HARTFORD, Conn. -

A New York City woman tried to scam donors by posing as the aunt of a child killed in the Connecticut elementary school massacre, federal authorities said Thursday.

Nouel Alba, 37, was arrested Thursday and accused of using her Facebook account, telephone calls and text messages to seek donations for what she called a "funeral fund." She told one donor that she had to enter the scene of the mass shooting in Newtown to identify her nephew, according to the criminal complaint.

Alba is charged with lying to FBI agents who were investigating charity scams related to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults on Dec. 14.

In text messages with a donor, Alba allegedly said that she hugged President Obama during his visit to Newtown and said she was afraid to see her nephew in a casket: "11 gun shot in his little body," she wrote, according to the complaint.

If convicted, she faces a maximum prison term of five years and a fine of up to $250,000.

EPA chief to breathe free

WASHINGTON - Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, who pushed through the most sweeping curbs on air pollution in two decades, announced Thursday morning that she will resign her post.

Jackson, who will step down shortly after President Obama's State of the Union address next month, said that she was "ready in my own life for new challenges, time with my family and new opportunities to make a difference." Many had expected that she would not remain for the administration's second term; Jackson herself joked about it recently.

Outspoken on issues including climate change and the need to protect poor communities from experiencing a disproportionate amount of environmental harm, Jackson pressed for limits on emissions from coal-fired power plants and on dumping mining waste into streams and rivers near mines.

The slew of rules that the EPA enacted over the past four years included the first greenhouse-gas standards for vehicles, cuts in mercury and other toxic pollution from power plants, and a tighter limit on soot, the nation's most widespread deadly pollutant. Many congressional Republicans and business groups claimed that Jackson was waging a "war on coal." But she was a hero to the environmental community.

Unilever phasing out microplastics

AMSTERDAM - Unilever, the maker of Vaseline, Axe deodorants and Dove soaps, among other cosmetic and hygiene products, said that it will phase out the use of microplastics by 2015.

Many soaps, skin scrubs and shower gels contain microplastics, which are tiny polyethelene beads. Scientists and environmental groups are concerned that they contribute to polluting oceans.

Unilever is one of the world's largest consumer product companies, competing with Nestle SA and Procter & Gamble Co.

Hopes sink for longshoremen deal

NEW YORK - In just a few days, a walkout by thousands of dock workers could bring commerce to a near standstill at every major port from Boston to Houston, potentially delivering a big blow to retailers and manufacturers still struggling to find their footing in a weak economy.

More than 14,000 longshoremen are threating to go on strike Sunday - a wide-ranging work stoppage that would immediately close cargo ports on the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico to container ships. The 15 ports involved in the labor dispute move more than 100 million tons of goods each year, or about 40 percent of the nation's containerized cargo traffic. Losing them to a shutdown, even for a few days, could cost the economy billions of dollars.

The master contract between the International Longshoremen's Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance, a group representing shipping lines, terminal operators and port associations, expired in September. The two sides agreed to extend it once already, for 90 days, but they have so far balked at extending it again when it expires at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.

The union said its members would agree to an extension only if the Maritime Alliance dropped a proposal to freeze the royalties workers get for every container they unload. The Alliance has argued that the longshoremen, who it said earn an average $124,138 per year in wages and benefits, are compensated well enough already.

In brief:

WASHINGTON - President Obama summoned congressional leaders to a Friday summit at the White House in a last-ditch effort to protect taxpayers, unemployed workers and the fragile U.S. recovery from severe austerity measures set to hit in just four days.

NEW YORK - The "fiscal cliff" took the stock market on a roller coaster Thursday. Small developments in the tense budget standoff yanked stocks back and forth throughout the day. In the end, U.S. stocks closed lower for the fourth day in a row. The Dow finished down 18.28 points to 13,096.31. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 1.73 to 1,418.10. The Nasdaq composite index lost 4.25 to 2,985.91.

- Daily News wire services