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The monthly US manufacturing index fell from 38.9 to 36.2 in November, a 26-year low, the Institute for Supply Management said Monday. It was the 12th consecutive drop in new orders. Meanwhile, woes in the home building industry led to a 1.2 percent drop in overall construction spending, the Commerce Department reported.

The Supreme Court rejected a pipeline company's appeal Monday to overturn a refusal by Connecticut regulators to grant environmental permits for a 50-mile project in Long Island Sound. The regulators believe the proposed pipeline would damage water quality, natural resources, and prime shellfish beds.

Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska attended private fundraisers in Georgia Sunday aimed at energizing conservatives in the lead-up to Tuesday's runoff election for the US Senate between incumbent Saxby Chambliss (R) and challenger Jim Martin (D). The tiebreaker is required because neither candidate crossed the 50 percent threshold in the general election. Minnesota, where a recount is under way, is the only other state with a still-unresolved Senate race.

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Suppliers in Houston are selling violent Mexican drug cartels millions of dollars of military-style weapons and ammunition, according to federal law enforcement officials quoted in the Houston Chronicle. Several Houston arms dealers are now under investigation by the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The space shuttle Endeavour ended its nearly 16-day mission Sunday at Edwards Air Force Base in California after stormy weather at the craft's main landing site in Cape Canaveral, Fla., forced the alternative location. Gregory Chamitoff, who had spent six months aboard the International Space Station, was among the seven astronauts on the shuttle. NASA called its mission to repair and upgrade the station a success.

Thirty percent of high school students shoplifted during the past year, according to survey results at 100 schools nationwide by the Josephson Institute, a Los Angeles-based ethics organization. Cheating in the classroom was also common, with 64 percent saying they'd cheated on a test.

Speaking of her White House experience, first lady Laura Bush said during an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that she'll miss the people the most – "from the ushers and butlers who are there for every president ... to our staff." She also focused on her advocacy for women and girls in Afghanistan.

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