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United States


Honor student slain: Four teenage boys face first-degree murder charges and police are seeking three other suspects in the beating death of an honor student at a notoriously violent Chicago high school. Derrion Albert, 16, died after being caught up in a brawl among about 50 students at a bus stop near Christian Fenger Academy High School. The suspects, ages 16 through 19, can be seen on a cell phone video hitting Albert with railroad ties and their fists, before one of the attackers repeatedly stomps on the head of the fallen boy. Police would not say who recorded the attack or what motivated it. Students say violence is common at the school. “It’s a fight almost every day,” said Devanta Howell, 17.

Marietta, Ga.

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Homeless evicted: State officials have evicted nine homeless men, all registered sex offenders, from an encampment behind an office park where other state officials had previously told them to live. Probation officers had directed the men to the area as a “last resort” after they were unable to find housing that complied with Georgia’s strict sex-offense laws, which bar sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools, parks, and other places where children gather. The state transportation department, which owns the land on which the makeshift camp is located, ordered them out, and the corrections department is trying to place the men in other housing. “The few options that meet guidelines involve costs,” said corrections spokeswoman Sharmelle Brooks, “and many offenders don’t have money.”

Big Creek, Ky.

Census worker death: The FBI has opened an investigation into the death of a census worker found last month with the word “Fed” scrawled in marker on his chest. The body of Bill Sparkman, 51, a substitute teacher and part-time census worker, was found in a graveyard in rural Clay County hanging from a tree with his feet touching the ground; his hands and feet were bound with duct tape and a cloth gag was stuffed into his mouth. Authorities cautioned against characterizing Sparkman’s death as being rooted in anti-government sentiment, noting that the area is studded with marijuana farms and methamphetamine labs. “You meet some strange people,” said George Robinson, who has conducted census surveys in the same area. “Nothing is a surprise in Clay County.”

Washington, D.C.

Facebook poll uproar: The U.S. Secret Service has launched an investigation after a poll on Facebook queried members of the social-networking site about whether President Obama should be assassinated. The survey asked, “Should Obama be killed?” and offered four answers: yes, maybe, “if he cuts my health care,” and no. Facebook has removed the poll as well as the online application that enables the site’s 340 million members to create polls of their own. The poll application’s developer said he knew who created the poll and had passed that person’s name to the Secret Service. President Obama reportedly receives 30 death threats a day, four times as many as President Bush faced.


Kennedy’s successor: The Democrats regained their 60-seat majority in the Senate, after Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick appointed a former aide to Sen. Ted Kennedy to fill the late senator’s seat. Paul Kirk, 71, agreed not to run when the state holds a special Senate election in January. Patrick appointed Kirk just one day after the Massachusetts legislature changed a 2004 law that barred the governor from appointing an interim senator. A former chairman of the Democratic Party, Kirk is well known in Washington. “He’s someone who can be trusted, who’s straight,” said former Republican Party Chairman Frank Fahrenkopf. Although Kirk will serve only briefly, he could have a big impact by giving the Democrats the winning margin on health-care legislation.

New York City

Rather’s suit tossed: A state appeals court has dismissed former news anchor Dan Rather’s $70 million wrongful-discharge suit against CBS. Rather, 77, charged that CBS had caved to political pressure when it removed him from his anchor post for narrating an explosive story, prior to the 2004 election, claiming that President George W. Bush received preferential treatment from the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War. Pro-Bush bloggers raised doubts about the authenticity of documents cited in the report, and CBS eventually apologized and retracted the story. In tossing the suit, a five-judge appellate panel noted that CBS continued to pay Rather $6 million a year after removing him as anchor. He left the network in 2006.

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