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LOUISIANA/2 officers accused in fatal beating

Two New Orleans police officers have been indicted on federal charges in the beating death of a 48-year-old man. An indictment handed up Thursday against the officers, Melvin Williams and Matthew Dean Moore, includes charges of deprivation of rights under color of law and obstruction of justice in the death of Raymond Robair. Williams allegedly beat Robair. Then, both officers dropped him off at a hospital, where he later died of a ruptured spleen. The case is one of at least eight investigations of the New Orleans Police by the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. Sixteen other current or former officers are charged in an unrelated pair of post-Katrina police shootings.

WASHINGTON/Small-business lending bill stymied

Senate Republicans blocked a bill Thursday to increase small-business lending, dealing a setback to President Barack Obama's jobs agenda. The bill would create a $30-billion government fund to help community banks increase lending to small businesses, combining it with about $12 billion in tax breaks aimed at small businesses. Democrats say banks should be able to use the lending fund to leverage up to $300 billion in loans to small businesses, helping to loosen tight credit markets. The fund would be available only to banks with less than $10 billion in assets. Some Republicans, however, likened it to the unpopular bailout of the financial industry. Senate leaders said they will continue to negotiate amendments to the bill. But Thursday's vote will make it difficult for Congress to pass it before lawmakers go on vacation. The Senate is in session for another week; the House adjourns today.

ALASKA/Plane crashed shortly after takeoff

The deadly crash of a military cargo plane on a training mission occurred just about a minute after it took off from a runway at an Alaska base, officials said Thursday. Three of the men killed in the Wednesday evening accident were in the Alaska Air National Guard, and the fourth was on active duty at Elmendorf, Air Force Col. Jack McMullen said Thursday. Their names have not been released pending notification of relatives. The C-17 was part of the 3rd Wing, based at Elmendorf in Anchorage. The crash sent a fireball hundreds of feet into the air when it occurred about 6:14 p.m. during a training demonstration for a weekend air show, Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins said. The crash site has been secured, and a military investigative team is scheduled to arrive within 24 hours to try to determine the cause of the crash.

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