USA

A federal emergency exercise that began in July 2004 revealed that evacuation plans for New Orleans were only 10 percent complete at the time of hurricane Katrina, newly released documents showed. The information surfaced in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee review of the exercise.

Army Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer Jr., who was convicted of negligent homicide and dereliction of duty in the interrogation death of an Iraqi general, came in for only a reprimand Monday. At a hearing at Fort Carson, Colo., a military jury recommended that he receive no jail time. It also said his salary should be docked $6,000 and that he be restricted to barracks for 60 days. Fort Carson's commander must review the recommendation, but he cannot order harsher punishment.

Santa Ana winds, which have gusted to 70 m.p.h., roared across southern California Tuesday for a third straight day. The dry winds have blown over six tractor-trailers, knocked out power to thousands of utility customers, and fanned brush fires east of Los Angeles.

New York-based JumpTV, a leading provider of broadcasts over the Internet, is expected to announce in Baghdad Wednesday a service that bundles five independent Iraqi programs for $19.95 a month. The offerings will include coverage of Saddam Hussein's trial and Iraq's equivalent of the "Oprah Winfrey Show."

Tomato prices, which soared to $4 a pound after hurricane Wilma struck Florida in October, will drop significantly as a winter harvest reaches the market, the state's top agriculture official said. "The average person will be able to afford No. 1 fresh tomatoes" again, Charles Bronson said of the now plentiful crop.

The Pentagon plans to train thousands of additional troops for special forces duty to fight terrorists and insurgents, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. The plan would increase the number of the Army's Green Berets to the highest level since the Vietnam War.

A panel of Louisiana lawmakers approved plans to hold elections in New Orleans - once scheduled for February - in April. Wednesday, a federal judge is expected to question state officials about arrangements for distributing absentee ballots to displaced residents and for relocating polling places.

Chinese President Hu Jintao will visit the US in April, the government announced. His trip last fall was postponed because of hurricane Katrina.

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