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By Compiled from wire service reports by Ross Atkin / May 23, 2008



US Army Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, said Thursday he expected to make further troop cuts after a 45-day freeze in withdrawals that begins in July.

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Republican presidential candidate John McCain has invited 10 couples to his Sedona, Ariz., ranch this weekend for what campaign staffers called a purely social engagement, but three guests have been mentioned by fellow Republicans as possible vice-presidential running mates: Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Meanwhile, Democratic officials said advisers have begun a search for Barack Obama's running mate.

The $290 billion farm bill passed by Congress over President Bush's veto will have to be passed all over again due to a printing error discovered Wednesday. The version sent to the White House omitted a 34-page section of the bill. House members said they hoped to pass the entire bill again Thursday.

The US Department of Agriculture will do away with a national survey tracking pesticide use because of insufficient funding, officials said Wednesday. The Environmental Protection Agency uses the data to figure out how chemicals should be regulated and which pesticides pose the greatest health risk.

A three-judge federal appeals court in Seattle ruled Wednes-day that the military cannot automatically discharge people because they're gay. The decision, in effect, reinstated a lawsuit brought against the Air Force by Maj. Margaret Witt, a flight nurse who was suspended without pay in 2004 after the Air Force learned she'd been in a long-term relationship with a civilian woman.

Billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens gave $100 million to Oklahoma State University, his alma mater, Wednesday for endowed chairs, the largest gift ever for academics in the state.

Alaska plans to sue the US Interior Department over its recent decision to grant endangered-species status to the polar bear, saying it would hinder development, Gov. Sarah Palin (R) said Wednesday.

In a surprise result, David Cook of Blue Springs, Mo., won TV's latest "American Idol" competition Wednesday, with 56 percent of a record 97 million votes cast by show fans.

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