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Nation news briefs

NEW YORK / Ex-Merrill chief to lead CIT Group

John Thain, the ousted chief of Merrill Lynch & Co., was named to lead CIT Group Inc., the commercial lender that emerged from bankruptcy in December, after a nearly four-month search for a replacement. Thain, 54, becomes chairman and chief executive immediately, Manhattan-based CIT said Sunday. The job restores Thain to the top of a public company more than a year since he was pushed out after Bank of America Corp. agreed to buy Merrill during the 2008 financial crisis. At CIT, Thain's pay is subject to compensation restrictions imposed on companies that have received federal bailout funds. He will receive $500,000 in salary and $5.5 million in shares, of which $2.5 million is restricted for one year and $3 million is locked up for three years, said a person familiar with the matter. The person declined to speak publicly because the information hasn't yet been made public.

FLORIDA / Endeavour blastoff delayed to Monday

Clouds prevented space shuttle Endeavour from blasting off Sunday on the last planned nighttime shuttle launch, delaying its trip with a final few building blocks for the International Space Station. NASA managers said they would try again Monday, when slightly better conditions were expected, at about 4:14 a.m.

CALIFORNIA / Residents in mudslide area return

Residents evacuated from foothill communities deluged by weekend mudslides north of Los Angeles were allowed to return home Sunday as crews moved debris and cleared catch basins in anticipation of more rain later in the week. Forty-three homes in the La Canada Flintridge area were damaged and 500 more evacuated Saturday after mud and water overflowed basins and surged into streets, taking furniture, cars and concrete barriers with it. Nine houses were declared unsafe to enter. About 25 vehicles were damaged.

NATIONWIDE / Toyota to unveil Prius brake plan

Toyota said Sunday that it will soon announce plans to deal with braking problems in its prized Prius hybrid amid reports it has decided to issue a recall for the vehicle in Japan, a possible new embarrassment for the world's biggest automaker. Toyota Motor Corp. has already had to recall more than 7 million other cars in the U.S., Europe and China over a sticky accelerator and floor mats that can get caught in the gas pedal. Those problems and criticism of Toyota's response to them have sullied the stellar reputation for quality long enjoyed by one of Japan's corporate icons. The company told U.S. dealers it is preparing to repair the brakes on thousands of U.S. Priuses, stated an e-mail sent by a company executive. It was unclear whether it will mean a formal recall.

MAINE / You might be drinking unused meds

The federal government advises throwing most unused or expired medications into the trash instead of down the drain, but they can end up in the water anyway, a state study from Maine suggests. Traces of discarded drugs have been found in water at three landfills in Maine, confirming suspicions that pharmaceuticals thrown into household trash are ending up in water that drains through waste, according to a survey by the state's environmental agency that's one of only a handful to have looked at the presence of drugs in landfills. The results of the survey are being made known as lawmakers in Maine consider a bill, among the first of its kind in the nation, that would require drug manufacturers to develop and pay for a program to collect unused prescription and over-the-counter drugs from residents and dispose of them.

- Combined news reports

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