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By Compiled from wire service reports by Robert Kilborn / February 20, 2008



Amtrak announced a new program of security measures to begin this week at stations along its heavily traveled Washington-Boston corridor. The program later will extend across the US, officials said. The passenger rail service will employ random screening of carry-on luggage, counterterrorism police armed with automatic weapons, and bomb-sniffing dogs on both platforms and trains. Above, Amtrak policeman Joe Zawacki and his dog conduct a mock sweep of an empty train at Washington's Union Station.

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The first attempt to shoot down an out-of-control spy satellite will be made Thursday from a Navy ship in the north Pacific Ocean, CNN reported. An Aegis cruiser will fire a surface-to-air missile at the satellite, whose tanks are full of toxic fuel that could disperse deadly fumes on reentry. A second attempt is planned if the first fails, defense officials said. Without intervention, the satellite likely would plummet to Earth at an unknown location early next month.

The headquarters of the US military's new regional command for Africa will remain in Stuttgart, Germany, a spokesman said Tuesday. Plans for the mission have been misunderstood by some African governments, and only Liberia has offered to base the headquarters on its soil. Plans call for Africom to build up the security and peacekeeping capabilities of African armed forces.

Boeing Co. reported orders for 60 new jetliners worth more than $5.4 billion as the annual Singapore Airshow opened Tuesday. The orders, all from Indonesian carriers Garuda and Lion Air, gave the aerospace giant an early lead over rival Airbus in the race for Asian customers. Airbus announced no orders Tuesday.

Oil refinery operator Alon USA pledged "appropriate arrangements" to keep customers supplied after an explosion at its Big Spring, Texas, facility Monday. An investigation into the cause will begin as soon as "reasonably possible," the company said. Four people injured in the blast were being treated at local hospitals.

Largely because of rising prices, the value of farm crops in the Dakotas reached record levels last year, the Agriculture Department reported. It said North Dakota produced $6.46 billion worth of durum wheat, corn, soybeans, and other commodities. South Dakota farms produced $5.29 billion worth.

Coupons worth $40 toward the cost of new converter boxes for analog TV sets are to go in the mail this week for millions of households, the government said. Recipients will have 90 days to use them to keep their old sets from becoming obsolete when digital-only broadcasting begins next February.

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