US productivity, the amount of output per work hour, rose at a stronger-than-expected annual rate of 1.8 percent in the fourth quarter, the Labor Department reported Wednesday. For the year, productivity rose by 1.6 percent, a slight rebound from a 1 percent gain in 2006.

Although NASA has cleared the shuttle Atlantis for a launch Thursday from Cape Canaveral, Fla., rainy weather could further delay its mission, which was twice scrubbed in December because of mechanical problems. Once liftoff occurs, the shuttle will deliver European Space Agency's $2 billion Columbus space lab to the International Space Station.

In budget-related testimony prepared for Congress Wednesday, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said "the pace of ongoing operations has prevented our forces from fully training for the full spectrum of operations."

The White House on Wednesday defended the use of the interrogation technique known as waterboarding, saying it is legal – not torture as critics argue – and has saved American lives. President Bush would authorize waterboarding for future terrorism suspects if certain criteria are met, a spokesman said. A day earlier, the Bush administration acknowledged publicly for the first time that the tactic was used by US government questioners on three terror suspects.

Guillermo Ramos, a realtor in the Dallas suburb of Farmers Branch, filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to block the town's latest effort at anti-immigrant legislation. The suit alleges that the city council violated a state open-meetings act by approving, behind closed doors, an ordinance requiring prospective tenants to get a license to rent houses and apartments.

US wind-power generating capacity rose by 45 percent in 2007 during a third straight year of record growth, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

Intel Corp. has built the first chip packed with 2 billion transistors, surpassing the 1.7 billion used in another of its "quad core" chips, the Santa Clara, Calif., company announced at a Bay Area high-tech conference this week. The product doubles the processing power of a line of supercomputer chips.

A Manhattan crowd estimated at nearly a million people cheered the New York Giants, football's newly crowned Super Bowl champions, during a ticker-tape victory parade (below) up Broadway Tuesday. It was the first such parade since 2000, after the Yankees beat the Mets in a "subway" World Series.

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