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In the Nation

Blackwater, then XE, now Academi

McLEAN, Va. - The security firm once known as Blackwater changed its name Monday for the second time in less than three years as its owners continue to reshape the company they bought from its founder a year ago.

The company announced it will no longer be known as Xe Services and is now called Academi. The name is inspired by Plato's Academy in ancient Greece and is designed to connote elite, highly disciplined warriors who are thinkers as well as fighters.

Chief executive officer Ted Wright said a new name was needed to reflect changes the company has undergone since a group of investors bought it last December from Erik Prince. Prince founded the company in 1997 and built it into a contractor that provided training and protection for government workers in war zones around the globe. But he became a target for critics who said he fostered a trigger-happy culture. In 2009, the company acknowledged that the Blackwater name had become tarnished and changed it to Xe. - AP

Corps is short on levee-repair funds

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Monday that it had money available so far to fix only 11 of 68 Missouri River levees and was draining extra water from upstream reservoirs to nurse the flood-battered system through 2012.

The damaged levees are in Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas, officials said during a meeting of the Missouri River Flood Task Force. About half are federal levees; the others are part of a program in which the corps helps pay for flood repairs if the levees pass routine inspections.

The $68 million available is sufficient to help pay only for the 11 most crucial projects. It would cost $253 million to make all the Missouri River Basin repairs. That money is part of the more than $2 billion that the corps estimates it needs to repair the damage to the nation's levees, dams, and riverbanks caused by this year's excessive flooding. - AP

Texting preceded deadly Mo. pileup

WASHINGTON - A 19-year-old driver was texting just before his pickup truck, two school buses, and a tractor truck collided in a deadly pileup on an interstate highway in Missouri last year, the National Transportation Safety Board said Monday.

Two people, including the pickup driver, were killed and 38 injured in the accident near Gray Summit. The chain of rear-end collisions began when the pickup rammed the back of the tractor truck, the NTSB said.

The board is to meet Tuesday to hear the results of an investigation into the accident and to make recommendations. It has previously recommended bans on texting and cellphone use by commercial drivers, but has stopped short of seeking a ban on the use of the devices by adults driving passenger cars. In November, Pennsylvania became the 35th state to forbid texting while driving. - AP


Michele Flournoy, the most senior female Pentagon official in history, is stepping down as chief policy adviser to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, saying she feels compelled to "rebalance" her personal life after three years in the demanding national security job.