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WASHINGTON – The Senate approved broad legislation Tuesday to give state and local governments new weapons to stop terrorists intent on destruction within U.S. borders.

But the bill still faces considerable hurdles. Differences remain with legislation the House passed in January, and the White House threatened a veto over a provision to give airport screeners limited bargaining rights.

The bill approves $3.1 billion in each of the next three years for first-responder grants to states while adjusting the formula on how the money is divided among high-risk states and states less vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Of that, $1.3 billion is specified for high-risk urban areas.

It creates a new emergency communications grant program, funded at $3.3 billion over five years, requires bags checked on planes to be screened with the same aggressiveness as carryon bags and outlines improvements for rail and transit security.

Tuesday’s Senate vote was 60-38. Washington’s Democratic Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray voted with the majority to pass the legislation.

A convicted sex offender committed a calculated, horrific crime when he murdered 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford by burying her alive, and John Couey deserves a death sentence despite evidence of his mental problems, a state prosecutor told jurors Tuesday in the opening of the penalty phase of Couey’s trial in Miami. The same jury convicted Couey, 48, last week of abducting, raping and killing Jessica in 2005. Couey’s lawyers called psychologists who testified that Couey’s IQ of 64 is below the generally accepted mental retardation level of 70. Florida law and a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision prohibit execution of someone judged mentally retarded.

A small bar of radium is missing from a former uranium enrichment plant in southern Ohio, the U.S. Department of Energy reported Tuesday. The radioactive ingot, about the size of a medical gel capsule and stored in a glass vial, is not a health or security threat, said Laura Schachter, an agency spokeswoman. The bar still might be somewhere in the Piketon plant or even have been stolen, which Schachter said was unlikely.

The woman accused of abducting a newborn from the mother’s Lubbock hospital room last week had recently experienced her second miscarriage, a relative said. Rayshaun Parson has become so depressed that family members barely recognize her, the 21-year-old’s great aunt said as Parson was arraigned Tuesday on a federal kidnapping charge for allegedly walking out of the hospital with 3-day-old Mychael Darthard-Dawodu in her purse on Saturday. The baby was recovered Sunday.

Georgia highway officials investigating a deadly bus crash said Tuesday they would add signs and reflective striping to several commuter-lane exits like the one a university baseball team’s bus had taken before it plunged off an overpass two weeks ago, killing seven. The bus driver apparently mistook one of the Atlanta-area commuter-lane exit ramps for a lane, officials said. The bus crossed through a T-intersection at the top of the ramp and careered over the retaining wall of the overpass.

A woman told investigators that she was trying to warm her feet by lighting a dollar bill on fire when the blaze spread through a Chicago apartment building on Saturday and killed four people, a prosecutor said Tuesday. A Cook County judge denied bond for Mary Smith, who is charged with murder and aggravated arson after allegedly setting four weekend fires.

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