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By Compiled from wire service reports by Ross Atkin / March 14, 2008



For the second time in the past three months, retail sales fell in February, this time by a worse-than-expected 0.6 percent, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Sales of autos, furniture, and appliances were all down. Meanwhile, business inventories piled up in January at their fastest pace, 0.8 percent, in nearly two years.

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Despite misgivings about the science in its draft report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released findings that suggest pollution could be having negative health impacts in some parts of the Great Lakes region. The CDC,which was pressured by Congress to share the findings, has asked the Institute for Science to review them.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday "the most stringent standards ever" on ozone pollution, or smog. These will require 345 of more than 700 counties monitored to make air-quality improvements.

Frankie Brewster and Karen Burton received maximum sentences Thursday for their roles in the torture and kidnap-ping last summer of a young black woman in West Virginia. Brewster will serve 10 to 25 years; Burton 30 years.

Geraldine Ferraro, the 1984 Democratic vice presidential candidate and a member of Hillary Rodham Clinton's finance committee, quit the Clinton campaign Wednesday after a comment she made about rival candidate Barack Obama. Ferraro said Obama was leading in the race for the Democratic nomination because he was black, a remark that Obama said was "wrong-headed" but that he didn't consider racist.

The US Army said it is preparing to deploy two biomass refineries to Iraq so that plastic water bottles, foam plates, and other trash discarded by troops can be turned into power for barracks lighting and laptops.

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