AP News in Brief at 5:58 a.m. EST

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Associated Press

Posted on January 26, 2014 at 6:02 AM

Death toll rises to 49 from clashes on 3rd anniversary of Egypt's 2011 uprising

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian officials said Sunday that the death toll from clashes between security forces and protesters on the third anniversary of the country's 2011 uprising has risen to 49.

The Health Ministry, quoted by the official MENA news agency on Sunday, said another 247 were wounded. The agency quotes the Interior Ministry as saying 1,079 were arrested.

Throughout the day, security forces crushed demonstrations by rival Islamists and some secular activists. Pro-army civilians joined the police in some of the clashes.

Meanwhile in Tahrir Square, birthplace of the 2011 uprising, giant crowds at government-backed rallies demanded army chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi run for president.

Also Sunday, militants fired a rocket-propelled grenade at an army bus in the Sinai Peninsula, a security official said. He spoke anonymously as he was not authorized to talk to media.

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Police say they disabled crude attempts at explosive devices found in gunman's bag at Md. mall

COLUMBIA, Md. (AP) — A man carrying a shotgun opened fire at a busy shopping mall in suburban Baltimore on Saturday, killing two employees of a skate shop and then himself as panicked shoppers ran for cover, police said. Five others were injured.

Police were still trying to determine the motive of the gunman who killed a man and a woman, both in their 20s, at a skate shop called Zumiez on the upper level of the Mall in Columbia.

Witnesses described hearing gunshots and screams as shoppers ducked into nearby stores and hid behind locked doors. Many found cover in stockrooms and barricaded themselves until the arrival of police, who searched store to store. By late afternoon, the mall had been cleared of shoppers and employees.

Howard County Police Chief William J. McMahon said at a news conference that authorities had difficulty identifying the gunman because of concerns he was carrying explosives and were proceeding with an "abundance of caution." By late Saturday, police said they had tentatively identified the gunman but declined to release his name while they followed up on leads.

"We do not know yet what caused the shooting incident," he said. "We do not have a motive."

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After violent night, Kiev girds for large protest

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — After a violent night when protesters besieged a building where police were sheltering, Ukraine's capital is preparing for a large demonstration that will test the opposition's determination and authorities' patience.

Throughout Ukraine's two-month-long political crisis, Sunday rallies have typically attracted crowds of tens of thousands and sometimes much larger.

The latest rally comes a day after beleaguered President Viktor Yanukovych offered the country's prime minister post to one of the opposition's top leaders. While not rejecting the offer outright, Arseniy Yatsenyuk said more of the opposition's demands must be met, including Yanukovych's resignation. He vowed protests will continue.

Late Saturday, demonstrators threw firebombs and rocks into a building in central Kiev where about 200 police were sheltering. After several hours, the crowd formed a corridor and allowed police to leave.

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First goal of Syrian peace talks — aid to besieged city — would provide rare tangible success

GENEVA (AP) — Syrians on opposite sides of their country's civil war are trying again to find common ground, with talks focusing on an aid convoy to a besieged city and possible prisoner exchanges.

The delegation for President Bashar Assad complained Sunday that the talks are avoiding the main issues and questioned their usefulness. The U.N. mediator says the thorniest topic — a possible transitional government — will not come up until at least Monday.

The Western-backed opposition, made up largely of exiled Syrians, says Assad has lost legitimacy and can no longer lead a country after unleashing the military on largely peaceful protests nearly three years ago. The government says the rebellion is rife with terrorists and that Assad is the only person able to end the fighting that has killed 130,000 people.

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Police: 3 dead in suburban Baltimore mall shooting, 2 'crude devices' later found, disabled

COLUMBIA, Md. (AP) — The mall in suburban Baltimore was humming with weekend shoppers when, suddenly, shotgun blasts rang out on the upper level.

Panicked patrons in the food court below, others browsing in jewelry stores or undergoing facials scrambled for cover. Some ducked into nearby stores. Others hid in inventory rooms or barricaded themselves behind locked doors until police arrived.

Within 2 minutes of the first 911 call Saturday morning, police say officers arriving at the Mall in Columbia found three people dead, including the gunman. Police say a man with a shotgun had shot a man and a woman, both in their 20s, who worked at a skateboard shop. He then killed himself.

Five others were injured in the mid-morning shooting and its aftermath. All had been released from hospitals by Saturday evening.

"This was a very scary incident," Howard County Executive Ken Ulman said. "There were a lot of people very close to where this happened."

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In Georgia, Senate Republican primary draws conservative candidates of varying degrees

WATKINSVILLE, Ga. (AP) — Seeking promotion to the U.S. Senate, Republican Rep. Jack Kingston avoids a yes-or-no answer when asked if he considers himself a tea party candidate.

Instead, the 11-term congressman offers a lunch crowd at a northeast Georgia community center a plea for a unified GOP that can sell limited-government arguments to a wider audience. Kingston doesn't mention any of his seven primary opponents. But the subtext is clear in a field that includes Kingston's House colleagues Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey.

Broun, a physician, has called evolutionary theory "lies from the pit of Hell," and he's sponsoring a drawing to give one of his supporters a free AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. Gingrey, an obstetrician, has defended failed 2012 Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin's controversial comments on rape and abortion.

It's a free-for-all that highlights the GOP's internal struggle between arch-conservatives and the business establishment. Some Republicans worry that Democrats could score an upset victory in Georgia's Senate race in November, as they did in Missouri and handful of other recent Senate and governor's races, if moderate voters find the Republican nominee too extreme.

"It's a microcosm of what we're fighting over nationally," said Kirk Shook, GOP chairman in Oglethorpe County, about 80 miles east of Atlanta.

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Texas hospital: No announcement on order to end life support for pregnant, brain-dead woman

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Executives from a Texas hospital conferred with the county district attorney's office Saturday to determine their next step, after a judge ordered the hospital to remove a pregnant, brain-dead woman from life support.

Officials from John Peter Smith Hospital and the Tarrant County district attorney's office, which is representing the county-owned hospital, met to discuss Judge R. H. Wallace Jr.'s order regarding Marlise Munoz, hospital spokeswoman J.R. Labbe said. She declined to say whether a possible appeal was being discussed, but said an announcement wouldn't come Saturday.

Both the hospital and family agree that Marlise Munoz meets the criteria to be considered brain-dead — which means she is dead both medically and under Texas law — and that her fetus could not be born alive this early in pregnancy. But the hospital says it's obligated to protect the fetus, while Munoz's husband, Erick Munoz, says his wife wouldn't have wanted to be kept in this condition. His attorneys have said medical records show the fetus is "distinctly abnormal."

Wallace sided with Erick Munoz on Friday and gave the Fort Worth hospital until 5 p.m. Monday to take Marlise Munoz off life support. She was 14 weeks pregnant with their second child when her husband found her unconscious Nov. 26, possibly due to a blood clot.

The judge's ruling could give Erick Munoz a long-awaited chance to bury his wife and move forward to care for their son and his relatives. It would also mean the fetus would never be born.

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Total of 32 believed dead in Quebec retirement home fire; 10 bodies found in slow search

L'ISLE-VERTE, Quebec (AP) — Crews pulled just two more bodies from the ice-covered rubble of a Quebec retirement home on the third day of the excruciating search, bringing to 10 the number of confirmed dead from a massive fire. The effort to recover another 22 people presumed killed will resume Sunday morning.

The cause of Thursday's blaze in the small town of L'Isle-Verte remains under investigation. There were media reports that the fire began in the room of a resident who was smoking a cigarette, but police said Saturday that was just one possibility among many.

"It could be a cigarette, it could be a small heater, it could be an electrical problem," Police Lt. Michel Brunet said at a news conference. "We have to be sure at 100 percent."

"We're going to take the time we need," he added.

Frigid temperatures continued to hamper the search. Quebec Police Lt. Guy Lapointe said the ice in certain places was as thick as 60 centimeters (two feet).

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Arizona Republicans approve resolution censuring Sen. McCain for 'liberal' voting record

PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Republican Party formally censured Sen. John McCain on Saturday, citing a voting record they say is insufficiently conservative.

The resolution to censure McCain was approved by a voice-vote during a meeting of state committee members in Tempe, state party spokesman Tim Sifert said. It needed signatures from at least 20 percent of state committee members to reach the floor for debate.

Sifert said no further action was expected.

McCain spokesman Brian Rogers declined to comment on the censure. But former three-term Sen. Jon Kyl told The Arizona Republic (http://bit.ly/1mIyKyyhttp://bit.ly/1mIyKyy ) that the move was "wacky."

"I've gone to dozens of these meetings and every now and then some wacky resolution gets passed," Kyl told the newspaper on Saturday. "But most people realize it does not represent the majority of the vast numbers of Republicans."

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Firecracker explodes in moving Jeep in Spokane, blows driver's hand off

SEATTLE (AP) — A powerful firecracker detonated inside a moving vehicle in a Spokane neighborhood and blew off the driver's hand, with residents rushing to aid the bleeding man, police and neighbors said.

Donald Wilkes, 61, said the blast early Saturday morning rattled his house and woke up everyone inside. When he ran outside, he found the street filled with smoke and a Jeep stopped just against his 6-foot-tall cedar fence.

"I looked around for something that got hit, but there was nothing," Wilkes said. "My son reached in to pull the keys out of the ignition and make sure he didn't go anywhere, and that's when we saw his hand was missing. It blew it right off at his wrist — they found part of it half a block away."

Witnesses saw a flash of light from inside the vehicle, a red Jeep with a gray top, as it drove down a residential street, police said. There was initial concern over the driver's intent.

Wilkes' son, 30-year-old Nicholas, and another neighbor applied a tourniquet to the man's left arm. The man was stocky, estimated at about 28 to 30 years old, and coherent. But he wouldn't answer questions about what he had been doing, Wilkes said.

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