USA

As of Sunday, the war in Iraq became the fourth-longest conflict in US history, surpassing World War II at three years and just over eight months. Its length is closing in on the Civil War (four years), but remains well behind the Vietnam War (eight years) and Revolutionary War (six years, nine months).

Los Angeles International Airport officials and airlines that use it said they will meet this week to resolve differences about landing and other fees that could be raised as much as 200 percent in some cases.

According to previously classified documents, Robert Gates, President Bush's nominee to succeed Donald Rumsfeld as Defense secretary, advocated US airstrikes against Nicaragua while serving as the No. 2 CIA official in 1984. The documents were released by the National Security Archive, a private research group. Democrats say they will question Gates about the matter during confirmation hearings.

Danvers, Mass., Fire Chief James Tutko said he believed investigators would know the cause of last Wednesday's massive chemical-plant explosion by the middle of this week. That there were no deaths or serious injuries from the blast, which leveled the plant in a residential area and was felt 10 miles away, was called a "Thanksgiving miracle," in a local headline.

NASA's attempts to make radio contact with its Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft have proved futile in recent days, causing the agency to conclude that the probe's mapping mission, which began in 1996 and has produced more than 240,000 images, was likely at an end.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has released information about a months-old request asking Ford Motor Co. to elaborate on its past, current, and future operations in Syria and Sudan. Both countries are under US economic sanctions or other controls for being state sponsors of terrorism. Ford says its operations in these countries are legal.

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