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By Compiled from wire service reports by Robert Kilborn / December 23, 2008



President-elect Obama's promised internal review of any staff involvement in attempts to sell his US Senate seat will be released Tuesday, aides said. But an unidentified Democratic Party official said the review did not look into records of conversations with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) that were taped by federal prosecutors. Obama has said there was no "inappropriate" contact between his aides and Blagojevich's office. Illinois legislators considering whether to impeach the governor said they're waiting to hear from prosecutors whether the federal probe should be part of their deliberations.

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Defaults on home mortgage loans have risen, not dropped, and are showing no sign of leveling off, banking regulators reported Monday. This, despite modifications to borrowing rates stemming from the subprime loan problem earlier this year. Defaults remain highest among subprime mortgage-holders, although the trend applies to all loan categories, the regulators said.

Saying, "It's more of an art than a science," city officials in Washington were revising the expected turnout for Obama's inauguration by up to half. Mayor Adrian Fenty (D) originally projected that as many as 5 million people would be lured by the historic swearing-in of the first chief executive of African descent. But checks of charter bus operators, airlines, rail, and other transit sources have cast doubt on their ability to deliver that many to the Mall and parade route on Jan. 20, the officials said.

Utah has become the nation's fastest-growing state, new population estimates from the Census Bureau indicated Monday. The bureau said Utah's population rose 2.5 percent from July 2007 to July 2008. Arizona, Texas, North Carolina, and Colorado complete the top five. Nevada, which had been No. 1, fell to eighth, the bureau said.

An earthen dike collapsed before dawn Monday at a power plant in Harriman, Tenn., flooding 15 houses, a road, and railroad tracks with a frigid mix of wastewater and ash from an impoundment pond. Two residents had to be rescued, although no injuries were reported. The plant is operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority. The area has been deluged by rains this month.

Unless the Detroit Lions can defeat rival Green Bay later this week, they'll become the first team in National Football League history to complete a winless 16-game season. On Sunday, the Lions eclipsed the 0-14 start by the 1980 New Orleans Saints and 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers by losing their 15th straight game, 42-7, to the Saints. "This is one big nightmare," Lions center Dominic Raiola said.

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