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Excluding a slight dip in orders for cars and planes, orders for US durable goods rose 2.5 percent in April, the largest gain in nine months, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

In a new memoir, former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan accuses the Bush administration of making "a decision to turn away from candor and honesty" and instead rely on a "propaganda campaign" in selling the Iraq war. The book, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception," will be released June 1.

Dow Chemical Co. said Wednes-day that soaring energy prices brought on by what its CEO considers a failure to develop a sound national energy policy have prompted the company to raise prices by 20 percent, beginning Sunday. The news could affect a broad swath of customers in agriculture, healthcare, and other industries.

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After 25 years in which the percentage of overweight children kept rising, new figures, released by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggest the climb may have peaked. Statistics compiled in 2003-04 and 2005-06 reflect a leveling off, with roughly 32 percent of children overweight or obese.

Nearly 14,000 more soldiers were diagnosed with cases of post-traumatic stress disorder in 2007, a roughly 50 percent jump, Army statistics released Tuesday revealed. Factors cited for the increase included greater violence in Iraq and Afghanistan and more troops serving multiple tour.

As part of this year's Minneapolis sesquicentennial, the local arts commission has selected artists to design 10 public drinking fountains. The goal is to reestablish such fountains "as central to the health and wealth of the city" and to foster greater protections for water as fundamental to all life.

Three Iraqis made a closed-door appearance at a federal courthouse in Washington Tuesday as part of a grand jury investigation into whether Blackwater Worldwide security guards illegally fired into a Baghdad crowd Sept. 16, resulting in 17 civilian deaths. One of the testifiers lost his son in the burst of gunfire.

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