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March 16, 2013 at 8:06 AM
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Obama: Get 'off of oil for good'

WASHINGTON, March 16 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said Saturday America must "get off of oil for good" and urged Congress to set up an Energy Security Trust to fund energy research.

In his weekly radio and Internet address -- recorded Friday at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, where he spoke Friday about the proposal -- the president said the United States is "poised to take control of our energy future."

"We produce more oil than we have in 15 years," he said. "We import less oil than we have in 20 years. We've doubled the amount of renewable energy we generate from sources like wind and solar -- with tens of thousands of good jobs to show for it."

Obama said the United States is producing record levels of natural gas, "with hundreds of thousands of good jobs to show for it," while his administration has supported the first new nuclear power plant "since the 1970s," and said carbon pollution is at a nearly 20-year low.

However, the president said recent annual spikes in gasoline prices are "a serious blow to your budget -- like getting hit with a new tax coming right out of your pocket."

"But the only way we're going to break this cycle of spiking gas prices for good is to shift our cars and trucks off of oil for good," he said. "That's why, in my State of the Union Address, I called on Congress to set up an Energy Security Trust to fund research into new technologies that will help us reach that goal."

Obama said the fund would use revenues from energy extracted from publicly owned lands and waters for "research that will benefit the public, so that we can support American ingenuity without adding a dime to our deficit." He noted the idea originated in a proposal by a non-partisan coalition of chief executive officers and retired military officers.

"So let's take their advice and free our families and our businesses from painful spikes in gas prices once and for all," he said.

Poll: White House tours should resume

WASHINGTON, March 16 (UPI) -- A majority of voters believe the Obama administration should resume tours of the White House, a poll has found.

In a national survey conducted by The Hill of 1,000 likely voters, 54 percent said tours of the White House should continue, while 28 percent said they shouldn't, the Washington publication reported Friday.

Some 18 percent were undecided.

The tours cost the Secret Service about $74,000 a week. White House officials have said the Secret Service ended the tours to avoid furloughs stemming from sequestration.

Since the White House announced the tours would end, President Obama has said officials are studying ways to resume tours for school children.

The poll, conducted Thursday, has a margin of error of 3 percent.

Kenya: Odinga contests presidential vote

NAIROBI, Kenya, March 16 (UPI) -- Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said Saturday he has contested to the Supreme Court his slim loss in the first round of presidential elections.

Uhuru Kenyatta, Odinga's deputy, beat him by more than 7 percentage points in the March 4 voting, but the men avoided a runoff by only 8,100 votes, the BBC reported.

Odinga's supporters gathered outside the Supreme Court, but were dispersed by police firing tear gas. Authorities had warned the crowd not to assemble.

Kenyatta and his running mate, William Ruto, are facing trial at the International Criminal Court over post-election violence in 2007 that sent the country spiraling into chaos, CNN reported.

Mortar found in Northern Ireland

BELFAST, Northern Ireland, March 16 (UPI) -- The discovery of a mortar and launcher near a Belfast police station prompted a major security alert Friday in Northern Ireland.

Temporary Police Superintendent Emma Bond said there are two elementary schools near the vacant lot where the device was found in a residential neighborhood, the Belfast Telegraph reported.

"Those who are behind this attack had very clear and I believe murderous intent," she said. "This is a very reckless attack."

Investigators believe the mortar was placed by dissident republicans for a planned attack on the police station.

A taxi driver and a police officer who passed the lot on his way to work both spotted the device and reported it independently just after 7 a.m., police said. Investigators say it was probably driven to the area and placed there overnight.

Both schools were closed down and some houses in the area evacuated.

Tensions have risen in Northern Ireland in recent months. A vote by the Belfast City Council in December to limit the flying of the British flag at City Hall sparked weeks of violent protests by unionists, while dissident republicans have launched a number of attacks.

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