The White House said Thursday that President Bush is open to compromise with lawmakers over the controversial shipping terminal deal that he supports, but he won't retreat from vetoing legislation intended to block DP World, a Dubai-owned company, from holding leases or contracts at a half-dozen US ports. Senate Democrats, meanwhile, demanded a vote on the deal a day after a Republican-run House committee voted 62-2 to bar the transaction in an election-year repudiation of Bush.

National Football League owners and players aggred to a six-year extension to the collective bargaining agreement. Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said up to $900 million will be added to player salaries over the life of the deal.

Crews plugged a hole in a corroded pipe and recovered nearly 60,000 gallons of crude oil spilled in Alaska's North Slope, the region that contains most of the state's reserves. The leak was discovered last week in the Prudhoe Bay field, about 650 miles north of Anchorage.

An eight-year decline in cigarette smoking by Americans continued in 2005, as sales hit their lowest level in 55 years, according to federal tobacco tax figures. The National Association of Attorneys General linked last year's 4.2 percent drop to marketing restrictions.

Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) of Arizona ordered an unspecified number of National Guardsmen to help monitor border crossing points but emphasized that the state is "not at war with Mexico." The governor has been under pressure from the Republican-led Legislature to tighten security at the nation's busiest entry point for illegal immigrants.

A standing-room-only crowd of 17,000 at the rebuilt New Orleans Arena welcomed the return of pro sports to the city Wednesday for the first time since hurricane Katrina struck last August. The NBA's New Orleans Hornets, who've played mostly in Oklahoma City, lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in a game attended by Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco.

After a shocking 8-6 loss to Canada Wednesday in the World Baseball Classic, the US team must win Friday night against South Africa to advance to the second round of the inaugural 16nation competition. Fans at Chase Field in Phoenix booed when the US fell behind 8-0.

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