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NATION IN BRIEF: 10 still missing in Joplin, Mo.

JOPLIN, Mo. — Less than a dozen people remain unaccounted for after the tornado that hit Joplin last week.

Missouri Department of Public Safety Deputy Director Andrea Spillars said Tuesday that 10 people remain missing. Spillars said two new names were added to the missing list Monday, but four people were removed once officials learned they were alive.

It’s not known how many people in all died in the May 22 storm.

But Spillars said the next of kin have been notified for 120 people confirmed dead from the storm. She said the identities of 19 were confirmed Monday.

Home-price index at lowest since ’02

WASHINGTON — An index of home prices in big metro areas has reached its lowest level since 2002, driven down by foreclosures, a glut of unsold homes and the reluctance or inability of many to buy.

Prices fell from February to March in 18 of the metro areas tracked by the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city index. And prices in a dozen markets have reached their lowest points since the housing bubble burst in late 2006.

The nationwide index fell for the eighth straight month. Prices have now fallen further since the bubble burst than they did during the Great Depression. It took 19 years for the housing market to regain its losses after the Depression ended.

Blago denies children’s hospital shake down

CHICAGO — Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich told jurors Tuesday that he never withheld money from a children’s hospital in exchange for campaign cash, and he denied ever trying to shake down a politically connected road builder for $500,000 in donations.

Blagojevich, in his third day on the witness stand, still hasn’t addressed the most explosive allegation again him — that he tried to sell or trade President Barack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat.

The ousted governor has devoted most of his testimony so far to allegations that he tried to squeeze executives for cash, including road builder Gerald Krozel.

‘‘Rod, did you ever try to shake down Gerry Krozel for a political donation?’’ defense attorney Aaron Goldstein asked.

‘‘No, no,’’ Blagojevich responded, shaking his head slightly.

Fast work on levees to protect S. Dakota cities

PIERRE, S.D. — Crews worked around the clock Tuesday on emergency levees intended to protect three South Dakota cities from the rising Missouri River as water from the northern Plains rolled downstream.

Residents of the upscale community of Dakota Dunes in southeastern South Dakota, below the final dam on the river, have been told to move their possessions to higher ground and be ready to leave their homes by Thursday, a day before releases from the dams are set to increase.

Several thousand people in the state capital of Pierre and the neighboring city of Fort Pierre also have been working day and night since late last week to lay sandbags around their homes and evacuate to safety.

Astronauts get set for landing

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Their work in orbit complete, Endeavour’s six astronauts on Tuesday checked the systems they need to bring NASA’s second-to-last space shuttle flight to a close.

Commander Mark Kelly and his crew aimed for a landing in the pre-dawn hours today.

Endeavour left the International Space Station over the weekend. The astronauts put the finishing touches on the orbiting lab, installing a $2 billion cosmic ray detector, an extension beam and a platform full of spare parts — enough to keep the station operating in the shuttle-less decade ahead.

New policy after crews watch man die in SF Bay

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Fire officials are changing their water rescue policy after crews did not try to save a suicidal man who waded into San Francisco Bay and died after about an hour in the water.

Alameda Interim Fire Chief Mike D’Orazi said Tuesday he directed staff to write a new policy that would allow commanders at the scene to attempt a water rescue.

The previous policy strictly forbade such attempts. It was implemented after budget cuts forced the department to discontinue water rescue training and stop maintaining wetsuits and other rescue gear.