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Dec. 1, 2008 at 5:07 PM
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It's official: U.S. now in a recession

NEW YORK, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- The referees of the U.S. economy called the recession official Monday, saying the county's economic expansion ended a year ago, in December 2007.

The National Bureau of Economic Research said a conference call on Friday of the group's Business Cycle Dating Committee sealed the fate, officially.

The group, charged with tracking the economy's historic highs and lows, said the previous expansion lasted 73 months, starting in November 2001. The expansion period before that, lasting through the late 1990s, lasted 120 months.

The group noted the gross domestic product fell slightly in the fourth quarter of 2007,rose slightly in the next two quarters and fell again in the third quarter of 2008. The gross domestic income reached a peak in the third quarter of 2007, falling in the fourth quarter and the first quarter of 2008. It rose slightly in the second quarter this year, then fell again in the third quarter.

Both sets of data are tracked by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the reported noted.

Succinctly put, "the committee determined that the decline in economic activity in 2008 met the standard for a recession," the report said.

Biden calls team 'most talented' ever

CHICAGO, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- National security team nominees are prepared to meet today's challenges and tomorrow's emerging threats, U.S. Vice President-elect Joe Biden said Monday.

"I hope and believe that the American people will come to feel as I do that we brought together one of the most talented national security teams ever assembled," Biden said at a news conference in Chicago, during which President-elect Barack Obama introduced his national security team. "A team prepared to meet the serious challenges we face today and the emerging threats that will confront us tomorrow."

Obama designated Sen. Hillary Clinton as his secretary of state and said he asked Robert Gates to continue as defense secretary. Obama also named Eric Holder as attorney general, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano as homeland security secretary, Susan Rice as ambassador to the United Nations and retired U.S. Marine Gen. Jim Jones as his national security adviser.

Each nominee "has a clear understanding of the forces that are shaping this new century and the lives of our fellow Americans," Biden said. "Each member shares our conviction that strength and wisdom must go hand in hand. Each member believes, as we do, that America's security is not a partisan issue."

Bush regrets Iraq intel, immigration flap

WASHINGTON, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- George Bush said Iraq was both his biggest disappointment and his greatest accomplishment during his eight-year tenure as U.S. president.

"(The) biggest regret of all the presidency has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq," Bush said in an interview with ABC News that aired Monday. "A lot of people put their reputations on the line and said the weapons of mass destruction is a reason to remove Saddam Hussein. And, you know, that's not a do-over but I wish the intelligence had been different, I guess."

Yet Iraq also provided him with his greatest accomplishment, Bush said.

"I keep recognizing we're in a war against ideological thugs and keeping America safe," he said.

The failure to enact immigration reform was another disappointment, Bush said.

"I firmly believe that the immigration debate really didn't show the true nature of America as a welcoming society. I fully understand we need to enforce law and enforce borders," Bush told ABC News. "But the debate took on a tone that undermined the true greatness of America, which is that we welcome people who want to work hard and support their families."

U.S. warned India of terror attack

WASHINGTON, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- U.S. and Indian intelligence officials were aware a possible terrorist attack on India was in the works as long ago as October, ABCNews.com reports.

Terrorists attacked two luxury hotels and several other sites in Mumbai last week, leaving at least 180 people dead.

ABC said U.S. intelligence agencies warned their Indian counterparts in mid-October. A second warning naming the Taj hotel was also issued. In mid-November, ABC said, Indian intelligence intercepted a phone call involving the Lashkar-e-Toiba terror group, a Kashmiri separatist group with ties to al-Qaida.

Ratan Tata, who chairs the company that owns the Taj, told CNN security temporarily was increased at the hotel but even if the measures had been retained, they would not have stopped the terrorists.

Intelligence agencies now are examining the SIM cards from phones that belonged to the terrorists, which could provide numerous leads in the investigation, ABC said.

Mothers kill male babies to end war

GOROKA, Papua New Guinea, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Mothers in remote regions of Papua New Guinea say they have resorted to killing their male infants as a way to end constant tribal warfare.

Two women from the country's Eastern Highlands told a local newspaper local mothers from rival tribes had agreed to kill all baby boys born in the last 10 years in a bid to end more than 20 years of inter-tribal warfare, The Times of London reported Monday.

The mothers, Rona Luke and Kipiyona Belas, reportedly told attendees at a peace and reconciliation meeting aimed at resolving the conflicts in Goroka, the capital of the Eastern Highlands, that the male babies have been smothered at birth to force an end to the tribal wars.

"The women have really been forced into it as it's the only means available to them as women to bring an end to the terrible fights that have brought death and destruction to our villages for the past 20 years," Luke told Papua New Guinea's national newspaper. "The women have had enough of men bringing misery to them."

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