Nation Briefs

Lance Armstrong sued for $12 million bonus

AUSTIN, Texas – A Dallas promotions company sued Lance Armstrong on Thursday, demanding he repay $12 million in bonuses and fees it paid him for winning the Tour de France.

SCA Promotions had tried in a 2005 legal dispute to prove Armstrong cheated to win before it ultimately settled and paid him.

Armstrong recently acknowledged using performance-enhancing drugs, and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in 2012 detailed a sophisticated doping program by his Armstrong’s teams. Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France victories and given a lifetime ban from sports.

Now, the company contends in its lawsuit, Armstrong and agent Bill Stapleton conspired to cheat SCA out of millions. The lawsuit says Armstrong repeatedly testified under oath in the 2005 dispute that he did not use steroids, other drugs or blood-doping methods to win, all of which he now admits to doing.

Hagel nomination on track, Senate chairman says

WASHINGTON – Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be the next defense secretary remains on track despite Republican demands for additional information about his paid speeches and business dealings, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Thursday.

The GOP requests dealt a setback to President Barack Obama’s pick, forcing the committee to announce late Wednesday it would postpone a vote on the nomination. A new date has not been set.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the committee, said the additional requests were extraordinary and that Hagel had complied with the panel. He said he would move ahead with a vote as soon as possible.

Agency says 787 approval should be reconsidered

WASHINGTON – The government should reassess its safety approval of the Boeing 787’s lithium ion batteries, the nation’s top accident investigator said Thursday, casting doubt about whether the airliner’s troubles can be remedied quickly.

If Boeing is forced to switch to a different type of battery, it would add weight to the plane – and fuel efficiency is one of the 787’s main selling points.

The aircraft maker did get some good news Thursday: It received permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct test flights under limited circumstances with special safeguards. The tests are a critical step toward resolving the plane’s troubles. The airliners have been grounded for the last three weeks. Boeing needs to test the batteries under flight conditions before a solution can be approved.

Blizzard is threatening New England; 2 feet feared

BOSTON – A blizzard of potentially mammoth proportions threatened to strike the Northeast with a vengeance today, with up to 2 feet of snow feared along the densely populated Interstate 95 corridor from the New York City area to Boston and beyond.

From Pennsylvania to Maine, people rushed to stock up on food, shovels and other supplies, and road crews readied salt and sand, halfway through what had been a merciful winter.

Forecasters said this could one for the record books.

Defense Department wanted to arm Syrian rebels

WASHINGTON – Top Pentagon leaders said for the first time Thursday that the Defense Department backed the idea of providing arms to opposition groups in Syria.

Until Thursday, the Pentagon had only said publicly that U.S. policy is to give only humanitarian assistance to rebels battling President Bashar Assad’s regime. Providing arms has been the subject of ongoing internal administration debate.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said President Barack Obama made the final decision against arming the rebels.

Associated Press