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Saturday, Aug 13th

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Biden signs law to fund health benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits

Burn pits  benefits gill signed by Biden

President Biden signed into law a measure to improve federal health benefits for millions of veterans exposed to toxic smoke from burn pits while serving overseas.

In a ceremony that was equal parts a personal and political victory, Biden enacted the bill on Wednesday that he made a signature goal, not least because his late son, Beau Biden, died of cancer after serving in Kosovo and Iraq.

“We owe you,” Biden said in an emotional ceremony. “You’re the backbone. You’re the steel. You’re the sinew. You’re the very fiber that makes this country what it is.”

Biden was introduced by Danielle Robinson, the widow of Sgt. 1st Class Heath Robinson, who died of cancer two years ago. The legislation is named for him.

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After unexpected hurdles, military toxic burn pits bill passes U.S. Senate

Burn pit bill passes Senate

A major bill expanding health care and benefits for veterans exposed to toxic military burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan passed the U.S. Senate on Thursday, as senators praised their bipartisan work on one of the few issues on which they can find common ground.

The bill eases and expands access to health services and disability benefits for veterans who were exposed to toxic smoke from the U.S. military's use of burn pits on foreign bases until the mid-2010s.

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Samuel Sandoval, one of the last remaining Navajo Code Talkers, has died at age 98

Last Navajo code talker dies at 98Samuel Sandoval, one of the last remaining Navajo Code Talkers who transmitted messages in World War II using a code based on their native language, has died.

Sandoval died late Friday at a hospital in Shiprock, New Mexico, his wife, Malula told The Associated Press on Saturday. He was 98.

Hundreds of Navajos were recruited from the vast Navajo Nation to serve as Code Talkers with the U.S. Marine Corps. Only three are still alive today: Peter MacDonald, John Kinsel Sr. and Thomas H. Begay

The Code Talkers took part in every assault the Marines conducted in the Pacific, sending thousands of messages without error on Japanese troop movements, battlefield tactics and other communications critical to the war's ultimate outcome. The code, based on the then-unwritten Navajo language, confounded Japanese military cryptologists and is credited with helping the U.S. win the war.

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Anger as Republicans block bill to help military veterans exposed to toxins

Jon Stewart with veteeransThe comedian Jon Stewart ripped into Republican senators on Wednesday, after they abruptly halted a bipartisan bill that would expand healthcare access for military veterans exposed to toxic burn pits.

The former host of the Daily Show, who now hosts The Problem with Jon Stewart on Apple TV+, has lobbied for the bill.

He called those who switched their votes “stab-vets-in-the-back senators”.

He added: “PS: fuck the Republican caucus and their empty promise to our veterans.”

The measure, called the Honoring our Pact Act, would make it easier for veterans to access military care related to exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam and toxins from pits used to burn military waste in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Pentagon: US kills Islamic State leader in Syria in drone strike

Drone strike kills Al Qaida leader in SyriaThe Pentagon said Tuesday that it killed a leader of the Islamic State group in Syria in a drone strike.

U.S. Central Command said in a news release that Maher al-Agal was killed Tuesday and an unidentified senior official in the Islamic State group was seriously injured. The Pentagon said there were no civilian casualties, though it wasn't possible to immediately confirm that information.

The U.S. carried out the strike outside Jindaris, a town in northwest Syria close to the Turkish border.

The Islamic State group at the height of its power controlled more than 40,000 square miles (103,600 square kilometers) stretching from Syria to Iraq and ruled more than 8 million people. While the group's territorial state collapsed in 2019, its leaders have turned to guerilla tactics and have been able to "efficiently restructure themselves organizationally," according to the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a nonpartisan think tank.

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Nasty weather blew a jet off an aircraft carrier. How’s that possible?

Super Hornet Jet blown off carrierOn Friday, “heavy weather” swept a state-of-the-art fighter jet off the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman into the Mediterranean Sea, the Navy reported Sunday in a news release. No one was aboard the F/A-18 Super Hornet jet, which can fly faster than the speed of sound, or up to 1,190 mph.

The incident raises questions about what kind of weather could have possibly dislodged a jet that weighs more than 32,000 pounds.

A sailor was also injured at the time “while conducting operations,” the Navy wrote. The turbulent weather occurred when the Truman was conducting a “replenishment-at-sea” or resupply mission, the Navy said, which “was safely terminated.”

A Navy spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions about the conditions that might have led to the fighter being swept overboard. Although the Navy described the heavy weather as “unexpected,” an analysis of available computer model forecasts from the middle of last week reveals that there were many signs of storminess.

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US army general suspended for mocking Jill Biden’s support of abortion rights

US Army General suspended

The US army has suspended a retired three-star general from a lucrative consultant’s role after a social media post appearing under his name taunted first lady Jill Biden’s support of abortion rights.

Former top army spokesperson Gary Volesky, who retired as a lieutenant general and earned a silver star for gallantry while serving in Iraq, was making $92 an hour advising military officers, staff and students who were taking part in war games and other similar activities.

But then a Twitter account under his name replied to a statement from Biden that condemned the supreme court’s decision on 24 June to reverse its landmark 1973 ruling in Roe v Wade which had established federal abortion rights.

“For nearly 50 years, women have had the right to make our own decisions about our bodies,” the Democratic first lady’s statement said about the ruling, which in effect outlawed abortions in more than half the country. “Today, that right was stolen from us.”

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