USA

Consumer prices dipped by 0.2 percent in November, pulled down by airline fares and what Americans pay for gasoline, the Labor Department reported. After flat consumer prices in October, the dip indicates that inflation is not a problem, analysts said. The latest reading on consumer prices pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 54 points in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve reported that industrial production jumped 0.9 percent in November, the strongest performance since October 1999.

President Bush was signing seven bills into law Tuesday, among them measures to limit spam e-mail, help needy families buy their first homes, and give flight attendants self-defense lessons. The "Can Spam" measure supplants laws already passed in some states and encourages the Federal Trade Commission to create a do-not-spam list of e-mail addresses.

Seven retired judges were selected randomly Monday to hear Roy Moore's appeal of his ouster last month as chief justice of Alabama after refusing to remove a Ten Commandments display from the rotunda of the state judicial building. The judges were selected in what has been called an unprecedented move after all eight of Moore's former colleagues disqualified themselves from hearing the appeal due to their earlier involvement in the case.

A male nurse who claims he administered drug overdoses to end the lives of up to 40 "very sick" patients over the past 16 years was charged with one count of murder and one count of attempted murder. Charles Cullen, who has said he will plead guilty, is being held on $1 million bail as authorities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey examine patient records to document his claims.

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed Monday to give power plants up to 15 years to install technology to reduce mercury pollution, which scientists say can damage the brains of fetuses and young children after it enters water and taints fish. The agency's proposed controls on mercury pollution from power plants would ease limits envisioned by the Clinton administration, letting some delay reducing mercury emissions until 2018. The rule must be made final within a year.

The New York Film Critics Circle chose "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" Monday as 2003's top movie. The last of three films based on J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" opens in theaters Wednesday.

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