The US, along with the 25-nation European Union, filed a trade complaint Thursday against China with the World Trade Organization, the Bush administration said. The complaint alleges that China has violated promises made upon joining the WTO in 2001 by imposing high taxes on imported auto parts. The two sides have 90 days to work things out.

The largest clinical study ever conducted on third-party or "intercessory" prayer for hospitalized patients has concluded that it produced no beneficial effect, according to a paper published in the April issue of the American Heart Journal. The study counted complications after heart surgery encountered by 1,802 patients, a portion of whom were specifically prayed for at a distance. But the authors cautioned that it may be "impossible to disentangle the effects" of the prayer in the study from prayer outside the study by family and friends of any of the patients.

Based on gross domestic product, the US economy grew at a 1.7 percent annual rate in the final quarter of 2005, or slightly more than economists expected but still the worst performance in three years, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Forecasts call for a 4.5 percent growth pace during the current quarter, followed by a drop to 3.4 percent during the next.

The high court of Massachusetts, the first state to legalize gay marriage, ruled Thursday that nonresident, same-sex couples from states where gay marriage is banned cannot marry in the Bay State unless they intend to relocate there.

Major League Baseball announced it has hired former Senate majority leader George Mitchell to head up an investigation of alleged steroid use by Barry Bonds and other players. The probe follows the release of a book by two San Francisco Chronicle reporters that examines steroid use in the sport.

Attorneys for three Alabama college students, jailed since March 8 in connection with a series of rural church fires, said they anticipate discussions with prosecutors that could lead to guilty pleas. The students were indicted Wednesday on conspiracy and arson charges.

The Texas Transportation Commission said a Spanish-led group contracted to build a toll road in the state has submitted a proposal to add a 600-mile freight line from Dallas/Fort Worth to the Mexico border.

Hawaii health officials posted warning signs on mostly empty Waikiki beaches in Honolulu after ocean currents carried millions of gallons of raw sewage onto Oahu's world-famous sands. The sewage was released late last week from a broken, since-repaired sewer line.

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