National briefs: Farm-state legislators plan

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WASHINGTON -- House Agriculture Committee chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., backed a short-term extension of a farm law that lapsed Sept. 30 as the Obama administration warned that unless Congress acts, retail milk prices could almost double.

"It is no longer possible to enact a five-year farm bill in this Congress," Mr. Lucas said in a statement Sunday. The "responsible thing to do," he said, "is to extend the 2008 legislation for one year. This provides certainty to our producers and critical disaster assistance to those affected by record drought conditions."

Three farm-related bills were filed Saturday in the House; all of them would stave off the potential jump in consumer milk prices should government commodity programs begin to lapse Jan. 1. One would extend current law, along with disaster aid for producers affected by this year's U.S. drought and changes to current milk policy. The second measure is a shorter-term extension, and the third would protect only against possible dairy-price spikes.

Tour bus crashes on icy road

LA GRANDE, Ore. -- A tour bus crash crashed Sunday on an icy stretch of interstate in Oregon, killing nine people and injuring about 20 others, authorities said. It was the second fatal accident in Oregon on Sunday morning due to icy conditions.

Police say the bus lost control around 10:30 a.m. on the snow- and ice-covered lanes of Interstate 84 in eastern Oregon. The bus crashed through a guardrail and went down an embankment a few hundred feet.

Man held in tenant deaths

PORTLAND, Maine -- A 74-year-old Maine man was charged in the shooting deaths of two tenants inside an apartment he rented out at his home, possibly over a dispute about where they parked their cars during a snowstorm, state police said Sunday.

James Pak was arrested at about 10 p.m. Saturday following a standoff at his suburban neighborhood home in Biddeford, about 15 miles south of Portland, police said. He is charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of Derrick Thompson, 19, and Thompson's girlfriend, 18-year-old Alivia Welch.

Ford expects 2.2M in 2012

DEARBORN, Mich. -- Ford says it expects to sell 2.2 million vehicles this year, its second in a row of 2 million-plus, with the Ford Focus compact car being its most popular model.

It sold 737,856 Ford Focuses through September. The Ford Fiesta sedan and hatchback and F-series trucks were other popular models. Ford Motor Co.'s EcoBoost engines, which save energy, are on track to be sold in 520,000 cars by year-end since their launch in 2009. A new 1-liter, 3-cylinder engine will be available in 2013 in new Fiesta cars in the U.S.

Psychiatric test for suspect

NEW YORK -- Erika Menendez, 31, accused of shoving a man to his death in front of a subway train because she believed he was Muslim, laughed and smiled during a court hearing where she was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

Ms. Menendez was charged Saturday night with murder as a hate crime after she told police she spontaneously pushed Sunando Sen, according to prosecutors.

Queens borough prosecutors said she pushed the 46-year-old India native to his death because she blamed "Muslims, Hindus and Egyptians" for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

-- Compiled from news services



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