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In brief

Master class act U.S. actor Willem Dafoe attends a master class at the 49th Thessaloniki Film Festival, in Thessaloniki, Greece, Saturday. Dafoe is in Greece to present his new film ‘Dust of Time.’

AP photo
PORTLAND, Maine No charges for Obama sign

Authorities in Maine say no charges are planned against the owner of a store where a sign invited customers to bet on a date when President-elect Barack Obama would be assassinated.

Cumberland County Sheriff Mark Dion said Friday that Oak Hill General Store owner Steve Collins denied any knowledge of the “Osama Obama Shotgun Pool” sign.

Dion added that the sign was gone when a deputy visited the store in Standish to investigate the report on Nov. 7.

Dion said posting the sign would not necessarily constitute a threat or a terrorizing incident.

BENTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. Hunting near day care?

Authorities in Michigan say a hunter’s stray bullet has grazed two young boys at a day care near Cheboygan.

The Cheboygan County sheriff’s department says a 43-year-old woman fired her rifle at a deer on Thursday but the bullet penetrated a wall and grazed the boys — ages 3 and 5 — inside Angie’s Country Kids Day Care in Benton Township.

The Petoskey-News Review reports they were released from a hospital after treatment.

Authorities say the woman was hunting about 400 yards away, and may not have realized there was a day care in the area.

The county prosecutor’s office is expected to review the case.

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa Zimbabwe blocks advocates

Zimbabwe has refused to let Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter and a South African human rights advocate visit the impoverished country for a humanitarian mission, the three said Saturday.

The former U.N. secretary general, the ex-U.S. president and rights advocate Graca Machel had planned to assess the southern African country’s needs. They are members of The Elders, a group formed by former South African President Nelson Mandela to foster peace and tackle world conflicts.

Zimbabweans are suffering from disease and hunger while a political crisis over a power-sharing government occupies its politicians. A current cholera outbreak has killed nearly 300 people in Zimbabwe, the United Nations said.

LONDON ‘Happy hour’ nearing end

Britain is considering a ban on “happy hour” discounts at bars and restaurants to curb drinking, a spokesman said Saturday, as health advocates warned that a rise in liver-related deaths among young people may signal a future epidemic.

Health officials will decide on whether to ban the happy hours once an independent policy review is published in coming weeks, a health department spokesman said on customary condition of anonymity.

The proposal was one of several aimed at stemming a trend in binge drinking in recent years, particularly among teenagers and young adults.

A health advocacy group said some of those young people were now showing signs of liver-related damage usually seen in older people.

National statistics show a steady rise in the number of alcohol-related deaths that typically fell heavy drinkers in their 40s and 50s who have abused alcohol for decades. From 1991 to 2006, the number of such deaths more than doubled to 8,758.

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