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WASHINGTON — An ambitious agreement by Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to fix a major funding gap in Medicare and make some separate long-term cuts appears in good shape to pass the House.

A floor vote is planned for Thursday, House leadership aides said, after the top Democrat and Republican successfully resolved concerns about abortion language.

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I learned to swim in the Charlottesville, Virginia, public schools. My teacher was a giant, gregarious man named Mr. Byers of whom I was more than a little intimidated and a lot in awe. I can still remember the firm but caring way he comforted us as we watched the Challenger explosion live on a small television in his poolside office. In his main job as a lifeguard, Mr. Byers had demonstrated the same care; he had been struck by lightning on multiple occasions while trying to get swimmers out of pools during storms. Yet in the 1970s and 80s Charlottesville, in which both he and I lived, there were many swimming pools to which Mr. Byers, who was African-American, was not allowed or welcome.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama welcomed Afghanistan's new president to the Oval Office on Tuesday for their first White House meeting, as the U.S. military firmed up plans to slow its departure from the country.

How many troops the U.S. will leave behind — and for how long — was the focus of daylong White House meetings, the centerpiece of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's highly anticipated visit to the U.S. On the job only six months, Ghani is trying to make the case that he's a reliable partner worthy of American support, despite his fractured government and a litany of problems still rampant in Afghanistan's military — illiteracy, drug abuse and desertions, to name a few.

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