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US factory orders fell 2.5 percent in January, the largest drop in five months, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Meanwhile, a composite index of service-sector activity, which dipped below 50 in January for nearly the first time in five years, registered 49.3 in February. Readings above 50 in the trade group index indicate expansion.

The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board sent violation notices to Santa Monica and 19 other southern California cities Tuesday, warning of fines of $10,000 a day if runoff from their communities continues to pollute Santa Monica Bay. Tests have revealed high bacteria levels in water that flows into storm drains and on to the ocean. Santa Monica's beach is one of the most popular in the area.

In decades-old civil rights cases, the FBI will "move forward" when it can, agency director Robert Mueller said of 26 ongoing investigations referenced in remarks prepared for a congressional testimony Wednesday. More than 100 unsolved cases were referred to the FBI last year, when a reputed Ku Klux Klansman was convicted for his role in the 1964 murder of two black teenagers.

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