The merger of Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines was completed Wednesday shortly after federal regulators said that "credible efficiencies" stood to benefit consumers, not stifle competition. The company will keep the Delta name and its Atlanta headquarters, and will repaint Northwest planes over the next two years. The companies expect to cut $2 billion in annual expenses once they combine.

About 2.6 million people have already voted in Florida, another 1.6 million in North Carolina, and 1.4 million in Georgia as brisk early voting continued, according to statistics from election and party officials. More than 30 states allow any registered voter to cast an early ballot, some in person and others by mail.

A sudden rise in climate-warming methane emissions in 2007, after they'd largely remained stable over the last decade, perplexes and concerns scientists, according to an article published this week in Geophysical Research Letters. As a greenhouse gas, methane is considered 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide.

The government is contemplating using $50 billion from the financial bailout package to guarantee about $500 billion in mortgages, according to media reports Thursday. The plan is aimed at helping some 3 million homeowners avoid evictions.

Marc Keyser, the suspect in an an anthrax hoax, was arrested in Sacramento, Calif., the FBI reported Wednesday. The agency said that more than 120 envelopes with sugar packets labeled "anthrax" were mailed to media outlets, including some traced to Keyser's home.

Human fatalities from car crashes with deer and other animals have more than doubled over the last 15 years (to 223 in 2007), the Highway Loss Data Institute reports. The safety group cites urban sprawl as a contributing factor and indicates that the fall breeding season is a time motorists should slow down on rural roads.

After years of detective work, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts has decided to send the 1911 Ferdinand Leger painting "Smoke Over Rooftops," valued at $2.8 million, back to France, after research verified it was stolen from a French collector by the Nazis during World War II.

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