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Monday, Oct 20th

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Life Expectancy Drops To 69.3 Years In The US

What is the average life expectancy of Americans? For a long time it has been the low seventies for men and upper seventies for women. So it comes as a shock to learn that the average life expectancy for Americans has dropped to 69.3 years, according to the America's Health Rankings report, issued at the American Public Health Association's annual meeting.

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Iraq's prime minister won't sign U.S. troop deal

Fearing political division in the parliament and in his country, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki won't sign the just-completed agreement on the status of U.S. forces in Iraq, a leading lawmaker said Friday.

The new accord's demise would be a major setback for the Bush administration, which has been seeking to establish a legal basis for the extended presence of the 151,000 U.S. troops in this country, and for Iraq, which won notable concessions in the draft accord reached a week ago.

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New Allegations in Mahoney Sex Scandal

Last week, following a series of reports on The Blotter, Mahoney confirmed that he had hired one of his mistresses for his Congressional staff and that he was also carrying on an affair with a Florida county official who sought his help with a federal grant.

But a document obtained by ABC News reveals new allegations of threatening behavior and sexual harassment toward a female staffer, that go far beyond Mahoney's public confession, including claims that he urged one of his mistresses to serve as a "tease" for big donors.

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2 greenhouse gases on the rise worry scientists

Carbon dioxide isn't the only greenhouse gas that worries climate scientists. Airborne levels of two other potent gases — one from ancient plants, the other from flat-panel screen technology — are on the rise, too. And that's got scientists concerned about accelerated global warming.

The gases are methane and nitrogen trifluoride. Both pale in comparison to the global warming effects of carbon dioxide, produced by the burning of coal, oil and other fossil fuels.

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Special Counsel Bloch Resigns Under Pressure

The OSC is supposed to be a haven for federal whistleblowers and disgruntled employees. But the tables turned under Bloch, who previously worked at the Justice Department's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

Bloch came under fire shortly after joining the whistleblower unit in 2004. Employees claimed that he engaged in political bias and improperly handled scores of cases.

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Guantanamo guards struggle with hunger striker

Three years ago, the man known as Internment Serial Number 669 stopped eating. Ahmed Zaid Zuhair, a father of 10 children in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, had been held at Guantanamo Bay since 2002 without charges and decided to join a mass hunger strike in protest. The U.S. military was determined not to let him succeed.

Since then, according to court documents reviewed by The Associated Press, guards have struggled with him repeatedly, at least once using pepper spray, shackles and brute force to drag him to a restraint chair for his twice-daily dose of a liquid nutrition mix force-fed through his nose.

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Iraqi Army Headcount Still Unclear Despite Millions Paid to Private Contractor

Nobody, in fact, is exactly sure how many Iraqis are actually on duty -- partly due to problems with a government contract designed to count the soldiers, according to a recent audit.

As a result, five years into the war, the U.S. still doesn't know how many Iraqis stand ready to defend their country.

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Iraq vets and post-traumatic stress: No easy answers

Hyper-vigilance is one common symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD, an anxiety disorder, can develop after a terrifying or life-threatening event, or a series of events causing extreme stress.

Nearly 20 percent -- or one in five returning war veterans -- reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression. But, only slightly more than half of them sought treatment, the study found. 

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Elections USA: Do They Matter?

The real point of elections is to get enough people voting to legitimize the authority of politicians. Then, they can drag us into wars, bail out bankers in the middle of an economic meltdown, and “earmark” tax dollars to their biggest donors. It happens at every level of government, from City Hall to the White House.

It’s true. Big bucks dictate the agendas of both parties. In 2008, Obama and McCain will set new records for spending —over a half billion dollars. Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, champions of banking and investment deregulation, are top donors to Obama and Biden, a darling of credit card sharks. Exxon and Chevron back McCain and Palin, a proselytizer for drilling in the Alaska Wildlife Refuge.

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