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November 24, 2012

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She lost her first election, but six years later gave it another try and now is one of nine veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who will serve in next year’s freshman class in the of House of Representatives.

Veterans’ groups say the influx of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is welcome because it comes at a time when the overall number of veterans in Congress is on a steep and steady decline. In the mid-1970s, the vast majority of lawmakers tended to be veterans.

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Mass. natural gas explosion damaged 42 buildings; cause of blast that hurt 18 being probed

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — Preliminary investigations show more than 40 buildings were damaged in a natural gas explosion in Massachusetts that injured 18 people, building inspectors said Saturday.

A strip club was flattened and a day care center was heavily damaged in the massive explosion Friday night in Springfield, one of New England’s biggest cities.

No one was killed in the explosion.

Investigators were trying Saturday to figure out what caused the blast that could be heard for miles, left a large hole in the ground where the multistory brick building housing Scores Gentleman’s Club once stood and scattered debris over several blocks.

Officials already had evacuated part of the entertainment district after responding to a gas leak and odor reported about an hour before the explosion. Gas workers venting a gas leak got indications that the building was about to explode and they ducked for cover behind a utility truck — along with firefighters and police officers — just before the blast, said Mark McDonald, president of the New England Gas Workers Association.

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How to judge possible ‘fiscal cliff’ deal? A checklist to see whether debt reduction is real

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama and leaders of the lame-duck Congress may be just weeks away from shaking hands on a deal to avert the dreaded “fiscal cliff.” So it’s natural to wonder: If they announce a bipartisan package promising to curb mushrooming federal deficits, will it be real?

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