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Friday, August 2, 2013

U.S. Helicopter Inadvertently Kills Five Afghan Policemen

A U.S. helicopter gunship, called in by Afghan special forces for air support in a clash with Taliban militants, mistakenly killed five Afghan police officers and wounded at least two soldiers. A representative of the regional NATO team confirmed that “A U.S. aircraft engaged, inadvertently killing five Afghan National Police members and wounding two. An investigation is ongoing to determine additional details of this unfortunate incident.”

The ability to call in airstrikes to assist ground forces is a major tool of the fledgling Afghan security forces. But those same airstrikes also lead to significant numbers of unintended casualties, making the issue a sticking point in negotiations between western nations and the Afghan government.

Scores Killed in Attack on Arms Depot in Homs, Syria

At least 40 people, including government soldiers and civilians, were killed Thursday in the Syrian city of Homs, when rebels attacked an arms depot. The depot and surrounding buildings in the Wadi Thahab neighborhood were targeted by rocket attacks from Syrian opposition forces. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the area is heavily populated by civilians, and with many still reportedly missing, the death toll is expected to rise.

The attack on the weapons depot in Homs comes amid a difficult week for rebel forces. Government troops have recently regained control of Khalidiya, a strategic city that had long been held by rebels. President Bashar al-Assad, displaying growing confidence, ventured out of the capital of Damascus earlier in the week, visiting the formerly rebel-held area of Daraya and declaring that regime forces would be victorious in the bloody, two-year-long civil war.

Blast-Related War Injures May Trigger Pituitary Damage

A new study by the Veterans’ Administration (VA) and the University of Washington has found evidence of damage to the pituitary glands of 42% of participants, all of whom had been diagnosed with combat-related traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Pituitary damage could account for a significant portion of symptoms experienced by soldiers suffering from TBI.

The pituitary gland secretes a range of hormones that are involved in the regulation of metabolism, blood pressure, sexual performance, and more. Trauma to the head, ranging from combat exposure to sports-related concussions, have been shown to disrupt both nerve connections and the supply of blood to the pituitary gland.

It’s estimated that upwards of 200,000 U.S. troops have been exposed to explosions from artillery and roadside bombs in the decade-long conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

U.S. Updates Visa Processing for Same-Sex Married Couples

Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed today that the U.S will begin processing visa applications from same-sex married couples in the same process as is currently done for heterosexual married couples. The shift is a direct result of June’s Supreme Court decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (Doma), which had previously outlawed federal recognition of same-sex marriages.

Kerry told reporters in London, where he made the announcement: “If you are the spouse of a US citizen, your visa application will be treated equally. If you are the spouse of a non-citizen, your visa application will be treated equally. If you are in a country that doesn’t recognise your same-sex marriage, then your visa application will still be treated equally at every single one of our 222 visa processing centres around the world.”

Weekend Read: When Liberian Child Soldiers Grow Up

The brutal civil war in Liberia drew in thousands of children, who served as fighters, porters, cooks, and even sex slaves. So what happens when a nation’s children of war grow up? Clair MacDougall tells their story for Newsweek.

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