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Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Thursday that business growth will "slow noticeably in the fourth quarter" as the economy feels the effect of a housing slump, a credit crunch, and surging oil prices.

Televangelist Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition, chose to overlook differences on social issues Wednesday in endorsing the presidential candidacy of Republican Rudolph Giuliani. Robertson called the former New York mayor a "proven leader," and made no mention of Giuliani's support of gay and abortion rights.

The national debt hit $9 trillion for the first time, the Treasury Department said Wednesday, even though the budget deficit for the 2007 budget year was $162.8 billion, the lowest in five years.

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Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti filed a lawsuit Wednesday accusing the state's largest property insurers, including Allstate and State Farm, of a conspiracy to low-ball claims payments after the 2005 hurricanes, thus impeding the revival of the gulf area.

After completing one of the most difficult repairs ever made in orbit, the space shuttle Discovery returned to Earth Wednesday from a 15-day mission with a near-perfect landing at Cape Canaveral, Fla. The repair made to a solar wing of the International Space Station means NASA will press ahead with its next shuttle flight scheduled in early December. Above, Commander Pamela Melroy (l.) and her crewmates answer postflight questions.

The number of high school dropouts in California soared to 24,000 in 2006, the first year seniors had to pass a graduation exam, according to a report presented to the state Board of Education Wednesday. That's up 140 percent in four years. Some policymakers think this reflects a need to explore other ways to gauge student proficiency and deal with persistent achievement shortfalls by poor and minority students.

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