Archives for FUBAR

Military expects casualties to rise in Afghanistan

Far from winding down, the numbers of wounded U.S. soldiers coming home have continued to swell. The problem is especially acute among those who fought in Afghanistan, where nearly four times as many troops were injured in October as a year ago. Amputations, burns, brain injuries and shrapnel wounds proliferate in Afghanistan, due mostly to crude, increasingly potent improvised bombs targeting U.S. forces. Others are hit by snipers' bullets or mortar rounds.
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Who knew Hasan was reaching out to radicals?

The mystery over whether the military knew Fort Hood shooting suspect Nidal Hasan was communicating with a radical Muslim imam lapsed into finger-pointing ahead of congressional investigations looking into the Army psychiatrist's contacts with any extremists. Even as President Barack Obama remembered those killed at the Texas Army post and condemned what he described as "the twisted logic that led to this tragedy," federal agencies reacted to conflicting claims about whether a Defense Department terrorism investigator looked into Hasan's contacts months ago with Anwar al-Awlaki. Awlaki, an imam who was released from a Yemeni jail last year, has used his personal Web site to encourage Muslims across the world to kill U.S. troops in Iraq. A military official Tuesday denied knowing Hasan had such contacts.
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Blackwater paid $1 million in bribes to Iraqi officials

Former top executives at Blackwater Worldwide say the U.S. security contractor sent about $1 million to its Iraq office with the intention of paying off officials in the country who were angry about the fatal shootings of 17 civilians by Blackwater employees, The New York Times reported Tuesday. Four former executives described the plan under the condition of anonymity, the newspaper said. Iraqis had long complained about ground operations by the North Carolina-based company, now known as Xe Corp. Then the shooting by Blackwater guards in Baghdad's Nisoor Square in September 2007 left 17 civilians dead, further strained relations between Baghdad and Washington and led U.S. prosecutors to bring charges against the Blackwater contractors involved. The State Department has since turned to DynCorp and another private security firm, Triple Canopy, to handle diplomatic protective services in the country. But Xe continues to provide security for diplomats in other nations, most notably in Afghanistan.
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Few Americans plan to buy a house next year

Just one in 20 Americans say they plan to buy a home within the next year, and they're most likely to be 34 years old or younger and living in the South or West, according to a survey released Wednesday. Roughly a quarter of potential buyers said the No. 1 reason they would buy now is because prices appear to have bottomed out. That reason topped bargain-priced foreclosures, worries about rising interest rates and a wide selection of homes. The survey, conducted for Move.com, a real estate listings site, reveals how Americans are responding to a nascent and fragile housing recovery after three years of staggering price declines. The percentage of buyers thinking of jumping into the market was down slightly from a March survey, but up about 1 point from a poll in June.
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FBI ‘assessed’ Hasan, decided he wasn’t a threat

Nearly a year before Maj. Nidal Hasan allegedly went on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, terrorism investigators conducted an "assessment" of him before deciding he did not pose a threat. After the shooting, the FBI is doing a new assessment — of its own conduct. The Army psychiatrist is believed to have acted alone despite repeated communications — intercepted by authorities — with a radical imam overseas, U.S. officials said Monday. The FBI will conduct an internal review to see whether it mishandled early information about the man accused in the bloody rampage that killed 13 people and wounded 29.
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DC sniper set for execution Tuesday night

Washington sniper John Allen Muhammad, who killed 10 people in a 2002 shooting spree around the US capital, was due to be put to death Tuesday after the nation's top court denied a stay of execution. Muhammad's lawyers had appealed for the US Supreme Court to delay the execution while it examines a plea on whether his sentence was constitutional. "The application for stay of execution of sentence of death presented to the chief justice and by him referred to the court is denied," Monday's Supreme Court ruling obtained by AFP said. Muhammad is now due to be put to death by lethal injection at 9:00 pm (0200 GMT) Tuesday in Virginia.
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10 percent unemployment: A real headache for Obama

For months he had warned it was coming but that didn't ease the political shockwaves for President Barack Obama when unemployment topped 10 percent. A year after his election Obama finds it increasingly difficult to blame the sour economy on George W. Bush or offer reassurances that jobless Americans will soon find work. Never mind that the economy itself grew in the last quarter, that the recession, as measured by the precise formulas used by economists, is over and that the number of jobs lost in October was less than one-third the number of job losses at the start of his presidency. Those claims about the recession's end do not convince people who remain painfully aware of the unemployment rate.
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Many questions about Fort Hood shooting suspect

His name appears on radical Internet postings. A fellow officer says he fought his deployment to Iraq and argued with soldiers who supported U.S. wars. He required counseling as a medical student because of problems with patients. There are many unknowns about Nidal Malik Hasan, the man authorities say is responsible for the worst mass killing on a U.S. military base. Most of all, his motive. But details of his life and mindset, emerging from official sources and personal acquaintances, are troubling.
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Some profit from woes of others in poor economy

Emergency help for out-of-work Americans will be a huge windfall to Realtors, homebuilders, mortgage bankers and others, and that's no accident. Those industries have spent months and millions of dollars making the case for $20 billion in tax cuts for homebuyers and businesses to help create jobs and revive a sluggish housing market. Their lobbying campaign paid off Thursday when Congress voted to pass the tax breaks as part of a broader extension of unemployment benefits. The legislation, which provides up to 20 weeks in additional pay to more than 1 million people who have lost or are in danger of losing jobless aid, is headed for President Barack Obama's desk, after passage by overwhelming bipartisan margins.
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Buyers used clunkers program to buy gas guzzlers

Billed as a way for the government to put more fuel-efficient vehicles on highways, the popular $3 billion Cash for Clunkers program mostly involved swaps of old Ford or Chevrolet pickups for new ones that got only marginally better gas mileage, according to an analysis of new federal data by The Associated Press. The single most common swap — which occurred more than 8,200 times — involved Ford F150 pickup owners who took advantage of a government rebate to trade their old trucks for new Ford F150s. They were 17 times more likely to buy a new F150 than, say, a Toyota Prius. The fuel economy for the new trucks ranged from 15 mpg to 17 mpg based on engine size and other factors, an improvement of just 1 mpg to 3 mpg over the clunkers.
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