Sunday, December 2, 2012

Published:

Egypt's highest court joins judicial strike in protest against Islamist president's decrees

CAIRO (AP) -- Egypt's highest court joined a judicial rebellion against President Mohammed Morsi on Sunday by declaring an open-ended strike on the day it was supposed to rule on the legitimacy of two key assemblies controlled by allies of the Islamist leader.

The strike by the Supreme Constitutional Court and opposition plans to march on the presidential palace on Tuesday take the country's latest political crisis to a level not seen in the nearly two years of turmoil since Hosni Mubarak's ouster in a popular uprising.

Judges from the country's highest appeals court and its sister lower court were already on an indefinite strike, joining colleagues from other tribunals who suspended work last week to protest what they saw as Morsi's assault on the judiciary.

The last time Egypt had an all-out strike by the judiciary was in 1919, when judges joined an uprising against British colonial rule.

The standoff began when Morsi issued decrees on Nov. 22 giving him near-absolute powers that granted himself and the Islamist-dominated assembly drafting the new constitution immunity from the courts.

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AP IMPACT: China passes US as top trade partner for much of world, changing lives globally

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Shin Cheol-soo no longer sees his future in the United States.

The South Korean businessman supplied components to American automakers for a decade. But this year, he uprooted his family from Detroit and moved home to focus on selling to the new economic superpower: China.

In just five years, China has surpassed the United States as a trading partner for much of the world, including U.S. allies such as South Korea and Australia, according to an Associated Press analysis of trade data. As recently as 2006, the U.S. was the larger trading partner for 127 countries, versus just 70 for China. By last year the two had clearly traded places: 124 countries for China, 76 for the U.S.

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EDITOR'S NOTE -- This is the first installment in "China's Reach," a project that will analyze China's influence with its trading partners over three decades, and explore how that is changing business, politics and daily life.

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10 Things to Know for Monday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and stories that will be talked about Monday:

1. A NEW STAB AT AVOIDING WASHINGTON'S 'FISCAL CLIFF'

Pelosi says she will try to force a House vote on a Senate-passed bill favored by Democrats to break the deadlock.

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5 states to extend classroom time for almost 20,000 students in bid to boost achievement

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Open your notebooks and sharpen your pencils. School for thousands of public school students is about to get quite a bit longer.

Five states were to announce Monday that they will add at least 300 hours of learning time to the calendar in some schools starting in 2013. Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee will take part in the initiative, which is intended to boost student achievement and make U.S. schools more competitive on a global level.

The three-year pilot program will affect almost 20,000 students in 40 schools, with long-term hopes of expanding the program to include additional schools -- especially those that serve low-income communities. Schools, working in concert with districts, parents and teachers, will decide whether to make the school day longer, add more days to the school year or both.

A mix of federal, state and district funds will cover the costs of expanded learning time, with the Ford Foundation and the National Center on Time & Learning also chipping in resources. In Massachusetts, the program builds on the state's existing expanded-learning program. In Connecticut, Gov. Dannel Malloy is hailing it as a natural outgrowth of an education reform law the state passed in May that included about $100 million in new funding, much of it to help the neediest schools.

Spending more time in the classroom, education officials said, will give students access to a more well-rounded curriculum that includes arts and music, individualized help for students who fall behind and opportunities to reinforce critical math and science skills.

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Geithner says next move up to Republicans, who must accept higher tax rates on top earners

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republicans have to stop using "political math" and say how much they are willing to raise tax rates on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans and then specify the spending cuts they want, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said in an interview that aired Sunday.

Just four weeks from the proverbial "fiscal cliff," House Speaker John Boehner countered that Republicans have a plan for providing as much as $800 billion in new government revenue over the next decade and would consider the elimination of tax deductions on high-income earners. But when pressed on "Fox News Sunday" for precise details, the Ohio Republican declined to say.

There are "a lot of options in terms of how to get there," Boehner said.

Both Boehner's and Geithner's latest remarks indicate it could be some time before serious negotiations begin between the White House and Republicans on how to avert economic calamity expected in less than a month when President George W. Bush-era tax cuts expire and automatic, across-the-board spending cuts kick in.

Last week, the White House delivered to Capitol Hill its opening plan: $1.6 trillion in higher taxes over a decade, hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending, a possible extension of the temporary Social Security payroll tax cut and enhancing the president's power to raise the national debt limit.

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David Letterman, Dustin Hoffman, Led Zeppelin among 7 receiving Kennedy Center Honors in DC

WASHINGTON (AP) -- David Letterman's "stupid human tricks" and Top 10 lists vaulted into the ranks of cultural acclaim Sunday night as the late-night comedian received this year's Kennedy Center Honors with rock band Led Zeppelin, an actor, a ballerina and a bluesman.

Stars from New York, Hollywood and the music world joined President Barack Obama at the White House on Sunday night to salute the honorees, whose ranks also included actor Dustin Hoffman, Chicago bluesman Buddy Guy and ballerina Natalia Makarova.

The honors are the nation's highest award for those who influenced American culture through the arts. The recipients were later saluted by fellow performers at the Kennedy Center Opera House in a show to be broadcast Dec. 26 on CBS.

Obama drew laughs from his guests when he described the honorees as "some extraordinary people who have no business being on the same stage together."

Noting that Guy made his first guitar strings using the wire from a window screen, he quipped, "That worked until his parents started wondering how all the mosquitoes were getting in."

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US Coast Guard member dies in crash with smuggler's boat off Southern California coast

VENTURA, Calif. (AP) -- A U.S. Coast Guard member was killed and another was injured when their small boat was rammed by a smuggler's vessel before dawn Sunday off the Southern California coast.

Terrell Horne III of Redondo Beach was pronounced dead after being brought ashore at the Port of Hueneme (why-NEEM-mee), said Ventura County chief deputy medical examiner James Baroni. He suffered a traumatic head injury, Coast Guard officials said.

The second man was treated for minor injuries. His name wasn't released.

The smuggler's panga, which was running without lights, maneuvered at a high rate of speed directly at the small boat before fleeing, according to a Coast Guard statement. Both Coast Guard members were thrown into the water.

Another Coast Guard vessel stopped the fleeing panga, and detained two suspects.

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Damage less than expected as third storm in less than week drenches Northern California

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Residents of Northern California endured the brunt of another powerful storm that drenched the area with yet another round of pounding rain and strong winds, but damage from the storm was less than expected, officials said.

The latest storm system -- the third to hit the area in less than a week -- moved across the region late Saturday and early Sunday dropping as much as an inch of rain per hour in some areas, toppling trees and knocking out electrical service to tens of thousands of people, officials said.

Rivers across Northern California swelled from the deluge, but did not flood as extensively as had been expected, officials said.

Forecasters had issued flood warnings for the Napa and Russian rivers, two rivers north of San Francisco with a history of flooding, as well as the Truckee River, near Lake Tahoe, but by Sunday afternoon had canceled the warning for the Russian River.

"It (the storm) moved through a lit bit faster than it was looking like it would, so it didn't plant on top of us and keeping raining," said Austin Cross, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "The period of heavy rain didn't last as long."

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BCS championship: Notre Dame to face Alabama in a matchup of star power and power football

NEW YORK (AP) -- On one side, a blossoming dynasty from the college football capital of the Deep South. On the other, the sport's most famous team, trying to reclaim its place among the elite.

Notre Dame and Alabama bring star power and power football to the BCS championship.

The matchup became official Sunday night when the final standings were released and, to no one's surprise, the Fighting Irish were first and the Crimson Tide was second.

The one bit of drama on college football's selection Sunday was whether Northern Illinois could be this year's BCS buster. The Huskies got in, getting a spot in the Orange Bowl against Florida State, taking a bid away from Oklahoma and sparking heated debate about a system that never fails to tick off fans in some way.

The other BCS matchups:

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Day after murder-suicide rocks KC, Chiefs beat Panthers 27-21 to end 8-game losing streak

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Romeo Crennel stood in the middle of the Kansas City Chiefs' locker room Sunday, the emotion threatening to overcome the good-natured coach.

Chiefs owner Clark Hunt was at his side, offering support. Members of the team hugged each other, the mud smearing with tears on their cheeks. And over along the wall stood the empty locker that once belonged to Jovan Belcher, his jersey still hanging from a hook.

Just one day after the linebacker killed his girlfriend and then turned the gun on himself, the Chiefs banded together to play their finest game of the season, an inspired 27-21 victory over the Carolina Panthers that ended an eight-game losing streak suddenly rendered trivial.

"As far as playing the game, I thought that was the best for us to do, because that's what we do," Crennel said, tears forming in the corners of his eyes. "We're football players and football coaches and that's what we do. We play on Sunday."

According to authorities, Belcher shot his girlfriend multiple times early Saturday at a residence near Arrowhead Stadium, then sped to the team's practice facility and turn the gun on himself as Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli watched in the parking lot.