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nation / world

Senators pitch diesel tax hike

– Two senators unveiled a bipartisan plan Wednesday to raise federal gasoline and diesel taxes for the first time in more than two decades, pitching the proposal as a solution to Congress’ struggle to pay for highway and transit programs.

The plan would raise the 18.4 cents-a-gallon federal gas tax and 24.4 cents-a-gallon diesel tax each by 12 cents over the next two years, and then index the taxes to keep pace with inflation. The increase would be applied in two increments of 6 cents each.


Committee OKs Keystone bill

A Senate committee Wednesday approved a bill that would bypass President Barack Obama and permit the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline, part of a drive by a bipartisan group of lawmakers to force a vote by the full Senate.

The Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 12-10 for legislation that would let TransCanada Corp. build, then operate, the $5.4 billion Canada-to-U.S. oil pipeline that has been snagged in disputes for more than five years.

May 2014 was the warmest on record

According to data released this week, May 2014 is officially the warmest May in recorded history.

Both NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency have tentatively ranked May at the top of historical measurements.

The warmth was egged on by a building El Niño in the tropical Pacific.

Besides shifting weather patterns worldwide, that extra El Niño-fueled ocean warmth is supercharging the Earth’s temperature, which could help make 2014 the warmest year since human records have been kept. El Niño’s effects will likely continue into early 2015.

3-D image taken of President Obama

A team at the Smithsonian Institution has scanned President Barack Obama to create the first 3-D printed portrait of a sitting president.

Digital imaging specialists recently created a 3-D printed bust and life mask of Obama, which will become part of his presidential depictions in the National Portrait Gallery collection.

The Smithsonian team scanned Obama this year using two 3-D processes.

Dr. Oz to publish products approved

Under pressure from Congress, celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz on Tuesday offered to help “drain the swamp” of unscrupulous marketers using his name to peddle so-called miracle pills and cure-alls to millions of Americans desperate to lose weight.

Oz appeared before the Senate’s consumer protection panel. He promised to publish a list of specific products he thinks can help America shed pounds and get healthy.


Afghan candidate calls for count halt

Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah demanded Wednesday that Afghan electoral authorities stop counting ballots from a weekend runoff vote, citing new allegations of widespread fraud. The election commission refused and appealed to all sides to await final results.

Abdullah, a onetime aide to a famed warlord during the Afghan anti-Soviet guerrilla campaign, said monitors deployed by his campaign to the polls had recorded massive ballot box stuffing and other irregularities.

New Spanish king inaugurated today

Prince Felipe became the king of Spain today in the wake of the abdication of his father, King Juan Carlos, who had signed an abdication law hours earlier.

The 46-year-old crown prince became King Felipe at midnight Wednesday and is to be ceremonially inaugurated today in the Spanish Parliament. Juan Carlos reigned for nearly 39 years.

The 76-year-old monarch made the surprise announcement June 2 that he would step aside for a “younger generation.”

Suspected attacker headed to US

The capture of an alleged leader of the deadly 2012 attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya, gave U.S. officials a rare moment of good news.

Now, they are preparing to try the captured Libyan in the U.S. court system and pledging to double down on catching others responsible for the attacks.

U.S. officials said Ahmed Abu Khattala was being held on the USS New York and was headed to the United States to face what President Barack Obama called “the full weight of the American justice system.”