National briefs: Hagel assumes defense duties
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WASHINGTON -- Chuck Hagel was sworn in Wednesday as defense secretary -- President Barack Obama's third in just over four years and the first who really wanted one of Washington's toughest jobs.
Introducing himself to Pentagon workers shortly after taking the oath of office, Mr. Hagel said he was humbled by the opportunity and ready for the challenge. He survived a contentious confirmation process in which some Republican senators questioned his suitability for the job and suggested he lacked the character to lead the military.
Lew wins Treasury post
WASHINGTON -- The Senate confirmed Jacob Lew as Treasury secretary Wednesday, giving him broad responsibilities over the U.S. economy just as the country faces potentially severe budget cuts, a still-tepid recovery and an overhaul of financial regulations that remains incomplete.
After being grilled by Republican lawmakers in recent weeks over his work and pay at bailout recipient Citigroup, Mr. Lew, President Barack Obama's current chief of staff and a former director of the Office of Management and Budget, was given the Senate's green light in a 71-26 vote.
PRESTON, Conn. -- A woman who picked up her two grandsons from day care and was supposed to bring them home so the 2-year-old could open his birthday presents instead drove them to a neighboring town and shot and killed the children and herself, state police and family members said.
The bodies of Debra Denison, 47, and her grandsons, Alton Perry and 6-month-old Ashton Perry, were found Tuesday night in a car parked near Lake of Isles in Preston, in the southeastern part of the state. Family members said Ms. Denison, the boys' maternal grandmother, had a history of mental health problems.
Obesity war paying off
CLINTON, Miss. -- Michelle Obama on Wednesday congratulated this Southern state for a more than 13 percent drop in its child obesity rates.
It's the reason the first lady made Mississippi the first stop on a two-day tour to promote her signature effort, the anti-childhood obesity campaign she launched three years ago.
Also in the nation ...
A blustery Midwest snowstorm Wednesday left six people dead in Kansas, hundreds of vehicles crashed or stranded in Wisconsin, and tens of thousands of utility customers without power in Michigan. ... Shell is dropping plans to drill in the Arctic waters off Alaska this year after a 2012 drilling season marred by equipment failures and ongoing federal investigations. ... The U.S. Sentencing Commission said Wednesday that the advent of the Internet has led to broad sentencing disparities in child pornography cases, and that the existing penalty structure needs to be changed.
First Published February 28, 2013 12:00 am