National briefs (2/26/12)

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Obama glum on gas prices

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama says there is no easy answer to the problem of rising energy prices and he's dismissing Republican solutions as little more than gimmicks.

"We know there's no silver bullet that will bring down gas prices or reduce our dependence on foreign oil overnight," Mr. Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address. "But what we can do is get our priorities straight and make a sustained, serious effort to tackle this problem."

Oil prices are approaching last year's highs as tensions increase over Iran's nuclear program. The rise pushed gasoline prices Friday to a national average of $3.65 a gallon, the highest ever for this time of year. A spike in gas prices is normal in spring, but it came earlier than usual this year in large part because of world fears that the growing confrontation with Iran will crimp oil supplies. Iran is the world's third-largest crude supplier.

Rising oil prices weigh on the economy, pushing leisure and business travel costs higher. Every 1-cent increase in the price of gasoline costs the economy $1.4 billion, analysts say.

Goodyear sets tire recall

NEW YORK -- Goodyear is recalling six versions of its Wrangler Silent Armor tires over concerns that the tread could separate from the tire and cause accidents.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. said Saturday that the separation could happen under what it called "severe usage conditions." Goodyear says the separated tread could strike the car and damage it or cause a tire failure.

The tires are designed for trucks, vans and SUVs. Goodyear says it will notify owners and replace the tires for free. The recall will start by March 22.

Identity theft soaring

WASHINGTON -- The government says the number of identity theft complaints involving tax and wage fraud is soaring even as law enforcement tries to crack down.

Federal Trade Commission officials told The Associated Press that 24 percent of the nearly 279,000 identity theft complaints it received last year came from people who were concerned that their Social Security numbers had been stolen and used to fraudulently file for tax refunds or apply for jobs.

The agency said that's 8 percent more than the year before.

'Baby selling' case

SAN DIEGO -- A California attorney who once was prominent in adoption circles was sentenced Friday to five months in federal custody and nine months of home confinement for her guilty plea in what prosecutors called an international "baby selling" ring.

Theresa Erickson, whose law firm was in Poway, Calif., had pleaded guilty to wire fraud for her role in a scheme that involved hiring surrogates to carry embryos to term and then arranging for the infants to be adopted. The "intended parents" often paid more than $100,000, according to the plea bargain signed by Ms. Erickson.

-- Compiled from news services


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