National briefs: Teen drivers' deaths spike

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WASHINGTON -- Fatalities among teenage drivers rose sharply for the first six months of 2012, according to a new report.

The death toll for 16- and 17-year-old drivers of passenger vehicles jumped 19 percent, compared with the first half of 2011, according to a report released Tuesday by the Governors Highway Safety Association, an organization representing state highway safety offices.

Based on initial data supplied by the 50 states and the District of Columbia for the first six months of 2012, 25 states reported increases, 17 showed a decrease and eight states and the District of Columbia reported no change. Overall, 16- and 17-year-old driver deaths increased from 202 to 240.

Gay marriage case

SAN FRANCISCO -- Dozens of Republican conservative political leaders have signed on to a legal brief in the U.S. Supreme Court opposing California's ban on same-sex marriage, including Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman, who supported Proposition 8 during her unsuccessful 2010 run for governor.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights, which is leading the legal fight against Proposition 8, on Tuesday revealed the growing list of conservatives who are supporting the brief, which is expected to be filed in the Supreme Court on Thursday.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the Proposition 8 challenge on March 26 and consider the legality of the federal ban on same-sex marriage benefits the following day.

Top BP executive testifies

NEW ORLEANS -- A ranking BP executive testified Tuesday that the London-based oil giant and its contractors share the responsibility for preventing blowouts like the one that killed 11 workers and spawned the nation's worst offshore oil spill in 2010.

Lamar McKay, who was president of BP America at the time of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, became the first BP executive to testify at a federal trial intended to identify the causes of BP's Macondo well blowout and assign percentages of blame to the companies involved.

Rig owner Transocean and cement contractor Halliburton also are defendants at trial, which opened Monday.

Wall St. pay rises for some

NEW YORK -- Wall Street has cut thousands of jobs over the past year or so. On Tuesday, JPMorgan Chase, one of the country's biggest banks, announced that it also was eliminating 4,000 jobs through layoffs and attrition.

However, for the Wall Street employees who remain, pay is up, according to a report released Tuesday by the New York State comptroller.

In recent years, faced with greater regulation and a slow economic recovery, the banks have tried instead to cut people rather than pay, which they argue is needed in order to retain talent.

Gun foe wins House seat

CHICAGO -- Former Illinois legislator Robin Kelly captured the Democratic nomination Tuesday in the race to replace disgraced ex-U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., after a truncated campaign season where she got a boost from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's super PAC.

The nomination all but assures that Ms. Kelly will sail through the April 9 general election, because the Chicago-area district is overwhelmingly Democratic.

Ms. Kelly emerged early as a leader on gun-control issues -- a central theme during the race -- which helped her win support from Mr. Bloomberg's super PAC.

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