VOA NEWS IN SPECIAL ENGLISH

December 7, 2012

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi spoke on national television Thursday. He said he will not permit killings or sabotage. He said "thugs" are trying to create disorder across the country. President Morsi expressed sorrow for the seven people who were killed near the presidential palace on Wednesday and the more than 700 who were injured. He said talks among those who disagree are the only way to end the country's constitutional crisis. But he refused to cancel a presidential order that gives him unusual power. He said this was needed to safeguard the homeland and protect stability.

American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talked with Russia's foreign minister and a United Nations diplomat Thursday about Syria. They spoke in Dublin, Ireland, during a human rights conference. The meeting happened as concern grows that Syria's government may be planning to use chemical weapons against its people. However, Syria's deputy foreign minister dismissed such concerns. He told Lebanese television that Western governments are using the threat of chemical weapons as a reason to intervene in his country. Two American news organizations have reported that the Syrian military has placed chemicals into bombs and is waiting for the order to use them.

Officials in Afghanistan say the country's intelligence chief was wounded in an attack in Kabul Thursday. Officials said doctors operated on Asadullah Khalid and that he is expected to live. He has severe injuries on the right side of his body. Asadullah Khalid has led the Intelligence Agency since September. He has taken strong steps against the Taliban.

A television news host in the North Caucasus area of Russia has been shot and killed. Russian officials said 28-year-old Kazbek Gekkiyev was shot late Wednesday. The identity of his attackers is not known. He worked at the state television channel VGTRK. His coworkers said he was not known as someone who reported on disputed issues. Witnesses said his attackers asked him his name before shooting him. The shooting happened on a street in Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkariya province. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has called the North Caucasus one of the most dangerous areas in the world for reporters.

The United States Senate has approved a measure that will improve American trade relations with Russia. But the measure could also punish some Russian officials. The House of Representatives approved the measure last month. President Obama has said he will sign the legislation into law. The bill ends trade restrictions on Russia that have been in place since the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States. Economists say American exports to Russia will increase 100 percent in five years if the trade restrictions are ended. But the bill also places restrictions on Russian officials accused of human rights violations. These include denying visas and refusing them access to their money in American banks. The Russian government is angry about the restrictions in the legislation.

Rescuers have ended a search for six missing crew members after a ship collision that killed five others in the North Sea off the Dutch coast Wednesday. Dutch Coast Guard officials said Thursday that it is not likely more survivors will be found because of the cold water and the time since the crash. Rescuers were slowed by cold air, snow and strong winds. Thirteen crew members from the cargo ship were rescued by helicopter Wednesday and are expected to recover. The bodies of the five who were killed have been found. Dutch police identified the dead as two Polish men, two Filipinos and a man from Ukraine. The ship had 24 crew members. It was loaded with cars and was traveling to Finland. It sank after being hit Wednesday by a large container ship. The cause of the collision has not been reported.

A court in Bosnia-Herzegovina has sentenced an Islamist militant to 18 years in prison for an attack on the American embassy in Sarajevo. The state court in Sarajevo on Thursday found that Mevlid Jasarevic had shot at the embassy with an automatic weapon in October, 2011. Jasarevic said he was angry about American troops being in Afghanistan. His lawyer said the prison sentence was too long and that he will appeal.

The president of the European Central Bank says the economies of the 17 countries that use the euro are likely to decline next year and not improve until later in the year or in 2014. Mario Draghi spoke on Thursday after the central bank kept its lending rate at a record low of three quarters of one percent. The central bank said the eurozone economy is likely to get smaller by about one half of one percent this year and possibly another three tenths of one percent in 2013. He says it will return to a growth of 1.2 percent in 2014.

Marijuana smokers in the western American state of Washington celebrated a new state law on Thursday. The law was approved last month. It lets people legally smoke marijuana in private for their enjoyment. Hundreds of marijuana smokers in Seattle smoked the drug and blew smoke into the air as police watched. Under the new state law, people 21 years old or older may not buy marijuana but they are permitted to possess up to 28 grams of it for private use. Public use is still banned. But on Thursday, police did not stop the smokers in Seattle.