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NATIONAL BRIEFS


WASHINGTON: Jobless benefits extension gains

After weeks of partisan struggle that caused 400,000 people to miss unemployment checks, a bill restoring those benefits is on track to pass the Senate as early as Thursday. The $18-billion measure would provide additional weeks of jobless benefits averaging $335 a week to those whose six months of state-paid benefits have run out. It's a temporary extension through June 2 that gives Democrats time to iron out a measure funding the program for the long-term jobless through the end of the year. With help from a single Republican, George Voinovich of Ohio, Democrats by a 60-40 vote beat back a challenge from Republicans unhappy about adding to the $12.8-trillion national debt.


Obama's lowest poll numbers

President Barack Obama's national standing has slipped to a new low after his victory on the health care overhaul, even in the face of growing signs of economic revival, according to The Associated Press-GfK poll. The survey shows the political terrain growing rockier for Obama and congressional Democrats, boosting GOP hopes for this fall's midterm elections. Just 49 percent now approve of the job Obama's doing, and just 44 percent like the way he's handled health care and the economy.


ARIZONA: Concern over immigrant bill

Civil rights activists warned Wednesday that Arizona is inviting rampant racial profiling and police-state tactics if it enacts what would be the nation's toughest law against illegal immigrants. The measure, on the verge of approval in the legislature, would make it a crime to be in the country illegally. It would require police to ask people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are illegal. Those here illegally could be jailed up to 6 months and fined $2,500. "That is an unprecedented expansion of police power," said Alessandra Soler Meetze of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona. The ACLU and immigrant rights groups are demanding that Republican Gov. Jan Brewer veto the measure.


ILLINOIS: Four shot dead in home

A man suspected of opening fire in a Chicago home Wednesday allegedly killed his wife, infant son and two other young relatives and told police he heard voices telling him to kill family members, a person close to the investigation told The Associated Press. The man also told police Allah told him to kill his family and that he was sorry he'd run out of bullets. The victims were identified as 7-month-old Jahad Larry, Kelesha Larry, 3, Keyshai Fields, 16, and Tawana Thompson Larry, 19. The suspected gunman was said to be Tawana Thompson Larry's husband and Jahad's father.


FLORIDA

Lost 4 days in swamp

A girl with Asperger's syndrome, lost for four days deep in a swamp, had bug bites and bruises and was dehydrated when she was found Tuesday, but Nadia Bloom, 11, was otherwise OK. While Nadia's mother, Tanya, spoke with reporters in Florida, her rescuer, James King, was in New York making the rounds of television shows.

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