Five hundred homes in scenic Big Sur, Calif., were threatened by a spreading wildfire that was only about 3 percent contained early Thursday. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered the National Guard to help fight the blaze as weather forecasters predicted more lightning strikes. Lightning already is blamed for starting almost 800 fires across northern California.

New data show the US economy grew by 1 percent in the first three months of the year, the Commerce Department reported Thursday, further easing concerns of an impending recession. Its own forecast had been 0.9 percent. Consumer spending rose 1.1 percent for the quarter, while exports increased by 5.4 percent.

Police in Los Angeles have been told they may continue a policy of not questioning suspects about their immigration status. California Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu threw out a lawsuit filed on behalf of some officers that sought to require the force to inform federal authorities when illegal immigrants are arrested, especially on narcotics charges. City officials cheered the decision.

For the first time in five years, Americans report being less satisfied with their new cars, due mainly to the price of gasoline, the J.D. Power & Associates marketing firm said Thursday. While fuel economy remained static, gasoline rose 27 percent since its 2007 survey, the company's spokesman said.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates is scheduled to give up active involvement in the company Friday to devote full time to the charitable foundation based on his personal fortune. He will remain chairman of the software giant. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funds medical and other projects in the developing world.

All signs pointed to a rejection Thursday by brewing giant Anheuser-Busch Inc. of a massive unsolicited $46 billion buyout offer by InBev SA of Belgium. Citing sources close to the situation, the Wall Street Journal reported that the maker of Budweiser beer will announce a restructuring plan that calls for the sale of its theme park operations and for more than a half-billion dollars in cost-cutting measures.

Fresno State University won the College World Series Wednesday night, defeating Georgia, 6-1, for its first national championship in a men's sport. The victory contrasted with the start of the Bulldogs' season, in which they lost 12 of their first 20 games.

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