National Briefs: Obama orders end to Philadelphia rail strike

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PHILADELPHIA -- President Barack Obama on Saturday forced union workers in Philadelphia's commuter rail strike to return to the job, granting Gov. Tom Corbett's request to create a presidential emergency board to mediate the contract dispute.

Mr. Obama ordered the establishment of the three-member board effective at 12:01 a.m. today. He called for "a swift and smooth resolution" of the dispute between the Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and its engineers and electricians unions.

Workers will have to return to the job when the board goes into effect after midnight, however SEPTA said rail service wouldn't be up and running until around 6 a.m. today. They don't have to resume direct talks with each other, but they do have to participate with the board's process, which typically involves written submissions and hearings.

Mr. Obama is giving the board 30 days to deliver a report recommending how the dispute should be resolved.

More than 400 workers went on strike at midnight Saturday. The move shut down train lines that carry commuters from Philadelphia to the suburbs, Philadelphia International Airport and New Jersey.

Heart-device firm's bid

NEW YORK -- Medtronic Inc., the largest maker of heart-rhythm devices, is in talks to acquire Covidien Plc, a Dublin-based surgical-supply company, for more than $40 billion, a person familiar with the deal said.

Covidien has a market value of $32.5 billion, based on its closing stock price Friday. The acquisition, which could be announced as soon as Monday, may allow Minneapolis-based Medtronic to move its headquarters to Ireland, thereby reducing its tax rate and giving it access to billions of dollars in cash currently held outside the U.S.

Obama touts climate reform

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- President Barack Obama called on Americans coming of age to demand that politicians respond more aggressively to climate change, comparing those skeptical about human-caused alterations to the environment to a belief that the moon is "made of cheese."

In a commencement address Saturday to graduates of the University of California at Irvine, Mr. Obama delivered one of his feistiest critiques of lawmakers who object to environmental regulations he's pushing that are aimed at reducing carbon emissions.

He also used his speech to announce a new program in which states, communities and Native American tribes hit by natural disasters can seek money for projects to combat or prepare for climate change-related challenges.

Watergate-era site's demise

WASHINGTON -- One of the most historic journalism sites of the past half-century soon will vanish, following a decision by the Arlington County Board on Saturday to demolish the building and parking garage where FBI official Mark Felt secretly met with Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward during the Watergate investigation.

The Arlington County Board unanimously agreed to allow Monday Properties to replace their two 12-story, 1960s-era buildings on Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn, Va.

The parking garage beneath the existing building will be razed, although the county will save the historical marker it erected in 2011, and the landowner has promised to create a commemorative memorial to the events that occurred there.

-- Compiled from news services

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