National briefs: Obama signs off on Sandy relief

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WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama returned to Washington Sunday and signed the legislation authorizing $9.7 billion to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Congress passed the measure Friday while Mr. Obama was vacationing with his family in Hawaii.

States hit hard by the October storm are seeking $60 billion in federal aid. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo have called the $9.7 billion "just a down payment," and said in a joint statement: "It is now time to go even further and pass the final and more complete, clean disaster-aid bill."

The $9.7 billion will replenish the National Flood Insurance Program, allowing the government to meet obligations to homeowners who paid for coverage.

HBO, Universal extend pact

NEW YORK -- HBO has renewed its deal with Universal Pictures to be the exclusive pay-TV provider of the studio's movies for another decade, the companies said on Sunday. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The deal is key for HBO, part of Time Warner Inc., which faces a threat from streaming movie providers like Netflix Inc. The deal includes movies produced by Universal and its specialty films unit, Focus Features.

Current films from the studio, part of Comcast Corp., include "This is 40" and "Les Miserables." It is also responsible for classics like "E.T.", "Jaws" and "Scarface."

Witness beaten to death

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia police say a witness in a murder case was beaten to death Saturday night.

A half-dozen men attacked 26-year-old Akeel Prout, punching and stomping him before robbing him and fleeing.

Mr. Prout witnessed the October 2011 homicide of a schoolteacher killed by a stray bullet. Prout initially identified the gunman as 19-year-old Daniel Shelley, but recanted at Shelley's preliminary hearing, testifying he did not know the defendant and had never seen him.

Judge sends back settlement

NEW YORK -- A federal judge has sent back a $20 million settlement agreed to by shareholders suing the directors of Bank of America over its 2008 acquisition of Merrill Lynch, calling it inadequate, and ordered the parties to revise the deal starting on Monday.

In his ruling, released on Friday, the judge, P. Kevin Castel, was critical of the fees requested by the plaintiffs' lawyers, which he said could consume "some, most or all" of the $20 million. The deal was reached last spring, months before plaintiffs in a separate lawsuit negotiated a $2.4 billion settlement with the bank over the Merrill purchase.

Gunman was ill, sister says

NEW YORK -- The sister of a man killed by an NYPD officer after he opened fire on the subway says her brother was mentally ill and should have been hospitalized.

Natalie Jourdan, said her brother, 37-year-old Peter Jourdan of Allentown, Pa., suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. Two plainclothes police officers were wounded when he fired at them on a subway train in Brooklyn on Thursday.

Ms. Jourdan said her brother should not have been allowed to buy a handgun.



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