National briefs: Obama starts fiscal push

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WASHINGTON -- With major battles looming in the fall over the federal budget and the debt ceiling, President Barack Obama is trying to regain the initiative, embarking on a campaign-style tour of the Midwest this week to lay out his agenda for reinvigorating the nation's economy, administration officials said Sunday.

Mr. Obama's offensive will begin Wednesday in Galesburg, Ill., with what his aides are saying will be a major address on economic policy at Knox College. Officials declined to provide details of the president's message, but said he would set his terms for what they expect will be another bruising battle with a Republican-controlled House over the nation's fiscal policies.

Wednesday's speech, Mr. Obama's aides said, will be drawn in broad strokes, reaffirming themes like the need for a prosperous middle class.

Toyota case set to begin

LOS ANGELES -- When Noriko Uno's 2006 Camry unexpectedly accelerated to speeds up to 100 mph on a street with a posted limit of 30, the 66-year-old bookkeeper did everything she could to slow down, stepping on the brake pedal and pulling the emergency handle as she swerved to avoid hitting other vehicles. She was killed when her car went onto a median and struck a telephone pole and a tree.

Her case is the first to go to trial in a proceeding that could determine whether Toyota Motor Corp. should be held liable for sudden unintended acceleration in its vehicles -- a claim made by motorists that plagued the Japanese automaker and led to lawsuits, settlements and recalls of millions of its cars and SUVs.

The Uno trial, starting with jury selection today, is expected to last two months.

Gitmo captive hearings

MIAMI -- Seventy-one inmates at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, captives will get parole-board-style hearings at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba, the Pentagon said Sunday, refusing to say when the panels will meet, whether the media can watch and which of the long-held captives will go first.

The panel members "assess whether continued law of war detention is necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States," said retired Rear Adm. Norton C. Joerg, a senior Navy lawyer during the Bush administration, advising the captives' lawyers.

Blueberry top fruit in Ga.

ATLANTA -- Georgia is famous as a major producer of the peach.

But in a little-noticed development, the value of blueberry production in Georgia beat the peach crop in 2005 -- and the gap has grown even bigger since then, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture surveys.

Blueberries generated an estimated $94 million for Georgia growers in 2012, meaning the blueberry crop was more than three times as valuable as the nearly $30 million peach crop.

Site urges metric system

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A new website is trying to advance one of the oldest and slowest-going U.S. efforts: getting Americans to mind the metric system.

The creators of -- which houses a trove of educational films made decades ago, when then-president Gerald Ford was pushing one of many initiatives over time to nudge the country into adopting the international measuring standard -- hope the current president's focus on mathematics and science education will make the videos relevant -- and profitable -- again.



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