Jews beaten on N.Y. subway

after 'Happy Hanukkah' wishes

NEW YORK - A group of people exchanging holiday greetings on a subway last week hurled anti-Semitic slurs and beat four Jewish riders who had wished them "Happy Hanukkah." The prosecutor's office was investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.

The four Jewish riders were on a train in lower Manhattan Friday night, during the eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights, when they were approached by a group of 10 people who offered holiday greetings.

When they wished the group "Happy Hanukkah," they were assaulted, police said. Police caught up with the train one stop later in Brooklyn and arrested eight men and two women, ages 19 and 20.

The four Jewish riders had bruises and welts on their faces and heads, police said.

Bush grants holiday pardons,

but not to 'Scooter' Libby

WASHINGTON - President Bush granted pardons yesterday to carjackers, drug dealers, a moonshiner and a violator of election laws, but not to I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, his vice president's former top aide who was convicted in the case of the leaked identity of a CIA operative.

In all, Bush pardoned 29 convicts and reduced the prison sentence of one more in the end-of-the-year presidential tradition. Justice Department spokesman Erik Ablin said that Bush has granted 142 pardons and commuted five sentences since taking office in 2001 - far behind the pace set by most modern presidents.

In July, Bush commuted Libby's 2 1/2-year sentence, sparing Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff from serving any prison time after being convicted of perjury and obstructing justice. Libby was the only person to face criminal charges in the case of the 2003 leak of then-CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity.

Word of the Year is 'w00t': Can you use it in a sentence?

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Expect cheers among online game enthusiasts when they learn Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year. Or, more accurately, expect them to "w00t."

"W00t," a hybrid of letters and numbers used by gamers as an exclamation of happiness or triumph, topped all other terms in the dictionary publisher's online poll for the word that best sums up 2007.

Merriam-Webster's president, John Morse, said "w00t" was an ideal choice because it blends whimsy and new technology.

Gamers commonly substitute numbers and symbols for the letters they resemble, Morse says, creating what they call "l33t speak" - that's "leet" when spoken, short for "elite" to the rest of the world.

Fear of YouTube was clerk's

motivation to fight robber

ELMWOOD PARK, N.J. - When a robber started taking cash from his register over the weekend, Dunkin' Donuts employee Dustin Hoffmann fought back by clobbering the man with a ceramic mug.

But Hoffmann admits he was less worried about the stolen cash than how he might look on the video-sharing site YouTube.

"What was going through my mind at that point was that the security tape is either going to show me run away and hide in the office or whack this guy in the head, so I just grabbed the cup and clocked the guy pretty hard," Hoffmann told The Record of Bergen County.

Police said Hoffmann grabbed the man's wrists while hitting him with the mug, which is used to hold tips. Hoffmann managed to scare away the robber, who made off with just $90 and left behind a baseball cap police are holding to test for DNA evidence. Police believe the man is responsible for two other robberies.

Bill would allow pilots to fly commercial planes till age 65

WASHINGTON - The House voted unanimously yesterday to extend the retirement age for commercial pilots to 65, changing a 1960 Federal Aviation Administration regulation forcing pilots to leave the cockpit at age 60.

The bill, if approved by the Senate, would put the U.S. retirement age in line with international standards.

"Each day that passes without raising the retirement age to 65, approximately five of our senior, most experienced pilots will be forced to retire," Transportation Committee Chairman James Oberstar, D-Minn., said.

The bill would require pilots who reach age 60 to have a medical certificate renewed every six months, to continue to participate in FAA pilot training and qualification programs and be administered a line check every six months.

Permanent do-not-call list?

WASHINGTON - After Congress in 2003 created the do-not-call registry shielding millions of people from those dinnertime interruptions from telemarketers, the Federal Trade Commission wrote rules requiring consumers to re-register their phone numbers every five years. The House voted yesterday to eliminate that requirement by making the list permanent. The bill still needs Senate approval. *

- Daily News wire services