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WASHINGTON: Obama denies Sestak story

President Barack Obama said Thursday "nothing improper" happened in the case of Rep. Joe Sestak, who claims the administration offered him a job to drop his Democratic primary challenge against Sen. Arlen Specter, whom he defeated last week. Obama said his administration would provide a full accounting shortly but declined to elaborate.

Funds bill passed with cuts

The Senate easily passed an almost $60-billion war funding bill Thursday, but anxiety over out-of-control budget deficits led House leaders to drop tens of billions of dollars in spending from a separate catchall bill anchored by an extension of jobless benefits. They planned to dump overboard $24 billion in aid to states and allow generous health insurance subsidies for laid-off workers to expire. Help for doctors facing a big cut in Medicare reimbursements was among items to be dropped from the measure.

MICHIGAN: Mine protesters ousted

Police enforced an order by Kennecott Eagle Minerals Co. on Thursday, clearing away a small group of American Indians and environmental activists who for a month had occupied an isolated patch of woods in the Upper Peninsula where the world's third-largest mining company is preparing to drill for nickel and copper. The protesters said the mine would desecrate sacred ground and pollute waters that flow into nearby Lake Superior. Two people were arrested on misdemeanor trespassing charges.

ALASKA A fence against author

Former Gov. Sarah Palin is making good on a threat to build a fence around her Wasilla home to keep her new neighbor, author Joe McGinniss, who is writing a book about her, from peering in. Palin, wearing running shorts, a T-shirt and visor, joked with a reporter outside the gate of her lakeside home Thursday about having to build a fence to protect her family's privacy. A picture of a wood fence was posted on the blog of Fox News' Greta Van Susteren.

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