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Mitt Romney, the former Republican governor ofMassachusetts, officially announced his 2008 presidential run Tuesday in Michigan, where he was born and his father, George, was a three-term governor. Speaking at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, the former venture capitalist said it's time for "innovation and transformation in Washington."

For the fifth consecutive year, the US trade deficit set a record in 2006, with a $763.6 billion gap between imports and what is sold abroad, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. Major factors contributing to the deficit are a trade imbalance with China and American dependence on foreign oil.

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The House began debating on Tuesday a nonbinding measure,similar to one hung up in the Senate, that would register its support of soldiers serving in Iraq but voice disapproval of President Bush's decision to send an additional 21,500 troops there.

To bolster security of a Puget Sound Naval base, as many as 30 trained dolphins and sea lions could be used to detect and help apprehend terrorist swimmers and scuba divers, the Navy said Monday. This is the preferred option, a spokesman said, for protecting the Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor near Seattle, which is home to submarines, ships, and labs.

In Arkansas, a leading cotton-growing state, a decade-long effort to rid fields of the boll weevil has succeeded in eradicating 99 percent of the pesty insect population, a state agricultural official said Monday. Cotton yields have risen from 645 to about 1,100 pounds per acre during this period. The US Department of Agriculture says about 87 percent of the nation's cotton acreage is now weevil-free.

Amanda Marcotte, a chief campaign blogger for Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, quit Monday, saying her provocative online messages so rankled conservatives that she risked hurting the campaign.

Mayor Bill Purcell (D) of Nashville, Tenn., on Monday vetoed ameasure considered a slap at illegal immigrants that would have required all government communication to be in English. Meanwhile, in Montana, lawmakers began considering a bill to require drivers to prove proficiency in English in order get a license.

Detectives in Salt Lake City searched Tuesday for a motivein a shopping mall shooting spree that killed five people before police fatally shot the gunman, a teenager.


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