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By Compiled from wire service reports by Ross Atkin / April 15, 2008



Three mothers whose children were among the 416 taken into temporary state custody from a polygamous sect's ranch last week in Eldorado, Texas, have sent a letter to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, appealing for his intervention. A copy of the letter, obtained by the Associated Press, indicates the women believe physical exams and questioning of the children have traumatized them. The authorities are investigating allegations of abuse at the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints compound.

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Retail sales posted a modest 0.2 percent gain in March largely due to consumer spending on high-priced gasoline, the Commerce Department said Monday. Meanwhile, business inventories continued to climb, by 0.6 percent in February, reflecting an unwanted goods buildup.

Delta and Northwest airlines could announce a merger to create the world's biggest carrier by as early as Tuesday, according to insiders familiar with the talks. Northwest pilots said they'd oppose any combination that does not involve "fair" recognition of seniority.

Officials at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., called off classes and campus activities Sunday and Monday after finding messages in restrooms that referred to possible attacks on "4/14." The same date was found earlier this month in threatening graffiti in a dorm at St. Xavier University in the Chicago area, leading to an indefinite shutdown of that school beginning last Friday.

South African golfer Trevor Immelman battled gusty conditions that humbled the Masters field to emerge with a three-shot victory over Tiger Woods. Despite carding the highest winning score since 1962, Immelman donned the champion's traditional green jacket, which 2006 winner Zach Johnson helped him try on.

Video rental giant Blockbuster Inc. said Monday that it has gone directly to shareholders of Circuit City Stores, Inc. with a $1 billion-plus takeover offer after months of foot-dragging by the consumer electronics chain in addressing the acquisition bid.

British author J.K. Rowling, the creator of the Harry Potter series, headed to US District Court in Manhattan Monday in an effort to block RDR Books from publishing an encyclopedia of the seven-book series. Rowling says the project just rearranges her material.

Viola Vaughn, a native of Detroit who has worked and lived most of her life in Africa, has built a grass-roots educational program from scratch in her home that has reached more than 1,500 girls in rural Kaolack, Senegal. "This is the best job I have ever had in my life," she told CNN of the "10,000 Girls" program, the goal of which is to educate that many girls by having them teach each other.

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