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News Wrap: Greece OKs Budget, Adds More Austerity Measures

December 23, 2010 at 4:50 PM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The U.S. economy offered some helpful signs heading into Christmas. Government reports said first-time claims for jobless benefits fell, for the second time in two weeks. And consumer spending rose slightly in November.

On Wall Street, stocks finished a short holiday week with mixed results. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 14 points, to close at 11573. The Nasdaq fell nearly six points to close at 2665.

The governing Socialists in Greece approved a new budget today that imposes more austerity measures. They reduced health and defense spending, while raising consumer taxes. The cuts are a condition of Greece getting help from a European bailout fund. But they have also sparked widespread protests in Athens and elsewhere.

In Romania, a man jumped off a balcony in Parliament, apparently to protest budget cuts there. The country’s prime minister was speaking when there was an audible thud off to his left. The protester had leapt more than 20 feet to the floor as shocked lawmakers looked on. He wore a T-shirt with the words, “You have killed our children’s future.” The man’s injuries were not life-threatening.

The Elections Board in Chicago has ruled former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is eligible to run for mayor. A hearing officer had found he qualifies, even though he lived in Washington much of the last two years.

Emanuel welcomed the finding even before the board formally approved it.

RAHM EMANUEL (D), Chicago mayoral candidate: What this reaffirms is

that, A, I was a resident, and that the only reason I left was to work for President Obama. And I think the most important thing to remember is that we turn the page now and focus on what I have been focusing on, which is the priorities facing the city.

HARI SREENIVASAN: More than two dozen people challenged Emanuel’s right to run. At least one of them insisted he will appeal the Election Board’s decision all the way to the state Supreme Court.

The Internet-based communication service Skype slowly recovered today

from an outage that began midday Wednesday. Voice and video chatting were back for about 80 percent of Skype users by this afternoon, but group video links were still down. The company blamed software problems that knocked part of its connection system offline.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.