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Putin says Trump foes harm US with Russia collusion probes

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MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin said Thursday the U.S. is only hurting itself with investigations of alleged collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia, and the Kremlin leader vowed he won’t allow the radical opposition at home to challenge the status quo as he seeks re-election. At his annual news conference, Putin also mocked his most visible critic, Alexei Navalny, saying that those like the opposition leader want to drive Russia into chaos ahead of the March 18 presidential election in Russia. ... Read More
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No Tannenbaum: Senator says rule keeps trees from US troops

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New York Sen. Chuck Schumer says a federal rule change that’s stopping donated Christmas trees from being sent to American troops overseas is straight out of the Grinch’s playbook. The top Senate Democrat sent a letter to the U.S. postmaster on Thursday urging her to immediately waive procedural changes that are preventing New York residents from sending trees to military bases abroad. Schumer says at least 40 trees donated by co... Read More
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Trump just made a 355-ship Navy national policy

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Achieving a 355-ship Navy is now national policy, but the goal is still a long way off. When President Trump signed the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act yesterday, it included a provision sponsored by Senate Seapower Subcommittee Chairman Roger Wicker and his House counterpart Rep. Rob Wittman that calls for the country to build up to 355 ships “as soon as practicable.” The provision is contingent on the requisite appropri... Read More
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IT hiccups plague Forever GI Bill implementation

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Recently separated veterans may be getting inaccurate information about education benefits in the mail, potentially causing “mass confusion” among veterans about their eligibility, Veterans Affairs officials admitted to lawmakers on Tuesday. That’s because the VA is still in the process of updating its information technology systems with major reforms to the GI Bill signed into law by President Trump in August. Some recipients of the benefit who qualify for the changes have received letters from the department with old infor... Read More
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Health experts warn concussions present major challenges to military health

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WASHINGTON — Concussions may be among the most common and least understood military injuries, with identification of so-called “mild” traumatic brain damage a major challenge to combating the problem, health experts warned lawmakers on Wednesday. But they also said the reasons for those shortfalls don’t fall solely on Defense Department and veterans researchers. Understanding and diagnosing the problem remains frustratingly elusive in the medical community, even as an ever-increasing amount of is compiled from sports injur... Read More
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Tillerson softens US stance on possible talks with North Korea

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WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday softened America’s stance on possible talks with North Korea, calling it “unrealistic” to expect the nuclear-armed country to come to the table ready to give up a weapons of mass destruction program that it invested so much in developing. Tillerson said his boss, President Donald Trump, endorses this position. Tillerson’s remarks came two weeks after North Korea conducted a test with a missile that could potentially carry a nuclear warhead to the U.S. Eastern Seabo... Read More
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As Mueller closed in, pressure mounted on Flynn and family

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WASHINGTON — In the days before he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, and as he braced for the public revelation that he’d morphed from government target to government cooperator, Michael Flynn was reveling in the pleasures of a new grandchild, swapping cheerful observations about babies with a longtime friend and fellow grandfather. At the same time, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser also was lamenting the emotional toll of the criminal investigation he was facing, another friend recalls. ... Read More
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Trump to release national security strategy next week

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is set to unveil his first National Security Strategy next Monday. National security adviser H.R. McMaster said the strategy will incorporate four core national interests: the protection of American people; advancing American prosperity; “preserving peace through strength”; and advancing American influence. Speaking with his British counterpart Tuesday at an event hosted by the British think ... Read More
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Trump signs FY18 defense authorization bill into law

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump signed the annual defense authorization bill into law on Tuesday, officially setting the 2018 military pay raise at 2.4 percent and setting the stage for increased Pentagon spending in coming months. “This bill demonstrates our unwavering commitment to men and women in uniform,” Trump said during a White House signing ceremony, while flanked by military officials. “They are the greatest fighting force in the world, and we’re making it ever better than that.” ... Read More
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Stoltenberg confirmed for two more years as NATO head

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WASHINGTON – NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has been renewed for another two-year term as leader of the alliance. The news, announced Tuesday by NATO, means the former prime minister of Norway will remain in his current role through Sept. 30, 2020. Stoltenberg has served as Secretary General since 2014, a tumultuous time for Europe that has seen a resurgent Russia invade Ukrainian territory, the United Kingdom vote to leav... Read More
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Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, a former Navy SEAL, touts his physical feats

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Rappelling into a bull-riding rodeo event, crawling through dirt in a SWAT obstacle course and entering a burning building with firefighters. These could be action movie stunts by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Hollywood star turned California governor. But they were all done by another governor earning a reputation for public displays of physical prowess — Eric Greitens of Missouri. ... Read More
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Firm denies Flynn texted its director on US sanctions

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WASHINGTON — An investment firm that once hired Michael Flynn has denied he sent text messages during President Donald Trump’s inauguration indicating U.S. sanctions would be “ripped up” so a nuclear reactor project in the Middle East involving Russian interests could proceed. The firm, however, cited only one set of cell phone records to show that there were no text messages between Flynn and the firm’s managing director on Inauguration Day. That leaves open the possibility that Flynn relied on other devices or private ... Read More
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American diplomat: US looks to counter Iran in post-war Iraq

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BAGHDAD — As Iraq emerges from three years of war with the Islamic State group, the U.S. is looking to roll back the influence of neighboring Iran and help the central government resolve its dispute with the Kurdish region, the American envoy to the country told The Associated Press. U.S. Ambassador Douglas Silliman took up his post in Baghdad in September 2016, just weeks before the start of the operation to retake the northern city of Mosul. With IS now driven out of all the territory it once held and Iraq’s declaration that... Read More
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Tell us: Do you support a court ruling to allow transgender recruits to join the military?

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A federal judge ruled Monday that transgender individuals can begin enlisting in the military on Jan. 1, denying a request by the Trump administration for a delay. The decision is the latest hurdle in President Donald Trump’s effort to ban transgender people from serving in the military. The administration argued that transgender recruits would... Read More
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US foresaw a costly victory in war with North Korea — in 1994

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WASHINGTON — In a nuclear standoff with North Korea more than two decades ago — long before the reclusive government had atomic weapons that could threaten America — U.S. officials planned for war. Declassified documents published Friday show the United States believed its military and South Korea’s forces would “undoubtedly win” a conflict on the divided Korean Peninsula, with the understanding it would cost many casualties. ... Read More
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Iraq says its war against ISIS has ended

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BAGHDAD — Iraq said Saturday that its war on the Islamic State group is over after more than three years of combat operations drove the extremists from all of the territory they once held. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced Iraqi forces were in full control of the country’s border with Syria during remarks at a conference in Baghdad, and his spokesman said the development marked the end of the military fight against ISIS. A... Read More
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Tillerson says Ukraine key sticking point in US-Russia ties

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VIENNA — U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Thursday that Ukraine was the sole sticking point keeping the United States and Russia from forging a closer relationship, suggesting that all other disputes were secondary. “The issue that stands in the way is Ukraine,” Tillerson said. The assessment from America’s top diplomat notably played down other areas of dispute, particularly Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presiden... Read More
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US Congress avoids government shutdown, at least for two more weeks

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WASHINGTON — U.S. lawmakers on Thursday averted a government shutdown this week by passing a new funding extension to keep federal operations running for two more weeks, in the hopes of reaching a broader budget consensus before Christmas. The measure, which passed mostly along party lines in the House (235-93) and with little debate in the Senate (81-13), ensures that Defense Department operations and other federal programs won’t be disrupted this weekend. A previous continuing resolution on the budget was set to expire Frida... Read More
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North Korea says war is inevitable as allies continue war games

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SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea says a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula has become a matter of when, not if, as it continued to lash out at a massive joint military exercise between the United States and South Korea involving hundreds of advanced warplanes. In comments attributed to an unnamed Foreign Ministry spokesman, North Korea also claimed high-ranked U.S. officials, including CIA Director Mike Pompeo, have further confirmed American intent for war with a series of “bellicose remarks.” ... Read More
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Trump lawyers request delay in Jan. 1 deadline for transgender military recruits

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WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has filed a last-minute appeal to delay transgender recruits from joining the military, despite recent federal court rulings that the Pentagon must be ready to receive new troops on Jan. 1. “The military will not be adequately prepared to begin processing transgender applicants for military service by January 1, 2018, and requiring the military to do so may negatively impact military readiness,” attorneys for President Donald Trump argued in a late Wednesday filing at the U.S. District C... Read More
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Saudi at Guantanamo said to have admitted helping 9/11 plot

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GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba — A Saudi facing a war crimes tribunal at Guantanamo Bay for allegedly aiding the Sept. 11 attack told interrogators that he bought plane tickets and facilitated money transfers for seven of the hijackers, a retired FBI agent said Wednesday, providing the most detailed account so far of evidence prosecutors intend to use in a case that has unfolded incrementally over nearly six years. Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi spoke to interrogators over four days in January 2004 as they showed him financial and tr... Read More
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Pentagon prepares to accept transgender recruits by Jan. 1

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The Pentagon is preparing to comply with a federal court ruling saying the military must accept new transgender recruits by Jan. 1, even as officials are still weighing how to comply with President Donald Trump’s directive that they not be allowed to serve at all. “January 1 means January 1,” said Jennifer Levi, GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders Transgender Rights project director. Levi was reacting to a U.S. District Court r... Read More
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Veterans advocates rally at US Capitol for expanded caregiver benefits

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When Coast Guard rescue swimmer Dave Riley lost all four limbs to a rare bacteria in 1997, his wife, Yvonne, gave up her career and freedom to become his full-time caregiver. He said he wouldn’t be able to survive without her help, even for everyday tasks like eating, putting on his prosthetics and traveling outside the home. “For the last 20 years, she has sacrificed so much so I can lead a high-quality life,” he said. “And ... Read More
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Whistleblower: At inauguration, Flynn texted on nuclear reactor plan

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WASHINGTON — A whistleblower has told House Democrats that during President Donald Trump’s inauguration speech, national security adviser Michael Flynn texted a former business associate to say a private nuclear reactor plan Flynn had lobbied for would also have his support in the White House. As the whistleblower chatted with Flynn’s associate at an Inauguration Day celebration on Jan. 20, Flynn sent text messages saying the associate’s nuclear proposal was “good to go,” the whistleblower said. According to the whistl... Read More
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Report: Sexually transmitted diseases on the rise in the military

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WASHINGTON — Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise in the military, and have become especially problematic among lower ranks, according to research from Armed Forces Health Surveillance officials. The findings present a potentially significant health problem for the force, which had seen stable or decreasing rates in earlier years. Investigators said at least part of the problem with the rise may be attributable to the lack of consistent practices to deal with the issue across the services. ... Read More
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Trump’s tweet raises obstruction specter, worries allies

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WASHINGTON — The shifting explanations for why President Donald Trump fired national security adviser Michael Flynn have revived questions about whether the president may have obstructed an ongoing investigation of potential contacts between his campaign and Russia. Pressure on the administration has mounted since Flynn last week pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, with prosecutors revealing that he is now cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. And a... Read More
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Rival Senate plan to reform VA health care complicates congressional debate

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Veterans health care legislation introduced by a pair of Republican senators on Monday could further complicate congressional plans to move quickly on sweeping reforms for the Department of Veterans Affairs as another funding deadline looms. The measure, sponsored by Sens. Jerry Moran of Kansas and John McCain of Arizona, would create a new community care program for the department to allow more veterans to seek care outside the federal system at taxpayers’ expense. ... Read More
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Former House Veterans’ Affairs ranking member gets five-year prison sentence

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WASHINGTON — The former ranking member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee was sentenced to five years in federal prison on Monday for using money from an education charity for personal gain. Corrine Brown, who lost her Florida congressional seat in August 2016 amid charges of fraud, was convicted earlier this year of using the charity One Door for Education Foundation Inc. as a personal slush fund for herself and friends instead of providing scholarships to low-income students. ... Read More
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CIA director: Trump tweets help us

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s tweetstorm in the wake of the guilty plea by his former national security adviser Michael Flynn again raised concerns about the commander-in-chief’s frequent use of the social media platform. But on Saturday, CIA Director Mike Pompeo insisted Trump’s prolific use of Twitter is actually helping his agency gather valuable intelligence. “I have actually seen it help us,” Pompeo said when... Read More
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Trump’s favorite general: Michael Flynn’s rise and fall

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WASHINGTON — Michael Flynn was President Donald Trump’s favorite general, rapidly vaulted to prominence by his fiery speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention about jailing Hillary Clinton and by Trump’s decision to reward him with a plum job as his top national security aide. Flynn’s plunge was even faster. He was fired by Trump after just a month in the White House and left to contend with a mounting criminal probe that led to his decision to plead guilty Friday to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Rus... Read More
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US defense secretary meets with Egyptian officials in Cairo

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CAIRO — U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis met Saturday with Egyptian officials to discuss cooperation between the two countries, the first stop on a trip that will also take him to Jordan, Pakistan and Kuwait. Mattis’ visit came just over a week after the worst-ever Islamic militant attack in Egypt’s modern history took place in the troubled northern Sinai where over two dozen extremists descended on a mosque and killed more than 300 worshippers. ... Read More
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Mattis signals military shift in Syria to reflect ISIS defeat

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ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT — The U.S. military is shifting its stance in Syria, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday, as the program to arm the Kurdish opposition comes to a close and is replaced by increased support to local police and security forces. Mattis said the Pentagon is “changing the composition of our forces” in Syria to reflect the collapse of the Islamic State group there and a renewed emphasis on finding a diplomatic path to peace. ... Read More
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Senator: It’s time for US military families to leave South Korea

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WASHINGTON — Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday that he believes it’s time to start moving the families of American military personnel out of South Korea as North Korea pushes the U.S. closer to a military conflict. Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he will also urge the Pentagon not to send any more dependents to South Korea. “It’s crazy to send spouses and children to South Korea, given the provocat... Read More
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Commentary: American arms to Syrian Kurds protects US interests in the region

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Recent reports that the U.S. is reviewing its support to Kurdish fighters in Syria has sent shockwaves through the region. While President Trump’s decision to arm the Kurds has been viewed as controversial in Ankara, it is within the America’s strategic interest to continue to support the ragtag group of Kurdish militants. The U.S. has been supplying the Syrian Arab Coalition, a group of Arab fighters within the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, with weapons and equipment for some time. In May, U.S. military officials anno... Read More
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Trump says he never asked Comey to stop Flynn probe

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Sunday in a tweet that he never asked former FBI Director James Comey to stop investigating his ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn, issuing a fresh denial amid a shifting timeline on when he may have known that Flynn had lied to the FBI. Trump said on Twitter before dawn, “I never asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn. Just more Fake News covering another Comey lie!” The president reiterated his version of events after Comey testified before Congress in June that Trump had a... Read More
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Handful of hawkish U.S. lawmakers urge military leaders to fight new CR

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SIMI VALLEY, Calif. — A group of pro-defense lawmakers is urging White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other military leaders to pressure Congress to make a 2018 budget deal before year’s end—and avoid another stopgap funding resolution. The call comes as Congress is scrambling to avert a government shutdown when the latest continuing resolution runs out Dec. 8. Reportedly, conservative Republicans are arguing for a CR into January as lawmakers wrangle over an omnibus appropriations mea... Read More
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Former Trump aide Flynn pleads guilty, lied to FBI

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Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn has pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with a Russian diplomat. It’s the first plea by any of the four former advisers to President Donald Trump charged so far in the wide-ranging investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller. Flynn has been under investigation for a wide range of allegations, including his lobbying work on behalf of Tur... Read More
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Flynn scheduled to plead guilty to lying to FBI

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Former national security adviser Michael Flynn is scheduled to plead guilty to making false statements to the FBI. A plea hearing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. The Justice Department announced Friday that the hearing will take place before U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras at a D.C. federal courthouse. Court documents released Friday show Flynn has been charged with a single count of “willfully and knowingly” making false state... Read More
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Pentagon decides against ban on use of certain cluster bombs

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WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has put off indefinitely a planned ban on using certain cluster bombs, which release explosive submunitions, or bomblets. The U.S. military considers them a legitimate and important weapon, although critics say they kill indiscriminately and pose hazards to civilians. A 2010 international treaty outlaws the use of cluster bombs, but the U.S. is not a signatory. The George W. Bush administration declared in... Read More
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Pentagon: 801 civilians killed in coalition airstrikes against ISIS

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BAGHDAD — At least 801 civilians have been killed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, according to a Pentagon report released Thursday. Five more strikes, all in Syria, were investigated over the past month and found to have resulted in 15 civilian additional civilian deaths, the report stated. However, monitoring groups say the number of civilian casualties from coalition airstrikes ... Read More
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Judge orders US to disclose details of American held in Iraq

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WASHINGTON — A federal judge is giving the U.S. government until 5 p.m. to say whether an American citizen accused of fighting with the Islamic State has been told of his constitutional rights. The judge also wants to know if he’s asked for a lawyer. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan grew impatient Thursday when a government lawyer would not answer the questions about the individual picked up on the Syrian battlefield and detained in Iraq for more than two months. ... Read More
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Haley: North Korea ‘brings us closer to war’ the US doesn’t seek

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said Wednesday that North Korea’s latest launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile — which some observers believe could reach the Eastern U.S. — “brings us closer” to a war the U.S. isn’t seeking. Nikki Haley, speaking at an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council, said that if war comes as a result of further acts of “aggression” like Tuesday’s launch, “make no mistake the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed.” ... Read More
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Grand jury testimony in Flynn probe put off, source says

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WASHINGTON — Prosecutors working with special counsel Robert Mueller have postponed grand jury testimony related to the private business dealings of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, a person familiar with the ongoing investigation into Trump campaign associates and Russian election interference told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The reason for the postponement was not immediately clear, but it comes one week after attorneys for Flynn alerted President Donald Trump’s legal team that they could no longer shar... Read More
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Accused leaker loses appeal seeking pretrial jail release

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Accused leaker loses appeal seeking pretrial jail release AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — A woman charged with leaking U.S. secrets has lost an appeal of a federal magistrate’s order that she remain jailed until trial. U.S. District Court Judge J. Randal Hall ruled Monday the lower court correctly decided in October that releasing 25-year-old Reality Winner on bail would risk “harm to national security.” ... Read More
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US, China hold quiet military talks amid North Korea tensions

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WASHINGTON — U.S. and Chinese generals engaged in an unusual set of security talks on Wednesday, just hours after North Korea’s most powerful missile test yet, focused on how the mighty American and Chinese militaries might communicate in a crisis. As President Donald Trump greeted the North’s launching of another intercontinental ballistic missile with familiar demands for China to get tougher with its ally, the low-profile and unpublicized meeting at the National Defense University in Washington was taking place amid signs... Read More
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Lawmakers propose making franchising cheaper for vets

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A bipartisan pair of lawmakers are teaming up to try to make franchising opportunities more accessible to veterans. U.S. Reps. Julia Brownley, D-Calif., and Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y., on Tuesday introduced the Veteran Entrepreneurs Act of 2017 — legislation that would create a tax credit to cover 25 percent of initial fees for veteran franchisees, if passed. “Veterans have the leadership skills needed to succeed in small business ow... Read More
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Exhibit of art by Guantanamo terror suspects sparks outrage

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NEW YORK — An art exhibit at a New York City college seemed innocuous enough, mostly seascapes and still-life paintings of flowers and fruit. But it’s the background of the artists — current and former terror suspects at the notorious Guantanamo Bay detention center — that drew protest and prompted the Pentagon to bar the further release of works created at the military-run prison. The exhibit, Ode to the Sea, has been on dis... Read More
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Citing probes, Defense Intelligence Agency bars access to Flynn records

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WASHINGTON — The Defense Intelligence Agency is refusing to publicly release a wide array of documents related to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, saying that turning them over could interfere with ongoing congressional and federal investigations. Flynn, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general and former DIA director, is a central player in the investigations into whether President Donald Trump’s campaign and his associates coordinated with Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Flynn als... Read More
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Libyan cleared of murder charges in Benghazi attack

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WASHINGTON — A Libyan militant was convicted Tuesday of terrorism charges stemming from the 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans. But a federal jury found him not guilty of murder, the most serious charge associated with the rampage he was accused of orchestrating. The attack became instant political fodder in the 2012 presidential campaign, with Republicans accusing the Obama administration of intentionally misleading the public and stonewalling congressional investigators, though offi... Read More
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Syrian Kurdish official to US: Don’t turn your back on us

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BEIRUT — A senior Syrian Kurdish official said Washington would undermine the campaign against Islamic State militants and Americans would lose their place in the region’s fight against terrorism if they “turn their back” on their only ally in Syria — the Kurds. The comments by Ilham Ahmed, a member of the political arm of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, were in response to the U.S. administration’s suggestion that military aid to the Kurdish-led forces may be halted. ... Read More
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Pentagon detects ‘probable’ missile launch from North Korea

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WASHINGTON — After months of quiet, North Korea resumed testing of its ballistic missile program Tuesday, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff reported. The Pentagon would only say it had detected a “probable missile launch” at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, and had no other details to immediately provide. However, South Korea’s military reported the missile flew eastward from North Korea, according to Yonhap News Service. ... Read More
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Trump’s tweet sparks fears of a looming government shutdown

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WASHINGTON — Another round of political fights between the president and congressional Democrats has raised the possibility of a partial government shutdown in December, potentially disrupting Pentagon operations and military paychecks. Lawmakers need to settle on a budget extension by Dec. 8 — the day a continuing resolution currently funding government operations expires — or risk a shutdown of all but essential operations. R... Read More
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Latest court ruling could allow new transgender enlistments to start Jan. 1

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WASHINGTON — New transgender recruits could begin enlisting in the military starting Jan. 1 under the latest court victory for advocates opposed to President Donald Trump’s policies. The decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia follows two earlier federal court injunctions against Trump’s announced plans to bar transgender individuals from the ranks, but will likely be appealed by administration officials in coming days. ... Read More
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Supreme Court declines to take up drone strike lawsuit

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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is declining to revive a lawsuit over a drone strike in Yemen that killed five people. The court said Monday it would not take up the case. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled earlier this year that the case had been properly dismissed. The appeals court said taking up the case would require it to second-guess the wisdom of a military action, which it said courts could not review. ... Read More
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Supreme Court turns down Westboro Baptist Church challenge to funeral protest law

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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is leaving in place a Nebraska law that bars protests around funerals. Nebraska enacted the law in 2006. It prohibits protests near a cemetery, mortuary or church from one hour before the beginning of a funeral to two hours after. Members of the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church challenged the law but have lost in lower courts. Members of the church routinely conduct anti-gay protests outside milit... Read More
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US still arming Kurdish allies in Syria

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The U.S. is still providing arms and weapons to Kurdish allies fighting ISIS in Syria despite recent reports suggesting the U.S. would end its support of the People’s Protection Units, or YPG. There have been no changes to the policy put forth by the Trump administration in early May that authorized the U.S. military to arm Kurdish militants fighting under the larger coalition of mixed Kurd and Arab fighters, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve, told Military Tim... Read More
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Yemen officials say suspected US drone kills 3 al-Qaida

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SANAA, Yemen — Yemeni security and tribal officials say a suspected U.S. drone strike has killed three alleged al-Qaida fighters in the country’s central Bayda province. They say the Sunday strike was the third of its kind in a week in the province, a stronghold for the group. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. Yemen fell into chaos following its 2011 Arab Spring uprising that deposed longtime autocrat Al... Read More
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Republican senators support disciplined Air Force colonel

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A group of U.S. senators have signed a letter in support of an airman who says he was wrongly disciplined after refusing to sign a certificate of appreciation to the same-sex spouse of a retiring master sergeant. Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas and Roy Blunt of Missouri are among the Republican senators who sent the letter to the Air Force secretary earlier this month in support of Air Force Col. Leland Bohannon, the ... Read More
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Veterans are key as surge of states OK medical pot for PTSD

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NEW YORK — It was a telling setting for a decision on whether post-traumatic stress disorder patients could use medical marijuana. Against the backdrop of the nation’s largest Veterans Day parade, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this month he’d sign legislation making New York the latest in a fast-rising tide of states to OK therapeutic pot as a PTSD treatment, though it’s illegal under federal law and doesn’t boast extensive, conclusive medical research. ... Read More
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Trump calls for crushing terrorists with military means

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JUPITER, Fla. — President Donald Trump denounced the deadly mosque attack in Egypt and reached out to its president, asserting the world must crush terrorists by military means — and insisting the U.S. needs a southern border wall and the travel ban tied up in courts. “Need the WALL, need the BAN!” Trump tweeted Friday before calling Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. “God bless the people of Egypt.” The attack’s... Read More
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Flynn may be moving to cooperate with Mueller’s Russia probe

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WASHINGTON — In a move that could signal cooperation with the government, lawyers for former national security adviser Michael Flynn have told President Donald Trump’s lawyers that they are no longer communicating with them about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference. Flynn’s legal team communicated the decision this week, said a person familiar with the move who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. The New York Times first ... Read More
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US officials not told Russia tried to target personal emails

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WASHINGTON — The FBI failed to notify scores of U.S. officials that Russian hackers were trying to break into their personal Gmail accounts despite having evidence for at least a year that the targets were in the Kremlin’s crosshairs, The Associated Press has found. Nearly 80 interviews with Americans targeted by Fancy Bear, a Russian government-aligned cyberespionage group, turned up only two cases in which the FBI had provided a heads-up. Even senior policymakers discovered they were targets only when the AP told them, a sit... Read More
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Congress advances new sexual assault, harassment rules for the military

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WASHINGTON — Amid a national conversation on sexual assault and harassment, Congress is pushing military leaders to enact a host of new rules designed to protect victims and curb inappropriate behavior in the ranks. The moves, included in the annual defense authorization bill, build off of similar congressional efforts in recent years, which critics have said don’t go far enough to address cultural problems in the ranks. The most... Read More
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Pilot program helps overseas military spouses work from home

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WASHINGTON — Congress wants to help more military spouses living overseas find work, even if that means telecommuting across an ocean. Tucked into the annual defense authorization bill, which is expected to be signed into law by President Donald Trump later this month, is a provision for a new pilot program “providing telework facilities for military spouses on military installations outside the United States.” The effort, whic... Read More
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Russia says expert body on Syria chemical attacks ‘is dead’

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UNITED NATIONS — Russia’s U.N. ambassador said Wednesday the expert body that has determined responsibility for chemical weapons attacks in Syria “is dead” — but Moscow is ready to discuss “a new mechanism.” Vassily Nebenzia told reporters after a closed Security Council discussion that the Joint Investigative Mechanism, or JIM, “has discredited itself completely.” “But we are ready to talk about establishing a ne... Read More
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Pentagon suspends sentence against Marine 1-star detained at Guantanamo Bay

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MIAMI — A Pentagon spokesman says a Marine Corps general is no longer confined to quarters for contempt at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Pentagon suspended a sentence that found Brig. Gen. John Baker should be confined to quarters for 21 days and fined $1,000, pending a review by a Defense Department legal official, Air Force Maj. Ben Sakrisson said. Baker was informed of the decision Friday while awaiting a ruling to ... Read More
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US slaps new sanctions on North Korean, Chinese companies

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WASHINGTON — The Trump administration imposed new sanctions Tuesday on a slew of North Korean shipping firms and Chinese trading companies in its latest push to isolate the rogue nation over its nuclear weapons development and deprive it of revenue. The Treasury Department also designated a North Korean corporation involved in exporting workers overseas. The action came a day after the United States returned North Korea to its list of state sponsors of terrorism. ... Read More
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2nd US judge halts proposed transgender military ban

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BALTIMORE — Another federal judge has halted a proposed transgender military ban, expanding on an initial ruling issued last month against the plan by President Donald Trump’s administration. In a preliminary injunction issued Tuesday in Baltimore, U.S. District Judge Marvin Garbis ruled that transgender service members have “demonstrated that they are already suffering harmful consequences” due to the proposed ban including threat of discharge, stigma and the cancellation or delay of surgeries related to their gender tran... Read More
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Cochran recommends budget-cap busting defense bill

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WASHINGTON — Ahead of a bipartisan budget deal expected before year’s end, U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran is recommending a $650.7 billion spending package for the military for fiscal 2018. The proposal announced Tuesday includes $581.3 billion in base Defense Department funding, $64.9 billion in so-called Overseas Contingency Operations wartime funding and, as Trump requested, $4.5 billion in emergency funding for missile defense. ... Read More
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2018 military pay raise is the biggest in eight years, but how generous is it?

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WASHINGTON — Congressional lawmakers are boasting that the recently passed fiscal 2018 defense authorization bill has the largest pay raise for troops in the past eight years. But that has less to do with newfound generosity among lawmakers and more to do with the expected rise in civilian wages next year. Included in the massive budget bill, finalized by the Senate Nov. 16 and expected to be signed into law by President Donald Tru... Read More
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Seoul: 2 top North Korean military officers punished

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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s spy agency told lawmakers Monday that North Korea has punished two of its top military officers, including one widely seen as its second-most powerful official, during a highly unusual inspection of the military’s powerful political bureau. According to a lawmaker who attended the closed-door briefing by the National Intelligence Service, it said the inspection of the North Korean military’s General Political Bureau was the first of its kind in 20 years and occurred because of its “impu... Read More
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ICC prosecutor seeks probe of US personnel in Afghanistan

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The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court asked judges Monday to authorize an investigation of reported human rights abuses in Afghanistan, including allegations of rape and torture by the U.S. military and CIA, crimes against humanity by the Taliban and war crimes by Afghan security forces. The announcement marked the first time ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has gone after Americans for alleged war crimes and sets up a possible showdown with Washington. The United States is not a member state of the court, but its nation... Read More
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Pentagon data: Fort Carson sexual assault reports increased

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Sexual assault reports have more than doubled since 2013 at Fort Carson, Colorado, according to a report released Friday by the Pentagon. The Colorado Springs Gazette reports 116 sexual assault reports were made at Fort Carson in 2016, up from 43 reports in 2013. The post has nearly 25,000 soldiers. Sexual assault reports there peaked in 2015 at 125. ... Read More
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US troops lack support despite expanding mission in Africa

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A once shadowy mission in the Sahel region of western and north-central Africa has been illuminated since the attack that killed four U.S. soldiers in Niger. What has been revealed is that U.S. troops operating in advisory roles across Africa lack the level of support they have received in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The Pentagon is still investigating the Oct. 4 ambush of a joint U.S.-Nigerien patrol to determine what happened and ... Read More
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DoD IG: US troops were told to ignore child sex abuse by Afghan forces

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American troops were told to ignore the rape and abuse of children by Afghan security forces they were partnered with, according to a report released Thursday by the Pentagon’s inspector general. “In some cases, the interviewees explained that they, or someone whom they knew, were told that nothing could be done about child sexual abuse because of Afghanistan’s status as a sovereign nation, that it was not a priority for the command, or that it was best to ignore the situation and to let the local police handle it,” ... Read More
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story story story

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WASHINGTON — Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain and his House counterpart, Rep. Mac Thornberry, are demanding Congressional budget negotiators support the $700 billion topline of their 2018 defense policy bill. The call comes as Congressional leaders and the White House are moving toward a two-year budget deal that would offer billions less. ... Read More
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US says Sudan cutting trade, military ties to North Korea

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WASHINGTON — The United States said Thursday that Sudan will cut all military and trade ties to North Korea, a move that would be a significant victory in the Trump administration’s efforts to isolate the Stalinist nation amid increasing tensions over the North’s testing of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Sudan is taking the step due to the “critical threat” posed by the North’s nuclear program. She said the United States welcomed the decision, which was announce... Read More
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Trump presses for UN vote on chemical weapons in Syria

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is pressing for the United Nations Security Council to extend the mandate of experts trying to determine who was responsible for chemical attacks in Syria. The measure could face a veto from Russia, which is pushing a rival resolution opposed by the U.S. and other Security Council members. If neither resolution is adopted, the Joint Investigative Me... Read More
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Doing nothing, Trump may witness US goal in Mugabe’s ouster

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WASHINGTON — Without lifting a finger, the Trump administration may be witnessing the culmination of nearly two decades of U.S. efforts to pry Zimbabwe from the powerful grasp of its authoritarian President Robert Mugabe. Yet with Mugabe’s fate and Zimbabwe’s political future in limbo, neither Trump nor previous administrations can claim credit or celebrate. The past three American leaders have actively and outspokenly sought to isolate Mugabe and his ruling clique for human rights abuses, hoping to ... Read More
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Prosecutor calls Benghazi suspect ‘commander’ of 2012 attack

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WASHINGTON — Prosecutors on Thursday urged jurors to convict the “on-scene commander” of the 2012 attacks on U.S. compounds in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. In closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael C. DiLorenzo described Ahmed Abu Khattala as a terrorist bent on killing as many Americans as he could. “He viewed the United States, which promoted freedom, as the ca... Read More
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Ex-Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge hospitalized

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AUSTIN, Texas — Former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge was in critical condition Thursday after undergoing an emergency heart procedure at a hospital in Austin. A Ridge spokesman said the 72-year-old Ridge, Pennsylvania’s Republican governor from 1995 to 2001, was attending the Republican Governors Association conference when he called for help at his hotel at about 7 a.m. The spokesman, Steve Aaron, said Ridge underwe... Read More
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DoD accidentally retweets post calling for Trump to resign

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WASHINGTON — The Defense Department accidentally retweeted a Twitter post calling for President Trump to resign from office. “An authorized operator of the Department of Defense’s official Twitter site erroneously retweeted content that would not be endorsed by the Department of Defense,” Army Col. Robert Manning said in a statement to reporters. “The operator caught this error and immediately deleted it.” ... Read More
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Radio anchor says Al Franken groped, kissed her without consent during USO tour

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ST. PAUL, Minn. — Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., apologized Thursday after a Los Angeles radio anchor accused him of forcibly kissing her during a 2006 USO tour and of posing for a photo with his hands on her breasts as she slept on a C-17 military cargo aircraft. Leeann Tweeden posted the allegations, including the photo, on the website of KABC, where she works as a news anchor for a mornin... Read More
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Trump: China agrees North Korea nuclear weapon freeze not enough

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the U.S. and China agree that North Korea cannot just freeze its nuclear weapons program in exchange for concessions and that it must eliminate its arsenal. Trump was restating a long-standing U.S. position but suggested that China now concurred with Washington that a “freeze-for-freeze” agreement was unacceptable. China and Russia have proposed that as a way to restart lo... Read More
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NATO chief says they’ll have enough forces in Afghanistan

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TORONTO — NATO’s chief says he is confident the alliance will have sufficient forces in 2018 to fulfill its training mission in Afghanistan after months of lobbying allies to increase troop contributions. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview with The Associated Press Wednesday that NATO won’t fall short. He says the troop level will go from 13,000 to 16,000 “when we move into 2018.” Stoltenberg says they ... Read More
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US drone strike in Somalia kills al-Shabab militants

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A U.S. airstrike killed several al-Shabab militants on Tuesday, according to a press release from U.S. Africa Command. The aircraft was unmanned, according to a U.S. official. The strike was conducted roughly 60 miles northwest of Mogadishu and was carried out in coordination with the Somali government, AFRICOM officials said. The U.S. ... Read More
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Space Corps is out in House version of defense policy bill

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. House voted 356-70 on Tuesday to approve a $700 billion defense authorization plan for fiscal 2018 that rejects a proposed military service focused on space. The bipartisan vote saw 127 Democrats joining 229 Republicans to overwhelmingly pass the bill. There were seven Republican and 63 Democratic “no” votes. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, lauded Strategic Forces Sub... Read More
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McCain: Military personnel’s 100-hour work weeks must stop

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Senators made it clear to Defense Department nominees at a nomination hearing Tuesday that they expect action to address problems with military personnel readiness. “I look you in the eye and tell you a 100-hour work week is too long for a young member of our armed forces,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “They are working 100-hour weeks. It has to stop. Otherwise you’ll see more tragedies such as took place with ... Read More
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Report: Pentagon to pay for soldier’s gender transition surgery

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The Pentagon will pay for an active-duty soldier’s gender transition surgery, according to NBC News. The site reported that the infantry soldier, who identifies as a woman, was to undergo the surgery on Tuesday. It would be the first operation of its kind to be approved under a waiver that allows the Pentagon to pay for the procedure. ... Read More
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In wake of Texas massacre, DoD nominees vow to correct crime documentation

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In the aftermath of the Nov. 5 Texas church shooting that killed 26 people, U.S. senators are pressing nominees for key Pentagon positions for assurances that the services are reporting crimes to the appropriate national crime databases. The massacre in Texas has been “made more devastating by the fact that despite years of federal laws being on the books to ensure notification is made to national crime databases, in this case it wasn’t done,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, during Tuesday’s nomination heari... Read More
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Retired US general says nuclear launch order can be refused

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WASHINGTON — A retired Air Force general told the Senate on Tuesday that an order from President Donald Trump or any of his successors to launch nuclear weapons can be refused by the top officer at U.S. Strategic Command if that order is determined to be illegal. During testimony before the Foreign Relations Committee, retired Gen. Robert Kehler said the U.S. armed forces are obligated to follow legal orders, not illegal ones. Kehler, who served as the head of Strategic Command from January 2011 to November 2013, said the legal ... Read More
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Could anyone stop Trump from launching nukes? The answer: No

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WASHINGTON — Here’s a question rarely raised before Donald Trump ran for the White House: If the president ordered a pre-emptive nuclear strike, could anyone stop him? The answer is no. Not the Congress. Not his secretary of defense. And by design, not the military officers who would be duty-bound to execute the order. As Bruce Blai... Read More
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Pentagon may stop running stateside schools for military children

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The Trump administration is considering a plan to end the military’s longtime operation of schools for military children on dozens of stateside military bases, part of a broader push to cut costs and reduce the size of the federal workforce, according to information obtained by Military Times. The military currently operates 47 schools on military installations in seven states in the continental U.S., serving a total of about 20,000 students. The proposal, which has support from some parts of the Pentagon, would turn over o... Read More
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US-targeted ISIS in Somalia could be a ‘significant threat’

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MOGADISHU, Somalia — The Islamic State group’s growing presence in Somalia could become a “significant threat” if it attracts fighters fleeing collapsing strongholds in Syria and Iraq, experts say, and already it seems to be influencing local al-Shabab extremists to adopt tactics like beheadings. The U.S. military this month carried out its first drone strikes against ISIS fighters in Somalia, raising questions about the strength of the group that emerged just two years ago. A second strike targeted the fighters on Sunday,... Read More
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North Koreans shoot, wound soldier defecting to South at DMZ

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SEOUL, South Korea — North Korean soldiers shot at and wounded a fellow soldier who was crossing a jointly controlled area at the heavily guarded border to defect to South Korea on Monday, the South’s military said. North Korean soldiers have occasionally defected to South Korea across the border. But it’s rare for a North Korean soldier to defect via the Joint Security Area, where border guards of the rival Koreas stand facing each other just meters (feet) away, and be shot by fellow North Korean soldiers. ... Read More
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AFRICOM investigation team visits Niger ambush site

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WASHINGTON — A U.S. Africa Command team visited the village of Tongo Tongo, Niger, on Sunday as part of an investigation into the Oct. 4 ambush that left four American soldiers dead. “This mission allowed the investigation team to gather information and determine the facts related to the ambush that killed four U.S. soldiers and four Niger Force soldiers,” AFRICOM said in a press release. “The AFRICOM investigation team inter... Read More
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Trump offers to mediate in protracted South China Sea feud

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MANILA, Philippines — President Donald Trump on Sunday offered to mediate in the South China Sea disputes, while his Chinese counterpart played down concerns over Beijing’s military buildup and the prospects of war in the contested waters. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke separately about the territorial rifts ahead of an annual summit of Southeast Asian nations that also includes the U.S., China and other global players. The disputes are expected to get the spotlight at the summit, along with the North Korean nucl... Read More
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Trump’s Asia trip ends as it begins: shadowed by Russia

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MANILA, Philippines — President Donald Trump’s lengthy Asia trip wound down as it began, with a visit meant to be centered on trade and North Korea shadowed by questions about Russia. Trump was in the Philippines, the final stop of his trip, on Monday, poised to hold formal talks with President Rodrigo Duterte, who has overseen a bloody drug war that has featured extrajudicial killings and fears of vigilante justice. But Trump remains dogged by things he has said, and has not said, about Russia. ... Read More
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US drone strike in Somalia against al-Shabab kills ‘several’

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MOGADISHU, Somalia — The United States military said Saturday it has carried out a new drone strike against the al-Shabab extremist group in Somalia, killing “several” militants. A statement by the U.S. Africa Command said the strike was carried out Friday night in Lower Shabelle region, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of the capital, Mogadishu. It came a day after another strike in the Bay Region, about 100 miles west of Mogadishu. ... Read More
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Here’s the latest updates on on where JSTARS, T-X and OAX stand

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WASHINGTON – The Air Force remains undecided on the future of JSTARS and its light attack test, but is confident that its next generation trainer will be awarded early next year – and begin production before the year is through. Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, alongside Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein, gave updates on the three programs to reporters during a Nov. 9 briefing. JSTARS, the service’s battlefield manage... Read More