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Thursday, Nov 23rd

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VA Expands Benefits Status for Vietnam Vets

The Veterans Affairs Department said Tuesday it plans to make it easier for Vietnam veterans exposed to the agent orange herbicide who suffer from certain medical conditions to qualify for VA benefits.

The conditions are B cell leukemias, Parkinson's disease, and ischemic heart disease. The veterans with those conditions under the VA's proposal would have presumptive status, which would make it easier to obtain benefits. It would bring to 15 the number of medical conditions that have presumptive status in connection to agent orange exposure.

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Weapons failed US troops during Afghan firefight

In the chaos of an early morning assault on a remote U.S. outpost in eastern Afghanistan, Staff Sgt. Erich Phillips' M4 carbine quit firing as militant forces surrounded the base. The machine gun he grabbed after tossing the rifle aside didn't work either.

When the battle in the small village of Wanat ended, nine U.S. soldiers lay dead and 27 more were wounded. A detailed study of the attack by a military historian found that weapons failed repeatedly at a "critical moment" during the firefight on July 13, 2008, putting the outnumbered American troops at risk of being overrun by nearly 200 insurgents.

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Women more likely to be expelled under 'don't ask'

Women are far more likely than men to be kicked out of the military under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy against gays in uniform, according to government figures released Thursday that critics said reflect deep-seated sexism in the armed forces.

Women accounted for 15 percent of all active-duty and reserve members of the military but more than one-third of the 619 people discharged last year because of their sexual orientation. The disparity was particularly striking in the Air Force, where women represented 20 percent of all personnel but 61 percent of those expelled.

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American troops in Afghanistan losing heart, say army chaplains

American soldiers serving in Afghanistan are depressed and deeply disillusioned, according to the chaplains of two US battalions that have spent nine months on the front line in the war against the Taleban.

Many feel that they are risking their lives — and that colleagues have died — for a futile mission and an Afghan population that does nothing to help them. “The many soldiers who come to see us have a sense of futility and anger about being here. They are really in a state of depression and despair and just want to get back to their families,” said Captain Jeff Masengale, of the 10th Mountain Division’s 2-87 Infantry Battalion.

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Israel to Free 20 Women Prisoners to Obtain Video of Soldier

Israel said Wednesday it would release 20 Palestinian women from its jails in exchange for a videotape of a captured Israeli soldier that would prove that he is alive.

Cpl. Gilad Shalit was seized by the Islamic group Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups in 2006 in a cross-border raid and taken into Gaza. The prisoner release offer, announced on Wednesday by the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was the first significant sign of progress in negotiations on Corporal Shalit since Mr. Netanyahu took office in March.

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TVNL Comment: The number of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails reached 9,600, including 345 children and 85 women,  Hamas holds ONE invading soldier.

Male breast cancer patients blame water at Marine base

The sick men are Marines, or sons of Marines. All 20 of them were based at or lived at Camp Lejeune, the U.S. Marine Corps' training base in North Carolina, between the 1960s and the 1980s.

They all have had breast cancer -- a disease that strikes fewer than 2,000 men in the United States a year, compared with about 200,000 women. Each has had part of his chest removed as part of his treatment, along with chemotherapy, radiation or both.

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TVNL Comment: Marine Corps insists that two studies show NO link to 'adverse health effects.'  Think: agent orange.

Special forces soldier's book causes storm in Denmark

The Danish forces claimed that the book, by Thomas Rathsack, could compromise national security because it describes operations in which he was involved in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But the bailiff’s court in Copenhagen ruled that a ban on the book, which had already been published in full in a Danish newspaper and quoted in other media, would not “prevent the unwanted spread of the information”.

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