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Rebuilding Iraq: A monument to massive waste, too many deaths

In the first tally of its kind, a federal investigative agency has calculated that at least 719 people, nearly half of them Americans, were killed working on projects to rebuild Iraq following the U.S. invasion in 2003. The toll represents an aspect of the Iraq war that is rarely brought to public attention, overshadowed by the much higher number killed in combat as well as the billions of taxpayer dollars squandered on reconstruction. There is no confirmed total number of Iraq war deaths. The U.S. military lost 4,488 in Iraq, and its allies a little over 300. The number of
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Another day, another meaningless, sham vote on Capitol Hill

Democrats pushed a yearlong extension of tax cuts for all but the highest-earning Americans through the Senate on Wednesday, giving President Barack Obama and his party a significant political victory on a measure that is fated to go no further in Congress. Senators approved the Democratic bill by a near party-line 51-48 vote, with Vice President Joe Biden presiding over the chamber in case his vote was needed to break a tie. Minutes earlier, lawmakers voted 54-45 to kill a rival Republican package that would have included the best-off in the tax reductions. The $250 billion Democratic measure would extend
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Romney, Obama differ on approaches to curb gun violence

The politics of guns leapt to the top of the presidential race Wednesday, as President Barack Obama embraced some degree of control of weapons sales and Republican Mitt Romney seemed to suggest an alleged mass killer in Colorado had obtained his weapons illegally even though he hadn’t. Speaking to a mostly black audience in New Orleans, Obama said he would seek a consensus on combating violence. He said some responsibility also rests with parents, neighbors and teachers to ensure that young people “do not have that void inside them.” Obama’s remarks came five days after the movie theater shooting in
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Obama pledges new efforts to curb gun violence

President Barack Obama pledged on Wednesday to work with leaders of all political stripes to “arrive at a consensus” on how to reduce gun violence across the United States after the Colorado shootings highlighted the issue in an election year. Closing out a multiday trip that began in Aurora, Colorado, where he met with families and victims of the movie theater massacre there, Obama told a mostly African-American audience that such tragedies are replayed on a smaller scale in cities throughout the country on a daily basis. “Every day and a half the number of young people we lose to
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Feinstein on leaks: ‘Sure sorry I said that’

The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Tuesday that she shouldn’t have speculated about the White House’s responsibility for national security leaks because she didn’t know the source of the unauthorized disclosures. Just hours after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney seized on her comments to criticize President Barack Obama, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., issued a statement offering her regrets about her observation while insisting that she was confident the president did not disclose classified information. “I am disappointed by the statements made by Mr. Romney today regarding a question I was asked yesterday at the World Affairs Council,” Feinstein
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Firearms sales surge in wake of Colorado shooting

Firearms sales are surging in the wake of the Colorado movie theater massacre as buyers express fears that anti-gun politicians may use the shootings to seek new restrictions on owning weapons. In Colorado, the site of Friday’s shooting that killed 12 and injured dozens of others, gun sales jumped in the three days that followed. The state approved background checks for 2,887 people who wanted to purchase a firearm — 25 percent more than the average Friday to Sunday period in 2012 and 43 percent more than the same interval the week prior. Dick Rutan, owner of Gunners Den in
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‘Batman’ actor visits Colorado shooting victims

Christian Bale, the actor behind the Batman mask in “The Dark Knight Rises,” visited victims of last week’s movie theater shooting as they recovered at an Aurora, Colorado, hospital on Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the facility said. Emily Crowley, spokeswoman for the Medical Center of Aurora, confirmed that the movie star was at the hospital Tuesday afternoon but did not give any details. Bill Voloch, interim president of the medical center, told The Denver Post newspaper that Bale spent about 2.5 hours at the hospital, where he met with five people still being treated for their injuries. Two others victims
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Even with increasing violence, there’s little enthusiasm for gun control

Gun control advocates sputter at their own impotence. The National Rifle Association is politically ascendant. And Barack Obama’s White House pledges to safeguard the Second Amendment in its first official response to the deaths of at least 12 people in a mass shooting at a new Batman movie screening in suburban Denver. Once, every highly publicized outbreak of gun violence produced strong calls from Democrats and a few Republicans for tougher controls on firearms. Now those pleas are muted, a political paradox that’s grown more pronounced in an era scarred by Columbine, Virginia Tech, the wounding of a congresswoman and
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What do about the increasing gun violence: The debate goes beyond weapons control

On the morning of the latest mass shooting, in a place that has become synonymous with tragedy, Tom Mauser’s phone started ringing at 5 a.m. When he turned on the news his first thought was “Oh God,” followed by an immediate: “Not again.” He’s seen this too often since that April morning in 1999, when his own son Daniel was slain along with 12 others at Columbine High School. In the years that have followed, every time the unthinkable happens yet again _ at a Virginia college, a Texas military base, an Arizona strip mall, a Colorado movie theater _
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Romney on gun control: We don’t need any new laws

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who has backed gun control measures in the past, said on Monday that additional laws would not have stopped last week’s massacre in a Colorado movie theater. “I still believe that the Second Amendment is the right course to preserve and defend and don’t believe that new laws are going to make a difference in this type of tragedy,” Romney told CNBC’s Lawrence Kudlow in an interview. Both Romney and his opponent, Democratic President Barack Obama, have demurred on the prospect of new gun control laws in the days since a gunman opened fire during
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