USA

US Customs and Border Protec-tion screeners turned back 200,000 illegal immigrants and serious drug and weapons violators at border crossings and airports in 2006, while letting 20,000 violators elude detection, The Washington Post said Tuesday in summarizing a congressional review. Lack of training and staffing contributed to the failures cited by random government audits.

With California officials warning that the state's budget deficit could reach $10 billion next year, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) Monday called on all state departments to submit plans for 10 percent spending cuts, the Los Angeles Times said.

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, a Texas congressman with a libertarian bent and an out-of-Iraq pitch, raised $4.2 million Monday, more than any of his GOP rivals have raised in a single day. A Web-based promotion aided the surge.

The Air Force has grounded 700 aging F-15 fighter jets, except for "mission critical" uses, while it considers safety inspections for the entire fleet, according to The Washington Post. The flight ban is a response to last Friday's crash in Missouri of an F-15 that may have disintegrated in midair.

A sculpture of three New York City firefighters raising a US flag at the World Trade Center on 9/11 was dedicated Monday at the National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, Md. Above, Daniel Phelan, whose son was one of 343 firefighters killed in rescue efforts, stands before the memorial, which is titled "To Lift a Nation" and honors the nation's fallen firefighters.

Google Inc., the world's leading Internet company, said Monday that it has forged an alliance with 33 companies to begin using Google's "Android" software system in mobile-phone products by the latter half of next year.

Seattle further cemented its reputation Monday as a bicycling friendly city by approving a 10-year master plan to add 118 miles of new bike lanes, according to The Seattle Times. Currently, about 2.5 percent of commuters use bikes, a figure Mayor Greg Nickels hopes will triple with efforts to make it easier and safer to cycle in the city.

Defense contractor Brent Wilkes was found guilty Monday by a San Diego jury in one of the largest corruption scandals ever in Congress. Prosecutors accused Wilkes of bribing former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R) of California, who resigned in 2005 after pleading guilty to taking more than $2 million in bribes, some from Wilkes. Cunningham is serving an eight-year prison sentence. Sentencing for Wilkes is set for Jan. 28. Above, Wilkes (l.) leaves the courthouse with defense attorney Mark Geragos, who will appeal the verdict.

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