USA

Sales of existing homes fell in 46 states in the third quarter and prices dropped 1.7 percent, the largest quarter-to-quarter decline in the 20-year history of the Standard & Poor's housing index, the research group said Tuesday. Prices were 4.5 percent below where they were a year earlier. Meanwhile, the Conference Board said its Consumer Confidence Index fell eight points in October to its lowest reading in two years.

The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will hear arguments next week about the rights of prisoners who have been detained at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and will immediately release audiotapes of the proceeding.

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts signed an estimated $8 million deal for his memoirs, according to a publishing official with knowledge of the negotiations. Twelve, a Hachette Book Group USA imprint, is scheduled to release the book in 2010.

Citigroup sold roughly a 5 percent, $7.5 billion stake in the nation's largest bank Monday to the Abu Dhabi Investment authority, a Middle Eastern sovereign fund. The deal makes the authority one of Citi's largest shareholders but gives it no managerial role.

Al Gore said he and President Bush had a "very good and substantive conversation" Monday during Gore's first visit to the Oval Office since 2001, this time not as the vice president but as an honored Nobel Prize winner. Besides attending a traditional White House reception for US Nobel honorees, Gore had a private 40-minute meeting with Bush, during which they talked about global warming. Above, Gore (l.) joined Bush for a photo op.

Peggy Fossett, whose adventurer husband Steve Fossett disappeared while flying his plane in September, asked an Illinois probate judge Monday to rule him legally deceased. Search efforts after he took off in Nevada have yielded nothing. The request was a step toward resolving the estate of the Chicago millionaire.

Cleveland Sellers, who was convicted of inciting a civil rights riot in Orangeburg, S.C., in 1968 but later pardoned, is scheduled to become an Eagle Scout on Dec. 3, nearly four decades after his paperwork was lost. Now the director of the African American Studies program at the University of South Carolina, Sellers (above) says that society should "take another look at the Boy Scouts as an alternative to the idleness and the crime."

Long-term success in defeating terrorism requires more than US military power, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday in a speech at Kansas State University. The Pentagon chief called for engaging more civilian experts and universities in the effort.

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