National briefs: Chicago shuts 49 schools

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CHICAGO -- After an emotional public schools meeting, officials in the third-largest district in the country voted Wednesday to close 49 public schools that they said were not being fully used.

The decision, passed unanimously by the Chicago Board of Education, came after weeks of contentious public hearings that brought more than 34,000 people out to oppose the school consolidation plan at dozens of hearings across the city.

The move, which singled out schools that district officials said were half empty after years of population loss -- but that opponents argued unfairly singled out low-income minority communities -- makes up the largest group of city schools to be closed at once in recent memory.

Garcetti sets L.A. agenda

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti said Wednesday he's going to focus like a "laser beam" on the economy when he takes office July 1.

Mr. Garcetti spoke with reporters the day after he defeated city Controller Wendy Greuel by a 54 percent-to-46 percent margin. Mr. Garcetti had criticized Ms. Greuel for her ties to the powerful Department of Water and Power.

Weiner tries comeback

NEW YORK -- Anthony Weiner, once a rising star of New York City politics whose career cratered over revelations of his sexually explicit life online, announced an improbable bid Wednesday for the job he has long coveted: mayor.

An emailed announcement makes an oblique and glancing reference to the scandal that prompted the Democrat to resign from Congress; Mr. Weiner asks voters for "a second chance" but does not apologize for his conduct.

Antebellum home saved

WASHINGTON -- First lady Michelle Obama said Wednesday that stories of toil and sweat by slaves once held at a historic home within sight of the White House are an important part of U.S. history.

She commented as American Express announced its donation of $1 million to the White House Historical Association to preserve Decatur House and pay for education programs for children. The nearly 200-year-old house is owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and operated by the association.

Arias jury deadlocked

PHOENIX -- Jurors in the Jodi Arias murder said Wednesday they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on whether she should be sentenced to life in prison or death for killing her one-time boyfriend, prompting the judge to instruct them to keep trying.

The jury reported its impasse after only about 21/2 hours of deliberations. Judge Sherry Stephens instructed jurors to try to identify areas of agreement and disagreement as they work toward a decision. The jury then continued deliberating until late afternoon, when it adjourned for the day without a decision.

Scouts set for gay vote

GRAPEVINE, Texas -- Engulfed in the culture war over homosexuality, Boy Scout leaders from around the country gathered for a vote today on a landmark proposal that would permit openly gay youths -- but not openly gay adult leaders -- to participate in Scouting.

Emotions were evident Wednesday outside the conference center in this suburb of Dallas, where dozens of conservative Christians, many in Scout uniforms, carried "no" signs and waved American flags.

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