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Construction spending edged up 0.1 percent in November as a continued slump in housing was offset by record spending on government and business projects, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Meanwhile, the US manufacturing sector ended 10 consecutive months of growth, when an index kept by the Institute for Supply Management fell nearly 3 percent in December.

The two brothers who survived a Christmas Day tiger attack that killed a friend at the San Francisco Zoo claimed they were denied help for at least 30 minutes by zoo security who didn't take their pleas seriously, their attorney said Tuesday. A zoo official, however, called the claim "unreliable."

According to preliminary FBI crime statistics, New Orleans registered 209 homicides last year, a nearly 30 percent increase from the 161 recorded in 2006. The upswing comes despite continued patrols by the National Guard and state police and the addition of two new classes of police recruits in the past year. City officials believe addressing social problems and upgrading city life, including the schools, will help stem the tide.

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