USA

Noting that America loves an underdog, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Sunday that he has formed an exploratory committee in a bid for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. Huckabee, like former President Clinton, comes from Hope, Ark.

The US Army Criminal Investigation Command confirmed Saturday that it has opened up 50 probes into millions of dollars of fraud allegations involving contractors engaged in troop-support activities in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait.

The White House is expected to notify Congress Monday that Israel fired US-made cluster bombs into Lebanon last summer in possible violation of a US-Israeli agreement, The New York Times reported Sunday. The munitions weren't to be used in populated areas, but some Pentagon and State Department officials say Israel was only defending itself against rocket attacks by Hizbullah guerrillas, who used civilians as shields.

Six civil rights activists from the 1960s group the Freedom Riders on Saturday retraced their 1961 Alabama bus trip from Montgomery to Birmingham. When they first took the journey, they defied segregation on interstate buses in the South, and eventually were joined by about 400 other black and white college students in various protests in Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia.

Freightliner LLC, North America's leading medium- and heavy-duty truck manufacturer, will lay off about 1,200 workers at its Cleveland, N.C., plant beginning April 1, it said late last week. The company is cutting back, it said, because expensive new exhaust technology, required on diesel trucks since Jan. 1, has hurt sales.

Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, who toured Philadelphia and Independence Hall Saturday, were scheduled to receive an environmental award in New York Sunday after making several stops in Harlem.

Kimmie Meissner, the reigning women's world figure skating champion, secured the missing link in her résumé Saturday in Spokane, Wash., by winning her first national title. Although she didn't skate especially well in the final free-skate portion of the competition, Meissner edged Emily Hughes, the younger sister of the 2002 Olympic champion, whose fall on a jump cost her dearly. Evan Lysacek, a two-time world bronze medalist, captured his first men's title.

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