how campaign organizations for Romney and President Barack Obama — and a slew of super PACs — raised and spent unprecedented sums of cash. That money was expected to push the presidential campaign's total cost past $2 billion.
Mich. Senate approves right-to-work legislation
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Senate has passed right-to-work legislation for private sector workers, following earlier approval by the House.
The measure passed on a 22-16 vote Thursday after hours of impassioned debate. Four Republicans joined all 12 Democrats in opposition.
Union activists repeatedly shouted protests from the gallery and cheered Democrats who denounced the measure.
The bill would prohibit unions from collecting fees from nonunion workers, which opponents say would weaken organized labor's ability to bargain for good wages while supporters say it would boost jobs.
Gov. Rick Snyder and GOP legislative leaders announced earlier Thursday they would put right-to-work on a fast track.
Still to come is legislation dealing with public-sector workers.
George Zimmerman sues NBC and reporters
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — George Zimmerman is suing NBC, claiming he was defamed when the network edited his 911 call to police after the shooting of Trayvon Martin to make it sound like he was racist.
The former neighborhood watch volunteer filed the lawsuit seeking an undisclosed amount of money on Thursday in Seminole County, outside Orlando.
The lawsuit claims NBC edited his phone call to a dispatcher last February. Zimmerman describes following Martin in the gated community where he lived, just moments before he fatally shot the 17-year-old teen during a confrontation.
NBC spokeswoman Kathy Kelly-Brown didn't immediately return a phone call. Three employees of NBC or an NBC-owned television station lost their jobs because of the changes.
Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder but has pleaded not guilty, claiming self-defense.
Authorities 'confident' bodies are 2 Iowa cousins
EVANSDALE, Iowa (AP) — Authorities say they're "confident" bodies found in an isolated wildlife area are those of two young Iowa cousins who disappeared while riding their bikes last summer.
Black Hawk County sheriff's Capt. Rick Abben said that's based on evidence at the scene and the preliminary investigation. However, autopsies are still pending.
Lyric Cook and Elizabeth Collins vanished while riding bikes in Evansdale in July. Elizabeth was 8 and Lyric was 10.
Hunters found the bodies Wednesday in a rural park about 25 miles away.
Local and state police and the FBI joined in a massive search that continued for months after the girls disappeared. No one has been charged in the case.
Evansdale is about 90 miles northeast of Des Moines.
Comedian Katt Williams a no-show at arraignment
SEATTLE (AP) — Comedian Katt Williams didn't show up at an arraignment hearing in Seattle to face assault charges stemming from several run-ins with people and police last weekend.
Williams' attorney, Thomas McAllister, told the judge Thursday that his client was under the impression that he didn't have to attend the hearing, citing information from a Seattle Times article. McAllister says Williams is back in California.
The Times reports (http://bit.ly/VJzMhX ) that the judge rescheduled the hearing for next week.
Authorities say Williams struck a man over the head with a microphone while performing Friday night, threw chairs at fans, and threatened a bar manager with a pool cue over the weekend.
Authorities say officers had to restrain Williams before he was taken into custody after the bar incident.Tags: