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NATIONAL BRIEFS


WASHINGTON: A son in Afghan combat

Challenged by a congressman to "be honest" about how long American troops might have to fight in Afghanistan, Army Gen. David Petraeus revealed that he has a personal stake in ensuring that U.S. war objectives are met -- his son, Stephen, whose recent combat tour was kept "very quiet." In an emotional exchange with Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-N.C.), Petraeus said "if I ever felt that we couldn't achieve our objectives," he would be "very forthright" not only with his military superiors but also with President Barack Obama and Congress. A skeptical Jones had said he could imagine a senior military leader coming before Congress in 2015 and pleading for more time and more sacrifice. Petraeus replied: "I may not be at this table, probably won't be, in 2015, but I'll tell you that my son is in uniform, and Lieutenant Petraeus just completed a tour in Afghanistan . . . and left in November after serving as an infantry platoon leader. We're very proud of what he did."


KENTUCKY: Ali makes plea for 2 hikers

Boxing champ Muhammad Ali is seeking the release of two American hikers from Iran by lobbying the country's supreme leader in a way that few American dignitaries can: as a brother in Islam. Ali made his simple, behind-the scenes appeal to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in February and released his letter to The Associated Press on Wednesday. Ali's wife said he would be willing to return to Iran, which he's visited twice before, to work on the hikers' release if his health allows. The letter asks Khamenei to release Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, who have been held on espionage charges since July 2009. A third hiker, Sarah Shourd, was released on bail in September.


FLORIDA: Miami's mayor recalled

Miami-Dade County voters ousted Mayor Carlos Alvarez, 58, a Republican, after he raised property-tax rates to help close a deficit. Florida's most-populous county is the largest U.S. municipality to recall a top official. The county, home to the city of Miami, backed Alvarez's removal by 88 percent to 12 percent in voting Tuesday, according to the elections office. Commissioner Natacha Seijas was also recalled.

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