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In the latest wave of global concern over the safety of Chinese-made products, Fisher-Price is recalling 967,000 preschool toys made by a Chinese vendor because the toys' paint contains excessive amounts of lead. The toys include the popular Big Bird, Elmo, Dora, and Diego characters.

Detroit automakers' share of the US market dropped below 50 percent in July for the first time in history, according to Jesse Toprak, a senior analyst for Edmunds.com.

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A Senate committee Wednesday embraced legislation that would for the first time allow federal regulation of cigarettes. "This is an enormous step forward," said Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "This could end up being the signature public health action this Congress takes." The bill would allow the Food and Drug Administration to restrict tobacco advertising, regulate warning labels, and remove hazardous ingredients.

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Charles Simic of the University of New Hampshire will be the new US poet laureate, the Library of Congress announced Thursday. Simic will replace another New Hampshire poet in the post – Donald Hall, who said Thursday he was delighted by Simic's selection. The poet laureate program promotes poetry across the nation.

US officials underestimated how difficult it would be for the Iraqi government to pass political reforms, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday, adding that the "depth of mistrust" among the factions is greater than anticipated. Speaking aboard his plane as he returned from a four-day swing through the Middle East, Gates said he is more optimistic about improvements in security in Iraq than about getting legislation passed by the divided government.

Factories saw demand for their products improve in June — but not as much as some hoped. The Commerce Department reported Thursday that new orders placed with manufacturers rose 0.6 percent – better than the 0.5 percent drop registered in May. Though below economists' forecasts, the June gain is the best showing since March.