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Top News & Analysis North America

  • WASHINGTON, Oct 7- He has been stereotyped as the Obama administration's gaffe-prone sideshow. But Vice President Joe Biden also is a veteran debater who was in the U.S. Senate for a quarter century and is perhaps the Democratic White House's most passionate defender of the working class.

  • NEW YORK, Oct 7- Wal-Mart and American Express will hold a conference call for media analysts and investors on Monday at 8:30 a.m. EST to make a financial services announcement, the companies said in a joint press statement on Sunday.

  • *Only 2 points behind in Reuters/ Ipsos poll. PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla., Oct 7- Mitt Romney appeared on Sunday to have halted his perilous slide in the polls and is back to running a close race with President Barack Obama as he prepares a new assault on the Democrat over foreign policy.

  • SINGAPORE, Oct 8- Indonesia is buying submarines from South Korea and coastal radar systems from China and the United States. Vietnam is getting submarines and combat jets from Russia, while Singapore- the world's fifth-largest weapons importer- is adding to its sophisticated arsenal.

  • BANGALORE, Oct 8- Shopping in a U.S. department store? It's called Big Data, and although much of the work is done in the United States, India is getting an increasing slice of the action, re-energising an IT sector whose growth has begun to falter. "There are hundreds of boutiques in India right now.

  • BEIJING, Oct 8- China is spending $14 billion on pilot projects to turn coal in remote parts of the country into natural gas, a risky bet that could help meet the country's surging demand for the cleaner fuel.

  • NEWARK, N.J.-- An internal report shows screeners at Newark Liberty International Airport are properly executing standard pat-downs of passengers only 16.7 percent of the time. The report obtained by The Star-Ledger of Newark also shows that screeners identify and take appropriate action on prohibited items in only a quarter of all cases.

  • LOS ANGELES-- California motorists faced another day of record-breaking gasoline prices Sunday, though relief appeared to be on the way. Jerry Brown ordered state smog regulators Sunday to allow winter-blend gasoline to be sold in California earlier than usual to help drive prices down.

  • LONDON, Oct 7- A painting by Russian-American artist Mark Rothko was defaced by a visitor to London's Tate Modern museum on Sunday and a spokeswoman said police were investigating.

  • Oct 7- The average price for a gallon of gasoline in the United States rose less than half a cent over the past two weeks, masking a decline in most regions and a sharp spike in California prices, according to a widely followed survey. Gasoline prices averaged $3.8375 on Oct. 5, up from $3.8338 on Sept. 21, Trilby Lundberg, editor of the Lundberg Survey, said on Sunday.

  • *Most news cases in Michigan. The widening outbreak has alarmed U.S. health officials and focused attention on regulations of pharmaceutical compounding companies like the one that produced the drugs, the New England Compounding Center Inc in Framingham, Massachusetts.

  • LOS ANGELES-- Critics don't like "Taken 2," but Liam Neeson's action sequel has proved twice the hit among fans as the original movie was. "Taken" went on to become a $145 million smash for Neeson, the Academy Award-nominated star of " Schindler's List" who has become an unlikely action hero in his 50 s.

  • Most of the new cases were reported in Michigan, where the total increased to 20 from five. The widening outbreak has alarmed health officials across the United States and focused attention on regulations of pharmaceutical compounding companies like the one that produced the drugs, the New England Compounding Center Inc in Framingham, Massachusetts.

  • LOS ANGELES, Oct 7- Liam Neeson thriller "Taken 2" captured the No. 1 spot on movie box office charts over the weekend with a brawny $50 million take from theaters in the United States and Canada.

  • The cases have been traced to three lots of the steroid prepared by a pharmaceutical compounding plant in Massachusetts, New England Compounding Center Inc.. So far, cases of people becoming ill after receiving the steroid injections have been reported in Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia.

  • The sequel starring Liam Neeson as a former CIA agent who gets captured in Istanbul pushed last weekend's winner, family flick " Hotel Transylvania," to second place. "Taken 2" was released by 20th Century Fox, a unit of News Corp. Sony Corp's movie studio distributed " Hotel Transylvania."

  • MONTPELIER, Vt.-- In a state that has a long history of maple syrup production and fiercely protects the purity of its brand, Vermont producers are proud of their "fancy," "grade A dark amber" and "grade B" syrup.

  • Foundations from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh have provided more than $19 million for gas-drilling-related grants since 2009, according to an Associated Press review of charity data.

  • KANSAS CITY, Mo.-- In an age when people can choose among text messages, email, Facebook and old-fashioned stamps and printed cards, the chance to use the wrong method when sending your very best is quite high.

  • If you're like many Americans, your friends are texting their congratulations, sending you an e-card or clicking "Like" on your Facebook wall. The 25- year-old nanny from Kansas City, Mo., hears from friends largely through Facebook. " In consolidating its Kansas operations, Kansas City- based Hallmark plans to shed 300 jobs.