The Commerce Department reported Thursday that gross domestic product – the value of all US-produced goods and services – grew at a 4.9 percent rate during the July-to-September quarter. Because of continuing problems in the housing and credit markets, however, growth in the current quarter is expected to slow to 1.5 percent or less.

President Bush said Thursday he will reserve judgment about his administration's destruction of CIA interrogation tapes until several inquiries are finished. Under a subpoena threat, the CIA is expected to quickly begin turning over documents to Congress related to tapes showing harsh interrogation techniques.

The crew of a California Highway Patrol helicopter found and rescued a family Wednesday that had become lost while looking for a Christmas tree three days earlier in a heavily wooded canyon near Paradise, Calif. The crew was making its final pass in deteriorating weather conditions when it spied Frederick Dominguez and his three children, who had huddled in a culvert and written "Help" in the snow. They were flown to a hospital and quickly released.

Despite efforts by Democrats to use spending limitations to force a change in President Bush's Iraq policy, the House approved a $555 billion budget deal Wednesday that includes what the White House wanted: $70 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A US Army veteran thankful for coffee and doughnuts served to him during World War II by the Salvation Army gave a $10,000 check for the charity to one of its holiday bell-ringers in Exton, Pa. His handwritten note read: "Seems fair to me after 40+ years, with inflation and everything."

Whales may have evolved from a four-footed, raccoon-sized creature with the body of a small deer (below, in an artist's rendering), according to fossil research reported in the journal Nature. Scientists at Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy made the connection to a creature from India known as Indohyus that probably hid in the water when endangered. Studies previously viewed hippos as the closest land relatives of whales.

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