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Monday, Sep 22nd

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Minot base crew commander found dead

The body of a missile combat crew commander from the Minot Air Force Base was found by police, and the cause of his death is under investigation, the Air Force says.

A statement issued by the base Sunday said the body of Capt. Jonathan Bayless, 28, was found Friday night. Police did not give details but said it was in an area north of the city soccer complex, and they are awaiting autopsy results.

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Weight of Combat Gear Is Taking Toll

Carrying heavy combat loads is taking a quiet but serious toll on troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, contributing to injuries that are sidelining them in growing numbers, according to senior military and defense officials.

Rising concern over the muscle and bone injuries -- as well as the hindrance caused by the cumbersome gear as troops maneuver in Afghanistan's mountains -- prompted Army and Marine Corps leaders and commanders to launch initiatives last month that will introduce lighter equipment for some U.S. troops.

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State Department To Blackwater: You're Fired, Leave Iraq by May

Blackwater has been fired by the State Department from its job protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq.

Executives of the controversial U.S. security company were notified today by the State Department that its five-year, $1.2 billion contract for services in Iraq will not be renewed in May, U.S. officials tell ABC News. The contract provides yearly options for cancellations.

 

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GI Suicides in 2008 Highest on Record

The Army is expected to release a report later today revealing the highest number of suicides among troops in nearly three decades, according to CNN.

The network reported this morning that the Army will confirm 128 suicides in 2008, along with 15 suspected suicides currently under investigation among active-duty Soldiers and activated National Guard and Army Reserve troops. The Army also will announce a study of Soldier suicides and links to post-combat stress, CNN says.

Not including the cases now under investigation, the suicide rate among Soldiers is 20.2 per 100,000, according to the Army, which last month said the nation's suicide rate was 19.5 per 100,000. The national statistic is from 2005 but is the most recent, the Army said.

TVNL Comment: Another Bush Legacy.

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Is the Army lying about friendly fire deaths?

According to data released to Salon by the Army's Combat Readiness/Safety Center, only 24 of the 3,059 U.S. Army soldiers killed in Iraq since the invasion in 2003 died by fratricide.

Some observers, however, called the new data fishy. "That is almost impossible," said Geoffrey Wawro, director of the University of North Texas' Military History Center.

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A focus on violence by U.S. soldiers back from war

Nine current or former members of Fort Carson's Fourth Brigade Combat Team have killed someone or were charged with killings in the last three years after returning from Iraq. Five of the slayings took place last year alone. In addition, charges of domestic violence, rape and sexual assault have risen sharply.

Prodded by Senator Ken Salazar, Democrat of Colorado, the base commander began an investigation of the soldiers accused of homicide. An army task force is reviewing their recruitment, medical and service records, as well as their personal histories, to determine if the military could have done something to prevent the violence. The inquiry was recently expanded to include other serious violent crimes.

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Soldier alleges military pattern of Christian bias

An atheist soldier suing over prayers at military formations claims a larger pattern of religious discrimination exists in the military, citing attempts to convert Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan and an evangelical bias in a suicide prevention manual.

The expanded lawsuit filed Monday by Spc. Dustin Chalker and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation in U.S. District Court in Kansas City also claims the military doesn't take complaints of religious discrimination seriously enough.

The Defense Department has identified fewer than 50 complaints about alleged violations of religious freedoms during the past three years, with 1.4 million personnel in uniform, spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said.

TVNL Comment: To Americans Christianity is the only acceptable cult in the battle of "my imaginary friend is better than your imaginary friend!"

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