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On the shores of California one recent morning, female Marines were heaving heavy chains to secure amphibious assault vehicles that soon would roll into the waves.

The exercise was one part of a yearlong experiment aimed at settling the question of whether women can handle the punishing world of ground combat.

I started off wondering whether I might be able to spell a few of the words right. I ended up realizing that most of them I had never even heard of before.

Iridocyclitis. Cibarial. Pyrrhuloxia. And so on.

It was one of the many surprises of an evening spent watching the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee last night in Washington.

Another big surprise was how much I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I had expected to see a bunch of highly trained kids who've spent months and years memorizing the dictionary, essentially regurgitating that information.

Cholera Surges In Haiti As Rain Arrives Early

17 hours ago

At a government-run clinic in Diquini, near Port-au-Prince, doctors are treating a handful of cholera patients.

One of them is Givenchi Predelus. For five days, the high school sophomore has been lying on a cot with a towel over his midsection and an IV in his arm, listening to tinny music on his bare-bones cellphone.

Predelus speaks in a whisper, a sign of what cholera has done to his strength. "Only one other person in my area has cholera," he says, through an interrupter. "She sells patties on the side of the road. I'm the second victim."

Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury in Chicago. The Illinois Republican, 73, is charged with trying to evade cash withdrawal requirements, and with lying to the FBI about it.

Forrest Hampton is about to become a family man and he couldn't be happier. He's 25 and he lives in a suburb of Dallas with his fiancée, who's due to have their baby practically any minute. They've already picked out a name: Raven.

In most ways they are a normal family. Except for one thing. Until last year, Hampton was a registered sex offender.

"I honestly don't believe I was supposed to be registered in the first place," he says, "but I wasn't in the position to fight my case."

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