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NATION IN BRIEF: Obama pitches economics one state at a time

Obama pitches economics one state at a time

CLEVELAND — Twenty months ahead of the 2012 election, President Barack Obama is traveling the nation, vying for the public’s attention one state at a time, while international crises and budget fights compete with his plans for economic revival.

On Tuesday, Obama curried favor with small businesses in politically important Ohio, pushing his plans to boost American competitiveness by increasing spending on sectors like education and infrastructure. That agenda, however, is running up against opposition from some Republican governors in cash-strapped states, and GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill, whose demands for deep spending cuts raise the prospect of a federal government shutdown.

Big airlines try to raise fares again

DALLAS — Major U.S. airlines are trying to revive fare increases for high-end tickets after failing to impose bigger price increases last week.

The move comes as airlines worry about the prospect of higher jet fuel prices. Oil prices surged to their highest levels in more than two years Tuesday as violence in Libya raised fears that oil production could be threatened there or in other OPEC countries.

American, United, Continental and US Airways raised prices Monday by $20 to $60 per round trip on some tickets favored by business travelers.

Delta Air Lines, the last holdout among the largest so-called network airlines, matched the increase Tuesday, making it more likely to stick.

Man to plead guilty in Ohio plane pot case

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Federal court filings indicate a California man will plead guilty in what the government said was a scheme to fly thousands of pounds of marijuana to Ohio in suitcases.

Christopher Cash, of Los Angeles, previously pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and two counts of possession with intent to distribute more than 200 pounds of the drug.

Court documents filed Tuesday in Columbus said Cash will plead guilty to one count of conspiring to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute more than 2,000 pounds of marijuana.

The 33-year-old Cash was one of six California residents charged in September in a conspiracy that authorities said distributed about 7,000 pounds of marijuana and made more than $3 million.

Wis. governor warns employees of layoff notices

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker warned Tuesday that state employees could start receiving layoff notices as early as next week if a bill eliminating most collective bargaining rights isn’t passed soon.

Walker said in a statement to The Associated Press that the layoffs wouldn’t take effect immediately. He didn’t say which workers would be targeted but he has repeatedly warned that up to 1,500 workers could lose their jobs by July if his proposal isn’t passed.

“Hopefully we don’t get to that point,” Walker said.

It could take weeks or even months to lay off workers under the terms of their current union contracts.

3rd attorney wants off Auburn case

AUBURN, Ala. — A third attorney has asked to withdraw from representing the man charged with poisoning the Toomer’s Corner oak trees on Auburn University’s campus.

Montgomery’s Jerry Blevins filed a motion to Lee County Circuit Court dated Tuesday citing an ‘‘irreconcilable conflict’’ between himself and defendant Harvey Updyke Jr.

Blevins replaced Jerry Hauser, who filed a motion to withdraw from the case because of a potential conflict of interest. His wife, Margaret Fitch-Hauser, is head of Auburn’s department of communication and journalism.

Judge says trial of ex-CIA agent can continue

EL PASO, Texas — A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the perjury trial of an elderly ex-CIA agent can continue although defense claims that prosecutors let a covert Cuban intelligence agent testify while delaying divulging his true identity were valid.

The politically charged case against Luis Posada Carriles, 83, ground to a halt Feb. 10, when the defense moved for a mistrial — its fifth such request in five weeks. U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone then delayed the proceedings for 11 days to consider the motion.