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Congress sent President Bush legislation Friday that would grant 13 weeks of emergency unemployment benefits to about 2.4 million jobless Americans who otherwise would exhaust their state aid by year's end.

Lawmakers acted before leaving town for a weeklong holiday recess because the program was expiring May 31. The Senate's voice vote on the House-passed bill occurred without debate.

The nation's unemployment rate is 6 percent, almost 2 percentage points higher than when Bush took office. About 8.8 million people are out of work, victims of an economy that is stuck in low gear without producing new jobs.

Republicans are mindful that a bleak economic outlook could be a problem next year when they try to hold the White House and Congress.

Boy, 9, is electrocuted
after touching light post

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- A 9-year-old boy was electrocuted after he touched a streetlight pole that apparently carried a live current, police said.

Electricians were trying Friday to find the source of the power. Voltage tests showed no current running through the pole, and no loose wiring was found, said Greg Davies, spokesman for the city's public utilities department.

The boy, Willie Wagner, had touched the light post while walking across a downtown bridge to a bus stop Thursday after visiting a science museum with a friend and the friend's father, police spokesman Sgt. Brent Mull said. He was pronounced dead Thursday night in Children's Hospital.

Los Angeles transit board
raises bus and rail fares

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Los Angeles County's transit board has voted the first fare hike in eight years for the nation's second-largest public transportation system, a $10 increase in monthly bus and rail passes.

Los Angeles' Metropolitan Transportation Authority board voted Thursday to raise the cost of the monthly passes to $52. Semimonthly and weekly passes were also raised; the price of a single ticket was lowered 10 cents to $1.25.

The fare hikes take effect Jan. 1.

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