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Single-family home starts, which account for the bulk of home-building projects, fell 5.4 percent in November to the slowest pace in more than 16 years and the eighth straight monthly drop, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

The Senate voted Monday to approve a bill that allows consumers to permanently register for a "Do Not Call" program, rather than having to renew their request to block telemarketing solicitations. Once the Senate and House work out minor differences in similar bills, legislation is expected to receive final approval.

The governors of three drought-stricken states – Florida, Georgia, and Alabama – have agreed to halt, for now, a water-conservation plan that would have restricted water flow into Apalachicola Bay, an important oyster breeding ground in Florida. The governors hope to hammer out a regional water-sharing strategy by March 15.

The Senate decided to put off a vote on a complex and controversial new government surveillance bill until next year. The most contentious issue in the bill is whether telecom companies that assist in government eavesdropping should be granted immunity from lawsuits in the post-9/11 era.

Commander Peggy Whitson and Daniel Tani made the 100th spacewalk taken outside the orbiting International Space Station Tuesday. The two astronauts were on what NASA called a fact-finding mission to inspect defective mechanisms that are hobbling the station's power generation.

Utility officials in Oklahoma said they expect to have power restored by Wednesday or Thursday for 91,000 homes without electricity since a Dec. 11 ice storm.

A Brooklyn neighborhood organization (Families United for Racial and Economic Equality) has succeeded in sparing a brick townhouse thought to be a stop on the Underground Railroad. The building was slated to be demolished to make way for a below-ground parking garage at the center of a vast redevelopment project.

The Rockettes, the famous precision dance team, is celebrating its 75th anniversary at New York's Radio City Music Hall and on the road, too. Below, traveling members participate in a photo op in Newport Beach, Calif., where the troupe performs through Dec. 30.


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