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NATION IN BRIEF: Obama touts nuclear loan guarantees as just a start

Obama touts nuclear loan guarantees as just a start

LANHAM, Md. — Promising ‘‘this is only the beginning,'' President Barack Obama announced more than $8 billion in federal loan guarantees Tuesday for the construction of the first nuclear power plant in the United States in nearly three decades.

Obama cast his move as both economically essential and politically attractive as he sought to put more charge into his broad energy agenda. Obama called for comprehensive energy legislation that assigns a cost to the carbon pollution of fossil fuels, giving utility companies more incentive to turn to cleaner nuclear fuel.

Prof charged in shooting made discrimination claim last year

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Officials said a professor accused in a deadly campus shooting in Alabama filed a complaint last year alleging gender discrimination by the university.

Professor Amy Bishop is accused of shooting three of her colleagues to death and wounding three others during a meeting Friday at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Police haven't revealed a motive but colleagues said she complained often about being denied tenure in March. Her appeal was denied in November.

Calif. zoo gets baby elephant

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Zoo got a big gift for Valentine's Day — a baby elephant.

The zoo's Wild Animal Park said the male African elephant was born about 2 a.m. Sunday.

Park spokeswoman Yadira Galindo said visitors camping at the zoo were awakened by elephants trumpeting — a common behavior when a calf is born. The females of the herd circled the 224-pound calf to protect it.

Galindo said the calf is able to stand and nurse and is doing well Tuesday.

Charles Dickens' dog collar sells for $11,590

NEW YORK — A dog collar that belonged to Charles Dickens has fetched $11,590 at a New York City auction.

The leather and brass collar is inscribed with Dickens' name. It had been estimated to sell at $4,000 to $6,000. The buyer's name was not immediately disclosed.

The collar was auctioned Tuesday at Bonhams New York's sale of dog art.

Mayor disagrees with Biden on 9/11 trial costs

NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended his claim that it would cost $200 million per year to secure the city during a trial of Sept. 11 suspects in Manhattan, after Vice President Joe Biden questioned the figure.

Bloomberg said Tuesday that the city's estimate is ‘‘reasonable'' and said no one in the Obama administration questioned it until now. He said city officials have discussed the figures with officials in the White House budget office as well as the Justice Department.

Chilly weather can't stop Mardi Gras

NEW ORLEANS — Pete Fountain, clarinet in hand and looking dapper in a white tuxedo and fedora trimmed in gold, kicked off Mardi Gras with his ‘‘Half Fast Marching Club'' the way they have for 50 years: with beads and jazz.

‘‘We're slower than we were, and older than we were,'' Fountain, 79, said with a laugh. ‘‘But on Mardi Gras none of it matters.''

Tuesday, the final day of Carnival, was sunny and cold with high temperatures hanging around 50 degrees. That didn't do much to chill a party that has been rolling since the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl on Feb. 7.

US demands recall info from Toyota

WASHINGTON — The government ordered Toyota to turn over documents related to its massive recalls Tuesday, pressing to see how long the automaker knew of safety defects before taking action. Toyota, concerned about unsold cars, said it would temporarily idle some production in three states.

The Transportation Department is demanding that Toyota reveal when and how it learned of problems with sticking accelerators and with floor mats trapping gas pedals, and the company must respond within 30 to 60 days or face fines.

— From wire reports