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SPELLING BEE BEGINS WITH 1ST-EVER VOCABULARY TEST
OXON HILL, Md. (AP) -- The sign outside the waiting room read: "Preliminaries Test, Quiet Please." Spellers emerged one by one, having taken the first vocabulary test in the history of the National Spelling Bee. They were greeted with pats on shoulders from parents and whispers of "How'd it go?"
One of the favorites thought he did OK, although he was grateful for a trick everyone learns at school: the process of elimination.
"It was good that they gave multiple choice, so that you could eliminate incorrect answers," said 13-year-old Arvind Mahankali of New York. "I had to guess at one or two in vocabulary."
The 86th edition of the Scripps National Spelling Bee took on new meaning Tuesday - or rather, lots of meanings - with organizers having decreed that the precocious youngsters need to prove they know the definitions of some of those tough words. The 281 competitors took a 45-minute computer test that probed their knowledge of spelling and vocabulary, with the results to be combined with Wednesday's on-stage round to determine which spellers advance to the semifinals Thursday.
The consensus from the spellers: Good idea, but they wished they had known about it sooner.
"I think everybody wasn't expecting it, because it was something you weren't thinking they were going to put in," said 12-year-old Mary Elizabeth Horton from West Melbourne, Fla. "But it definitely changes everything."
Organizers announced the addition of the vocabulary test seven weeks ago, saying it reinforces the bee's mission to encourage students to broaden their knowledge of the English language. They waited until all the qualifying bees had been completed so that all the spellers would be on equal footing in their preparation.
US ENVIRONMENTALIST MCKIBBEN WINS SOPHIE PRIZE
OSLO, Norway (AP) -- American environmentalist Bill McKibben has won the $100,000 Sophie Prize for being a mobilizing force in the fight against global warming.
The award committee commended McKibben for "building a global, social movement, fighting to preserve a sustainable planet."
McKibben, born in 1960, has written widely about the impact of global warming. In 2008, he founded 350.org, an international movement aimed at solving the climate crisis with representatives in some 190 countries.
The annual Sophie Prize was created in 1997 to reward efforts for a sustainable future. The winner is selected by a Norwegian cultural committee, which said Tuesday that the award ceremony will be held in October in Oslo.
US MILITARY DEATHS IN AFGHANISTAN AT 2,092
As of Tuesday, May 28, 2013, at least 2,092 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count.
The AP count is two less than the Defense Department's tally, last updated Tuesday at 10 a.m. EDT.
At least 1,735 military service members have died in Afghanistan as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.
Outside of Afghanistan, the department reports at least 124 more members of the U.S. military died in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Of those, 11 were the result of hostile action.
The AP count of total OEF casualties outside of Afghanistan is four more than the department's tally.
The Defense Department also counts three military civilian deaths.
Since the start of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, 18,584 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department.