American International Group, Inc., one of the world's largest insurers, agreed Thursday to pay more than $1.6 billion in a civil suit brought last May by the office of New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. The suit alleged that AIG had used deceptive accounting practices to mislead regulators and investors.

All seven Los Angeles county jails were placed on lockdown after racially motivated fights among black and Hispanic inmates continued to challenge the prison system. Officials made the decision after a series of fights involving 300 inmates broke out at a medium-security facility in Castaic, about 40 miles northwest of downtown L.A. Three inmates were injured in the latest of five recent brawls.

Computer engineer Neil Entwistle was arrested in London Thursday in a high-profile transatlantic murder case. He was charged with the shooting deaths of his wife and infant daughter at their home in Hopkinton, Mass., on Jan. 22.

Entwistle flew home to visit his English parents around the time of the murders.

First lady Laura Bush, who heads the US delegation to the Winter Olympics, which begin Friday in Turin, Italy, paid brief visits en route Thursday to Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican and Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi in Rome.

With more hot, dry weather predicted, a red flag warning indicating extreme fire danger will be extended at least until Saturday in southern California, officials said. About 8,300 acres in Orange County have burned, but 35 percent of the blaze was contained after winds subsided at midweek.

Nine Baptist church fires in rural Alabama during the past week appear to be linked, Gov. Bob Riley (R) said Wednesday, although they weren't racially motivated. Four of the churches have black congregations, five have white congregations. Kicked-in doors and fires set near the altar are common findings at each scene. Arson investigators are exploring reports of two men seen driving away from the fires at some locations.

The Irish rock band U2 took home top honors in all five categories in which it was nominated at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, including for album of the year and song of the year. Pop vocalist Kelly Clarkson, who launched her career on the highly rated TV series "American Idol," won two Grammys.

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