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iTunes cannot connect to music store...and other woes

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So, one day, seemingly out of the blue, iTunes no longer connects to the music store. This message appears upon loading iTunes:

"iTunes could not connect to the iTunes Store. The network connection was refused. Make sure your network settings are correct and your network connection is active, then try again."

I'm not sure that my network settings are correct, but I googled the error message, checked out the Apple help site, and as a result tried various things, including:

uninstalling iTunes and downloading current version
making sure my firewall is off
making sure my LAN settings are correct
running various malware and virus programs (and removing a few beasties)

None of these things helped. I also tried downloading the latest version of IE, but that revealed more problems, as once it was installed,

"Windows cannot connect to the Internet using HTTP, HTTPS, or FTP. This is probably caused by firewall settings on this computer. Check the firewall settings for the HTTP port (80), HTTPS port (443), and FTP port (21)."

Well, I don't really care about having the current version of IE, but I'm thinking these 2 problems are related. But, my firewall is definitely off, I've played around with my LAN and other Internet settings, and I'm not sure how to check specific HTTP settings.

Oh, and my Internet and email connections work fine otherwise.

Sorry this is so long, but I thought the more detail the better. I'd really appreciate any help!
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