USA

America's record trade deficit rose 2.7 percent in August to $69.9 billion, with oil imports overtaking solid export gains, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The deficit with China shot up 12.2 percent and is running 13.5 percent above last year.

The Federal Communications Commission will take up consideration Friday of a $78.5 billion merger between AT&T Inc. and BellSouth Corp. The review, the final hurdle in the approval process, was delayed one day for undisclosed reasons following Tuesday's approval by the Justice Department. FCC commissioners have questioned the deal's impact on consumers.

Unrest at Gallaudet University in Washington escalated Thursday when the deaf school's football team joined student demonstrators and blocked the campus gates. Campus tensions have run high since May, when protesters first objected to the choice of provost Jane Fernandes to succeed longtime president I. King Jordan, who will step down in January. Faculty leaders have urged her to resign, claiming the selection process was unfair and that she lacks the needed leadership skills.

California native Adam Yedihe Gadahn became the first American charged with treason in more than 50 years Wednesday, when the Justice Department accused him of joining Al Qaeda and appearing in propaganda videos. Gadahn has been sought by the FBI since 2004 and is thought to be somewhere in or near Pakistan. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Dhiran Barot, a British citizen, pleaded guilty in London Thursday to conspiring to bomb several financial buidlings in the US, including the New York Stock Exchange and the World Bank headquarters in Washington. Prosecutors said the plot was to be coordinated with attacks planned in Britain.

Energy giant BP PLC said Wednesday it would restore power and phase in production to its Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, oil field, America's largest, as quickly as possible. Output shrank from 350,000 barrels a day to 35,000 when windblown dirt shorted out high-voltage insulators for three days. Although BP blamed the outage on a "highly unusual weather event," some observers question the company's maintenance record. BP has had to deal with two oil leaks in Alaska this year.

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