USA

To bolster security before Iraq's national elections on Jan. 30, the US military presence there will be expanded from 138,000 to 150,000 troops, even higher than the initial invading force in March 2003, the Pentagon announced Wednesday. The buildup will involve sending 1,500 fresh troops and extending by two months the combat tours of 10,400 soldiers and marines who were to come home next month. Meanwhile, President Bush rejected calls for the election to be postponed, telling reporters, "It's time for Iraqi citizens to go to the polls."

Attorneys for Army Pfc. Lynndie England, who faces court-martial in January for her role in the mistreatment of Iraqi inmates at Abu Ghraib Prison, asked at a pretrial hearing at Fort Bragg, N.C., to have her early statements to investigators and incriminating photos thrown out as inadmissible evidence. The judge was to hear arguments on the request Thursday. The defense claims England, one of seven reservists charged in the scandal, gave answers under duress and that she posed with detainees at the request of higher-level officers.

Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns (R), who grew up on a dairy farm, was named as Bush's choice to succeed Ann Veneman as secretary of agriculture.

After 21 years anchoring the "NBC Nightly News," Tom Brokaw said his goodbyes Wednesday before handing over the job to Brian Williams. "Whatever the story," Brokaw told viewers, "I had one objective: to get it right." Brokaw's exit will be followed by that of CBS's Dan Rather in March, leaving ABC's Peter Jennings the lone network anchor staying on.

According to grand jury records reviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle, baseball star Jason Giambi contradicted previous public denials of drug use when, during 2003 testimony, he acknowledged using steroids for at least three seasons and injecting himself with human growth hormone last year. The confession came in the investigation of a Bay Area laboratory suspected of supplying athletes with such substances. Giambi, a first baseman with the New York Yankees, was among dozens of athletes, including home run king Barry Bonds, to go before the grand jury.

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