National briefs: Chronic flaws hobble utility

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NEW YORK -- It was four days before Hurricane Sandy would arrive, and trustees of the Long Island Power Authority gathered as forecasters' warnings grew dire. For more than two hours, the trustees talked about a range of issues, including a proposal to hire a branding consultant.

But discussion of the storm lasted just 39 seconds.

The trustees' approach toward the looming disaster reflects deep-rooted problems at the authority that have hobbled its response, causing hardship for hundreds of thousands of its customers, according to an examination of the authority's performance by The New York Times. The bungling of the storm has called into question the authority's very future.

Pelosi mulls leadership

WASHINGTON -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, who built and then lost the largest Democratic majority in a generation, is considering ending her historic 10-year reign as Democratic leader after the second disappointing election in a row for her caucus.

Ms. Pelosi, 72, could decide today whether she intends to remain atop a caucus that she has ruled with a near-iron fist, including four years as the first female House speaker and six years in the minority.

Child care tied to tragedy

TOLEDO, Ohio -- Caught up in a family disagreement over who should care for three young children, a grandmother and her son barricaded themselves and the kids in a garage and filled it with deadly carbon monoxide gas. All five died.

Police spent Tuesday trying to explain the discovery a day earlier at the home of Sandy Ford, 54, and her son Andy in a quiet Toledo neighborhood.

Police said letters inside the house indicated the woman and her son plotted the murder-suicide, beginning by picking up the children from school Monday morning after their mother had dropped them off.

Court-martial pushed

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. -- Army prosecutors on Tuesday asked an investigative officer to recommend a death penalty court-martial for a sergeant accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers in a predawn rampage, saying that Staff Sgt. Robert Bales committed "heinous and despicable crimes."

Prosecutors made their closing arguments after a week of testimony in the preliminary hearing.

Debt firms regulated

WASHINGTON -- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Tuesday unveiled new rules for supervising large debt-collection firms, marking the first time that industry will be subject to federal oversight.

Starting Jan. 2, the government watchdog will regulate 175 debt-collection firms that each bring in more than $10 million in annual receipts -- accounting for 63 percent of the market.

Also in the nation ...

Marcus Brauchli, the executive editor of The Washington Post for the last four years, is stepping down at the end of the year and will be replaced by Marty Baron, editor of The Boston Globe. ... Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, a former Texas college student from Saudi Arabia, was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday in Amarillo, Texas, for trying to make a bomb for use in a religious attack. ... Jessica Tata, 24, was convicted of murder Tuesday in Houston in the death of one of four children who died in a fire at her home day care after she left them alone with hot oil on the stove while she shopped at Target.



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