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Monday, Jan 26th

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Afghanistan's $3.6 billion police problem: broken systems and corruption

Afghan police trainingShortly after the U.S.-led military invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the international community, together with the transitional Afghan government, set about standing up security forces to counter retreating Taliban forces and remaining Al-Qaeda fighters. Along with the Afghan National Army, in 2002 it established the Afghan National Police (ANP), which consisted of uniformed police, border police, anti-crime officers and civil order police.

Since then it has spent over $3.6 billion dollars on police salaries and payroll costs, with U.S. taxpayers paying $1.3 billion of that tally. The U.S. will continue to spend $300 million annually on ANP salaries while U.S. forces reduce their presence on the ground. It’s part of the ongoing U.S. commitment to Afghanistan’s security.

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Cuba releases 53 political prisoners as part of deal with America

Cyba releases 53 prisonersCuba has released all 53 prisoners it had promised to free, senior U.S. officials said, a major step toward détente with Washington.

The release of the remaining prisoners sets a positive tone for historic talks next week aimed at normalizing relations after decades of hostility, the officials said.

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Two Tuskegee Airmen die in Los Angeles at 91

tuskegee airmenTwo members of the Tuskegee Airmen, the famed all-black squadron that flew in World War II, died on the same day. The men, lifelong friends who enlisted together, were 91.

Clarence E. Huntley Jr. and Joseph Shambrey died on Jan. 5 in their Los Angeles homes, relatives said Sunday.

Huntley and Shambrey enlisted in 1942. They were shipped overseas to Italy in 1944 with the 100th Fighter Squadron of the Army Air Force's 332nd Fighter Group. As mechanics, they kept the combat planes flying.

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Officials: Paris unity demonstration largest in French history

France marchFrance's Interior Ministry said Sunday’s Paris rally for unity was the largest demonstration in France's history — a march organized to show harmony after three days of attacks that left 17 dead.

Calling the rally "unprecedented," the ministry said the demonstrators were so numerous they spread beyond the official march route, making them impossible to count.

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New Pennsylvania Law Causes Towns To Weaken Gun Restrictions

Pennsylvania gun regulations easedBarely a week after taking effect, a novel state law that makes it easier for gun-rights groups to challenge local firearms measures in court is already sparking change: Nearly two dozen Pennsylvania municipalities have agreed to get rid of their potentially problematic ordinances rather than face litigation.

Joshua Prince, an attorney for four pro-gun groups and several residents, cited the new law in putting nearly 100 Pennsylvania municipalities on notice that they would face legal action unless they rescinded their firearms laws.

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'La Dolce Vita' Actress Anita Ekberg Dead At 83

Anita Eckberg dies at 83Anita Ekberg, the Swedish-born actress and sex-symbol of the 1950s and '60s who was immortalized bathing in the Trevi fountain in "La Dolce Vita," has died. She was 83.

Ekberg's lawyer Patrizia Ubaldi confirmed she died in Rome Sunday morning following a series of illnesses. She had been hospitalized most recently after Christmas.

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Official: Islamic State group battle in Iraq kills 30 Kurds

Kurds killed by ISISIslamic State group fighters attempting to retake a town in northern Iraq held by Kurdish peshmerga forces have killed at least 30 Kurds, an Iraqi military spokesman said Sunday.

The battle for the town of Gwer demonstrates the Islamic State group's ability to still launch offensives in Iraq, despite a monthslong campaign of airstrikes by a U.S.-led coalition. And while an alliance of Iraqi troops, Kurdish fighters and Sunni and Shiitte militiamen have made some gains, their advance remains tenuous at best.

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Top American military officer says Gitmo creates 'psychological scar on our national values'

Gen. martin DempseyCount the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman among those who believe it's in the national interest to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

Gen. Martin Dempsey says the facility at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba "does create a psychological scar on our national values. Whether it should or not, it does."  The U.S. has transferred of a number of detainees recently as President Barack Obama tries to make progress toward his goal of closing Guantanamo.

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Two anti-torture protesters arrested at Dick Cheney's house

CheneyTwo protesters were arrested at the McLean, Virginia, home of former Vice President Dick Cheney on Saturday after 20 demonstrators, some in orange prison jumpsuits, walked onto his property to mark the 13th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo Bay prison.

The protesters from the anti-war group Code Pink walked up to the house before police arrived and asked them to leave, said Fairfax County police spokesman Roger Henriquez. Two members who refused to go were arrested on trespassing charges, he said.

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