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Consumer confidence fell sharply in January, dropping to an index reading of 87.9 from 90.6 in December, the New York-based Conference Board reported Tuesday. January's data, however, were collected before a Federal Reserve short-term interest-rate cut of three-quarters of a percentage point meant to stimulate the economy.

In an effort to hamper Iran's military, President Bush signed legislation Monday prohibiting the Pentagon from selling leftover F-14 fighter jet parts. Iran is the only country still flying Tomcats, another name for F-14s, and desperately needs spare parts that have been available in surplus auctions.

By unanimous consent, the Senate confirmed former North Dakota Gov. Edward Schafer (R) as agriculture secretary. Schafer replaces former Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns (R), who left to run for the Senate.

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Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) of Georgia is pushing for the state to add a Very Important Parent program aimed at improving school attendance at elementary through high schools. If approved, VIP recruiters would serve as a resource to other parents at some 500 schools with the highest truancy rates.

About a hundred legal residents waiting to become US citizens protested Monday (above) outside the US Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Dallas over delays in processing naturalization applications. The protesters want to become citizens in time to vote in November's presidential election.

Women residents at Springtree Assisted Living Center in Sunrise, Fla., have joined with Girl Scouts, disabled adults, and people from a local homeless shelter to make 2,000 cuddly dolls for African children in Darfur refugee camps. The Dolls for World Peace program was inspired by Denyse Duda, a former nurse and missionary who made a doll and showed it to Springtree's recreational activities director.

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