USA

The Chrysler Group, the US manufacturing division of DaimlerChrysler, announced Wednesday plans for Chinese auto firm Chery to build cars for export under the Chrysler name. The fast-growing Chinese company could have a new Dodge hatchback ready for the US market in 2-1/2 years. Meanwhile, General Motors opened a new engine plant in southern China. The news came as Detroit's Big Three saw their US sales decline in June as Japanese automakers experienced double-digit increases.

In the aftermath of Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit with President Bush in Kennebunkport, Maine, the US and Russia agreed Tuesday to trim their nuclear arsenals to "the lowest possible level." The announcement starts talks on how to ensure "continuity" after a key arms-reduction treaty expires in 2009.

Alaska opened the applications process to build a natural-gas pipeline Tuesday capable of delivering trillions of cubic feet of reserves to the market. Companies have until Oct. 1 to submit plans laying out potential routes and ways for avoiding cost overruns for the multibillion-dollar project.

In a deal valued at $26 billion, including debt, Hilton Hotels Corp. agreed Tuesday to a buyout by the private-equity Blackstone Group LP. The buyers have grown the La Quinta chain by roughly 45 percent since buying it last year and said they intend to invest heavily in Hilton.

For the first time in more than 200 years, New York opened an industrial pier in Brooklyn for recreational use Tuesday. The centerpiece of the development is a swimming pool located on a floating barge docked at a makeshift beach.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) of California returned Mary Nichols, the first person to lead the state's Air Resources Board, to the post Tuesday. The move could quell criticism of the governor, who forced out the previous chairman and has denied he is micromanaging the air board, which oversees the implementation of the nation's first law limiting greenhouse-gas emissions.

Minnesota and Arizona adopted new laws favoring domestically made American flags over imported ones. The Minnesota law, which goes into effect at the end of the year, makes it a punishable misdemeanor to sell imported US flags in state stores. In Arizona, every public school, from junior high to college, must use US-made American flags.

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