Symantec chief could head Commerce

WASHINGTON: John W. Thompson, the outgoing chief executive of Symantec Corp., a network security company, has emerged as a leading contender to be secretary of the Department of Commerce, a move that would give the high-tech industry a major voice in the Obama administration. Over the past decade, Thompson led the Cupertino, Calif.-based company from a small software maker to the top provider of antivirus and security programs, known for its Norton brand of products. Thompson, who is black, has also been active in bringing more people of color into the high-tech industry. In recent days, Thompson has spoken on the telephone and met with key senators, aides said.


U.S. to set modest goals for Afghanistan

WASHINGTON : President Barack Obama is likely to scale back U.S. ambitions for troubled Afghanistan, redefining victory in a war that his closest military and foreign affairs advisers say cannot be won on the battlefield. Even before a planned doubling of U.S. forces in Afghanistan later this year, the new administration is lowering its sights - and expectations. Although there is general agreement that the United States will be in Afghanistan for years to come, the new focus is on how to show even small security gains and development progress quickly. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who has recently suggested that the Bush administration overreached in Afghanistan, are scheduled to testify today before the Senate and House Armed Services committees.


Rove subpoenaed by House committee

WASHINGTON : The House Judiciary Committee chairman subpoenaed former White House adviser Karl Rove yesterday to testify about the Bush administration's firing of nine U.S. attorneys and its prosecution of a former Democratic governor. Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Michigan said the legal battle to get Rove and other former Bush administration aides to testify may have success with a new president in the White House. Former President George W. Bush upheld Rove and two other senior aides who asserted they did not have to testify before Congress about their actions in the White House. The legal dispute between the executive and legislative branches of government is before a federal appeals court.

Calif. octuplets born 'kicking and screaming'

BELLFLOWER, Calif.: A woman gave birth to eight babies in Southern California yesterday, the world's second live-born set of octuplets. The mother, who was not identified, gave birth to six boys and two girls weighing between 1 pound, 8 ounces and 3 pounds, 4 ounces, doctors at Kaiser Permanante Bellflower Medical Center told the Associated Press. Doctors said the babies were born nine weeks premature. Two newborns were placed on ventilators and a third needs oxygen. Forty-six hospital staff and four delivery rooms were used for the births. "They were all screaming and kicking around very vigorously," Dr. Harold Henry, the hospital's chief of maternal and fetal medicine. The first live-born octuplets were born in Houston in 1998, and one baby died about a week later. The surviving siblings - girls Ebuka, Gorom, Chidi, Chima and Echerem, and their brothers Ikem and Jioke - celebrated their 10th birthday in December.