USA

The pace of economic activity nearly quadrupled between December and January, according to The Conference Board, the private research group that uses its Index of Leading Economic Indicators to measure progress in 10 categories, among them stock prices and building permits. The index rose 1.1 percent in January, a surge that the board said suggests robust growth could occur this spring.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D) of Louisiana outlined the state's first comprehensive housing proposal since hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Many aspects of the $7.5 billion plan to rebuild, repair, or sell more than 400,000 storm-damaged homes remain to be worked out, including congressional approval of about $4.2 billion in federal funding. Assistance would be capped at $150,000 per homeowner, and those who don't want to relocate or rebuild in Louisiana could sell their homes to the state at 60 percent of their prestorm value.

President Bush completed a two-day trip to the Midwest and Colorado Tuesday to tout his proposal for more renewable energy research funding. The swing included stops at plants for solar panels and hybrid car batteries, plus a visit to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo.

Sportscaster Curt Gowdy, who died Monday in Palm Beach, Fla., was a fixture at major events during the 1960s and '70s, providing the play-by-play at 16 World Series and nine Super Bowls. He also was the host and producer of "The American Sportsman" TV series. Before becoming a signature voice on network telecasts, Gowdy called Boston Red Sox games from 1951 to 1965.

David Edmondson resigned as president and chief executive of RadioShack Corp. less than a year after taking the helm and a week after acknowledging errors in his résumé. Claire Babrow-ski, who was promoted to acting chief executive officer, will lead a turnaround effort that calls for closing as many as 700 stores.

In a ceremony to name the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., a National Historic Landmark, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales called the building a "catalyst for the cause of justice." In 1963, a Ku Klux Klan bombing killed four black girls in the church. Three Klansmen were convicted of the crime, the last in 2002.

Officials at California's San Quentin prison delayed the execution of convicted murderer-rapist Michael Morales Tuesday for at least 15 hours after two court-appointed doctors walked out when their ethical concerns about the planned lethal injection were not sufficiently allayed.

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