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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.

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