National Briefs / Pension deal reached in Ill.

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CHICAGO -- Under growing public pressure to act, the leaders of Illinois' General Assembly announced Wednesday they'd reached an agreement on how to solve the state's $100 billion pension problem and would begin trying to persuade other lawmakers to approve it in a special legislative session next week.

The deal was a significant breakthrough after months of negotiations and years of unheeded calls to shore up what's considered the nation's worst public pension shortfall.

The proposal includes pushing back workers' retirement age on a sliding scale, a funding guarantee, a 401k-style option and reducing the employee contribution.

No McFarlane charges

WASHINGTON -- Federal investigators have concluded their probe of Robert "Bud" McFarlane, whom they once suspected of having an inappropriate relationship with the government of Sudan, and will not file any criminal charges against the Reagan administration national security adviser, his attorney said Wednesday.

The FBI began investigating Mr. McFarlane, who is known for his role in the Iran-contra affair, after a 2009 Washington Post article outlined his involvement with the strife-torn African nation of Sudan, which has long sought to ease U.S. economic sanctions and to be removed from the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism.

2nd contractor suspended

WASHINGTON -- The Navy said Wednesday that it had suspended a ship-supply company for significantly overcharging on a contract, the second such suspension since mid-September.

The company, Inchcape Shipping Services, owned by the Dubai-based Istithmar World, mainly supplies Navy ships in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

The Navy is already grappling with a criminal investigation of its main ship supplier in the Pacific, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, whose owner, Leonard Glenn Francis, was arrested in September on charges of conspiring to bribe Navy officials with prostitutes and gifts.

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O.J. Simpson faces at least four more years in prison after a judge rejected his bid for a new trial in his Las Vegas armed robbery and kidnapping conviction. Simpson's new defense team argued that his original lawyers botched his case. ... The Bay Psalm Book already held a record as the first book printed in English in North America. Now it is also the most expensive book ever sold at auction. The little volume of psalms, one of only 11 known to exist out of roughly 1,700 printed by 17th-century Puritans in Massachusetts, went for $14,165,000 at auction Tuesday, bought by David M. Rubenstein of the Carlyle Group, an investment firm in Washington. ... A judge has ordered an Irwindale, Calif., plant that produces the popular Sriracha chili sauce to stop emitting annoying odors in a ruling that left some nearby residents worried about a possible loss of jobs at the factory.


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