In Brief


December 16, 2008|By FROM SUN NEWS SERVICES

Chicago schools chief to be education secretary

WASHINGTON: President-elect Barack Obama has chosen Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan to serve as education secretary, according to sources with knowledge of the decision. Duncan has run the country's third-biggest school district for the past seven years. He has focused on improving struggling schools, closing those that fail and getting better teachers. Obama has not indicated how he will try to fix the country's ailing schools. A transition official for Obama also says Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar will be named interior secretary later this week. That appointment will round out Obama's environment and energy team. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid pre-empting Obama's announcement. Salazar is a first-term Colorado senator who has established a name for himself on public lands and energy resources issues.

Civil unrest in Greece centered on university

ATHENS, Greece : Inside the gates of Athens' main university, bonfires rage and masked gangs stockpile gasoline bombs, broken paving stones and marble hacked from the neoclassical buildings. It's their arsenal for more possible clashes with weary police. But a week into Greece's worst civil unrest in decades - sparked by the police shooting of a teenage boy and then fed by anger at the country's economic unraveling - the rioters' best weapon is arguably the law. They have used, some say abused, a decades-old code that bars police from university campuses. The grounds of Athens Polytechnic have become a combination of sanctuary and makeshift armory for the bands of young men and women who have left parts of the capital ransacked and smoldering. The demands now are mostly cries against the country's increasingly unpopular conservative government and the economic hardships faced by many Greeks - particularly young people - as the economy stalls after years of moderate growth. Yesterday, about 2,000 youths confronted riot police outside Athens' main police headquarters.

Israel expels envoy, frees 224 Palestinians

RAMALLAH, West Bank : Israel freed 224 Palestinian prisoners yesterday, causing jubilant homecoming celebrations by their families and giving Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas one of his few achievements from a year of peace talks. On the same day, Israel expelled a United Nations human rights envoy, Richard Falk, who had been detained upon arrival at the international airport and accused of bias for his criticism of the Jewish state's treatment of Palestinians. More than 8,000 Palestinians are held in Israeli prisons, accused of violent and nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation. Their fate, which absorbs nearly every Palestinian family, is a continuing issue in U.S.-brokered talks on creating an independent Palestinian state.

High court OKs suits over 'light' cigarettes

WASHINGTON: The Supreme Court handed a surprising defeat yesterday to tobacco companies counting on it to put an end to lawsuits alleging deceptive marketing of "light" cigarettes. In a 5-4 split won by the court's liberals, it ruled that smokers may use state consumer protection laws to sue cigarette makers for the way they promote "light" and "low-tar" brands. The decision was at odds with recent anti-consumer rulings that limited state regulation of business in favor of federal power. Altria Group Inc. argued on behalf of its Philip Morris USA subsidiary that the lawsuits are barred by the federal cigarette labeling law, which forbids states from regulating any aspect of cigarette advertising that involves smoking and health. Justice John Paul Stevens said in his majority opinion that the labeling law does not shield the companies from state laws against deceptive practices.

Hasbro drops suit over online Scrabble games

NEW YORK : Hasbro Inc. has dropped its lawsuit against the makers of a popular online version of the board game Scrabble. According to documents filed in U.S. District Court in New York, Hasbro dropped the suit Friday. Hasbro, which owns the North American rights to the word game, sued Jayant and Rajat Agarwalla, brothers from Calcutta, India, this summer. The brothers developed the unauthorized version, called Scrabulous, after they couldn't find an online version they liked. RJ Softwares, the Agarwalla brothers' company, said in a statement that it has agreed not to use the term "Scrabulous" and has made changes to different versions of the game that it created after the lawsuit was filed.

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