USA

Margaret Spellings, President Bush's domestic policy adviser, was named his new Secretary of Education. Spellings previously worked for six years as Bush's education adviser in Texas. If confirmed for the post, she'll succeed Rod Paige, who resigned late last week. Meanwhile, Stephen Hadley was named to succeed his boss, Condoleezza Rice, as National Security Adviser. Hadley apologized privately to Bush in the summer of 2003 for allowing tainted intelligence on Iraq's suspected weapons program into the State of the Union address. Bush did not accept his resignation offer.

Despite flying under its own power for just 10 seconds, an unmanned NASA supersonic combustion "scramjet" generated what scientists called an enormous amount of data Tuesday while achieving a record speed of almost 7,000 m.p.h. The 12-foot-long jet, mounted on a Pegasus rocket and carried aloft by B-52 aircraft, flew over the Pacific Ocean before gliding to a splashdown. It will not be recovered, but the recorded data are key to the development of new propulsion technology.

The nation's Roman Catholic bishops wrapped up their fall meeting in Washington by voting to join a new alliance - called Christian Churches Together in the USA - that will link evangelicals, mainline Protestants, and Catholics in the broadest Christian group yet formed in the US.

Intensified immigration monitoring led to the removal of a record 157,000 illegal aliens over the past year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials announced Tuesday. About half those deported had criminal convictions.

The US signed an agreement with 13 other countries aimed at cutting emissions of methane, which some scientists identify as second only to carbon dioxide in causing global warming. The pact calls for investing up to $53 million in companies engaged in controlling the escape of methane, mainly from landfills.

Trendy clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Co. settled a class-action federal discrimination lawsuit by agreeing to pay $40 million to Hispanic and Asian employees. The company also pledged to implement policies and programs to promote diversity and prevent discrimination in its workforce.

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