California wildfires, which once numbered 2,000 in the past month, are down to 33, according to state officials, who cautioned that fire danger remains high in some rural areas. Meanwhile, the Union Pacific Railroad Co. agreed to pay $102 million for damages that occurred from a fire in 2000 sparked by a company welder who was repairing track.

Nineteen miles of the Mississippi River at New Orleans were closed Wednesday by the Coast Guard after a tugboat pushing a barge crashed into a tanker carrying biodiesel and styrene. A Coast Guard officer said more than 400,000 gallons of fuel spilled.

Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs and four of his followers were indicted Tuesday in Eldorado, Texas, on charges of felony sexual assault of a child. Jeffs has already been convicted in Utah as an accomplice to rape and is awaiting trial in Arizona on other underage marriage charges.

Los Angeles will ban plastic shopping bags from stores, beginning July 1, 2010, unless California legislators pass a similar bill that supersedes the one the Los Angeles City Council approved Tuesday. Shoppers can buy paper or biodegradable bags for 25 cents.

New York will provide language assistance to non-English language speakers by requiring all city agencies to deal in the six most common foreign languages spoken: Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Korean, Italian, and French Creole. Many services have been available for years in foreign languages, but Tuesday's announcement raises the bar.

Choosing whether to become an organ donor is a decision all licensed New Jersey drivers will be required to make, starting in 2013, according to a new first-in-the-nation law passed Tuesday. The law also makes organ donation education in high schools mandatory.

The Hanford nuclear reactor in Yakima, Wash., which produced plutonium for the first man-made nuclear blast in 1945, could become a national historic landmark if the Interior Department agrees with Tuesday's National Park Service recommendation.

Although blacks constitute 17 percent of the US military, just 9 percent are officers and only one among 38 four-star generals or admirals is black, according to data compiled by the Associated Press 60 years after desegregation of the armed forces.

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