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Construction of new homes dropped by 18.9 percent in November, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 625,000, the steepest decline since 1984, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

A New York-bound Atlantis Air-lines plane with 11 people on board disappeared shortly after takeoff Tuesday from the Dominican Republic. The US Coast Guard began a search in the Atlantic Ocean.

Mexican drug traffickers represent the greatest organized crime threat to the United States, the Justice Department reported Monday. Mexican groups control drug distribution in most US cities and increasingly work with the Italian Mafia and other crime groups.

President-elect Obama introduced an environmental team Monday that will focus on tackling global warming and developing alternative forms of energy. Joining him at a press conference were his choices for energy secretary (Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Chu), Environmental Protection Agency administrator (Lisa Jackson, former head of New Jersey's environmental department), and leader of a White House council on energy and climate (former EPA ad-ministrator Carol Browner).

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