Despite troubles in the housing and credit markets, the economy demonstrated its resilience by growing at a brisk 3.9 percent pace over the summer, its best performance in 1-1/2 years, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.

California officials said they were considering what actions to take against a boy who admitted to accidentally starting a 38,000-acre wildfire last week while playing with matches.

Former White House adviser Karen Hughes, who was put in charge of improving the US image overseas as the State Department's public diplomacy chief, resigned Wednesday.

NASA's scheduled spacewalks Thursday and Saturday have taken on new urgency as the crew of the Discovery shuttle tries to address two power problems at the International Space Station: one with a malfunctioning rotary joint used to orient the station's solar panels toward the sun and the other with a rip in a giant solar wing.

A magnitude-5.6 earthquake, the strongest to hit the San Francisco Bay area since the devastating 7.1-quake in 1989, was felt as much as 90 miles away from its epicenter northeast of San Jose, but no injuries or casualties were immediately reported.

The town of Middlebury, Vt., has approved a policy proposed by its police chief aimed at fostering cooperation between the police and the area's growing number of immigrant farmworkers. The police will only check the immigrant status of persons suspecting of committing a crime. Immigrants, therefore, needn't worry that calling the police or fire departments will lead to sharing personal information that could lead to their deportation.

The Senate approved legislation to provide Amtrak, which has never made money, with $11.4 billion over six years in order to provide a stable subsidy and facilitate operational improvements. If the House approves, President Bush still might block the plan.

Seeking profitability, car-sharing rental car rivals Zipcar and Flexcar said Wednesday that they will merge.

Broadway star Robert Goulet, who died Tuesday in Los Angeles, was labeled the "American baritone from Canada." Born in Massachusetts, he grew up in Canada. His career took off after portraying Sir Lancelot in the musical "Camelot" in 1960.

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