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A look at stories and features we're working on this week

Consumers reduced their spending at retail stores in November -- the fifth straight month of reduced spending -- while the costs of goods headed to store shelves also continued to drop. Will Wednesday's retail sales figures bring more signs the current recession is deepening? > More > Discuss

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich appears in a Chicago court on Wednesday, charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery. The indictment alleges that he conspired to sell the Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama to the highest bidder. Will Blagojevich continue to serve even as calls for him to step down mount? > More > Discuss

Human Rights Watch will issue its annual report on human rights abuses around the world on Wednesday in Washington, D.C. The group has recently made headlines by attacking the Israeli military's use of white phosphorus artillery shells during strikes in Gaza. Do the attacks constitute human rights abuses? Should the U.S. condemn them? > More > Discuss

TODAY on Wednesday debuts an interactive video quiz -- iCue -- covering inaugurations past and present. How much do you know about presidents' first day on the job? > More > Discuss

"Idol" is making a number of tweaks to the format for the upcoming season, which starts Wednesday. There's teh addition of a fourth judge, less emphasis on the audition footage, the return of the wild-card round that gives candidates a second chance at making the final 12, and the elimination of the "Idol Gives Back" charity event. Will the changes help keep "Idol" TV's top dog or is the show past its prime? Check back for full coverage of the season premiere. > More > Discuss