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NATION IN BRIEF: Skyrocketing costs may doom NYC trial plan

The Associated Press. A hot dog vendor is set up on Lafayette Street across the street from the court houses on Foley Square in New York. Facing growing opposition to its plans to hold the Sept. 11 terrorist trial in New York City, the Obama administration is considering moving the proceedings.

The Associated Press. A hot dog vendor is set up on Lafayette Street across the street from the court houses on Foley Square in New York. Facing growing opposition to its plans to hold the Sept. 11 terrorist trial in New York City, the Obama administration is considering moving the proceedings.

NEW YORK -- A letter and a speech may have doomed plans to bring the Sept. 11 terror trial to New York.

The letter written by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to Washington this month set a whopping $200 million-a-year price tag to secure the city during the trial -- more than double the original estimate. The speech by Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly detailed a planned lockdown of lower Manhattan certain to set new standards for gridlock.

The resulting political and public outcry has forced the Obama administration to consider looking for a friendlier home for the high-profile trial, even as the legitimacy of the New York Police Department's security plan and its estimated cost goes unchallenged.

Kelly insists the plan is necessary -- a reality that started to sink in after his remarks before business leaders.

Obama: Cutting deficit as vital as job creation

WASHINGTON -- Trimming budget deficits is as important as creating jobs to sustain the economic recovery, President Barack Obama said Saturday.

The government reported Friday the economy grew at an annual rate of 5.7 percent in the final three months of 2009. It was the second consecutive quarter of growth and the fastest rate in more than six years.

''A sign of progress,'' Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address. ''But as we work to create jobs, it is critical that we rein in the budget deficits we've been accumulating for far too long.''

Hammered by Republicans for billions of dollars in spending that added to the deficit, Obama outlined steps he said would rein in spending. They include rules requiring that spending or tax cuts be offset by cuts to other programs or tax increases, a freeze on most discretionary spending and a presidentially appointed commission to recommend ways to reduce the deficit.

Government clears Toyota gas pedal fix

DETROIT -- Federal regulators have cleared Toyota's plan to fix millions of sticky gas pedals, and dealers could get parts to make the repairs as early as Thursday or Friday, people briefed on the matter said Saturday.

Two dealers said they were told the news by Toyota executives, and a Department of Transportation official confirmed that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had no objections to Toyota's plans.

Toyota plans to announce details early Monday, according to the dealers, who asked not to be identified because the fix had not been made public. The DOT official also requested anonymity because the announcement had not been made.

Telephone messages left with two Toyota spokesmen Saturday were not immediately returned.

Swift conviction in murder of abortion doctor

WICHITA, Kan. -- An activist who confessed to gunning down one of the only U.S. doctors to offer late-term abortions faces a sentence of life in prison after a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder.

Jurors took just 37 minutes Friday to convict Scott Roeder for putting a .22-caliber gun to Dr. George Tiller's forehead and pulling the trigger in the foyer of a church.

Roeder's attorneys had hoped to argue for a lesser conviction of voluntary manslaughter, based on the defendant's belief that the killing was justified to save the lives of unborn children. But the judge threw out that defense, leaving jurors to choose between a murder conviction or acquittal.

Roeder, 51, of Kansas City, Mo., admitted his actions on the witness stand. Defense attorney Mark Rudy described his case as ''helpless and hopeless.''

41st president visits Obama at White House

WASHINGTON -- Former President George H.W. Bush and his son Jeb paid a social call to President Barack Obama at the White House on Saturday.

The former president, 85, walked gingerly into the White House, using a cane, as heavy snow fell. He departed 35 minutes later, telling reporters it was a ''good meeting, good meeting.''

His son Jeb, a former governor of Florida, was with him.

White House aides said the visit was simply a social call because the former president was in Washington for a dinner.