Tensions remain in Egypt after 6 deaths
CAIRO (AP) -- Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi offered nothing concrete to defuse the country's worst political crisis in nearly two years in a nationally televised speech late Thursday, refusing to rescind a disputed constitution drafted by his allies or his decrees giving him near absolute powers.
A night after thousands of his supporters and opponents fought pitched battles outside his Cairo palace that left at least six dead and nearly 700 injured, he angrily accused some of the opposition protesters of serving remnants of the old regime. He vowed never to tolerate anyone working for the overthrow of his "legitimate" government.
Some among the thousands of opposition protesters gathered near his palace raised their shoes in contempt as they listened to him. Others broke into the iconic Arab Spring chant of "the people want to topple the regime."
He also invited the opposition to a "comprehensive and productive" dialogue starting Saturday at his presidential palace, but offered no sign at all that he might offer them any meaningful concessions.
The opposition has already stated that it would not enter a dialogue with Morsi unless he first rescinds decrees giving him nearly unrestricted powers and shelves the constitution draft hurriedly adopted by his Islamist allies.
Obama to keep hard line on tax increases
FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) -- President Barack Obama, trying to put a personal touch on "fiscal cliff" negotiations, visited a northern Virginia family's basement apartment Thursday to press his hard line on tax rate increases for the wealthy.
"We're in the midst of the Christmas season," Obama said, sitting at a table in the Santana family's Falls Church home. "I think the American people are counting on this getting solved. The closer it gets to the brink, the more stress there is going to be."
Obama and lawmakers have until the end of the year to avert across-the-board spending cuts and tax increases. The president reiterated the firm stance he has taken in recent days, warning that he's willing to let that economy-rattling double whammy take effect if Republicans don't drop their opposition to higher tax rates for the wealthy.
"Just to be clear, I'm not going to sign any package that somehow prevents the top rate from going up for the folks in the top 2 percent," Obama said. "But I do remain optimistic that we can get something done that is good for families like this one and is good for the American economy."
The president's quick trip -- just a 15 minute drive from the White House -- was part of an effort to rally public support for his tax proposals. The family whose home he visited is one of many that shared their stories online, at the White House's urging, of how they would be hurt if their taxes went up at the end of the year.
GOP US Sen. Jim DeMint to resign
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Republican U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, a tea party favorite known for bucking party leaders to back challenges to centrist veterans he didn't view as conservative enough, said Thursday he was resigning to take the helm of a conservative think tank.
The South Carolina lawmaker said in a statement he was stepping down to become president of the Heritage Foundation. His office said his resignation is effective Jan. 1.
DeMint was first elected to the Senate in 2004 and easily re-elected six years later. He previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives for three terms.
"I'm leaving the Senate now, but I'm not leaving the fight. I've decided to join The Heritage Foundation at a time when the conservative movement needs strong leadership in the battle of ideas," DeMint, 61, said in a statement.
NATO pushes back against Syria threat
BEIRUT (AP) -- As fears grow in the West that Syrian President Bashar Assad will unleash chemical weapons as an act of desperation, NATO moved forward Thursday with its plan to place Patriot missiles and troops along Syria's border with Turkey to protect against potential attacks.
Assad's regime blasted the move as "psychological warfare," saying the new deployment would not deter it from seeking victory over rebels it views as terrorists.
The missile deployment sends a clear message to Assad that consequences will follow if he uses chemical weapons or strikes NATO member Turkey, which backs the rebels seeking his ouster. But its limited scope also reflects the low appetite in Western capitals for direct military intervention in the civil war.
The U.S. and many European and Arab countries called for Assad to step down early in the uprising but have struggled to make that happen. Russia and China have protected Assad from censure by the U.N. Security Council, and the presence of extremists among the rebels makes the U.S. and others nervous about arming them.
Apple: Line of Macs to be made in USA
NEW YORK (AP) -- Apple CEO Tim Cook says the company will move production of one of its existing lines of Mac computers to the United States next year.
Industry watchers said the announcement is both a cunning public-relations move and a harbinger of more manufacturing jobs moving back to the U.S. as wages rise in China.
Cook made the comments in part of an interview taped for NBC's "Rock Center," but aired Thursday morning on "Today" and posted on the network's website.
In a separate interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, he said that the company will spend $100 million in 2013 to move production of the line to the U.S. from China.
"This doesn't mean that Apple will do it ourselves, but we'll be working with people and we'll be investing our money," Cook told Bloomberg.