National Briefs / Listening device at 9/11 hearing

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GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba -- The military had a hidden microphone in a room where defense attorneys met detainees awaiting death penalty trials, a senior prison official disclosed at the war court Tuesday.

But, eavesdropping equipment aside, nobody was using it to listen in on the confidential conversations prisoners have with their lawyers or the Red Cross, Navy Capt. Thomas Welsh, the prison camps' chief staff attorney testified.

Capt. Welsh was called to testify by defense attorneys in the 9/11 trial hearings who are trying to uncover what intelligence agencies, if any, are capable of listening in on their confidential meetings, either at the court or the prison camps as they prepare to defend alleged mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others accused of orchestrating the Sept 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Anti-violence act passes

WASHINGTON -- The Senate, with broad bipartisan support, voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to expand the reach of 1994's landmark Violence Against Women Act by fortifying the power of Native American courts and explicitly protecting gay victims of abuse.

The 78-22 vote raised the pressure on the House to act and expanded by 10 votes the margin of approval that a nearly identical bill garnered in the Senate in April.

Sandy 2nd costliest storm

NEWARK, N.J. -- Superstorm Sandy was the deadliest hurricane in the northeastern U.S. in 40 years and the second-costliest in the nation's history, according to a report released Tuesday.

The hurricane center attributed 72 U.S. deaths directly to Sandy, from Maryland to New Hampshire. That is more than any hurricane to affect the northeastern U.S. since Hurricane Agnes killed 122 people in 1972, according to the center's records covering 1851 to 2010.

Tuesday's report estimated damage caused by Sandy at $50 billion, greater than any U.S. hurricane except Katrina, which in 2005 caused $108 billion in damage, or $128 billion adjusted to 2012 dollars.

Shooting victims identified

WILMINGTON, Del. -- A grandfather killed his former daughter-in-law and another woman in a Delaware courthouse before he died in a shootout with officers, a confrontation sparked by a child-custody dispute, police said.

Christine Belford, 39, was shot to death by Thomas Matusiewicz, 68, of Edcouch, Texas, who also killed Ms. Belford's neighbor, Laura Mulford, 47, before they made it through a court security checkpoint, Delaware State Police said .

No bail for gang members

CHICAGO -- Two men, Michael Ward, 18, and Kenneth Williams, 20, charged in the death of a 15-year-old Chicago honor student were ordered held without bail Tuesday at a hearing where prosecutors contended the shooting happened while they were hunting for members of a rival gang.

Hadiya Pendleton died after being shot in a park about a mile from the Chicago home of President Barack Obama on Jan. 29, just days after she performed during Mr. Obama's inauguration festivities in Washington.

Caretaker gets 55 years

MIAMI -- More than a decade after foster child Rilya Wilson's disappearance shook Florida's child welfare agency, Geralyn Graham, 67, convicted of abusing and kidnapping Rilya, got 55 years in prison.

However, the whereabouts of the body of the chubby-cheeked girl, 4-years-old when she vanished, remains a mystery.

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