The Conference Board said Thursday that its index of 10 leading economic indicators fell 0.3 percent in June, presaging an economic slowdown in the coming months.

Cpl. Trent Thomas, the first of seven marines and a Navy corpsman to go on trial for the killing of an Iraqi civilian, was acquitted of a premeditated murder charge that carries a mandatory life sentence. A military jury at Camp Pendleton, Calif., did, however, find Thomas guilty of kidnapping and conspiring to murder. He awaits sentencing.

President Bush called the safety of food and consumer products from overseas a serious issue Wednesday in establishing the Working Group on Import Safety. The cabinet-level panel is expected to submit its recommendations in 60 days.

By a 357-to-72 margin, the House voted Wednesday to reject President Bush's plan to cut the $420 million subsidy to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Unionized grocery store workers in Southern California reached a tentative contract agreement with area chain stores. If approved Sunday, the deal should avert a lengthy strike like one of 141 days in 2004.

New York Mayor Michael Bloom-berg called a huge underground steam pipe explosion Wednesday a case of infrastructure failure, not terrorism. The blast, which occurred near Grand Central Station, killed one person and sent hundreds of pedestrians scurrying from a powerful geyser.

Virginia officials declared an eight-year, $676 million interchange construction project complete on Wednesday. More than 50 new ramps and bridges are expected to lessen a major East Coast bottleneck where Interstates 95, 395, and 495 converge in Springfield, Va.

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