Obama family to begin vacation without the president

HONOLULU

Family flying to Hawaii without the president

President Barack Obama's Hawaii vacation is being delayed by unfinished business in Washington, but first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha are going ahead with their trip. A statement from Michelle Obama's office Friday said the rest of the family — including the first dog, Bo — will depart for Honolulu today as originally scheduled. The president won't leave until Congress' session is complete. The family will fly on a C-40B, a version of the Boeing 737 that the first lady's office described as one of the White House fleet's smaller and most efficient planes. The entire family will return to Washington on Jan. 1.

SAN FRANCISCO

Ruling on military recruitment upheld

A federal appeals court upheld a decision to strike down measures in two Northern California cities barring military recruitment of minors. The cities of Eureka and Arcata overwhelmingly passed measures in 2008 called the Youth Protection Act. The government quickly sued, saying the cities can't regulate the activities of federal authorities. Government attorneys also argued that military recruiting serves a vital national interest. A trial judge agreed, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that decision Friday.

UNITED NATIONS

Inquiry into Haiti cholera outbreak

Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon announced the establishment of an international scientific panel Friday to investigate the source of the deadly cholera epidemic in Haiti that has killed more than 2,400 people. The U.N. chief said at a news conference that he was creating the independent panel since there are several different theories about the origin of the outbreak. There has been speculation in Haiti that the outbreak started at a base for U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal not far from where hundreds of Haitians began falling ill. U.N. officials say sanitation at the base is airtight.

HARARE, Zimbabwe

Mugabe vows to hit back at West

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe said Friday that the country will retaliate against Western economic curbs imposed on his party. Under empowerment laws, black Zimbabweans are slated to acquire 51 percent of businesses. Mugabe, addressing members of his ZANU-PF party at a convention that was broadcast live on state television, warned British and U.S. firms that "unless you remove sanctions, we will take 100 percent." Western countries imposed targeted restrictions on Mugabe and his party elite to protest violations of democratic and human rights during a decade of political and economic turmoil in the southern Africa nation.

Elsewhere

Caracas, Venezuela: Lawmakers granted Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez broad powers Friday to enact laws by decree, undermining the clout of a new congress that takes office next month with a bigger opposition bloc. Chavez opponents condemned the move as a power grab.

Tehran, Iran: Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Friday blamed the West for a deadly suicide bombing at a mosque this week, saying the country's enemies were trying to divide Muslims and halt its nuclear activities. The Sunni militant group Jundallah, or Soldiers of God, has claimed responsibility for Wednesday's bombing.

Times wires

Obama family to begin vacation without the president 12/17/10 [Last modified: Friday, December 17, 2010 10:56pm]

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