Update on the latest news, sports, business and entertainment

December 22, 2012, 8:59 am


EGYPT

UPDATE: Egypt's draft charter gets 'yes' majority in vote

CAIRO (AP) — Preliminary results released by Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood show that the disputed constitution has received a "yes" majority of more than 70 percent in the second and final round of voting.

The results, posted on the Brotherhood's website early Sunday, show that eight of the 25 million Egyptians eligible to vote cast their ballots Saturday. That's a turnout of about 30 percent.

The referendum was held over two days, on Dec. 15 and 22.

In the first round, about 56 percent said "yes" to the charter. The turnout then was about 32 percent.

The Brotherhood,has accurately predicted election results in the past by tallying results provided by its representatives at polling centers. Official results would not be announced for several days.

Approval of the draft charter is a victory for President Mohammed Morsi. Opponents fear the Islamist-backed constitution will destroy secular traditions.

INOUYE-SERVICES

UPDATE: Inouye praised as humble leader at Hawaii Capitol

HONOLULU (AP) — The late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye is being praised as a humble leader who embodied honor, dignity and duty during a public visitation at Hawaii's state Capitol.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie told hundreds of people gathered Saturday night that Inouye went from being considered undesirable as a Japanese-American at the start of World War II to gaining the respect of the country's leaders in Washington.

Abercrombie's remarks toward the end of an hourlong ceremony marked the start of seven hours of public visitation.

Inouye's casket, covered with an American flag, was escorted in by seven pallbearers and placed in a large tent as people lined up outside to pay their respects.

INOUYE-SUCCESSOR

Reid urges quick appointment of Inouye successor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is asking Hawaii's governor to act before the end of the year to fill the Senate vacancy created by the death of Daniel Inouye (ih-NOH'-way) of Hawaii.

Reid says he's asked Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie to appoint Inouye's successor "with due haste." Reid says he wants to ensure Hawaii is fully represented "in the pivotal decisions" the Senate will be making.

Inouye died of respiratory complications last week, leaving Democrats down one seat as the Senate prepares for the possibility of voting on a measure that would avoid a "fiscal cliff" of tax hikes and spending cuts.

Hawaii Rep. Colleen Hanabusa is the favorite for the post. Inouye, a fellow Democrat, endorsed Hanabusa in a letter he sent to Abercrombie on the day he died.

CONNECTICUT SCHOOL SHOOTING-FUNERALS

Lives remembered at string of services

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — Funerals and memorial services are wrapping up for the 26 children and adults killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., just over a week ago.

On Saturday, a horse-drawn carriage brought the miniature coffin of Ana Marquez-Greene to a church in Bloomfield, Conn., where a thousand mourners gathered. The service for the 6-year-old included a performance by Harry Connick Jr., who has played with the girl's jazz saxophonist father, Jimmy Greene, according to the Connecticut Post.

Family members remembered her as wild-haired child with her own love of music.

At the funeral for Josephine Gay in Newtown, Monsignor Robert Weiss of St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church said the 7-year-old liked Barbie, her iPad and the color purple.

Dozens of emergency responders paid their respects at the start of the service.

In northern Utah, 6-year-old Emilie Parker was laid to rest in Ogden, next to her maternal grandfather, who died 2½ months earlier.

RURAL ROAD SHOOTING

Police probe why man fatally shot 3 in rural Pa.

HOLLIDAYSBURG, Pa. (AP) — Authorities say the shooting of the gunman in a rampage in central Pennsylvania that left three people dead was a justifiable homicide.

State police and Blair County authorities identified the gunman as 44-year-old Jeffrey Lee Michael of Geeseytown, who died Friday during a gunfight with troopers.

They say Michael was a neighbor of two of his victims, 60-year-old Kenneth Lynn and Lynn's son-in-law, 38-year-old William Rhodes Jr.

They don't know whether he knew his third victim, 58-year-old Kimberly Scott, who was killed in the Juniata Valley Gospel Church.

Authorities say Michael was leaving the area in a pickup truck when he saw two state police cars heading his way and opened fire. Troopers returned fire, killing the gunman. Three were injured but are expected to be OK.

Authorities haven't released a motive for the shootings

WINTER STORM-CALIFORNIA

UPDATE: Heavy rain, pounding waves, snow in Northern California

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — It's a weekend of wintry weather for residents of Northern California.

One storm system, with heavy rain, high surf and snow in the mountains, moved through the region on Saturday, and a second system is expected to hit the area Sunday.

With heavy to moderate rain expected on Sunday, the National Weather Service has issued a "hazardous weather outlook" for the San Francisco Bay area.

Along the coast, waves up to 16 feet are expected.

In the mountains, heavy snow is expected Sunday, with up to four feet predicted to fall in the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada.

SYRIA

Russia won't host Assad but welcomes any nation willing to give Syrian president refuge

BEIRUT (AP) — Russia's foreign minister says Moscow would welcome any country's offer of safe haven for Syrian President Bashar Assad, but it has no plans to make one of its own.

Sergey Lavrov's remarks Friday night are among the clearest signs yet that Russia could be preparing for a Syria without Assad, as rebel forces make gains on the battlefield. Over the past four weeks, fighting has reached the capital, Damascus, and rebels have captured a string of military bases.

Up to now, Russia has vetoed three Western-backed resolutions aimed at pressuring Syria's government to stop the violence that has killed more than 40,000 people over the past 21 months. While Russian leaders have given no concrete signs that stance has changed, their tone has shifted in recent days.

Lavrov says if Assad left Syria and it ended the civil war, Russia would say: "Thank God, the carnage is over!"

PAKISTAN

Bombing at political rally kills 9 in Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistani officials say a suicide bomber has killed nine people including a provincial government official at a political rally held by a party that has opposed the Taliban.

The rally in Peshawar, in northwestern Pakistan, was held by the Awami National Party, whose members have been repeatedly targeted by the Taliban.

Officials say the second most senior member of the provincial Cabinet was among the dead. He was leaving the rally after delivering the keynote speech when the attack occurred. Over 20 others were wounded by the blast.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the bombing in a statement, reiterating the United Nations' support for Pakistani efforts "to combat the scourge of terrorism."

One party official says "Terrorism has engulfed our whole society." As he puts it, "They are targeting our bases, our mosques, our bazars, public meetings and our security checkpoints."

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC-DRUG SEIZURE

Dominican authorities seize 1,000 kilos of drugs

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — Authorities in the Dominican Republic have seized more than 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) of cocaine and heroin and arrested seven people.

The director of the Caribbean country's National Drug Control Agency says the drugs were found Friday aboard a speedboat from South America. Rolando Rosado said Saturday that four Dominicans and three Venezuelans were detained after they threw 30 of 47 drug packets into the sea.

He says agents seized more than 1,190 kilograms (2,623 pounds) of cocaine and seven kilograms (15 pounds) of heroin, along with 110 heroin capsules. Rosado says it is this year's second-largest seizure of drugs by Dominican authorities.

He says authorities have seized a total of more than 8 metric tons (9 tons) of cocaine this year, setting a record.

VENEZUELA-CHAVEZ

Venezuela's VP: Chavez condition is stabilizing

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela's government says President Hugo Chavez's condition is becoming increasingly stable as the socialist leader recovers from a cancer-related operation in Cuba.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro says a ruling party member gave him the update on Chavez's recovery upon her return from the communist-led island.

Chavez underwent surgery Dec. 11, about two months after being elected to another six-year presidential term. It was his fourth cancer-related operation since June 2011.

Complications following the latest surgery and Chavez's silence since the procedure have thrown into doubt whether he will be able to return to Venezuela for his Jan. 10 inauguration.

The president of the National Assembly says ruling party lawmakers, who hold a majority in the legislature, won't call a new presidential election if Chavez can't return from Cuba in time for the swearing-in ceremony.

Opposition leaders argue that the constitution does not allow for a president's inauguration to be postponed.

In addition to a respiratory infection, the 58-year-old Chavez also suffered bleeding during the operation, which the government says was promptly stanched.

NKOREA-ROCKET LAUNCH

NKorean leader calls for more powerful rockets

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has called for the development of more powerful rockets after last week's successful launch of a satellite into space.

The North's official media said Saturday that Kim made the call at a banquet for rocket scientists Friday in Pyongyang.

The Dec. 12 launch of a long-range rocket put the country's first satellite in orbit. The United States, South Korea and others have condemned the launch as a test of ballistic missile technology banned under U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Kim had already called for sending more scientific satellites into space on the day of the launch. But his speech on Friday marks the first time he is explicitly calling for the advancement of his country's long-range rocket program.

KOREAS-CHRISTMAS TREE

NEW: South Koreans light giant border Christmas tree

GIMPO, South Korea (AP) — South Koreans have lit a Christmas tree-shaped tower near the tense border with North Korea for the first time in two years following North Korea's rocket launch.

Seoul's Defense Ministry said Sunday that it allowed Christian groups to light the massive steel tower Saturday. It's to stay lit until Jan. 2.

Pyongyang views the tower as propaganda warfare, though it has not yet responded to this year's lighting.

The lighting came 10 days after North Korea placed a satellite into orbit aboard a long-range rocket. South Korea and the U.S. say the launch was a test of banned missile technology.

The tree wasn't lit last year after officials asked Christians to refrain from doing so to avoid tension following the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il last December.

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