National briefs: Carry-on bags are scrutinized

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NEW YORK -- United Airlines is getting tough on passengers with oversized carry-on bags, even sending some of them back to the ticket counter to check their luggage for a fee.

The airline has started a push to better enforce rules restricting the size of carry-on bags by instructing workers at security checkpoint entrances to eyeball passengers for bags that are too big.

Passengers are allowed one carry-on bag to fit in the overhead bin, which can be no larger than 9 inches by 14 inches by 22 inches. Fliers can also bring one personal item such as a purse or laptop bag that fits under the seat in front of them.

Fuel-trucker bill advances

WASHINGTON -- An especially cold winter has made it a challenge to move home heating supplies quickly enough to meet increased demands, particularly in Pennsylvania and other eastern states, but help could be on the way if the U.S. Senate follows the House's lead.

The lower chamber voted unanimously Tuesday to temporarily extend a suspension of the federal limit on the number of hours a fuel-tank trucker can drive. Sponsored by Pennsylvania Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Blair, the short-term emergency declaration would allow Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to lift limits on a state-by-state basis for a month at a time after consulting with governors.

A previous 30-day suspension expires March 15, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website.

BP loses spill ruling

NEW ORLEANS -- In a setback for BP as it deals with the aftermath of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a U.S. appeals court ruled Monday that the company would have to stick to its agreement and pay some gulf businesses for economic damage without their having to prove it was caused by the spill.

BP had argued strenuously in court, and in newspaper advertisements, that the settlement had been unfairly misinterpreted and that it was being forced to pay for damage unrelated to the accident.

D.C. decriminalizes pot

WASHINGTON -- Possession of less than an ounce of marijuana would be a civil infraction with a $25 fine under a plan that won easy approval Tuesday from the District of Columbia City Council.

Backers called it one of the most lenient decriminalization laws in the nation and said the next step would be to make marijuana fully legal in the nation's capital, as Colorado and Washington state did in 2012.

Flood insurance bill

WASHINGTON -- The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.

The bill would allow sellers to pass along their subsidized, below-market insurance rates to new buyers and lower the limit on how much flood insurance premiums can rise each year. The measure was approved, 306-91, and awaits action in the Senate.

Teen recants assault

SAN FRANCISCO -- A transgender teenager who said he was beaten and sexually assaulted Monday in a California high school bathroom recanted the story, police said Tuesday.

The 15-year-old student at Hercules Middle/High School "admitted he fabricated the whole story" during an interview with a detective, Hercules police Detective Connie Van Putten said. The student is biologically female but identifies as male.

-- Compiled from staff and news services

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