USA

Only 35 percent of military members surveyed approve the way President Bush is handling the war in Iraq, down from a peak of 63 percent in 2004, while 42 percent say they disapprove. The 2006 Military Times Poll released last week also found that half of those surveyed say additional troops are needed in Iraq, while 13 percent say all troops should leave. About 1 in 5 service members say large numbers of US troops can be replaced by Iraqi forces within two years. More than one-third say it will take at least five years. Only 41 percent believe the US should have gone to war in Iraq in the first place.

Gov. Mitt Romney (R) of Massachusetts planned to submit paperwork by Wednesday to form a presidential exploratory committee. Filing with the Federal Election Commission would allow him to begin raising and spending money in pursuit of the 2008 GOP nomination, for which he is considered a serious candidate. Wednesday is also his last official day as governor.

Police are investigating a "disagreement" that occurred prior to the death of Darrent Williams, a cornerback for the Denver Broncos. Williams was killed in his limousine a few blocks from a nightclub in Denver after he and friends had left a New Year's Eve party.

Nearly half of US high-school students admitted to drinking alcohol in the past 30 days, and 64 percent of those were binge drinkers, according to the results of a study released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Almost 70 percent of binge drinkers, who have at least five drinks in a row, did so more than once a month. The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, also found that the underage drinkers, especially those who binged, were much more likely to be sexually active, smoke cigarettes, and be involved in a physical fight than youths who didn't use alcohol.

Scientists have genetically engineered a dozen cows to be free from the proteins that are said to cause mad cow disease, an international team of US and Japanese researchers announced earlier this week. The experimental cattle have been injected with the disease to determine whether they are indeed immune. The test period could last two years.

The microfiber basketball that debuted two months ago was replaced Jan. 1 by the National Basketball Association with the familiar leather ball that the league has used for 35 years. The midseason switch was made after numerous player complained that the new ball had too much grip when dry, became too slippery when covered in sweat, and didn't bounce as expected.

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