National briefs: Congress raises U.S. debt limit

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WASHINGTON -- The Senate on Thursday sent President Barack Obama legislation suspending the government's statutory borrowing limit until May, accepting a House Republican demand that Senate Democrats produce a budget plan this spring in exchange for a debt limit reprieve that included no spending cuts.

The 64-34 vote ended for now a showdown that had threatened the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. The Treasury Department has been shuffling federal accounts for a month to make sure it could pay interest to its creditors even after the government officially breached its borrowing limit. By mid-February, the Obama administration warned, the Treasury would have exhausted such "extraordinary measures" and would have been forced to default for the first time.

The legislation, written by House Republican leaders, passed the House last week 285-144, with most Republicans voting for it. In the Senate, most Republicans -- and Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va. -- voted no.

U.S. seeks to block beer deal

WASHINGTON --The Justice Department sued Thursday to block Anheuser-Busch InBev's proposed $20.1 billion deal to buy control of Grupo Modelo of Mexico, arguing that the merger would significantly reduce competition in the U.S. beer market.

The deal, announced last summer, would add Corona Extra to the company's formidable stable of brands, including Budweiser and Stella Artois.

But the Justice Department said in its lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, that allowing the merger to proceed would reduce competition in the beer industry across the country as a whole and in 26 metropolitan areas in particular. The combined company would control about 46 percent of annual U.S. sales, the government said, far outpacing Anheuser-Busch InBev's closest competitor, MillerCoors.

Judge bars outside snooping

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba -- The military judge presiding at the Sept. 11 trial Thursday ordered the government to unplug any outside censors who can reach into his courtroom and silence the war crimes tribunal.

Only a court security officer sitting in court, at the judge's elbow, has the authority to hit a mute button on the proceedings if there's a suspicion that national security information could be spilled, Judge James L. Pohl announced.

At issue was a mysterious episode Monday when the sound to spectators was suddenly replaced by white noise in court after 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed's attorney David Nevin said the word "secret."

FTC chairman to resign

WASHINGTON -- Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz will today announce plans to leave the agency, sharpening an already spirited succession battle and probably heralding an awkward transition period for an agency on the forefront of consumer protection, said people familiar with his plans.

The departure of Mr. Leibowitz, a Democrat who joined the commission in 2004 and became its chairman in 2009, has been widely rumored for months. Two other Democrats on the commission, Julie Brill and Edith Ramirez, are among several leading candidates to fill the chairmanship after Mr. Leibowitz steps down in the coming weeks.

Teen shot at middle school

ATLANTA -- Atlanta's police chief says an armed officer working at a city middle school where a teen was shot was able to disarm the suspect moments after the shooting.

Authorities say a 14-year-old boy was shot in the back of the neck Thursday at Price Middle School, and his injury does not appear to be life-threatening. The suspect is also a student at the school and has been taken into custody.

Suspect found dead

PHOENIX -- The police in Mesa, Ariz., on Thursday found the body of a man suspected of killing one person and wounding two others in a shooting at an office complex here.

The man, Arthur Harmon, 70, "appears to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound," said Sgt. Tommy Thompson, a spokesman for the Phoenix Police Department.

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