The National Weather Service forecasts that drought conditions that have contributed to extensive wildfires in Texas and Oklahoma will continue in 2006. In the north and central regions of Texas, where 73 blazes have been reported over two days, the annual rainfall in the Dallas-Fort Worth area is about 16 inches less than normal, while in Oklahoma annual rainfall is about 12 inches below average. Altogether, wildfires have charred nearly 20,000 acres in the two states, where more than 100 homes have been destroyed and at least five people were killed.

For the second time in 13 months, pilots for bankrupt Delta Air Lines Inc. accepted a double-digit pay cut, this time for 14 percent, which means average salaries will drop from $170,000 to about $146,000. The concession by the pilots' union was made to help Delta deal with a cash crunch.

The deportation of retired autoworker John Demjanjuk, a Nazi guard at various World War II death or forced-labor camps, was ordered by Chief US Immigration Judge Michael Creppy. The Cleveland resident has fought for nearly 30 years to stay in the US, but the judge dismissed his claim that he'd be tortured if returned to his native Ukraine. He has 30 days to appeal the ruling.

Sales of previously owned homes fell by 1.7 percent in November, the National Association of Realtors announced Thursday, but economists said the housing market is still on track to set a 12-month sales record for the fifth year in a row.

The long-awaited trial of the top two former Enron Corp. executives, founder Kenneth Lay and CEO Jeffrey Skilling, will be postponed by two weeks, to Jan. 30, to allow defense attorneys to regroup after third defendant, former Enron accountant Richard Causey, turned state's evidence. He pleaded guilty to securities fraud and agreed to pay $1.25 million to the government in return for a seven-year prison term that could be reduced to five years.

Rain-swollen rivers in northern California have reached their highest levels in seven years, with more storms expected through the New Year's weekend. Scattered power outages and evacuations are possible, but no severe damage is anticipated.

A Hawaiian group found in contempt of court said that the jailing of the group's leader would not force them to divulge where they've hidden a cache of native artifacts loaned from Honolulu's Bishop museum, the largest in the state.

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