National briefs: Obama backs clean energy

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WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama has ordered federal agencies to more than double their renewable energy use over the next seven years, part of his ongoing attempt to find ways to cut carbon emissions without cooperation from Congress.

In a presidential memorandum released Thursday, Mr. Obama challenged agencies to get 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by fiscal year 2020.

The memorandum instructed agencies to try to meet that goal by increasing the use of wind, solar, geothermal and other energy sources to the extent that is "economically feasible and technically practicable."

President defends NSA

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama is defending the National Security Agency, saying it does a very good job of not engaging in domestic surveillance.

He was responding to a Washington Post report Thursday that the agency tracks locations of nearly 5 billion cell phones every day overseas, including those of Americans.

In a taped interview aired Thursday on MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews," Mr. Obama says the people who want to hurt the U.S. communicate using modern technologies available on cell phones. He says to do a good job protecting the country, the U.S. needs to "keep eyes on some bad actors."

Still, he says he'll propose "some self-restraint" on the agency after a panel of hand-picked advisers reports back this month.

Bratton to head NYPD

NEW YORK -- New York Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio on Thursday chose William Bratton to be the city's next police commissioner, returning him to the job he held for two years until he resigned in 1996 after a falling-out with former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Mr. Bratton, 66, served as Boston police commissioner before arriving in New York in 1994 to lead the NYPD, and was chief of the Los Angeles police department from 2002 to 2009.

The new commissioner will take over a 34,000-officer department. He must continue to reduce crime while refining the stop-and-frisk street tactics that Mr. de Blasio campaigned against.

Obama did meet his uncle

WASHINGTON -- White House officials Thursday abruptly changed their story about whether President Barack Obama had ever met his father's half brother, a Boston man who has been fighting deportation to Kenya after a drunken-driving arrest in 2011.

Two years ago, White House officials told The Boston Globe that the president had never met Onyango Obama, known as Omar, the president's uncle. But Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said Thursday that the 2011 statement was false. In fact, the two men lived together briefly while the president was a student at Harvard Law School, Mr. Carney said.

Earlier this week, a judge ruled that Omar Obama could stay in the U.S. and apply for a green card and eventual citizenship.

Hopper painting sold

NEW YORK -- Edward Hopper's "East Wind Over Weehawken" has sold for $40.5 million -- far more than the old auction record of $26.9 million for Hopper's "Hotel Window".

The 1934 work depicts a streetscape of Weehawken, N.J., a city across the Hudson River from New York.

Hopper considered it one of his best works.

Proceeds from the sale will go toward the creation of a new endowment at the academy for the purchase of artworks.


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