Sales of existing homes fell by 8.4 percent in March, the largest one-month decline since 1989, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday. Bad weather and continuing problems in the subprime mortgage market were factors cited for the drop-off. Consumer confidence also hit the skids, with the Conference Board's index feeling the effects of rising gasoline prices as it fell from a reading of 108.2 in March to 104.0 in April.

Embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Monday he would stay on the job "as long as I think I can be effective and the president believes I should continue." President Bush, in fact, reiterated his support earlier in the day for Gonzales, who was subjected to intense questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week about the firing of federal prosecutors.

Gov. Jon Corzine (D) of New Jersey may consider running the state from home using videoconferencing technology once he leaves the hospital, aides said Monday. Corzine, who was in a car crash April 12 on the Garden State Parkway, has been moved out of intensive care but is expected to remain in the hospital at least another week.

For the first time, Toyota Motor Corp. has surpassed General Motors Corp. in global auto sales for a quarter, the Japanese automaker said Tuesday. During the first three months of the year, Toyota sold 2.348 million vehicles worldwide, GM 2.26 million vehicles.

Under armed guard, the Coast Guard unloaded 20 tons of cocaine Monday at its West Coast command center in Alameda, Calif. The cocaine, with a street value of $600 million, was seized from a Panamanian cargo ship March 17 in the largest at-sea drug bust ever.

A new medical review of dozens of lethal-injection executions concludes that some fail to work as planned, causing inmates to die slow, painful deaths. The finding, which comes after 11 states have suspended the procedure, was published Monday by the online journal PLoS Medicine.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Halberstam, who died Monday in a car crash in Menlo Park, Calif., made his mark as a Vietnam war reporter, but also was known for books on subjects as diverse as civil rights, the auto industry and sports. Halberstam was a passenger in a car broadsided by another vehicle.

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