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In brief


February 19. 2013 5:36PM
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NEW YORK
Obama vows victim support

President Barack Obama vowed Thursday to stick with New Yorkers still struggling 17 days after Superstorm Sandy until the rebuilding is complete after getting an up-close look at devastated neighborhoods rendered unlivable.


Obama brought the spotlight to people still living without heat or electricity.


Obama announced that Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, former chief of New York's Housing Authority, will be his point person to oversee long-term rebuilding.


Before arriving on Staten Island, the president's helicopter flew over Rockaway Peninsula in Queens, including the waterfront community of Breezy Point, where roughly 100 homes burned to the ground in a wind-swept fire.


STATE COLLEGE
PSU trustees eye proposals

Penn State trustees will weigh the state auditor general's suggestions that the school's governing structure be changed in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.


Trustees began two days of regularly-scheduled meetings Thursday. Auditor General Jack Wagner's recommendations, released Wednesday, included the removal of the university president as a voting trustee.


Trustee James Broadhurst said leaders spoke briefly with Wagner by phone before he released his report. They only received Wagner's full report late Wednesday or Thursday, he said.


WASHINGTON
$16B annual loss for USPS

The struggling U.S. Postal Service on Thursday reported an annual loss of a record $15.9 billion and forecast more red ink in 2013, capping a year in which it was forced to default on billions in payments to avert bankruptcy.


The financial losses for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 were more than triple the $5.1 billion loss in the previous year. Having reached its borrowing limit, the mail agency is operating with little cash on hand, putting it at risk in the event of an unexpectedly large downturn in the economy.


Much of the red ink in 2012 was due to mounting mandatory costs for future retiree health benefits, which made up $11.1 billion of the losses. Without that and other related labor expenses, the mail agency sustained an operating loss of $2.4 billion, lower than the previous year.


PARIS
Arms to Syria rebels eyed

France raised the possibility Thursday of sending defensive weapons to Syria's rebels, but Russia warned that such a move would violate international law.


French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said his country will ask the European Union to consider lifting the Syrian arms embargo, which prevents weapons from being sent to either side.


We must not militarize the conflict ... but it's obviously unacceptable that there are liberated zones and they're bombed by President Bashar Assad's regime, Fabius said in an interview with RTL radio. We have to find a good balance.


The civil war in Syria, which began as an uprising against Assad's regime, has killed more than 36,000 Syrians since March 2011, according to anti-government activists. The fighting and flood of refugees seeking safety have also spilled over into several of Syria's neighbors, including Israel, Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.




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