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The federal government is handing out nearly $2 billion for new solar plants that President Barack Obama says will create thousands of jobs and increase the use of renewable energy sources.

Obama announced the initiative in his weekly radio and online address Saturday, saying the money is part of his plan to bring new industries to the United States.

The two companies that will receive the money from the president's economic stimulus package are Abengoa Solar, which will build one of the world's largest solar plants in Arizona, creating 1,600 construction jobs; and Abound Solar Manufacturing, which is building plants in Colorado and Indiana. The Obama administration says those projects will create 2,000 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs.


Conservatives call on Steele to step down

Several prominent conservatives on Saturday intensified pressure on Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele to resign following his comments that the war in Afghanistan was of President Barack Obama's choosing and has probably turned into "a lost cause" for the United States.

"It is time for Chairman Steele to step down," said Liz Cheney, chairwoman of the conservative group Keep America Safe, and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, and Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, also urged Steele to resign.


Kyrgyzstan: Provisional leader Roza Otunbayeva was sworn in as president Saturday, ushering in what the turbulent Central Asian nation's government hopes will be a new era of stability and democratic freedoms.

India: Officials unveiled a glittering $3 billion terminal at New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport on Saturday, a steel-and-glass structure intended to show that the country's infrastructure is finally catching up with its rapid economic growth. A similar terminal is planned for Mumbai.

Syria: Mohammed Oudeh, the key planner of the 1972 Munich Olympics attack that killed 11 Israeli athletes, died Saturday morning in Damascus, his daughter said. He was 73.

Times wires