USA

At his confirmation hearing Tuesday to lead US forces in the Middle East, Adm. William Fallon told the Senate Armed Services Committee that stabilizing Iraq will require "new and different actions" and that the country "can be turned around, but time is short."

A $463.5 billion House spending bill is slated for a vote Wednesday. It would stick within President Bush's domestic budget parameters while boosting funding for community health centers, low-income college students, and AIDs prevention overseas. The bill would freeze most federal accounts at 2006 levels.

The Conference Board said Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index edged up to 110.3 in January from a revised 110.0 in December, an incremental change that suggests "moderate improvement" in economic growth in early 2007.

After a review of security options, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission concluded Monday that power plants should focus on improving evacuation plans and preventing radiation leaks rather than trying to crash-proof facilities from possible terrorist attacks using airliners. "Active protection," the NRC said, is a military responsibility.

A two-decade-long effort to permit the use of plastic waterpipes in California homes succeeded Monday, making the state the last to allow Chlorinated PolyVinyl Chloride (CPVC) piping to be used as an alternative to copper. Opponents had argued that plastic drinking-water lines were potential health hazards. The use of plastic is expected to cost several thousand dollars less in a typical home.

In an agreement with prosecutors, Princess Cruise Lines paid a $200,000 fine and $550,000 in restitution to the National Park Foundation Monday for failing to operate a ship safely near two humpback whales in Alaska's Glacier Bay in 2001. One of the whales was found dead of skull fractures.

The Center for the Intrepid, a privately funded $50 million rehabilitation facility designed for seriously injured soldiers, opened in San Antonio Monday. Some of those it will serve are among 500 soldiers who've lost limbs in Iraq, often from roadside bombings.

Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro was euthanized Monday after complications from a fractured leg, injured at last year's Preakness race in Baltimore. The act ended an eight-month ordeal that prompted an outpouring of support across the country.

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