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NATIONAL BRIEFS


WASHINGTON: Assuring nation on war

The Pentagon will try to convince the nation this week that the war in Afghanistan remains on track, despite a shake-up in military leadership. Gen. David Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command, was to testify Tuesday before a Senate committee. President Barack Obama, lamenting what he called "a lot of obsession" about the July 2011 withdrawal date for U.S. troops, defended his war strategy Sunday and said the United States would assist the Afghans "for a long time to come." Picking Petraeus to succeed the fired Gen. Stanley McChrystal is a signal that there won't be a significant change in strategy, according to Obama and senior officials. McChrystal, meanwhile, told the Army that he intends to retire.


Cheney out of hospital

Former Vice President Dick Cheney has been discharged from the hospital after his latest bout with heart-related trouble. Cheney, 69, was admitted to George Washington University Hospital on Friday after not feeling well. He received medication to treat a fluid buildup related to his aggressive form of heart disease. His condition had improved considerably and he left the hospital Monday.


ILLINOIS: Oprah was a possibility

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich seriously considered Oprah Winfrey as a candidate to fill President Barack Obama's former Senate seat, calling the talk show host a kingmaker who could influence voters, according to an FBI tape played Monday at his corruption trial in Chicago. "She made Obama, she's up there so high nobody could assail this pick," Blagojevich is heard telling his chief of staff, John Harris, who is now a prosecution witness. Blagojevich 53, has pleaded not guilty to scheming to get a high-paying job or a massive campaign contribution for appointing someone to the Senate seat.

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