Ford Motor Co. said its struggle to boost profits and remain competitive against foreign auto-makers will force it to temporarily shut down eight US assembly plants and produce 9 percent fewer vehicles this year than last. The decision, which chairman and chief executive Bill Ford says is "the right call for our customers, our dealers, and our long-term future," means trimming fourth-quarter production by 21 percent, or 168,000 units.

The Army has begun a 6-to-10-year project to destroy 6,200 tons of mustard gas stored at the Deseret Chemical Depot in Utah. The undertaking is complicated by the presence of toxic mercury that requires special filtering, a depot spokesman said. In accord with an international agreement, the US government has been destroying its chemical weapons since 1996.

Although its $1 billion bid to buy a rival was unsolicited,

Pilgrim's Pride Corp., the country's second-largest poultry producer, said it is looking forward to quickly closing a deal with Gold Kist, the third-largest processor.

Sprinter Marion Jones, a five-time Olympic medalist, has tested positive for EPO, a banned performance-enhancing drug, according to a report by the Associated Press. If a second test of a sample taken at June's US track and field championships also produces a positive result, Jones could face a two-year ban from the sport. She's long been dogged by doping suspicions.

An Associated Press investigation released Sunday indicates that more than 80 military recruiters were disciplined last year for sexual misconduct with potential enlistess, including rape and groping. Most recruiters found guilty of misconduct were reduced in rank or forfeited pay.

K-through-12 educational funding is the biggest beneficiary of $57 billion in unexpected state budget surpluses, according to The Washington Post, with 24 states electing to funnel most of their windfall into public schools. A report released last week by the National Conference of State Legislators indicated that the money was available because of inaccurate 18-month revenue projections. A majority of states saved 10 percent of their budgets, with many earmarking the money to bolster reserve and rainy-day funds.

Alaska officials closed the main highway and rail line between Anchorage and Fairbanks over the weekend after heavy rains led to flooding and mudslides between the state's two largest cities. Traffic was diverted about 75 miles.

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