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The US trade deficit shrank 4 percent to $39.9 billion in December, the smallest it's been since February 2003, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Both imports and exports fell for the fifth straight month.

Rep. John Dingell (D) of Michigan became the longest-serving member of the House ever Tuesday during his 19,420th day on the Hill. Dingell, who succeeded his late father in 1955, moved ahead of the late Jamie Whitten (D) of Mississippi. Whitten served more than 53 years.

More than a quarter of 1,796 full-power TV stations will cease analog broadcasting on Feb. 17, despite Congress's decision last week to delay the deadline for transitioning to digital technology until June 12, the Federal Communications Commission said Tuesday.

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The Peanut Corp. of America, which is the focus of an investigation into a national salmonella outbreak, Tuesday closed a second plant, this one in Plainview, Texas, at the request of health officials. Although products at the facility have not yet proven to be contaminated like those tainted in Blakely, Ga., distribution has been halted.

Minnesota judges involved in sorting out the state's still unresolved November US Senate race between incumbent Norm Coleman (R) and challenger Al Franken (D) Tuesday ordered a count of 23 rejected absentee ballots. The decision could lead to considering 4,700 other previously rejected votes.

Intel plans to build new plants in Oregon, Arizona, and New Mexico that will create 7,000 jobs and increase production of faster computer chips, it said Tuesday. The announcement helps offset January's decision to close five plants.

A tornado roared through the small southern Oklahoma town of Lone Grove on Wednesday, killing eight people and injuring dozens of others.

California taxpayers could wind up paying many of millions of dollars of medical bills for Nadya Suleman's newborn octuplets, the Los Angeles Times has reported.

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