National briefs: Health website gets new chief

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WASHINGTON -- A former executive at Microsoft is assuming oversight of the Obama administration's efforts to repair the HealthCare.gov website, the Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday.

Kurt DelBene will take over from Jeffrey Zients, a management expert who the president asked to rescue the site after its disastrous rollout on Oct. 1.

Mr. Zients is widely credited with helping to make the site functional, allowing tens of thousands of Americans to select a health insurance plan on marketplaces created by the president's 2010 health law.

Mr. DelBene is married to Rep. Suzan DelBene, a first-term Democrat from Washington state.

$1.5 million in Newtown aid

WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Eric Holder said the U.S. will provide $1.5 million to reimburse organizations that aided victims of last year's elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

Acting three days after the first anniversary of the shootings, Mr. Holder said the funds will go to groups that provided trauma care and law enforcement support and helped move students from Sandy Hook Elementary School to a new location.

Mr. Holder said the funds will come from the Justice Department's Office for Victims of Crime, which provided aid after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, and mass shootings including those in Aurora, Colo.; Tucson, Ariz., and at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg.

NRA fights gun ordinance

SUNNYVALE, Calif. -- Part of Sunnyvale's gun control ordinance that bans possession of magazines holding more than 10 rounds is unconstitutional and leaves law-abiding citizens at a disadvantage to better-armed criminals, a National Rifle Association lawsuit argues.

The ordinance, approved by 67 percent of voters last month as Measure C, requires owners of such magazines to remove them from the city, sell them outside California or to a licensed gun dealer, or give them up to police for destruction within 90 days.

Measure C took effect Dec. 6, giving owners until March 6 to comply. But the federal lawsuit filed Monday -- in which the NRA is backing five Sunnyvale residents who own such magazines -- seeks an injunction halting enforcement of the new law.

New thoughts on math

Children as young as 3 can understand the meaning and value of multi-digit numbers and might be more ready for direct math instruction when they begin formal schooling than previously believed, according to new research by developmental psychologists.

The research comes as teachers, policymakers and government officials have been increasingly dismayed by U.S. students' math performance on internationally benchmarked exams. This month, the results of a well-regarded international exam placed U.S. teenagers at below average in math compared with their counterparts in 64 other countries and economies.

Also in the nation ...

The hazing death of a New York City freshman last week has led the Pi Delta Psi fraternity to shutter its chapter at Baruch College. Chun "Michael" Deng, 19, died in a hospital after a blow to the head during a hazing ritual in the Pocono Mountains. ... A wildfire burning Monday in the Big Sur area of California destroyed at least 15 homes and forced about 100 people to evacuate as it chewed through dry vegetation on its way toward the ocean. No injuries were reported.


-- Compiled from news services


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