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To secure Washington for the Jan. 20 inauguration, all bridges crossing the Potomac River into Washington will be closed and traffic banned in 3.5 square miles of downtown, the largest area ever secured for such an occasion, the Secret Service announced Wednesday. Meanwhile, the inaugural committee said a group of "everyday Americans" will join President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Biden on their Whistle Stop Tour train trip from Philadelphia to Washington, which arrives in the nation's capital on Jan. 17.

The Pentagon has decided not to award Purple Hearts to service members diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder because the condition is not "a wound intentionally caused by the enemy from an outside force or agent." The award historically has gone to those wounded or killed in combat.

US cities are vulnerable to the type of coordinated, low-tech assault terrorists conducted in Mumbai in November, White House homeland security adviser Ken Wainstein said prior to congressional testimony Thursday about the attacks in Mumbai (formerly Bombay).

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Using a NASA balloon as big as a football field, scientists said they have discovered cosmic radio noise that's six times louder than expected, but said its source remains a mystery. The findings were presented at this week's meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Long Beach, Calif. The radio static suggests something new and interesting must have occurred as galaxies first formed, scientists say.

With 68 births per 1,000 teens, Mississippi surged ahead of Texas and New Mexico with the nation's highest teen birthrate, according to a new report. Mississippi's rate, according to data collected in 2006 by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is 60 percent higher than the national average.

More than 30,000 people across western Washington were told to leave their homes Wednesday as melting snow raised the Pullyap River to record levels and caused avalanches, mudslides, and road closures. Warmer temperatures and heavy rains caused the rapid melting.

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