USA

In a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Wednesday in Kansas City, Mo., President Bush cited progress made in Asia since US involvement in past conflicts as a reminder to take the long view in Iraq. The "advance of freedom" in Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam, he said, "should give us confidence that the hard work we are doing in the Middle East can have the same results as we have seen in Asia."

California lawmakers ended a budget standoff Tuesday that dragged on more than seven weeks past the July 1 start of the fiscal year. The $145 billion plan eliminates a persistent deficit while freeing up billions of dollars in payments to a variety of social services.

A declassified government report, completed in 2005 but released Tuesday, concluded that the CIA failed to use its powers to develop a comprehensive plan to stop Al Qaeda and missed opportunities to thwart two hijackers in the run-up to the 9/11 attacks.

Teenagers said that what makes them happiest are friends and family, followed by God, pets, and pastimes, according to an extensive poll by the Associated Press and MTV. Only 1 percent put money at the top of their lists.

Former Gov. George Ryan (R) of Illinois moved a step closer to serving a 6-1/2-year prison sentence in a corruption scandal when a federal appellate court, turned down his request for a new trial.

Dubai World, Dubai's state-owned investment company, said Wednesday that it will pay $2.7 billion to buy a 50 percent stake in Las Vegas's 76-acre City Center development. The company tried unsuccessfully to become a major player in US port operations last year.

Modifications won't be made to NASA's space shuttles until the agency is satisfied that any change "is necessary, and, in fact, beneficial," the agency said after the Endeavour's safe landing at Cape Canaveral, Fla., Tuesday. On takeoff, a piece of ice or insulating foam left a small gash in one fuel tank, but it wasn't viewed as a safety risk.

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