Construction spending declined 0.6 percent in July, double the dip analysts had expected, as housing activity fell to its lowest level in seven years and nonresidential activity dropped off for the first time in seven months, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

Demonstrations near the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., turned violent Monday as protesters harassed delegates, smashed windows, slashed car tires, and threw bottles. Police using pepper spray arrested more than 250 people. Many of those involved in the more violent activities identified themselves to reporters as anarchists.

Hurricane Hanna, a Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds of 80 m.p.h., was expected to strengthen Wednesday and threaten the East Coast from Florida to the Carolinas, the US National Hurricane Center said.

Google Inc. released "Chrome," a free Web browser, Tuesday in a long-anticipated move aimed at countering the dominance of Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer and ensuring access to its market-leading search engine.

In a growing dispute over providing California with green power, farmers and ranchers in the southern part of the state have urged state commissioners to avoid using their properties for power transmission lines. Landowners say they would permanently lose revenue from valuable properties in exchange for modest payments. San Diego Gas & Electric Co. claims that stringing high-voltage lines over farmlands is the best way to deliver wind, solar, and geothermal energy.

An effort to raise literacy levels in Washington, D.C., is set to launch Thursday. The campaign, called "Reading ... It Takes You Places," is designed to encourage children and adults to make reading a daily routine. Thirty-seven percent of District residents are considered functionally illiterate, lacking the skills to function fully in everyday life, compared with 21 percent nationally.

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