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President Bush will request a record $4.77 billion in 2004 for the nutrition program for women, infants, and children, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said. That's up from $4.75 billion this year, for the federal program's estimated 7.8 million participants. The increase would include funding for efforts to encourage breastfeeding by new mothers and to combat child obesity, Veneman said. The Bush administration is due to submit its budget to Congress early next month.

A letter addressed to a Federal Reserve official has tested positive for anthrax and is being evaluated by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, a spokesman for the central bank said. A facility that sorts mail for the federal government also is undergoing precautionary tests, although a Postal Service official cautioned that it was still too early in the process to conclude anything. Five people, two of them postal workers, died and 23 others fell ill in a series of anthrax-related incidents in the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

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A 20-year copyright extension on books, movies, and the cartoon character Mickey Mouse is constitutional, the Supreme Court ruled. The 7-2 decision was a blow to Internet publishers and others who challenged the 1998 law, and a victory for entertainment companies such as Walt Disney and AOL Time Warner. At stake were millions in royalties for the hundreds of thousands of films, songs, and cartoon characters that were set to lapse into public domain.

Testimony went into a second day at a hearing on a possible court martial for two US military pilots who mistakenly bombed a unit of Canadian peacekeepers, killing four during training exercises in Afghan-istan. The Illinois National Guard pilots have said they believed they were under enemy fire. But speaking Tuesday before the military panel at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., a Canadian Army captain denied his men were firing into the air.

Wholesale prices were largely unchanged in December according to the Labor Department's Producer Price Index, which measures the earnings of factories, farmers, and other producers. The flat reading indicates that inflation remains under control, economists said. Many had expected a jump of up to 0.3 percent.

A seven-member crew that includes the first Israeli astronaut heads into space with today's scheduled launch of the shuttle Columbia from Florida's Kennedy Space Center. (Below, payload specialist Ilan Ramon peers from an armored personnel carrier during a test last month of emergency evacuation procedures.) There are no plans for the shuttle to link up with the International Space Station, where two US crew members conducted a 6-1/2--hour spacewalk Wednesday.


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