Nov 2 (Reuters) - The following were the top stories in The Wall Street Journal on Friday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.
* Merrill Lynch & Co MER.N, in a bid to slash its exposure to risky mortgage-backed securities, has engaged in deals with hedge funds that may have been designed to delay recognition of losses from mortgage securities. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is likely to investigate.
* The Writer’s Guild of America declared its intention to call a strike in the union’s heated dispute with Hollywood film and TV producers.
* U.S. President George W. Bush sought to save Michael Mukasey’s troubled nomination for attorney general, defending the retired judge’s refusal to say whether he considers waterboarding torture.
* Sprint Nextel Corp (S.N) is weighing changes to its plans to offer high-speed wireless Internet service using WiMax technology, including a potential merger of its wireless broadband unit with start-up Clearwire Corp CLWR.O.
* Don Imus, the controversial radio host who was ousted from CBS Radio in the wake of racially insensitive comments, reached a deal to return to radio Dec. 3 with Citadel Broadcasting Corp’s flagship New York station, WABC-AM.
* U.S. Democrats agreed to a scaled-back $215.4 billion domestic-spending package that they hope will better attract Republican votes in the face of White House veto threats.
* The Internal Revenue Service, heightening a probe of the financial industry, is examining whether hedge funds and private-equity firms improperly withheld taxes after finding potential abuses.
* Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain followed the U.S. Federal Reserve’s lead by lowering official interest rates to keep their currencies aligned with the dollar.
* In the latest spat over copyright protection in the music industry, Warner Music Group Corp WMG.N has withheld its content from Nokia Corp’s NOK1V.HE new music Web site over concerns about illegal downloads.
* New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is suing a home-appraisal unit of First American Corp (FAF.N), alleging it defrauded consumers by allowing its biggest customer, Washington Mutual Inc (WM.N), to exert pressure for higher property valuations to help ensure that loans went through.
* Mutual-fund giant Columbia Management, the investment-management division of Bank of America Corp (BAC.N), is appointing Michael Jones as its new president, the latest change amid a major reshuffling at Bank of America in recent weeks.
* The U.S. Navy on Thursday canceled a General Dynamics Corp (GD.N) ship contract worth potentially hundreds of millions of dollars, in a blow to the defense contractor and a sign of the service’s struggle to contain the costs of building ships.