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The Consumer Confidence Index, a gauge of spending kept by the New York-based Conference Board, dropped for the fifth straight month in May, falling from 62.8 to 57.2, its lowest level in almost 16 years. Meanwhile, the Commerce Department reported a 3.3 percent uptick in the sales of new homes in April.

Despite some improvements to US port security since 9/11, gaps still exist that terrorists could exploit, according to a report released Tuesday by the Government Accountability Office. The report says US customs officials still can't guarantee safe supply-chain cargo practices.

"Color consciousness, not 'color blindness' " should help shape federal laws dealing with trans-racial adoption, according to a report released Tuesday and endorsed by several leading child welfare groups. In its report, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute says that state agencies have been lax in recruiting more adoptive parents of the same race as foster children.

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NASA termed a glitch with a robotic arm of the Phoenix Mars Lander an "inconvenience" Monday and said it could take an extra day to fully remove a protective sheath. The arm will be used to dig for ice in the planet's unexplored northern latitudes, where the Phoenix landed Sunday.

While campaigning in Puerto Rico before the island's Democratic presidential primary, candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton said Puerto Ricans should be allowed a greater voice in the US government. Fifty-five delegates are up for grabs in the June 1 primary, but Puerto Ricans cannot vote in the presidential election.

Sydney Pollack, the Academy Award winning director of "Out of Africa," died Monday in Pacific Palisades, Calif. A versatile actor/director, he also crafted such hit films as "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" in 1970, "Absence of Malice" in 1981, and "Tootsie" in 1982.

Syracuse University's men's lacrosse team won its 10th NCAA title Monday before a record crowd of 48,970 in Foxborough, Mass.

Teach for America, the nonprofit organization that recruits and trains top college students for teaching jobs in low-income communities, reports that applications have risen from 18,000 to 25,000 this year.

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