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February 19, 2009



President Obama plans to reassure Canada, during a Thursday visit with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa, that he doesn't want to see trade between the US and its largest trading partner diminished. Obama has talked about renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, but says his focus is on better enforcement of labor and environmental provisions. The trip is Obama's first outside the US as president.

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Production at US factories fell 1.8 percent in January, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday. It marked the third straight month in which production was cut back.

Investigators of the Continental airline crash near Buffalo that killed 50 people last week said Tuesday they are looking into the quality and quantity of training pilot Marvin Renslow received. According to records, Renslow had 3,000 hours of flying experience, but only 110 hours flying the type of turboprop that went wildly out of control during Flight 3407.

Researchers in Los Angeles who've studied a huge cache of Ice Age fossil deposits unearthed in 2006 near the La Brea Tar Pits presented their findings Wednesday. They include a nearly intact mammoth skeleton, plus the remains of bison, sloths, and other mammals. Plans to build an underground parking garage for the Page Museum at the site have expedited the excavation.

McDonald's Corp. said Wednesday it plans to open about 500 new stores in China, one of its fastest-growing markets, during the next three years. The fast-food chain's global sales have been rising as the sinking world economy increases demand for low-price meals.

The Agriculture Department is prepared to write new food-labeling rules for fresh meats and produce if the industry doesn't voluntarily adopt stricter guidelines, according to consumer groups briefed Tuesday by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Two prominent Ohio Democrats threw their hats into the ring Tuesday to replace US Sen. George Voinovich, who will retire when his term expires in 2010. Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, who has overseen the state's elections, and Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher will battle for the party's nomination. Rob Portman, who served as budget director under President George W. Bush, is the only GOP candidate so far.

Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based Arabic television news network that has struggled to gain a foothold in North America, said Tuesday it is starting a new public relations campaign to dispel misperceptions that it supports Al Qaeda and has an anti-Western agenda.

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