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Briefs

Obama named Time’s ‘Person of the Year’

– President Obama has been named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” for 2012.

“We are in the midst of historic cultural and demographic changes, and Obama is both the symbol and in some ways the architect of this new America,” Time Editor Rick Stengel told NBC’s “Today” show, where he announced the selection on Wednesday.

The short list for the honor included Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who was shot in the head for advocating for girls’ education, as well as Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Italian physicist Fabiola Giannati.

Obama also received the honor in 2008, when he was president-elect.

East Coast shipping workers may strike

Weeks after a critical West Coast port complex was crippled by a few hundred striking workers, the East Coast is bracing for a possible walkout numbering thousands that could close 15 ports from Massachusetts to Texas.

The latest talks between shipping companies and dockworkers broke down Tuesday, less than two weeks before the contract expires Dec. 29, leading to worries a strike was inevitable.

The National Retail Federation wrote to President Obama this week to ask him to use “all means necessary” to head off a strike, which they fear could have catastrophic ripple effects nationwide. “We foresee this as a national economic emergency, to be honest,” said Jonathan Gold, the group’s vice president of supply chain and customs policy.

1 dead, 32 injured in Long Island pileup

A tractor-trailer crashed into several vehicles, setting off a chain-reaction of fiery crashes Wednesday on a major New York highway, killing one person and injuring 32 people, police said.

The accident on the Long Island Expressway, about 70 miles east of New York City, left at least two dozen vehicles strewn across several hundred yards of the eastbound lanes of the roadway. At least three vehicles, including the tractor-trailer carrying mulch that was involved in the initial crash, caught fire and were still smoldering into the early evening, a fire official said.

Investigators were working to sort out the sequence of events that led to the accident that caused the chaos on the isolated stretch of road on the rural part of easternland, officials said.

Miss USA crowned 2012 Miss Universe

A 20-year-old beauty queen from Rhode Island was crowned the new Miss Universe on Wednesday, beating out 88 other women during a televised competition at the Planet Hollywood casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

Olivia Culpo took the crown from Leila Lopes of Angola after strutting in a purple and blue bikini and a red velvet gown.

In the final stages of the competition, she answered a question about her regrets by saying she wished she hadn’t picked on her siblings.

Miss Philippines, Janine Tugonon, came in second, while Miss Venezuela, Irene Sofia Esser Quintero, placed third.

World

Ex-IMF chief still faces legal battle

Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s legal problems are not over.

French judges decided Wednesday not to drop pimping charges against the former International Monetary Fund chief, according to his lawyers, who had sought to have the case thrown out. They quickly vowed to appeal.

Strauss-Kahn, 63, is fresh off a legal settlement reached in the U.S. last week with Nafissatou Diallo, the New York hotel maid who had accused him of rape in May 2011.

None has led to a conviction. The only case remaining is the investigation into Strauss-Kahn’s suspected role in a hotel prostitution ring in the northern French city of Lille.

He is one of several defendants in the case, which allegedly involves prominent city figures and police.

1st woman elected president in S. Korea

Park Geun-hye, daughter of a divisive military strongman from South Korea’s authoritarian era, has been elected the country’s first female president, a landmark win that could mean a new drive to start talks with rival North Korea.

After five years of high tension under unpopular incumbent Lee Myung-bak, Park has vowed to pursue engagement and step up aid to North Korea, despite the latter’s widely condemned long-range rocket launch last week.

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