USA

The productivity of American workers grew at the fastest pace in two years during the July-September quarter, easing worries about overall inflation worsening, the Labor Department reported. It said productivity, a key aspect of rising living standards, rose at an annual rate of 4.7 percent. Labor costs fell by 1 percent.

The US held captured Al Qaeda suspects at two secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe until last month, ABC News reported in the latest revelation on the issue that has taken Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the region. Citing current and former agents, ABC said the sites were shut down after the media exposed their existence.

A state judge dismissed a conspiracy charge against US Rep. Tom Delay (R) of Texas, but not his indictment for money- laundering. DeLay is charged with illegally funneling corporate donations to GOP candidates for the Texas legislature in 2002. The ruling means the case will move toward a trial next year and that DeLay cannot return to his position as House majority leader as long as the charge stands. Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earl (D), who brought the indictments, has 15 days to appeal the ruling.

The discovery of two large pieces of the Titanic's hull on the Atlantic Ocean floor indicates the ship sank faster than previously thought, researchers said. An analysis showed that the bow and stern split after a section of the hull broke free. Researchers had believed that the ship broke into only two major pieces. The wreckage was located in 1985.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued former CIA Director George Tenet on behalf of Khaled el-Masri, a German who claims US agents abducted and tortured him in Afghanistan. The ACLU called it the first legal challenge of the "rendition" program, in which captured terror suspects are flown to foreign countries for interrogation.

Ohio's chief elections officer, Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell (R), could no longer be responsible for counting votes or take an active role on ballot initiatives while simultaneously backing candidates for public office under changes to an election-reform bill made public Tuesday.

A panel of scientists recommended that TV characters who are especially popular with children should promote only healthy foods. The Institute of Medicine said TV strongly influences what children under 12 eat. Its research found that the food industry last year introduced almost 500 new products targeted to younger children - up from 52 a decade ago. But it also said evidence is limited as to whether TV advertising leads to obesity in children.

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