December 15, 2012

Dispatches

BEIRUT

Several factors contribute to let Assad hold out in Syria

With rebels trying to penetrate Syria's capital, Damascus, President Bashar Assad may appear to be heading for a last stand as his weakened regime crumbles around him.

But the Syrian leader still has thousands of loyal troops and a monopoly on air power. A moribund diplomatic process has given him room to maneuver despite withering international condemnation. And the power of Islamic extremists among the rebels is dashing hopes that the West will send heavy weapons to the opposition.

There is no appetite for intervening actively against Assad and running the risk of having him replaced by an Islamist regime hostile to the West.

CAIRO

Clashes mark eve of voting on Egypt's draft constitution

Waving swords and clubs, Islamist supporters of Egypt's draft constitution clashed with opponents in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria on Friday as tempers flared on the eve of the referendum on the disputed charter -- the country's worst political crisis since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

Both sides stepped up their campaigns after weeks of violence and harsh divisions that have turned Saturday's vote into a fight over Egypt's post-revolutionary identity.

Highlighting the tension that may lie ahead, nearly 120,000 army soldiers will deploy to protect polling stations. A radical Islamist group also said it will send its own members to defend the stations alongside the army and police.

SALEM, Ore.

Legislature approves special tax structure for Nike

A deal proposed by Nike Inc. to create hundreds of jobs in Oregon in exchange for a guarantee that the state won't change a favorable corporate tax structure prompted state lawmakers to approve emergency legislation Friday.

Critics have questioned the timing and purpose of the special session, but rather than head out on holiday vacations, the state's part-time legislators met in Salem on four days' notice to consider whether to give the world's largest athletic shoe and apparel company the assurances it demanded. Nike plans to create 500 or more jobs and invest at least $150 million in an expansion if the so-called "single sales factor" tax benefit remains in place.

CARSON CITY, Nev.

Genealogists find teacher is heir to $7 million in coins

A substitute teacher from California was found to be the only heir to a fortune of gold coins discovered by a cleaning crew in the home of a reclusive cousin who quietly stashed away a treasure valued at $7.4 million before he died this year.

A hearing in Carson City is scheduled Tuesday, when a judge is expected to certify first cousin Arlene Magdon as the lone heir of Walter Samaszko Jr., Clerk-Recorder Alan Glover told the Nevada Appeal.

Samaszko, 69, lived a quiet life in Nevada's capital city since the late 1960s. Records show he withdrew just $500 a month from his stock accounts to pay modest bills, said Glover, who was handling Samaszko's affairs as public administrator.

Samaszko apparently had no living family in Carson City, so genealogical researchers went to work to find relatives elsewhere. They found Arlene Magdon is the only living heir to the estate. Magdon could not immediately be reached for comment.

-- From news service reports

 

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