The White House was expected to request about $80 billion in additional funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, administration and congressional officials said. Congress approved $25 billion for the same purpose last summer. President Bush won't send the war-finance package to Congress until he unveils his full 2006 budget on Feb. 7, congressional aides said.

Responding to a controversy over a Washington Post report that new spy teams were being created to carry out clandestine missions, Pentagon officials said Monday that arrangements had been worked out in close coordination with the CIA and that the appropriate congressional committees had been fully informed.

A federal judge in Hartford, Conn., postponed what would have been New England's first scheduled execution in almost 45 years. The indefinite delay Monday occurred after a psychiatrist testified that Michael Ross may not have been competent in deciding to end his appeal of the death sentence. Ross, who murdered four young women in the state in the 1980s, has said he wants his execution to give closure to his victims' families. The public defender's office and others have continued to argue his appeal without his permission.

The Howard Hughes epic "The Aviator" led Academy Awards contenders with 11 nominations - among them best picture - followed by "Million Dollar Baby" and "Finding Neverland," with seven nominations each.

Sales of previously owned homes rose 9.4 percent to an all-time high of 6.68 million units last year as buyers continued to enjoy some of the lowest mortgage rates in decades, the National Association of Realtors reported.

Previously undetected erosion has contributed to a drop of 8 to 13 inches in the levels of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan during the past three decades, according to results of a new study commissioned by a citizens' group. Researchers discovered that erosion has worn down a decades-old, dredged St. Clair River channel that increases the flow toward Lake Erie. The river forms part of the boundary between the US and Canada.

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