USA

House Republicans defeated a bill to postpone the analog-to-digital television broadcasting switch-over Wednesday that the Senate approved earlier in the week. Democrats argued that moving the changeover deadline from Feb. 17 to June 12 was necessary to prevent many poorer and rural Americans from losing their TV signals.

The number of Americans continuing to claim unemployment benefits reached an all-time high of 4.78 million for the week ending Jan. 17, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The US Postal Service may have to cut the number of weekly delivery days from six to five, Postmaster General John Potter told Congress Wednesday. A cutback, he said, would help the USPS address massive deficits brought on by dwindling mail volume and rising costs.

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The Iraqi government will not renew the license of Blackwater, an American contractor, to provide security services in the country, the BBC reported. Blackwater has provided security for the US Embassy in Baghdad, but five of its former guards are on trial in the US for a 2007 incident in which

14 civilians were killed when the guards opened fire in what they say was self-defense.

The Army has ordered a recall of 16,000 sets of body armor as a precaution after an Army inspector raised questions about the effectiveness of bullet-blocking plates in the vests.

Over the objections of local fishermen, plans to allow fish farming off the Gulf Coast received tentative approval Wednesday from the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. The US Commerce Department still must rule on the matter. Fishermen complain that raising fish far offshore would pollute the ocean and drive them out of business.

Utility officials estimated 1.33 million homes and businesses across a swath of Midwestern and Southern states were without power Thursday as they dealt with the aftermath of an icy winter storm.

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