USA

Despite a drop in energy prices, the Consumer Price Index rose 0.2 percent in January, or half as fast as in December, the Labor Department reported Wednesday. Food prices shot up 0.7 percent, led by dairy products, fruits, and vegetables.

Fannie Mae, the government-sponsored mortgage lender, will withhold $44.4 million in executive bonuses because of under performance, the company said Tuesday. Federal regulators, who are monitoring its efforts to emerge from a multibillion- dollar accounting scandal, endorsed the move.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) of California said he would appeal a state judge's ruling Tuesday that blocked his attempt to relieve prison overcrowding by sending 5,000 inmates to out-of-state prisons. The court sided with guards who challenged the governor's authority to declare a prison state of emergency to justify the transfers.

Michigan, Illinois, and six Northeast states sued the Bush administration Tuesday over mercury-pollution regulations at cement plants. They said Environmental Protection Agency emission standards should apply to plants built before 2006 as well as to new plants.

US healthcare spending is expected to double over the next 10 years, to $4.1 trillion by 2016, according to projections released Wednesday by National Health Statistics Group economists. Greater spending on prescription drugs by newly Medicare-eligible baby boomers could fuel the anticipated jump.

Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, who delivered a policy speech on Cuba to business groups Wednesday, said in an Associated Press interview that "it isn't time" to ease the 45-year-old embargo against the communist nation. Some in Congress and the business community have called for a softened stance in anticipation of a post-Fidel Castro era.

Border patrol agents said Tuesday they'd discovered 40 Brazilian immigrants in the back of a sweltering truck at a Falfurrias, Texas, checkpoint Feb. 17. No injuries were reported. The driver was charged with smuggling. The episode is similar to one involving 19 deaths in which the driver received a life prison sentence last month.

About 800 immigrants and refugees descended on the Washington State Capitol in Olympia Tuesday for the first Refugee and Immigrant Legislative Day. Many marchers with experience living under dictators were reluctant to urge lawmakers to increase funding for English programs and job-training, according to The Seattle Times.

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