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WASHINGTON: Iraq force easing to 40,000

The number of American troops in Iraq will fall to roughly 40,000 by the end of this month, U.S. military officials said Tuesday. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, initially said force levels would drop to 30,00, but his spokesman corrected the number. Capt. John Kirby said "the larger point" Mullen made "is still valid: We are on track to meet the president's goal of withdrawing all American troops from Iraq by the end of the year."

Cherokees OK freedmen

Just as a federal judge was about to get involved, the Cherokee Nation reached an agreement Tuesday to allow descendants of slaves once owned by the Oklahoma tribe's members to vote for its principal chief. Attorneys for the slave descendants, called freedmen, said the agreement calls for extending balloting for this Saturday's special election until Oct. 8 so that those qualified to vote can be notified and participate. The agreement came during a hearing in federal court.

NEVADA: 11th victim of air show crash

When Craig Salerno, 50, of Friendswood, Texas, went missing at the Reno air races, his wife didn't need DNA testing to confirm her worst fears. Her husband, the father of their two young children, was in the VIP section where a fighter plane landed in an explosive crash Friday. Salerno's friend received critical injuries. Medical officials confirmed Salerno's death to his wife Monday, bringing the death toll up to at least 11.

ALASKA: Their oil dividend is lower

Most residents will soon be getting a check for $1,174 simply because they live there. Each person's share of the state's vast oil wealth was announced Tuesday in Anchorage. The announcement of the Permanent Fund Dividend amount was carried live on television statewide. This year's check is the smallest since 2006 and $107 less than last year's. Gov. Sean Parnell warned the amount could diminish more, given market volatilities and decline in oil production.

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