Week in review

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<b>AFGHANISTAN: </b> A boy runs out of the Heetal Hotel after a suicide car bomb was detonated in front of the hotel in Kabul on Tuesday. The midmorning attack in Kabul's congested Wazir Akbar Khan district slightly damaged the hotel, which is owned by the son of Burhanuddin Rabbani, who served as president of Afghanistan from 1992 until 1996. The blast killed at least eight people and wounded almost 40. No hotel guests were among the dead or wounded. The hotel, in one of the city's safest districts, is frequented by Westerners.  Associated Press
Associated Press
AFGHANISTAN: A boy runs out of the Heetal Hotel after a suicide car bomb was detonated in front of the hotel in Kabul on Tuesday. The midmorning attack in Kabul's congested Wazir Akbar Khan district slightly damaged the hotel, which is owned by the son of Burhanuddin Rabbani, who served as president of Afghanistan from 1992 until 1996. The blast killed at least eight people and wounded almost 40. No hotel guests were among the dead or wounded. The hotel, in one of the city's safest districts, is frequented by Westerners.

METRO: Some Augusta and Aiken area golf clubs have been able to attract new members during the recession by waiving initiation fees and lowering other charges. Some clubs said they might restore the previous price structure once they reach their membership goals.

NATION: The U.S. Postal Service and other carriers braced for their peak shipping day of the year, as shoppers rushed to have packages delivered before Christmas.

WASHINGTON: The Senate met in weekend session to pass a $1.1 trillion spending bill and send it to President Obama. Georgia and South Carolina senators voted against the measure.

SCHOOLS: Richmond County school officials are considering changing the way textbooks are received from the publishers and redistributed to the schools. The warehouse that employs four people might be eliminated in favor of having books shipped directly to the schools. Officials also voiced preference for online textbooks to supplement or replace the printed books, which cost Richmond County about $4 million each year.

METRO: Magistrate John Baxter will retire at the end of the December. He was first elected justice of the peace in 1960.

NATION: A national police association reported 47 U.S. police officers have died from gunfire so far in 2009, a marked increase from 2008. Unlike most previous years, the number included several officers who seem to have been targeted.

Monday

WASHINGTON: Senate Democrats appeared ready to drop a controversial plan that would expand Medicare to 55- to 64-year-olds after many questioned the cost.

GEORGIA: Two Georgia men were each sentenced to prison for sending homemade videos of Washington landmarks overseas and traveling abroad to try to turn their anti-American rhetoric into action.

HEALTH: While a federal survey found smoking pot has become more popular with teens -- 20.6 of the 12th-graders surveyed reported using it in the past month -- Richmond County schools' Public Safety Lt. Richard Roundtree said prescriptions seem to be local teens' preference.

Tuesday

METRO: Augusta's economy remains resilient, weathering the recession better than three-quarters of the major metropolitan areas in the country, the Brookings Institution said. The area's No. 23 ranking was bolstered by a foreclosure rate and an employment drop less severe than in other areas of the country.

METRO: The Augusta Commission voted 9-0-1 to reject General Counsel Chiquita Johnson's suggested ordinance that would have given the Law Department power to launch investigations into any city department, authority or contractor, with its investigators having "peace officer" status. The Commission also rejected Ms. Johnson's proposal that would have limited the number of news cameras in commission chambers and restricted interviews with elected officials to a "media room."

METRO: Two candidates seeking to fill the District 22 state Senate seat answered questions during a forum sponsored by the Augusta branch of the NAACP. Four candidates are running for the seat vacated by Ed Tarver.

Wednesday

BUSINESS: Major stores that had worried it would take across-the-board discounts to lure shoppers are backing away from the panic button. Sales last week were up 18 percent from the week before and a little more than 1 percent higher than a year before, according to figures released by research firm ShopperTrak.

ENTERTAINMENT: Kathryn McCormick's bid to become "America's Favorite Dancer" came up just short. The dancer from Martinez placed third in the night's season finale of So You Think You Can Dance, a popular reality competition on Fox.

METRO: A year to the day after ground was broken for Augusta's new judicial center, construction is moving ahead on time and on budget, officials say. The $67 million building on a lot north of Walton Way between 10th Street and James Brown Boulevard is on target to open in the first few months of 2011, said Rick Acree, the Richmond County assistant director of public services.

METRO: The U.S. Energy Department will move ahead with plans to ship 15,000 barrels of low-level radioactive waste from Savannah River Site to a landfill in Utah, despite an 11th-hour request from that state's governor that the shipments be halted. The first shipment -- with 5,408 drums -- left South Carolina late Tuesday.

BUSINESS: Electrolux announced it will establish its North American headquarters in Charlotte, N.C., which could get $26 million in incentives from that state. The move includes the company's Major Appliances North America headquarters in Martinez.

GEORGIA: Georgia Power Co. says it needs approval for a 6.8 percent boost in what it charges its customers for fuel, adding $6.98 to the average monthly residential bill for a total of $642 million. State law requires the Public Service Commission to pass along to customers the company's expense for fuel used in generating electricity.

Thursday

WASHINGTON: The Senate Banking Committee approved the nomination of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to run the central bank for another four years.

WASHINGTON: Vice President Joe Biden announced the first $182 million in federal stimulus money for 18 projects to expand high-speed Internet networks in rural areas and other underserved communities.

ENVIRONMENT: The Department of Energy said it has struck a deal with Utah Gov. Gary Herbert that would prohibit radioactive waste from Savannah River Site from being permanently buried in Utah until stricter state guidelines are put in place.

MIDEAST: Two U.S. missile strikes pummeled targets inside the main sanctuary used by al-Qaida and the Taliban along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, killing 17 people, local intelligence officials said.

SPORTS: Augusta State Athletic Director Clint Bryant removed head women's basketball coach Tes Sobomehin from her position after the Lady Jaguars' 61-45 loss to West Georgia at Christenberry Fieldhouse. Mr. Bryant gave her an offer to remain with the university in an unspecified capacity for the remainder of the school year.

Friday

METRO: A nonprofit group is working to raise $25,000 to buy a van equipped with a wheelchair lift for a Grovetown family. Tyler Maphis, 15, has severe disabilities. His father, Staff Sgt. Roger Maphis, will serve another tour overseas. And Tyler's mother, Misty, needs the lift to transport her son. Several fundraising events are planned to get the lift for "Tater." For details, e-mail taterstoter@gmail.com.

HEALTH: Democratic leaders appeared to make progress in winning over Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson to be their 60th vote to pass a sweeping health care bill before Christmas.

GEORGIA: Defense Secretary Robert Gates told University of Georgia graduates they don't have to join the military to serve their country and urged them to consider careers in government. The former CIA director, clad in purple and gray robes, addressed more than 1,000 UGA graduates and their families.


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