USA

Rather than impose a curfew, New Orleans officials introduced early-morning checkpoints Wednesday aimed at curbing a crime wave. Nine people have been killed since 2007 began. The plan calls for checkpoints between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., when about a third of the city's violent crimes occur.

While confirming that a US airstrike occurred this week against suspected Al Qaeda terrorists in Somalia, the Pentagon said it would release no further information until details are confirmed, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. The strike may have killed as many as 10 alleged terrorists, according to media accounts.

US Airways Group Inc. raised its offer for Delta Air Lines Inc. by almost 20 percent to $10.4 billion on Wednesday, as it seeks to put pressure on the bankrupt carrier's creditors to agree to a deal that Delta's management opposes. It also set a Feb. 1 deadline for certain conditions to be met or its entire bid would be revoked.

Trends at this week's North American International Auto Show in Detroit include more roof glass, big chrome grilles, low hood lines, and house-like interior lighting. Chevrolet has also drawn attention with its in-development, battery-powered Volt.

United Airlines could begin flying nonstop between Washington and Beijing as early as March 25 after the carrier received tentative approval Tuesday to offer 14-hour, capital-to-capital service. The Department of Transportation selected United over several rivals that were offering nonstop routes from Detroit, Dallas/Fort Worth, or Newark, N.J. More people travel to China from the Washington metro area than any other city.

Jim Gilmore, the former, tax-slashing, one-term governor of Virginia, became the sixth Republican to take the initial steps to join the growing GOP presidential field when he filed papers Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission. Gilmore said he wants to give the party a truly conservative candidate.

An annual income of nearly $85,000 is needed to afford the median-priced US home, which sold for $248,000 in the third quarter of 2006, according to a study released Wednesday by the nonprofit Center for Housing Policy. The study assumed home buyers needed a 10 percent down payment and could afford to pay 28 percent of their income on mortgage payments, property taxes, and insurance.

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