National briefs: Transparency of data pushed

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WASHINGTON -- The White House, hoping to move the national conversation on privacy beyond data harvesting by intelligence agencies to the practices of companies like Google and Facebook, released a long-anticipated report Thursday that recommends requiring private companies to release information they gather from their customers online.

The report, whose chief author is John Podesta, a senior White House adviser, is part of the administration's reaction to the disclosures of global surveillance by Edward Snowden, the former contractor for the National Security Agency. The effort is viewed with suspicion in Silicon Valley, where companies see it as the start of a government effort to regulate how they can profit from the data they collect from email and Web surfing habits.

Weapons costs soar

WASHINGTON -- The costs of the Pentagon's major weapons systems have ballooned nearly half a trillion dollars over their initial price tags, and the 80 programs have average schedule delays of more than two years, according to a report released Wednesday.

The report by the Government Accountability Office came during a congressional hearing in which senators from both parties vented about continued cost overruns, billions of dollars wasted when contracts are canceled and a system that is plagued by a high level of turnover that prevents anyone from being held accountable.

Gas blast at jail kills 2

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- The jail already had 2 feet of water in the basement from the record-setting rains when an apparent gas explosion leveled the inside of the building, killing two inmates and injuring more than 180 other people, officials said Thursday.

In the rubble and chaos, inmates were trapped and had to be rescued. Others were treated for their injuries in the parking lot. In all, 600 inmates rushed out of the jail. The injured were taken by bus to hospitals while the others were sent to nearby jails.

Authorities lost track of three inmates in the confusion, but by late afternoon, they were confident everyone was accounted for.

Bombing case filing

BOSTON -- Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev say federal prosecutors shouldn't be allowed to use his status as a new American citizen to argue that his alleged "betrayal" of the United States is one reason he should be put to death.

In a court filing Thursday, the lawyers say prosecutors are trying to use Mr. Tsarnaev's foreign birth and immigration history against him.

Also in the nation ...

William Potts Jr., the self-described black militant who hijacked a U.S. jetliner to Cuba 30 years ago, pleaded guilty Thursday in Miami to a new kidnapping charge that will help him avoid a minimum 20-year prison sentence for the original charge, air piracy. ... Sixty-two students were arrested Thursday after police said they broke into their high school overnight in Teaneck, N.J., for a senior class prank, urinating in hallways, greasing doorknobs with petroleum jelly and taping hot dogs to lockers. ... University of Connecticut alumnus Rick Mastracchio will address his alma mater's school of engineering commencement May 10 in a recorded speech from the Earth-orbiting International Space Station, where he is an astronaut.

-- Compiled from news services


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