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By Compiled from wire service reports by Robert Kilborn / January 21, 2009



An estimated 20,000 people were expected to attend welcome home celebrations in Midland, Texas, late Tuesday for former President and Laura Bush on their arrival from Washington. The city was to be the first stop on the couple's return to private life, although they planned to continue on to their 1,600-acre ranch in Crawford, Texas. They also have bought a house in suburban Dallas, where the former president will maintain an office.

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In one of his final official acts, Bush commuted the prison sentences of two border patrol agents who were convicted of shooting an unarmed Mexican drug smuggler. José Compean was sentenced to 12 years and Ignacio Ramos to 11 years for the 2006 incident, which drew an outcry from supporters on grounds that they'd only been doing their jobs. The agents are due to leave prison March 20 after serving 26 months each.

With the sale of contracts for delivery next month expiring, crude oil prices were rebounding in Tuesday's trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The per-barrel price appeared likely to close at or near $38, or about 3 percent higher than Monday's rate. Analysts said, however, that they expected March contracts to resume the "downward arc" in pricing, barring an unforeseen increase in demand.

Food-marketing giant General Mills and three major supermarket chains became the latest to announce a withdrawal of items containing peanut butter amid growing concern over a salmonella outbreak that so far has affected 43 states. Kroger Co. is the nation's largest grocery chain. Meijer Inc. operates 181 stores in five states, mainly in the Midwest. Wegman's is a 72-store chain in the mid-Atlantic states. The outbreak has been traced to a plant in Georgia operated by Peanut Corp. of America. Six people have died from eating the tainted peanut butter.

The New York Times planned to use $250 million in new financing to service its debt, it said in a statement Monday. The infusion, from companies controlled by Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, makes him the third-largest investor in the newspaper. Analysts said the arrangement also could provide synergies with his vast telecommunications holdings in Latin America. But he would have neither representation on the Times's board of directors nor any special voting rights.

Rex Ryan, coordinator of the rock-ribbed defense of the Baltimore Ravens, was named head coach of the New York Jets of the National Football League. Ryan, the son of former NFL head coach Buddy Ryan, succeeds Eric Mangini, whom the Jets fired late last month.

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