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Obama to seek $83.4 billion for Iraq, Afghan wars

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama is seeking $83.4 billion for U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, pressing for a war supplemental spending bill like the ones he sometimes opposed when he was senator and George W. Bush was president.

Obama's request, including money to increase U.S. troops in Afghanistan, would push the costs of the two wars to almost $1 trillion since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to the Congressional Research Service. The additional money would cover operations into the fall.

April 09, 2009 | By ANDREW TAYLOR Associated Press Writer | World


New jobless claims fall more than expected to 654K

WASHINGTON - New jobless claims fell more than expected last week but are stuck at elevated levels, while the number of people continuing to receive unemployment insurance approached 6 million, setting a record for the 10th straight week.

The government data released Thursday bolster recent projections from the Federal Reserve and private economists that the nation's job market will remain weak into next year as companies purge thousands more workers.

April 09, 2009 | CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER AP Economics Writer | World


Historic drought bids most of South adieu

ATLANTA - The epic southern drought has bid most of the region adieu after sucking reservoirs dry and shriveling crops for three years.

April 07, 2009 | By GREG BLUESTEIN Associated Press Writer | World


Court reduces sentence for Iraqi shoe thrower

BAGHDAD - Iraq's highest court on Tuesday reduced the prison sentence for an Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at former President George W. Bush from three years to one, a court spokesman said.

Abdul-Sattar Bayrkdar, the spokesman, said the decision was taken because the journalist had no prior criminal history.

April 07, 2009 | By SAMEER N. YACOUB Associated Press Writer | World


Among 4-year-olds, 1 in 5 obese, study finds

CHICAGO - A striking new study says almost 1 in 5 American 4-year-olds is obese, and the rate is alarmingly higher among American Indian children, with nearly a third of them obese.

Researchers were surprised to see differences by race at so early an age.

April 07, 2009 | By LINDSEY TANNER AP Medical Writer | World


Vermont legalizes gay marriage with veto override

MONTPELIER, Vt. - Vermont on Tuesday became the fourth state to legalize gay marriage - and the first to do so with a legislature's vote.

The House recorded a dramatic 100-49 vote, the minimum needed, to override Gov. Jim Douglas' veto. Its vote followed a much easier override vote in the Senate, which rebuffed the Republican governor with a vote of 23-5.

April 07, 2009 | By DAVE GRAM Associated Press Writer | World


Obama in Baghdad, tells troops Iraq must take over

BAGHDAD - Cheered wildly by U.S. troops, President Barack Obama flew unannounced into Iraq on Tuesday and promptly declared it was time for Iraqis to "take responsibility for their country" after America's commitment of six years and thousands of lives.

"You have given Iraq the opportunity to stand on its own as a democratic country," the president said as he made a brief inspection of a war he opposed as candidate and now vows to end as commander in chief. "That is an extraordinary achievement."

April 07, 2009 | JENNIFER LOVEN AP White House Correspondent | World


Pain, grief, questions in NY shootings aftermath

BINGHAMTON, New York - The sister of the man who killed 13 people and took his own life at an immigrant center was depressed about losing his job at a vacuum manufacturer and very frustrated with his poor English skills, his sister said Monday.

In an interview on NBC's "Today" show, Jiverly Wong's sister said she had "occasional communications" with him but they hadn't lived in the same house together for 20 years. The woman, whose name wasn't given during the interview, said her younger sibling kept his feelings to himself.

April 06, 2009 | CAROLYN THOMPSON Associated Press Writer | World


Missing Neb. family turns up; parents in custody

OMAHA, Neb. - A couple on probation for burglary who vanished with their children after being questioned about abuse allegations turned themselves in to authorities Monday, a sheriff said.

April 06, 2009 | The Associated Press | World


Series of bombings in Baghdad Shiite areas kill 36

BAGHDAD - Six bombs rocked Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad on Monday, killing 36 people and wounding more than 110 in a dramatic escalation of violence as the U.S. military is thinning out its presence before a June 30 deadline to pull combat troops out of the cities.

Angry survivors hurled stones at Iraqi soldiers at the site of one of the blasts in Sadr City after troops fired shots in the air to disperse crowds of people trying to care for the injured, witnesses said.

April 06, 2009 | HAMID AHMED Associated Press Writer | World


Airlines earn higher marks for quality in 2008

WASHINGTON - Airlines carried fewer people last year, but did a better job for those who did fly.

The rates of lost bags, late arrivals, passengers bumped from overbooked flights and consumer complaints all declined, private researchers say in their annual study of airline quality, based on government statistics.

April 06, 2009 | By JOAN LOWY Associated Press Writer | World


New storm barrage could cause more floods in South

JACKSON, Miss. - Another barrage of storms hit the southeast Thursday, threatening to spawn tornadoes and flood homes and sending at least one person to the hospital after lightening struck a home.

Flood warnings as well as tornado watches and warnings were in effect around the region.

April 02, 2009 | HOLBROOK MOHR Associated Press Writer | World


GM's uncertain future leaves Ohio town on edge

DEFIANCE, Ohio - Bernie Shively steered his pickup truck around the union hall parking lot two times this week, passing all the empty spaces before finally shutting off the engine.

He sat behind the wheel of his GMC Sierra at the back of the lot, facing two choices, with just a few hours to decide.

April 02, 2009 | JOHN SEEWER Associated Press Writer | World


Michelle Obama charms queen away from protocol

LONDON - Michelle Obama's meeting with Queen Elizabeth II began with a handshake and ended in a hug.

The first lady arrived Wednesday with President Barack Obama. After separate meetings on the eve of the G-20 summit, the couple attended an evening reception for world leaders hosted by the queen.

April 02, 2009 | JENNIFER QUINN Associated Press Writer | World


Fla. man is 1st US citizen charged in UBS probe

MIAMI - A Florida yacht company accountant became the first U.S. citizen Thursday to be charged in the government's investigation into wealthy citizens who hid assets from tax collectors in the Swiss bank UBS AG.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said Steven Michael Rubinstein, 55, of Boca Raton appeared in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale on charges of filing a false tax return. He was ordered held until a hearing next week.

April 02, 2009 | TAMARA LUSH Associated Press Writer | World


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