News around the world

Obama urges Congress to pass transportation bill

WASHINGTON (AP) – Pressing for passage of the transportation piece of his stalled jobs bill, President Barack Obama suggested Wednesday that lawmakers are out of touch and urged them to fall in line with the big majority of the public he said supports him.

Obama said the nation’s aging transportation network costs U.S. businesses and families about $130 billion a year, a sum he said was a tax and a drag on the economy. Failing to upgrade the network could cost the U.S. hundreds of billions dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs by the end of the decade, he said.

The Senate plans to vote Thursday on whether to take up the measure – $50 billion for road, bridge and other repairs and $10 billion to attract private money to help finance such projects.

Like Obama’s earlier jobs proposals, this piece is expected to be unanimously opposed by Republicans and a few Democrats who object to any new spending and to the president’s plan for a new tax on the wealthy to help pay for it.

Kansas man killed in explosion remembered

WETMORE, Kan. (AP) – The sixth victim of a northeast Kansas grain elevator explosion had been working as an on-site grain inspector for about seven years, and was remembered as a dedicated father.

Darrek Klahr, 43, of Wetmore, was working at the Bartlett Grain Co. elevator in Atchison, about 50 miles northwest of Kansas City, when the blast occurred Saturday. Six people, including Klahr, died, and two others were seriously injured.

In addition to Klahr, Travis Keil, 34, of Topeka, also a grain inspector, died as a result of the explosion, along with Bartlett workers Curtis Field, 21, Chad Roberts, 20, Ryan Federinko, 21, and John Burke, 24.

Third worker says Cain harassed her

WASHINGTON (AP) – Herman Cain’s presidential campaign is accusing rival Rick Perry’s operation of being behind stories about sexual harassment allegations against Cain in the 1990s.

Cain’s campaign manager says the Texas governor should apologize to Cain for providing information about the harassment allegations to the news media.

Cain specifically blames a Perry consultant, Curt Anderson. He says he told Anderson about the sexual harassment allegations when Anderson was working on Cain’s 2004 Senate campaign.

 

Jury convicts Washington officer of excessive force

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) – A federal court jury on Wednesday convicted a Spokane police officer of using excessive force on a mentally ill man who died in 2006 after being struck and Tasered at a convenience store.

Officer Karl Thompson was accused of brutally beating Otto Zehm, a 36-year-old schizophrenic man, and then lying about it to investigators. Zehm died from his injuries two days after the encounter.

Thompson was not charged with killing Zehm. Federal jurors instead found him guilty of violating Zehm’s civil rights by use of excessive force. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Suspect confesses to police he shot up hair salon

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) – A disgruntled father charged with murdering his ex-wife and seven others confessed to police that he shot up a Seal Beach hair salon after arguing over custody of his 8-year-old son, court papers show.

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Shortly after his arrest, shooting suspect Scott Dekraai told an investigator he argued with his ex-wife Michelle Fournier by phone the morning of Oct. 12, then took three handguns with extra magazines and ammunition and donned a bulletproof vest and drove to a nearby beach where he got out and pondered shooting her. Dekraai then drove to Salon Meritage and shot Fournier and a woman who had testified against him in the custody dispute. When the salon owner rushed at him with scissors, Dekraai told the investigator he shot him, too, then fired at others he saw as “collateral damage,” according to the statement written by Detective Andrew Stowers.

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