USA

In a position paper released Wednesday, congressional Democrats pledged to "eliminate" elusive Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden as part of their "tough and smart" national security agenda. The platform did not provide details on how the objective would be achieved, nor does it set deadlines for drawing down 132,000 American troops now in Iraq. The agenda generally calls for doubling the number of special forces and adding more spies.

Federal emergency officials said they want all 225,000 people out of New Orleans the next time a hurricane threatens the city. No shelters will be offered to anyone who stays, but planes, trains, and buses will be used to evacuate residents.

Fuel economy standards for light trucks and sport utility vehicles will be notched up slightly, from 22.5 to 24.5 miles per gallon in 2011, the White House said Wednesday. Large SUVs will be impacted for the first time.

Randal McCloy Jr., the sole survivor of a Jan. 2 West Virginia coal mine explosion that killed a dozen co-workers, is scheduled to return home Thursday. He has been at a rehab facility in Morgantown since Jan. 26.

A newspaper workers' union emerged as one of the leading bidders for 12 Knight Ridder newspapers placed on the auction block by McClatchy Co., which acquired the chain in a $4.5 billion takeover but wants to sell off part of it. The Newspaper Guild-CWA submitted an undisclosed offer Tuesday for the Philadelphia Inquirer, San Jose Mercury News, and 10 other papers.

Christine Chavez, a granddaughter of the late labor-rights leader Cesar Chavez, announced her candidacy for a seat in the California Assembly. She'll take a leave from her post as political director of the United Farm Workers to run in the June 6 election.

Meeting for the first time under new boss Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve lifted the benchmark federal funds rate a quarter percentage point to 4.75 percent, the 15th straight such increase. The Fed hinted that further hikes may be needed to counter inflationary pressures.

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