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Ford Motor Co. posted a company record $12.7 billion deficit during 2006, which amounts to a loss of $4,380 on each car or truck sold, it said Thursday. The previous record deficit was $7.39 billion in 1992. Ford said it expects more losses in 2007 as the company continues its aggressive restructuring efforts.

The sale of existing homes fell 8.4 percent last year, the biggest annual decline in 17 years, the National Association of Realtors reported Thurday. Even so, the median sales price for these homes rose by a modest 1.1 percent to $222,000.

The number of newly laid-off workers filing for unemployment benefits last week shot up to a 16-month high of 325,000, an increase of 36,000 from the previous week, the Labor Department said Thursday.

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Sen. John Kerry (D) of Massachusetts, his party's presidential nominee in 2004, said Wednesday that he would not seek a 2008 presidential nod. Instead, he said he would concentrate "as part of the majority in the Senate to do all I can" to end the war in Iraq.

The combat tour of 3,200 US troops in Afghanistan will be extended for four months, the Pentagon said Wednesday. The decision comes as military leaders express concerns about replacement unit readiness.

James Seale, a former sheriff's deputy and reputed member of the Ku Klux Klan, was charged Wednesday in connection with the brutal murder of two black, teenage civil rights workers in Mississippi in 1964.

Angered that no mention of New Orleans was made in this week's State of the Union address, Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D) of Louisiana sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Wednesday, calling for an investigation of White House efforts to rebuild the devastated city.

Construction of a new vehicle barrier, including concrete-filled vertical tubes to deter illegal crossings of the Arizona-Mexico border, began Wednesday.

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