USA

The Senate confirmed Henry Paulson as the nation's next Treasury secretary on Wednesday. Paulson, a 32-year Wall Street veteran, is the former chairman and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., a financial powerhouse. Both Democrats and Republicans welcomed Paulson's nomination. The White House has not yet announced plans for Paulson's swearing in.

The government announced Thursday the recovery of the stolen laptop computer containing sensitive data for up to 26.5 million veterans and military personnel. Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson said there have been no reports of identity theft since the May 3 burglary at the Maryland home of an agency employee. "There is reason to be optimistic," he told reporters just before the start of a series of hearings Congress has had on one of the worst breaches of information security. "It's a very positive note in this very tragic incident," Nicholson said.

The latest plans for the Freedom Tower – the skyscraper being built at ground zero to replace the World Trade Center – were released Wednesday in New York. The design by architect David Childs will include glass prisms, landscaped plazas and a lighted spire meant to resemble the Statue of Liberty's torch. The building will also have a 50-foot high lobby and 69 floors of office space. Construction for the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower, began this spring after a redesign more than a year ago to address concerns that it wasn't adequately protected from bomb trucks.

Members of Congress including Senate majority leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D) of New York signed the one-millionth postcard to President Bush urging him to support a stronger multinational force to protect the innocent civilians under attack in Darfur, Sudan. The senators signed the postcard at a US Capitol news conference, helping the Save Darfur Coalition. Since February 2003, a genocide sponsored by the Sudanese government and perpetrated by its Janjaweed militia allies has claimed at least 400,000 lives, and displaced 2.5 million people.

The number of gray whales born along the Pacific Coast has rebounded reaching record levels. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the number of calves that passed Point Piedras Blancas near San Luis Obispo, Calif., jumped from 945 last year to 1,018 calves in 2006. Less than 300 of the 3-month-old calves were spotted in 2000 and 2001. Federal biologists say the findings suggest that pregnant females are thriving despite a warming Arctic feeding environment.

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