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Last updated: February 19. 2013 8:25PM - 371 Views

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CAIRO
Political crisis widening

Egypt's political problems are intensifying, with plans for a huge march and a general strike today to protest the hurried drafting of a new constitution and decrees by President Mohammed Morsi that gave him nearly unrestricted powers.


Morsi also faces the prospect of wider civil disobedience as media, the tourism industry and law professors pondered moves that would build on a strike by the nation's judges.


The planned strikes and march raise new fears of unrest, threatening to derail the country's transition to democratic rule.


Egypt is a big ship in high seas, and no one should stop its captain from taking it to the shore, said Morsi's legal adviser, Mohammed Gaballah, defending his boss.


JERUSALEM
Construction plan builds rift

Israel rejected a wave of American and European condemnations Monday over plans to build thousands of new homes in West Bank settlements, vowing to press forward with the construction in the face of widespread international opposition.


The announcement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office was likely to deepen a rift that has emerged between Israel and some of its closest allies following the U.N.'s recognition of a Palestinian state last week. The U.N. decision appears to be fueling a tougher international line against Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.


Israeli ambassadors were summoned for consultations in five European capitals, and European officials warned of other potential measures against Israel. In Washington, the U.S. said the Israeli actions were especially damaging to peace prospects.


ATLANTA
CO leak hospitalizes 49

Potentially lethal carbon monoxide levels at an Atlanta elementary school with no detectors sent at least 42 students and seven adults to hospitals Monday and forced 500 more to evacuate, authorities said.


Young children with oxygen masks over their faces were strapped to gurneys and others carried to ambulances by emergency officials at Finch Elementary School in southwest Atlanta. Four kids reported passing out at the school, according to hospital officials. A teacher and a cafeteria worker were also among those treated.


Firefighters found unsafe levels of carbon monoxide near a furnace at the school with a reading at 1,700 parts per million, said Atlanta fire Capt. Marian McDaniel.


TEHRAN, Iran
U.S.-Iran talks possible

Direct talks between Iran and the United States are possible, but any such breakthrough would have to be approved by the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's foreign minister said Monday.


The comments by Ali Akbar Salehi were a first sign Tehran may seek diplomatic overtures with what it long considers a nemesis in Washington, as sanctions over Iran's contentious nuclear program stunt the country's economy.


Comprehensive political talks are within the powers of the exalted supreme leader, Salehi said in comments published by the official IRNA news agency.


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