NYC gets $354 million if mayor can sell traffic plan to state lawmakers

NEW YORK - Mayor Michael Bloomberg was promised $354 million in federal funds Tuesday to help launch his ambitious plan to reduce traffic and pollution by charging extra tolls for driving into the busiest parts of Manhattan.

The catch: He gets the money only if he can persuade the state Legislature to back the effort, called congestion pricing. New York's would be the first such toll program in the U.S., although similar programs already exist in London and Singapore.

Bloomberg has touted the toll plan to reduce gridlock and pollution, but federal support was jeopardized by weeks of haggling among New York state leaders, who finally struck a temporary compromise that at least allowed the city to apply for the money.

State picks preliminary design for new bridge

MINNEAPOLIS - Heavy rain made the Mississippi River's currents too treacherous for divers to resume searching for victims of the city's bridge collapse, so contractors used the break Tuesday to pull up huge concrete slabs, clearing the way for divers to reach what's underneath.

Politicians, meanwhile, wrangled over how to replace a 1,900-foot highway span that once carried 140,000 cars a day.

The state Department of Transportation released a preliminary design Tuesday for the new bridge, but it showed little more than an aerial view of a 10-lane span, two lanes wider than the old bridge.

Trucker sentenced in Ind. crash that killed 5, led to mistaken identities case

PORTLAND, Ind. - A truck driver was sentenced to four years in prison Tuesday for causing a crash that killed five people and sparked a highly publicized case of mistaken identity.

Robert F. Spencer, 38, could have faced up to 24 years in prison. On May 29, he pleaded guilty to five counts of reckless homicide and four counts of criminal recklessness.

Five weeks after the crash, the family of student Laura VanRyn realized that she was dead, and the injured woman they thought was their daughter actually was Whitney Cerak, another Taylor student.

10-year-old gets himself locked in gun safe, freed after 15 minutes

WORCESTER, Mass. - Gun safes are supposed to keep children out, but a 10-year-old boy managed to lock himself in.

Daniel Jancura and two other boys were playing with a safe on display at a Sam's Club on Monday when he became trapped inside. It was at least 15 minutes before firefighters and store employees could get him out.

'I was pretty scared,' the Rutland boy said. 'It was hot.'

Daniel's mother, Laura Jancura, had brought him, his older brother and a cousin on a shopping outing. The boys came across the safe - which is 5 feet tall, 30 inches wide and 22 inches deep - while she wasn't looking.

Son says millionaire father had threatened to 'ruin' him

BOSTON - The son of a millionaire business guru accused of staging his own shooting during a family dispute testified Tuesday that his father had threatened to 'ruin' him.

John J. Donovan Sr., a former MIT professor, is on trial on charges he faked a shooting in 2005 to gain the upper hand in a battle over family trust funds that could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Prosecutors said he then falsely accused his oldest son, James, of hiring would-be killers.

He is charged with filing a false police report, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum one-year sentence.

Wildfires in central Idaho chase dozens from homes

BOISE, Idaho - Dozens of people were ordered to evacuate two small central Idaho towns Tuesday as an 88-square-mile group of fires moved in their direction.

Gov. C.L. 'Butch' Otter ordered the evacuations of Yellow Pine and Johnson Creek at the request of Valley County Sheriff Patti Bolen.

Across Idaho, hundreds of homes are threatened by wildfires that have blackened more than 500,000 acres, or 781 square miles, the National Interagency Fire Center said.

Passport rules snare child-support scofflaws

WASHINGTON - The price of a passport: $311,491 in back child support payments for a U.S. businessman now living in China; $46,000 for a musician seeking to perform overseas; and $45,849 for a man planning a Dominican Republic vacation.

The new passport requirements that have complicated travel this summer also have uncovered untold numbers of child support scofflaws and forced them to pay millions.

The State Department denies passports to noncustodial parents who owe more than $2,500 in child support. Once the parents make good on their debts, they can reapply for passports.

Collections under the Passport Denial Program are on pace to about double this year, federal officials told The Associated Press.

- From wire reports