Billionaire investor Warren Buffett announced plans to donate about $1.5 billion of his fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation every year. The foundation spends money on poverty, health, and access to technology in developing nations. But Buffett's gift comes with a condition: the money must be distributed in the year it is donated, not added to the foundation's assets for future giving. The donation is one of five gifts to foundations that total $37 billion dollars of his estimated $44 billion dollar fortune.

Flooding in Washington kept government tax collectors and federal state agents away from work Monday. The more than seven inches from a weekend of heavy rain also forced the closing of the National Archives and disrupted Amtrak service from Washington to Philadelphia early Monday. The winds and rains knocked down a large elm tree on the White House lawn Monday. A secret service spokesman said the tree did not damage the White House or cause any injuries. The weather service said a flash-flood watch would be in effect for the greater Washington metropolitan area through Tuesday evening.

Johnson & Johnson was close to a $16 billion deal to buy Pfizer Inc.'s consumer products unit, a move that would put brands such as Listerine, Rolaids, Rogaine, and Sudafed within the Johnson & Johnson family, according to published reports. The reports published by The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times cited anonymous sources closed to the negotiations but an official announcement was expected early this week.

The sales of new homes rose in May, according to a newly released report. The Commerce Department says that sales of new single-family homes increased by 4.6 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.234 million units. The boost surprised economists who had been forecasting that housing would slow down because of rising mortgage rates.

NASA still struggles with the same problem more than three years and hundreds of millions of dollars after the space shuttle Columbia disaster. The problem of falling foam has perplexed the US space agency capable of doing what no other country does, landing a space shuttle like an airplane. Now, the agency is trying to tackle the situation before the launch of the Discovery shuttle on Saturday. If the Discovery mission is successful, NASA plans up to 17 more shuttle missions. If not, and if the US space agency were to lose a third shuttle to disaster, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin has said he would likely pull the plug on all future missions.

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