USA

ExxonMobil, the world's biggest publicly traded oil company, set a US record for fourth-quarter and annual profits Monday. Aided by soaring oil and gasoline prices and demand for refined products, Exxon earned $10.71 billion for the quarter and $36.13 billion for the year.

Jury selection began Monday in the corruption trial of former Enron executives Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling. The long-awaited trial in Houston, which stems from the energy trader's 2001 collapse, could begin as early as Tuesday.

Hundreds of trucks, boats, and law-enforcement officials went unused in the immediate aftermath of hurricane Katrina because of federal command lapses, newly released documents indicate. Materials released by the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee provide "the most candid assessment that we've received from any federal agency," said Sen. Susan Collins (R) of Maine, its chairman. According to one internal e-mail, the Federal Emergency Management Agency called off search and rescue operations in Louisiana three days after the Aug. 29 storm because of security issues.

Because of a need for more officers, the Army has promoted an unusually high percentage of soldiers, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing Pentagon data and an Army spokesman. Traditionally, 70 to 80 percent of eligible captains move up to the rank of major, but last year 97 percent made the jump. Army reorganization and officer resignations, especially among those who've served multiple rotations in Iraq, are considered factors in the high proportion of promotions, which some military observers believe may dilute the quality of the officer corps.

After a week of calm, Alaska's Augustine Volcano resumed eruptions late last week, sending steam and ash 40,000 feet above an uninhabited Cook Inlet island. Although the volcano 180 miles southwest of Anchorage has entered an eruptive phase, geologists have said they don't consider the activity a prelude to a "big event."

Reese Witherspoon, who portrays country music singer June Carter - Johnny Cash's wife - in "Walk the Line," captured the award for top actress from the Screen Actors Guild in Los Angeles Sunday, while Seymour Hoffman won for starring in "Capote," about author Truman Capote.

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