Will Congress approve expanded role in Iraq?

Congress members returning to Capitol Hill next week will face a debate over President Barack Obama’s new $5.6 billion plan to expand the U.S. mission in Iraq and send up to 1,500 more American troops to the war-torn nation. Obama authorized the deployment of advisory teams and trainers to bolster struggling Iraqi forces across the country, including into Iraq’s western Anbar province where fighting with Islamic State militants has been fierce. His decision comes just three days after bruising midterm elections for his Democratic Party. But the deployments hinge on whether Obama can get the funding approved in Congress’ lame-duck
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More than 1,000 employees face punishment from VA

The Veterans Affairs Department is considering disciplinary action against more than 1,000 employees as it struggles to correct systemic problems that led to long wait times for veterans seeking health care and falsification of records to cover up delays, VA Secretary Robert McDonald said. In an interview with the CBS News program “60 Minutes,” McDonald said the VA is taking “aggressive, expeditious disciplinary action, consistent with the law” against more than 1,000 of its 315,000 employees. McDonald said the disciplinary report given to the Veterans Affairs committees in the House and the Senate “has about 35 names on it. I’ve
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Fifth teenager dies from Washington state shooting

A fifth teenager has died as a result of a Washington state high school shooting two weeks ago that began when a student opened fire in the cafeteria. Harborview Medical Center in Seattle said 15-year-old Andrew Fryberg died Friday evening of his wounds. Zoe Galasso, 14, was killed during the shooting Oct. 24, by a popular freshman at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. Gia Soriano, 14, died Oct. 26 at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett and 14-year-old Shaylee Chuckulnaskit died Oct. 31 at the Everett hospital. The shooter, Jaylen Fryberg, died of a self-inflicted wound. “We express our thanks for the
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Veteran American diplomat under investigation

A former veteran U.S. diplomat and expert on Pakistan is the subject of a federal investigation and had her security clearance revoked last month, the State Department said Thursday. The department said it is cooperating with a law enforcement probe into Robin Raphel, a one-time ambassador to Tunisia and most recently a senior adviser on civilian aid to Pakistan. Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Raphel’s employment technically ended Nov. 2, but that her clearance was pulled in October, effectively ending her employment. “We are aware of this law enforcement matter,” Psaki said. “The State Department has been cooperating with our law
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FBI agent inpersonated an AP reporter

FBI Director James Comey says an agent impersonated an Associated Press reporter during a 2007 criminal investigation, a ruse the news organization says could undermine its credibility. In a letter Thursday to The New York Times, Comey said the agent “portrayed himself as an employee of The Associated Press” to help catch a 15-year-old suspect accused of making bomb threats at a high school near Olympia, Washington. It was publicized last week that the FBI forged an AP story during its investigation, but Comey’s letter revealed the agency went further and had an agent actually pretend to be a reporter
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Appeals Court upholds gay marriage bans in four states

A month after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to rule on gay marriage, the issue is headed its way again. A federal appeals court Thursday halted a run of rulings supporting same-sex marriage by the U.S. courts that are the last line for appeals just below the Supreme Court. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel instead upheld laws against the practice in four states — Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee. Attorneys for gay plaintiffs say they will ask the Supreme Court to hear their arguments, and the split created Thursday among the federal appeals courts makes it more
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