National briefs: Senate confirms director of SEC

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WASHINGTON -- The Senate on Monday confirmed Mary Jo White as head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, dismissing concerns about her close ties to the Wall Street banks she will now oversee.

Ms. White, a former federal prosecutor who spent the last decade defending JPMorgan Chase and other big banks, secured Senate approval by unanimous consent. She is replacing Elisse Walter, who was running the SEC since the departure of Mary Schapiro in December.

Ms. White's arrival at the post comes at a time of transition for the SEC and the public markets it regulates.

Pipeline promotion

WASHINGTON -- The Canadian province of Alberta is stepping up its efforts to promote the Keystone XL pipeline project, hiring two U.S. advocacy firms with ties to Secretary of State John Kerry.

The province's top elected official, Premier Alison Redford, is scheduled to spend part of this week in Washington to give a speech and to "meet with several legislators and administration officials on both sides of the Keystone debate," her office said.

Frozen foods recalled

WASHINGTON -- Hundreds of thousands of pounds of frozen food recalled amid an E. coli scare may have been served in schools, according to the company that manufactured the items.

Buffalo, N.Y.-based Rich Products Corp. has recalled over the past two weeks 10 million pounds of frozen food items after 27 E. coli illnesses in 15 states were linked to their foods. Dwight Gram of Rich Products said the main items shipped to schools were labeled as pizza dippers and pepperoni pizzatas.

Conviction reversals

WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is recommending that military commanders be largely stripped of their ability to reverse criminal convictions of service members, a move that comes in response to a congressional uproar over an Air Force officer's decision to overturn a guilty verdict in a sexual assault case, the Pentagon said Monday.

Mr. Hagel has asked his staff to draft legislation that would require that cases go through the U.S. Court of Military Appeals, and that senior officers no longer have the authority to set aside guilty findings, except in limited, minor offenses that ordinarily don't warrant a court martial. The commanders, however, would retain their ability to participate in plea bargains and to reduce sentences, but they would have to defend the lesser sentence in writing.

Armed outside Capitol

WASHINGTON -- A Florida man was ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation Monday after police say he took unregistered guns and ammunition onto the grounds of the U.S. Capitol.

Ty Carroll Mitchum, 59, of Clearwater, Fla., appeared in D.C. Superior Court, one day after he was arrested outside the Capitol building.

Guns stolen from luggage

MINNEAPOLIS -- A worker at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport has been charged with stealing shotguns, revolvers and other weapons from the checked luggage of passengers who had connections through the busy Twin Cities airport.

Pat Hogan, spokesman for the Metropolitan Airports Commission, said Monday that David Vang, 23, of St. Paul was employed by a Texas firm to maintain the belt on which checked baggage traveled. Mr. Hogan said authorities learned in September that weapons were being stolen, so they set up surveillance cameras.

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