National Briefs / Biden pledges N.J. support

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SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. -- Recalling his roots as a Northeasterner "literally raised on the shore," Vice President Joe Biden in Seaside Heights, N.J., pledged unswerving federal support Sunday for the areas ravaged by Hurricane Sandy.

He promised, referring to himself, that the state had a "homeboy" in the White House.

The visit came less than three weeks after President Barack Obama's well-publicized tour of New Jersey with Chris Christie, the state's Republican governor, just days before the presidential election.

Mr. Christie did not accompany the vice president on this visit, though Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and Sens. Robert Menendez and Frank R. Lautenberg joined him for some or all of the trip. Mr. Biden did say he had a long conversation with Mr. Christie before his arrival.

New Jersey, New York and Connecticut are expected to need tens of billions of dollars in storm relief; Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has asked for at least $30 billion in federal aid for New York.

NYC gas rationing extended

NEW YORK -- In New York City, rationing that was scheduled to end today has been extended through Friday, even as the gas station lines that prompted it have all but disappeared.

In announcing the decision, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg noted the major travel week ahead at a time when 30 percent of gas stations remained closed.

In a statement, Mr. Bloomberg said he was extending the rationing "to ensure we do not risk going back to the extreme lines we saw prior to the system being implemented."

Twinkies likely to survive

DETROIT -- Twinkie spongecakes are likely to survive, even though their maker will be sold in bankruptcy court.

With high brand recognition and $2.5 billion in revenue per year, other companies are interested in bidding for at least pieces of Hostess. Twinkies alone have brought in $68 million in revenue so far this year, which would look good to another snack-maker.

U.S. credit card debt

LOS ANGELES -- Americans cranked up their use of credit cards in the third quarter, racking up more debt than a year ago, while also being less diligent about making payments on time, an analysis of consumer-credit data shows.

The average credit card debt per borrower in the U.S. grew 4.9 percent in the July-to-September period from a year earlier to $4,996, credit reporting agency TransUnion said today.

Madoff aide's son dies

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The son of Bernard Madoff's longtime accountant, who himself pleaded guilty to securities fraud in the scandal centered on the disgraced financier, has committed suicide in central Ohio, authorities said.

There was no indication the Madoff investment scandal had anything to do with the suicide of Jeremy Friehling, 23, Franklin County Coroner Jan Gorniak said.

Also in the nation ...

The average U.S. price of a gallon of gasoline has dropped 7 cents over the past two weeks, according to the Lundberg Survey of fuel prices released Sunday, which puts the price of a gallon of regular at $3.47. ... As crews searched Sunday for a worker still missing after a Gulf of Mexico oil platform explosion and fire, doctors said one of four men burned in the blaze is improving and is now in fair condition.



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