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FEDERAL RESERVE

Jobless numbers expected to stay high

The Federal Reserve expects the unemployment rate to stay high over the next two years because recession-scarred Americans are likely to stay cautious, making for only a moderate-paced economic recovery.

Fed policymakers said in a forecast released Wednesday that it will take "some time" for the economy and the job market to return to normal. They did not spell out how long that would be. They previously suggested that it could take five or six years for economic conditions to return to full health. A "sizable minority," however, say it could take more than five or six years for the economy and the job market to return to normal.

In updated economic projections, the Fed said the unemployment rate this year could hover between 9.5 percent and 9.7 percent. The jobless rate is projected to drop next year to between 8.2 percent and 8.5 percent and by 2012 to between 6.6 percent and 7.5 percent.

HOUSE

Election date set for Murtha's seat

HARRISBURG, Pa. | The special election to fill the term of the late U.S. Rep. John P. Murtha will be held on Pennsylvania's primary election day, May 18.

Gov. Edward G. Rendell made the announcement Wednesday. Mr. Rendell had 10 days after Murtha's death to make the announcement, and was required to set the date after at least 60 days.

That means two elections on primary day will involve Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District.

One will decide the Republican and Democratic nominees to run in the general election in November. The other will fill the remainder of Murtha's term, which ends in January.

Murtha died Feb. 8 after complications from gallbladder surgery. He was 77. He was first elected to the seat in 1974.

GITMO

Judge rejects suit on detainee deaths

A judge has dealt a setback to the families of two Guantanamo Bay detainees in a lawsuit that claims former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, U.S. military officers and medical personnel were responsible for the detainees' deaths.

The case claiming unlawful treatment of prisoners Yasser Al-Zahrani and Salah Ali Abdullah Ahmed Al-Salami is barred by the Military Commissions Act of 2006, U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle ruled Tuesday.

Al-Zahrani and Al-Salami were among three men who were reported to have committed suicide on the night of June 9, 2006. They were found hanging in their cells at the detention center at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

A recent article in Harper's magazine by a lawyer who has long worked on detainee issues suggests that the three prisoners were transported by guards from their cells hours before their deaths to a secret facility on the island.

NEW YORK

Clinton blames lack of sleep

NEW YORK | Bill Clinton says his failure to get enough sleep while working on behalf of Haitian earthquake victims probably accelerated his heart problem.

The former president also says he will try to manage his stress better.

Just days after undergoing a procedure to unclog a blocked artery, Mr. Clinton talked to children about childhood obesity. He spoke Wednesday at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which works to promote heart health.

Mr. Clinton says he doesn't intend to stop working as hard as he can.

SENATE

Kentucky candidate uses Christian radio

FRANKFORT, Ky. | Republican Rand Paul is taking his Senate campaign to Christian radio in hopes of winning the support of Kentucky's most ardent social conservatives, many of whom choose political candidates based on their stand against abortion.

Mr. Paul calls abortion "an abomination" in a political ad that will begin airing Monday. He goes on to say that he would vote for any law or constitutional amendment that would stop it.

Campaign manager David Adams said the ad will run on Christian radio stations across Kentucky beginning Monday, following a trend among Southern politicians who are increasingly tailoring messages to the GOP's churchgoers.

The ad comes on the heels of claims by Republican opponent Trey Grayson that Mr. Paul doesn't oppose abortion. He has made the accusations in stump speeches and debates in recent weeks.

VICE PRESIDENT

Biden worries about lone terrorist

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. says he's less worried about another Sept. 11-style attack than a strike by a lone bomber.

Discussing U.S. vulnerability in an interview on CBS' "The Early Show," Mr. Biden said, "Am I less worried about a catastrophic event? Yes."

Mr. Biden said he's more concerned about an attack "along the lines of the Christmas Day bomber," which he considers a greater threat than terrorism that requires "the kind of planning that's needed to pull off a very complicated 9/11."

Mr. Biden also said he likes former Vice President Dick Cheney and considers him "patriotic," but called his predecessor wrong on war and counterterrorism strategy.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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