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Super Bowl ratings down from last year's high

Updated: 02/02/2009 - Preliminary Nielsen Media Research ratings show the Super Bowl's audience was likely down from last year's peak, but about on par with the 2007 and 2006 games.

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Iraqi city of Mosul key electoral battlefield

Updated: 02/02/2009 - This weekend's election in Mosul is a showdown for power between Arabs and Kurds, with the outcome likely to influence whether al-Qaida and other Sunni insurgents lose their last major urban foothold in Iraq.

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Killing of Iraqi candidates highlights dangers

Updated: 02/02/2009 - The former Iraqi army officer decided to run in provincial elections to improve Mosul, his violent hometown. Instead, the Sunni father of four was gunned down days before the vote, the latest example of the dangers facing candidates campaigning openly for the first time since the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime.

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Steelers Fans Take Super Bowl Party to the Streets

Updated: 02/02/2009 - Gold and black-clad fans with Steelers' iconic Terrible Towels waving in the air or tucked into their back pockets partied into the early morning hours Monday in an impromptu block party across Pittsburgh to celebrate the team's historic sixth Super Bowl win.

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US says 2 Iraqi police killed in shooting

Updated: 02/02/2009 - U.S. soldiers killed two Iraqi policemen Saturday after coming under fire during an operation against al-Qaida in northern Iraq, the U.S. military said.

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Officials Say Mail Thefts Are on the Rise

Updated: 02/02/2009 - Law enforcement authorities in Kansas and Missouri warn residents that mail theft is on the rise, particularly of mail containing checks and credit cards.

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Iraqi Christians caught in middle of Mosul vote

Updated: 02/02/2009 - MOSUL, Iraq (AP) -- Iraqi Christians still reeling from a string of murders last fall find themselves caught in the middle of a power struggle between Kurds and Sunni Arabs that was fueled by this weekend's elections. The minority community has faced years of violence and intimidation from al-Qaida in Iraq and other Islamic extremists. In the northern city of Mosul and surrounding areas, many also fear the Kurds want incorporate parts of the area into their semiautonomous region in northern Iraq. The issue came to the fore in Saturday's vote for members of ruling councils in most of Iraq's 18 provinces. Results are not expected for days or even weeks. But when the votes are finally counted, Kurds are expected to lose the dominance they have enjoyed here in Ninevah province since Sunni Arabs boycotted the last provincial election in 2005. Christians will get at least one out of 37 council seats in the province, thanks to a minority quota. But many Christians are divided about whether to back the Kurds or the Sunni Arabs in their struggle for domination in Ninevah and its capital city of Mosul. The U.S. military believes continued Kurdish-Arab tension in the north poses one of the strongest challenges to ensuring long-lasting peace in Iraq now that Shiite-Sunni violence has ebbed. Fewer than 3 percent of Iraq's 26 million people are Christians, many concentrated in Ninevah province. Raad Shaya, a 30-year-old Christian teacher who lives in the outlying town of Batnaya, said Christians face intimidation from both sides. Islamic extremists recently threatened him and several Christian colleagues by placing a warning inside the minibus they used to commute to work. "The Kurds are controlling the Christians right now," he said, lowering his voice after casting his ballot on Saturday. "There's also the threat from outside Islamic political parties." "We're not targeted because we're Christian but because we're a minority in the middle of everything," he added. Fears spiked in the fall with a string of murders of Christians in Mosul, driving thousands of Christian families to leave their homes for the safety of Christian villages around the city. Most have drifted back but are still afraid. "It's better at this point but we paid a high price for it," said Bassem Bello, the Christian mayor of Tel Kaif, a mixed Sunni Arab-Christian town near Mosul. "We're working very hard to make sure it doesn't happen again." He declined to say who was behind the attacks, which claimed up to 16 lives by some counts. But he said the outgoing provincial council had failed to protect its people. "Whenever something like this happens we lose families. They go abroad. This is the agenda. They want the original people of this country to leave," he said. "They have certain aspirations to take over what the Christians have in their areas. Also there are extremist Islamic groups." The Kurds already have moved to stake their claim on the nearby hilly area known as the Ninevah Plains by establishing checkpoints manned by well-trained Kurdish security forces known as peshmerga. The sunshine flag of the semiautonomous Kurdish region to the north also flies on the top of several buildings in the villages and towns that comprise the areas, including some of the schools that were used as polling stations on Saturday. A U.S. official said Christians need the peshmerga for protection but most have stayed on the fence because they're afraid of choosing the losing side. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. Although the Kurds are expected to lose seats, they are hoping for a strong showing as a measure of support for their claims to disputed areas of Ninevah. The Kurds also are seeking to incorporate the oil-rich city of Kirkuk in another province into their semiautonomous area, but the vote for a council there was delayed until later this year. Christians have frequently been targeted since turmoil swept the country after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, although the attacks have ebbed with a sharp drop in overall violence. Churches, priests and businesses of the generally prosperous, well-educated community have been attacked by militants who denounce Christians as pro-American "crusaders." The body of Paulos Rahho, the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul, also was found in March following his abduction by gunmen after a Mass. Suvara Shamsun Haroun, a 25-year-old Christian woman who voted Saturday in Tel Kaif, pointed out that insurgents target all Iraqis "but sometimes they try to drive a wedge between the Arabs and the Christians." Her mother Wirgania Shamwell expressed hope the Christian candidate chosen would help improve the situation. "Hopefully the elections will bring security and a better future for Iraq and that's all we can hope for," she said. "Security is the main thing."

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US soldier dies in northern Iraq

Updated: 02/02/2009 - The U.S. military says an American soldier has died of a noncombat-related injury in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

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Sunni party likely big winner in northern Iraq

Updated: 02/02/2009 - In the last major urban battlefield in the fight between U.S. troops and Sunni insurgents, a Sunni party opposed to both Kurdish influence and the American military presence has emerged as the likely big winner in provincial voting.

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US military deaths in Iraq war at 4,237

Updated: 02/02/2009 - As of Sunday, Feb. 1, 2009, at least 4,237 members of the U.S. military had died in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

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Southwest Kansas Shootings Under Investigation

Updated: 02/02/2009 - Law enforcement authorities in two southwest Kansas communities have spent the weekend investigating two separate shootings that sent three people to area hospitals.

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Overland Park City Council Battles Coyote Problem

Updated: 02/02/2009 - The Overland Park City Council is expected to consider a proposed ordinance Monday in response to a coyote attack that killed a resident's pet dog. Animal control officers have been tracking a male coyote thought to have killed the dog on Jan. 2.

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Consumer Spending And Incomes Fall; Savings Rise

Updated: 02/02/2009 - Consumer spending fell for a record sixth straight month in December as recession-battered households, worried about surging layoffs, boosted their savings rates to the highest level since May.

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Israeli Airstrike Kills Gaza Militant

Updated: 02/02/2009 - A missile from an Israeli aircraft struck a car traveling in the southern Gaza Strip on Monday, killing a Palestinian militant and further straining a truce with the territory's Hamas rulers.

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States Fail In Latest Prairie Dog Report Card

Updated: 02/02/2009 - While groundhogs will get all the attention Monday, a report being issued by an environmental group says their cousins, the prairie dogs, are in dire straits across the West.

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Feds May Make Health Insurance Easier After Layoff

Updated: 02/02/2009 - It will get vastly cheaper for most people to keep health insurance after losing a job if the government's stimulus plan becomes law. Some nickel and dime cuts in health coverage for the poor will be reversed, too. Geek jobs in medicine will grow.

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Bomber In Police Uniform Kills 21 Afghan Policemen

Updated: 02/02/2009 - A suicide bomber in a police uniform detonated his explosives inside a police training center in southern Afghanistan on Monday, killing 21 officers and wounding at least 20, officials said. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

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Commission Gets Grim Report On Wartime Spending

Updated: 02/02/2009 - A new commission examining waste and corruption in wartime contracts is getting a grim report from government watchdogs who say poor planning, weak oversight and greed combined to soak U.S. taxpayers and undermine American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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