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Construction spending on new homes fell 0.3 percent in September, the sixth straight drop and the longest such slump in more than a decade, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Elsewhere in the economy, manufacturing activity experienced the 41st consecutive month of growth. But it expanded at its slowest clip in more than three years, according to the Institute for Supply Management.

Raymond Lee Oyler, a "person of interest" in last week's deadly California wildfire, is scheduled to appear Thursday at a court hearing in Beaumont, Calif. He has not been named as a suspect in the case, but was arrested Tuesday for two separate arson wildfires hours after a fifth firefighter in the latest blaze succumbed to his injuries.

The tobacco industry may continue, for now, to sell and market "light" and "low tar" cigarettes, a federal appeals court in Washington ruled Tuesday. The decision put a temporary hold on an earlier landmark judgment that cigarette companies had conspired for decades to mislead the public about the health hazards of smoking. It could be more than a year before further arguments in the case are heard and an opinion rendered.

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The National Park Service announced plans Wednesday to overhaul "the nation's front yard," the 600-acre Mall in Washington. In the initiative's first idea-gathering phase, the public is invited to submit ideas to an interactive website.

Two former border-patrol agents were sentenced to more than six years in prison Tuesday in San Diego for conspiring with a smuggling ring that, at its height, brought as many as 80 illegals a day into the US from Mexico. The agents accepted nearly $180,000 in bribes.

Larry Fuller, a decorated Vietnam veteran, was released from prison Tuesday in Dallas after serving roughly 20 years for a wrongful 1981 conviction on aggravated rape. It was Dallas County's 10th felony exoneration in the past five years based on DNA testing.

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