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By Compiled from wire service reports by Ross Atkin / January 10, 2008



Faced with a $14 billion budget gap over the next 18 months, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) of California (above at the podium) proposed a constitutional amendment during a State of the State address aimed at ending feast-and-famine California budgeting cycles. Under the proposal, automatic cuts would occur when the finances start falling into the red, but lawmakers would decide where to make them.

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Lawyers for former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega said Wednesday they'd appeal the latest setback to blocking his extradition to France to face money-laundering charges. They're concerned by a US district judge's ruling in Miami that the French will still respect Noriega's "prisoner of war" status. He has completed a US sentence on a 1992 drug racketeering and trafficking conviction.

Georgia officials who've been coping with drought conditions said Tuesday a special council had unanimously approved the state's first comprehensive water-management plan, which still needs legislative approval. The plan calls for establishing 12 districts to supervise the distribution of water from lakes, rivers, and aquifers over the next 50 years.

Hard-throwing relief pitcher Goose Gossage (above) was the only player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in this year's annual election, announced by the baseball writers' association Tuesday. Gossage, who played for five teams, including the Yankees, received 85.8 percent of the vote on his ninth year of eligibility, well above the 75 percent required for election. Red Sox slugger Jim Rice fell just short, with 72.2 percent of the votes cast.

The Air Force is expected to permanently ground about 180 older-model F-15 fighter jets because of structural flaws, the Los Angeles Times has reported. One of the planes broke apart during a simulated dogfight in November. Altogether, there are about 700 planes in the F-15 fleet, which is gradually being replenished. The jets are used for homeland security and combat missions.

General Motors Corp. plans to test driverless car technology by 2015 and have fully automated cars on the road by 2018, according to company R&D executive Larry Burns. The technology, which others in the industry are also pursuing, could reduce crashes and congestion via the use of motion sensors, lane-change warning devices, electronic stability control, and other advances.

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