- - Monday, November 29, 2010

CALIFORNIA

‘Empire Strikes Back’ director Kershner dies

LOS ANGELES — Irvin Kershner, who directed the “Star Wars” sequel “The Empire Strikes Back” and the James Bond film “Never Say Never Again,” has died at age 87.

Mr. Kershner died Saturday in Los Angeles after a long illness, said Adriana Santini, a France-based actress who is a family friend. He is survived by two sons, she said. His agent, Derek Maki, also confirmed the death Monday in an e-mail to the Associated Press.

Mr. Kershner already had made a number of well-received movies when he was hired by George Lucas to direct “Empire,” which was the second produced but fifth in the “Star Wars” chronology.

The 1980 production was a darker story than the original. In it, hero Luke Skywalker loses a hand and learns that villain Darth Vader is his father. The movie initially got mixed reviews but has gone on to become one of the most critically praised.

ILLINOIS

Football fan’s death deemed an accident

CHICAGO — The death of a 23-year-old fan who fell from a Soldier Field concourse during halftime of Sunday’s game between the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles appears to have been accidental, a stadium official said Monday.

Witnesses and friends gave differing accounts about the moments before the man, identified publicly by the Cook County medical examiner’s office Monday as Stewart Haverty of Woodstock, cleared a 3-foot railing and fell more than 35 feet onto the roof of a storage building.

Mr. Haverty fell about 5 p.m. Sunday from a concessions area that is a popular halftime hangout spot, said Soldier Field spokesman Luca Serra. Mr. Haverty was declared dead shortly after he was taken to a hospital.

NEW YORK

Media executive gets waiver to lead schools

NEW YORK — The state education commissioner agreed Monday to let publishing executive Cathie Black serve as New York City schools chancellor, putting the Hearst Magazines chairwoman in charge of the nation’s largest school system.

The announcement was made after Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg agreed to appoint a seasoned educator as second-in-command to Ms. Black, who needed a waiver from the state because she has no background in education.

Mr. Bloomberg announced Nov. 9 that he had chosen Ms. Black, the former publisher of USA Today, to succeed Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, who is leaving at the end of the year to take a job with News Corp.

Mr. Bloomberg called Ms. Black, 66, a “world-class manager” who would inspire the school system’s 1.1 million students and 135,000 employees.

OKLAHOMA

Certification blocked on Islamic law vote

OKLAHOMA CITY — A federal judge has granted a request to prevent the state of Oklahoma from certifying election results for a constitutional amendment that would bar state courts from considering international or Islamic law when deciding cases.

U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange said Monday that she granted the preliminary injunction against State Question 755 until she rules on the merits of a challenge to the law. The law was approved by 70 percent of Oklahoma voters in a Nov. 2 referendum.

Muneer Awad with the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma sued to block the law from taking effect. He argues that the ban on Islamic law, also known as Shariah, likely would affect every aspect of his life as well as the execution of his will after his death.

OREGON

Somali indicted in car-bomb plot

PORTLAND — A federal grand jury has indicted a Somali-American man in a suspected plot to blow up a car bomb at a Christmas-tree-lighting ceremony in Portland.

The indictment, filed Monday, charges Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

The teen was arrested Friday evening near the crowded Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland, amid an FBI sting operation that followed months of investigation.

PENNSYLVANIA

Discovery Channel puts Sharks in print

PHILADELPHIA — After chewing up television with its wildly popular Shark Week, Discovery Communications aims to snatch an even bigger bite for its popular franchise: comic books.

The Silver Spring, Md., parent company of Discovery Channel and Animal Planet, hopes to make a big splash when it releases its first comic book, Top 10 Deadliest Sharks. The book, dubbed a nonfiction graphic novel, will be released Wednesday and is published by Philadelphia’s Zenescope Entertainment under the Silver Dragon Books imprint.

Like its namesake television counterpart, the Shark comic book takes a serious but accessible look at some of the species’ deadliest and dangerous members. Using Andy Dehart, the network’s resident shark researcher — and public face of the annual TV event — the graphic novel boasts 10 stories based on real events and spotlights a particular shark.

VIRGINIA

Somali gets 30 years for Navy ship attack

NORFOLK — A Somali man who admitted his role in an attack on a U.S. Navy ship off the coast of Africa was sentenced Monday to 30 years in prison under an agreement that could return him to court to testify against five countrymen accused in the attack.

Jama Idle Ibrahim was sentenced in U.S. District Court on three charges: an attack to plunder a vessel, an act of violence against persons on a vessel, and use of a firearm during a crime of violence.

He entered a guilty plea to the charges in August for his role in the April 10 attack on the USS Ashland, a Virginia-based amphibious dock landing ship.

Five other defendants face trial in that case, and Ibrahim agreed to cooperate with the government in their prosecution, according to terms of the plea agreement.

Ibrahim also faces sentencing in Washington, D.C., on two charges related to the November 2008 attack on a Danish ship. Its crew was held hostage for 71 days.

WISCONSIN

23 students let go after taken hostage

MARINETTE — A student armed with a handgun burst into a high school classroom in eastern Wisconsin on Monday, taking nearly two dozen students and a teacher hostage at the end of the school day, authorities said. All of the hostages were released several hours later by mid-evening.

A Marinette High School administrator called authorities after 3 p.m. to say a student had taken over a classroom, officials said. Police Chief Jeff Skorik said officials had been able to communicate by phone with the teacher inside and no injuries had been reported or shots fired.

Chief Skorik said he did not know what led up to all hostages being released, but that the teacher was acting as a mediator between the hostage-taker and authorities.

A SWAT team had arrived at the school Monday evening, city councilman Bradley Behrendt said from the scene about 50 miles north of Green Bay.

The police chief said 23 students were initially held in the classroom along with the teacher. He said police knew the suspect’s identity and investigators were interviewing the suspect’s parents.

From wire dispatches and staff reports