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News Wrap: U.S. General Demoted for Spending Thousands on Lavish Expenses

November 13, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT

KWAME HOLMAN: Another Army general, William “Kip” Ward, has been demoted for unauthorized expenses, and ordered to repay $82,000. The Associated Press reported today Ward was accused of spending lavishly on travel and other items. Ward is former head of U.S. Africa Command. The demotion strips him of a star, meaning he will retire as a three-star lieutenant general.

The U.S. Army has wrapped up a hearing for a soldier accused of a massacre in Afghanistan. Staff Sergeant Robert Bales is charged with killing 16 Afghan civilians last March. Most of the victims were children. The hearing took place at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Seattle, Washington. If the case goes to a court-martial and Bales is convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Some two-and-a-half million people have been uprooted from their homes in Syria by the raging civil war. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent made that estimate today. It’s more than double the previous estimate used by aid agencies. In addition, more than 400,000 Syrians have fled to neighboring states.

It’s been two weeks since Hurricane Sandy walloped the Northeast, and, as of today, more than 130,000 homes and businesses across New York and New Jersey still were in the dark. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned again the process of restoration and recovery will be slow.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, I-New York: A lot of residents unfortunately are going to be out of power for as long — for a long time. But rather than complain about it or even write about it, we’re trying to do something about it.

We can sit around and wring or hands and say it’s terrible. Mother Nature brought us this storm. Now we’re just going to deal with it. And we’re going to go methodically street by street, building by building, and help people get going. We’re going to do the most important life-threatening things first and then come back. And we’re not going to stop until everybody is back.

KWAME HOLMAN: There also were more signs of progress today, as gasoline rationing ended in central and northern New Jersey. Rationing continues in New York City.

Wall Street slid again today, amid concerns about impending spending cuts and tax increases in Washington. The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 59 points to close at 12,756. The Nasdaq fell 20 points to close below 2,884.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.