USA

The US trade deficit fell to $58.9 billion in October, an 8 percent drop that is the largest one-month decline in five years, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. Plunging crude oil prices helped trim the overall imbalance, but the deficit with China rose 6.1 percent to an all-time high of $24.4 billion as American merchants stocked their shelves with Chinese-made toys, TVs, and other items popular with holiday shoppers.

The Environmental Protection Agency gave California the go-ahead Monday to implement strict emission controls on lawn mowers and other small engines starting Jan. 1. Permission had been held up by a political dispute with Sen. Kit Bond (R) of Missouri, where Briggs & Stratton Corp., the nation's largest small-engine maker, is located. Engines under 50 horsepower account for 7 percent of smog emissions in California, or about as much as 3 million cars.

US Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D) of Ohio, who ran for president in 2004, said Tuesday that he'd try again in 2008. The six-term liberal congressman strongly opposes the war in Iraq.

Mayor Richard Daley (D) of Chicago announced that he'll run for a sixth term. If re-elected next Feb. 27 – and if he completes his term – he'd overtake his late father, Richard J. Daley, who was in office 21 years, as the city's longestserving mayor.

Astronauts on the shuttle Discovery were scheduled to make the first of three spacewalks Tuesday to work on enlarging the International Space Station's girder-like backbone. Besides adding the sixth of 11 segments to the structure during a 12-day mission, its crew will rewire the station to accommodate more solar power arrays.

A computer hacker gained access to the names and certain personal information of about 800,000 University of California, Los Angeles students, faculty, staff, and alumni, according to school officials, who put out an identity-theft alert Tuesday. There is no evidence, however, that the data have been misused in one of the largest such tampering cases at a US university.

The Justice Department on Tuesday eased its tough legal tactics against scandal-tainted corporations, requiring prosecutors to get approval from Washington before seeking confidential information between firms and their lawyers.

Thousands of teachers and state workers took to the streets in Trenton, N.J., Monday to protest proposed changes to public-employee benefits. State lawmakers are considering the changes as a means of reducing the nation's highest property taxes.

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