USA

Federal Aviation Administration officials received more than 50 warnings about potential Al Qaeda terrorist attacks in the 5-1/2 months leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, airliner hijackings, The New York Times reported Thursday. The finding is part of a recently declassified 9/11 commission document that takes the FAA to task for not expanding the use of in-flight marshals or tightening airport screening for weapons.

The US trade deficit soared to $617.7 billion last year, a 24.4 percent increase over the previous record, the Commerce Department reported. The imbalance with China, the largest ever with a single country, rose 30.5 percent to $162 billion. The White House argues that the deficit reflects a growing American economy, which feeds demand for imported goods. But critics contend the administration hasn't done enough to crack down on unfair foreign trade practices and that the deficit could have monetary consequences. The previous record was set in 2003.

For the second time since his State of the Union Address, President Bush was on the road, trying to win support for his proposed overhaul of the Social Security system. In visits to Pennsylvania and North Carolina, he made a case for his plan to offer personal investment accounts to younger workers.

A Pentagon investigation and newly declassified documents confirm detainees' accounts of the use of sexual tactics by female interrogators at the US military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, The Washington Post reported. At least eight detainees, in documents or through their lawyers, have accused female interrogators of violating Muslim taboos about sex and contact with women, the newspaper said. A spokes-man for base said it is premature to comment on the credibility of the allegations.

First-term US Sen. Mark Dayton (D) of Minnesota announced Wednesday that he will not seek reelection next year, when Republicans, who consider him politically vulnerable, were expected to work hard for his defeat. Dayton, whose approval rating has plummeted since he won the office in 2000, said he doesn't enjoy the constant fund-raising needed to wage a successful campaign.

A new 37-cent stamp, bearing the smiling face of Ronald Reagan (below), who wrote at least 10,000 letters during his life, was unveiled in ceremonies around the country. As an ex-president, Reagan became eligible for a commemorative stamp after his death last June.

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