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With song-and-dance performances (one of them above) and a "fun run" around Beijing by thousands of people, China started the 100-day countdown to the Olympic Summer Games. Beijing has spent almost $40 million on infrastructure improvements for the Games. But ominously, the festivities took place in a pall of smog, which Olympics officials have said could cause postponement of some outdoor events if it persists into August.

Suspected Taliban militants blew up their own hideout in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday rather than surrender to government forces. Seven people died in the explosion, two of them civilians. The militants reportedly were linked to last Sunday's failed assassination attempt against President Hamid Karzai. In southern Helmand Province, newly deployed US marines were solidifying their hold on a key town seized from Taliban fighters. Garmsir had been assaulted numerous times before by coalition forces but had withstood capture.


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