National briefs: Obama reveals roads program

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WILMINGTON, Del. — President Barack Obama announced a new program Thursday to attract more private money to help pay to build new roads, bridges and highways as he criticized Congress for refusing to approve a more lasting source of transportation funding.

The new program is designed to encourage collaboration between state and local governments and private-sector investors, expand the market for public-private partnerships and make greater use of federal credit programs.

Mr. Obama argued that the U.S. is losing its competitive edge to other countries that spend freely on infrastructure upgrades. The president’s trip is part of a broader effort to press Congress to keep money flowing into the Highway Trust Fund, the source of federal aid to states for surface transportation projects. The fund is expected to begin running out of money next month unless lawmakers act.

Special prosecutor sought

WASHINGTON — Republicans chastised the Justice Department on Thursday for failing to share information with Congress about its investigation into the targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service. Lawmakers called anew for a special prosecutor to look into the matter.

The criticism during a House subcommittee meeting came as Deputy Attorney General James Cole, the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, said the investigation has been broadened to include the disappearance of emails from the computer of Lois Lerner, who formerly headed the IRS division that deals with tax-exempt organizations.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, chairman of the subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation and Regulatory Affairs, told Mr. Cole that he had “serious concerns” about the investigation and asked what it would take for an independent prosecutor to be appointed. He also demanded that prosecutors investigate why it took the IRS two months to publicly report the missing emails.

Transit strike averted

NEW YORK — A planned strike on the Long Island Rail Road was averted Thursday, state officials and union leaders said, three days before workers were expected to walk off the job.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who said he had begun participating directly in the talks Wednesday evening, called the deal “a compromise by both parties” after a four-year dispute. The contract calls for 17 percent raises over 6½ years, though the complete terms of the agreement, which calls for some concessions from workers, were not immediately clear.

3 die in Calif. holdup

STOCKTON, Calif. — Misty Holt-Singh had just popped into the bank, leaving her 12-year-old daughter in the car, when the horror began. An hour later, the mother of two lay dead after a bank robbery spun into a chaotic police chase and furious gunbattle in which two of the holdup men were also killed.

Ms. Holt-Singh was found dead at the end of a shootout in which one of the robbers who took her hostage used her as a human shield, authorities said. Whose bullets killed the woman remained unclear Thursday, a day after the burst of violence in this Northern California city, but police said the responsibility rests with the three bank robbers.

Dog credited with rescue

INDIANAPOLIS — A pit bull named Ace is being hailed as a hero for licking the face of a sleeping, deaf 13-year-old Indianapolis boy to alert him that the house was on fire.

Indianapolis Fire Department Capt. Rita Reith said Nick Lamb was home alone and sleeping without his hearing aids when the fire began Wednesday. Ace didn’t stop licking Nick until the teen got up. That’s when he realized the house was full of smoke.

Firefighters found the family’s cat inside the home. She was taken to a vet for smoke inhalation and was expected to recover. Damage to the home was estimated at $175,000.


— Compiled from wire services


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