Obama says gov.shutdown imperils economy

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says the economic recovery will stall if Congress can’t agree on spending cuts and avoid a government shutdown. The current budget expires next Friday. That means lawmakers must OK a new spending plan before the March 4 deadline to keep much of the government from running out of money and closing.

The Republican-run House and Democratic-controlled Senate are bickering over how much to cut.

"For the sake of our people and our economy, we cannot allow gridlock to prevail," Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address. "I urge and expect them to find common ground so we can accelerate, not impede, economic growth."

House Republicans have proposed $4 billion in cuts as part of legislation to keep the government functioning through March 18, and they have urged Senate Democrats to accept that approach to avoid closing it down.

 

EU liquids plan flawed, US airport officials say

WASHINGTON (AP) — A European Union plan to partially lift a ban on passengers carrying liquids onto planes has U.S. airport officials worried that it will create a security gap and may confuse passengers traveling to the United States.

Beginning April 29, the EU plans to allow airline passengers carrying wine, perfume and other liquids purchased at duty-free shops in airports outside Europe to take those items into airline cabins with them when they catch connecting flights at about two dozen European airports.

That means, for example, that travelers flying from Asia and Africa to European airports to connect to flights to the United States can keep liquids, aerosols and gels purchased in airport duty-free shops in their carry-on bags the entire way. The items will be screened at European airports before passengers board connecting flights.

Christopher Bidwell, Airports Council International-North America’s vice president for security and facilitation, said the effectiveness of the technologies European airports will use to screen liquids for explosives is unclear. There are several new technologies that European airports plan to use, he said, but none have undergone real world testing, only laboratory tests.

 

Volunteers help Wis. protesters keep up the fight

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Harriet Rowan was among the first to join what has become an almost two-week-long rally at the Wisconsin Capitol, and she said with the arrival of thousands of others, confusion, misinformation and rumors quickly spread.

"I came back on Tuesday night and there was absolutely no organization," Rowan said. "People needed people to go up upstairs and testify all night to keep the building open ... people were going around just waking people up ... it was chaotic."

The University of Wisconsin senior made a spur-of-the-moment decision to coordinate protest efforts, making signs with media talking points and starting a Twitter feed detailing legislative meeting times, union rally locations and details on day-to-day life in the Capitol.

 

Security Council meets to consider Libya sanctions

 

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council met urgently Saturday to consider new sanctions against Libya to halt a violent crackdown on anti-government protesters, but members disagreed over a proposal to refer Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and top aides to an international war crimes tribunal.

There was broad consensus among the council’s 15 members on some sanctions, including an arms embargo as well as a travel ban and asset freeze directed at Gadhafi, his family and other key regime members, said diplomats who spoke on background because the session was closed.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging council members to take immediate action to protect civilians in Libya where some estimates indicate more than 1,000 people have been killed in less than two weeks. Many people in Tripoli and other areas where Gadhafi remains in control cannot leave their homes for fear of being shot.