USA

As the first strike of New York City transit workers in 25 years entered its second day, many commuters took to walking across the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. Others biked, rollerbladed, shared taxis, and rode pedicabs. City and union officials were scheduled to meet with a mediator. Meanwhile, the Transport Workers Union planned to appeal a judge's decision to fine it $1 million a day for violating a state law that bars public employees from striking.

Vice President Cheney, who cut short a trip to the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, cast the deciding vote Wednesday as the Senate approved $39.7 billion in federal deficit cuts by a 51-to-50 tally. The cuts, the first in almost a decade to benefit programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and student loans, still must be voted on by the House and signed by the president. Senate Republicans also raced to pass a bill before the holidays that would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil exploration.

Hurricane Katrina was not as strong as originally thought, according to the final report of the National Hurricane Center. With winds of about 125 m.p.h. as it made landfall along the Gulf Coast Aug. 29, the storm was of Category 3, not 4, intensity, it said. Most of New Orleans experienced winds of Category 1 or 2 strength, ranging from 74 m.p.h. to 110 m.p.h. The city's failed levee system, which is under investigation, was supposed to be able to withstand a fast-moving Category 3 storm, but Katrina was slow-moving.

After rebuffing Microsoft's efforts to strike a deal, America Online decided to deepen its strategic alliance with Google Inc. by selling a 5 percent stake in the company to the latter for $1 billion. The partnership is seen as a way for both companies to strengthen their positions in the fast-growing online advertising market.

Investigators working Monday's fatal seaplane crash off Miami Beach said they'll seek to determine if corrosion and stress caused the aging turboprop's right wing to break off shortly after takeoff. All 20 people aboard the Bahamas-bound flight were killed.

Amid a heavy police presence, hundreds of mourners attended a funeral service in Los Angeles Tuesday for gang founder Stanley "Tookie" Williams, who was executed at San Quentin Prison for his role in four 1979 murders. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) reviewed his case, which drew worldwide attention because of Williams's antigang crusading, but didn't commute the sentence.

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