Archives for FUBAR

Obama’s Afghan plan: Send the Marines

The US military will deploy up to 9,000 Marines to Afghanistan's Helmand province -- doubling US presence there -- in the days after President Barack Obama's war strategy announcement this week, the Washington Post said Saturday.

Citing senior US officials, the daily said the extra Marines won't move to the restive southern province until after Obama's address to the nation Tuesday from the prestigious West Point military academy in New York state.

The aim is to regain a footing in the region that has been a base for a fierce Taliban insurgency in recent months.

Some 1,000 army trainers will follow the Marine's deployment, perhaps by February next year, the Post said.

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For once, at least, Saddam told the truth

Saddam Hussein was telling the truth, this time. The United States just didn't believe him.

So it took the most powerful military in the world 18 years to find the remains of the only U.S. Navy pilot shot down in an aerial battle in the 1991 Gulf War.

Michael "Scott" Speicher's bones lay 18 inches deep in Iraqi sand, more or less right where a group of Iraqis had led an American search team in 1995.

The search for Speicher was frustrated by two wars, mysteriously switched remains, Iraqi duplicity and a final tip from a young nomad in Anbar province.

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The stress of war: Military divorces increasing

Afghan warThe divorce rate in the armed forces continues to edge higher, despite efforts by the military to help struggling couples.

There were an estimated 27,312 divorces among roughly 765,000 married members of the active-duty Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps in the 12 months that ended Sept. 30, the Pentagon reported Friday.

That's a divorce rate of about 3.6 percent, compared with 3.4 percent a year earlier, according to figures from the Defense Manpower Data Center. Marriages among reservists failed at a rate of 2.8 percent compared to 2.7 the previous year.

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State Dinner party crashers met Obama

Party crashersThis time, the picture is the story.

After the Secret Service insisted that President Barack Obama was never endangered by a security breach that allowed a couple to crash his first state dinner, the White House has released a photo showing that not only did the pair get close to Obama, they actually shook hands and talked to him.

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White House party crashers may face criminal charges

White House party crashersThe Secret Service may pursue a criminal investigation of the Virginia couple who crashed a White House dinner, but events at the security checkpoint may determine whether the security breach is a crime or just an embarrassment.

Jim Mackin, an agency spokesman, said the possible turn toward criminal charges is one reason the Secret Service has kept mum about what happened when Michaele and Tareq Salahi arrived at the checkpoint Tuesday. They were not on the guest list for the dinner honoring Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Federal law makes it a crime to knowingly and willfully falsify statements on matters within the federal government's jurisdiction.

Nobody disputes that the couple, candidates for a reality TV show, were allowed through security. The Secret Service acknowledges that its procedures weren't followed.
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Health care reform: Damn the debt, full speed ahead

A U.S. debt that is topping $12 trillion is raising fresh questions about the cost of President Barack Obama's proposed healthcare overhaul, but those concerns are unlikely to sink the legislation.

The Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan scorekeeper of federal spending, put the first 10-year cost of the Senate healthcare bill at $849 billion and said it would reduce budget deficits by $130 billion over that period.

Republican critics of the overhaul, a top domestic priority for Obama, say those numbers reflect timing gimmicks that skew the bill's costs and that the price tag will be closer to $2.5 trillion in the first decade the bill is fully implemented.

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Black Friday: Will retailers see black or red?

Black FridayThe nation's retailers are ushering in the traditional start of the holiday shopping season with expanded hours and deep discounts on everything from toys to TVs to lure crowds of shoppers.

A number of stores, including Walmart and many Old Navy locations, opened on Thanksgiving, hoping to make the most of the extra hours. Toys R Us opened most of its stores at midnight Friday.

Online sellers also pushed to grab a piece of the action, pushing deals on Thursday and even earlier in the week.

After suffering the worst sales decline in several decades last holiday season, the good news is that the retail industry is heading into the Christmas selling period armed with lean inventories and more practical goods on their shelves that reflect shoppers' new psyche.
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Claims of government misconduct in Blackwater case

Defense lawyers are alleging misconduct by Justice Department prosecutors in the case against one of five Blackwater security guards accused in the killings of 17 Iraqis in Baghdad.

Recent pretrial proceedings that took place behind closed doors led the Justice Department to seek dismissal of charges against Nicholas Slatten of Sparta, Tenn., one of the five guards accused in the shootings in busy Nisoor Square in September 2007.

In a one-paragraph filing a week ago, the department disclosed that it wants to preserve the possibility of filing a new set of charges against Slatten.

On Wednesday, Slatten's lawyers said in court papers they want to stop the Justice Department from doing so and that the issue should be aired in a public court hearing.

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Did party crashers put the President in danger?

The Secret Service maintains that President Barack Obama was never in danger at a state dinner after an uninvited Virginia couple got through security, but it wouldn't comment on whether anyone is screened for radiological or biological weapons.

Edwin Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman, said Thursday the agency doesn't discuss the levels of security screening at the White House.

Donovan had said earlier that Michaele and Tareq Salahi went through the same security screening for weapons as the 300-plus people invited to the dinner Tuesday for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

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The health care debate: Symbol over substance

The fight over a U.S. government-run public insurance plan may be getting louder and noisier, but for now the program's political symbolism far exceeds its practical impact on expanding health coverage.

The Senate's version of a public option would serve just 3 million to 4 million of the 46 million uninsured living in the United States, and charge slightly higher premiums than private plans, according to non-partisan budget analysts.

But the limited impact has not eased the raging debate over the option, which has split the Democratic Party and threatened prospects for a sweeping healthcare overhaul, President Barack Obama's top domestic priority.

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