National briefs: Fire in N.J. home kills 6

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NEWARK, N.J. -- A teenager on a Father's Day visit to Newark to honor his deceased dad died, along with his mother and four others, when a fast-moving fire ripped through a three-story home early Sunday, authorities and the boy's grandmother said.

The blaze broke out at the single-family residence about 4 a.m. and soon spread to another home, the Essex County Prosecutor's office said. Both structures were destroyed.

Authorities have not determined the cause of the fire but say it doesn't appear to be suspicious, according to Thomas Fennelly, chief assistant prosecutor. Everyone in the second home managed to escape safely, he said.

General assigned to probe

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. military has appointed a two-star general to investigate the circumstances under which Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier recently freed after five years in Taliban captivity, disappeared in eastern Afghanistan in 2009, a U.S. official said on Sunday.

A defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the general had been appointed to conduct the army investigation of Sgt. Bergdahl's June 2009 disappearance and capture, but said the probe had not yet begun.

The official declined to name the general.

Some of Sgt. Bergdahl's former peers in Afghanistan have alleged the soldier, now 28, walked away from his post voluntarily.

But the Pentagon has said the circumstances of his disappearance and capture were unclear.

An earlier U.S. military investigation found he had slipped away from his unit before but always returned.

Clinton's Benghazi defense

WASHINGTON -- Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton fended off questions Sunday on the deaths of American diplomats in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012, suggesting that no additional explanation she offered would satisfy her critics.

"There's a difference between unanswered questions and unlistened to answers," Ms. Clinton said on "CBS Sunday Morning."

"There were a lot of confusing pieces of information flooding into us from the very first moment we heard about it," Ms. Clinton said, referring to the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi.

"We did our best to sort it out."

"I did my best to fully cooperate with the Congress. I respect the Congress' oversight responsibility," she added, but suggested that Republican critics have seized on discrepancies that arose from "the fog of war" and have improperly tried to use them as evidence of a coverup.

Ms. Clinton's Sunday TV appearance came after a week of promotional interviews for her memoir, "Hard Choices," in which she has occasionally seemed to stumble over easy questions.

Republican party chairman Reince Priebus pointed to those moments in an interview on CBS's "Face the Nation."

Ms. Clinton "went out of the gate with one gaffe after the next," he said. "The Democrats have nobody behind Hillary Clinton. If she keeps free-falling, she is not going to be the nominee."

Rail service resumes

PHILADELPHIA -- Commuter rail service in the Philadelphia area was restored early Sunday, just hours after workers returned to their jobs following a brief strike that was ended when President Barack Obama intervened.

Jerri Williams, spokeswoman for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, said all workers scheduled for morning shifts Sunday showed up, and some train lines with early starts, such as the Airport Line, were rolling before 5 a.m.

A few hours later, the company said on its website that normal operations had resumed.

Mr. Obama on Saturday granted Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's request to create a presidential emergency board to mediate the contract dispute, forcing the 400 union workers to go back. Mr. Obama ordered the establishment of the three-member board effective at 12:01 a.m. Sunday and called for "a swift and smooth resolution."

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers president Terry Gallagher said Mr. Obama's intervention was "what we were waiting for."

Also in the nation ...

A 66-year-old Connecticut woman was found dead in the basement of her home after the first floor collapsed under the weight of a waist-deep pile of newspapers, bottles and other household detritus, local police said Sunday. ... Hundreds of firefighters Sunday were battling a wildfire north of Los Angeles that prompted the evacuation of about 500 homes, local officials said.

— Compiled from news services


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