Early vot­ing de­layed on draft con­sti­tu­tion

Pres­i­dent weighs how to pro­ceed as thou­sands protest.

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - By Mag­gie Fick and Mag­gie Michael

CAIRO — Egypt post­poned the start of early vot­ing on a dis­puted draft con­sti­tu­tion Fri­day, sig­nal­ing an at­tempt by Pres­i­dent Mo­hammed Morsi’s government to back down and give room for ne­go­ti­a­tions with the op­po­si­tion as it faces mass protests call­ing for the ref­er­en­dum to be can­celed.

The an­nounce­ment made by the head of Egypt’s elec­tion com­mit­tee, Is­mail Hamdi, came a day af­ter Morsi ap­pealed for di­a­logue even as he ac­cused tens of thou­sands of pro­test­ers march­ing on his palace of be­ing in­fil­trated by thugs. He has so far made no con­crete con­ces­sions to defuse the cri­sis that has plunged the coun­try into new tur­moil.

The po­lit­i­cal cri­sis has been build­ing since Morsi is­sued a de­cree Nov. 22 that gave him ab­so­lute pow­ers and im­mu­nity from ju­di­cial over­sight.

The cri­sis in­ten­si­fied when Morsi called for a Dec. 15 na­tional ref­er­en­dum on the draft con­sti­tu­tion pro­duced by the Is­lamist-led con­stituent as­sem­bly af­ter rush­ing it in a marathon ses­sion. Lib­er­als had quit the as­sem­bly, which was al­ready fac­ing le­gal ap­peals to dis­band. The draft came with loop­holes and was in­fused with ar­ti­cles that lib­er­als fear

— Pres­i­dent Barack Obama will ask Congress for $60.4 bil­lion in fed­eral aid for New York, New Jersey and other states hit by Su­per­storm Sandy, con­gres­sional aides said Fri­day.

Of­fi­cials from the af­fected states praised the re­quest and urged Congress to en­act it as quickly as pos­si­ble.

“To­day’s agree­ment on the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­quest to Congress would au­tho­rize more than $60 bil­lion in fund­ing that will en­able our states to re­cover, re­pair, and re­build bet­ter and stronger than be­fore,” New York Gov. An­drew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said in a joint state­ment.

Cuomo, a Demo­crat, and Christie, a Repub­li­can, came to Washington on Thurs­day to press for as large a dis­as­ter aid package as pos­si­ble. Fri­day’s re­quest was at the top end of what had been ex­pected.

The aid will help states re­build pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture like roads and tun­nels and help thou­sands of peo­ple dis­placed from their homes. Su­per­storm Sandy was the most costly nat­u­ral dis­as­ter since Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina in 2005 and one of the worst storms ever in the North­east.

“While more may be needed in the long term, this ro­bust package is a ma­jor first step that we will work to pass as quickly as pos­si­ble in Congress to help dev­as­tated com­mu­ni­ties, fam­i­lies and busi­nesses,” Reps. Peter King, R-N.Y., and Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., said in

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