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News in Brief: Iraq War Is “Over,” Civilian Contractors to Continue Fight, and More

Iraq War Is “Over,” Civilian Contractors to Continue Fight

Iraq War Is “Over,” Civilian Contractors to Continue Fight

The last official US combat troops left Iraq yesterday, leading many mainstream news outlets to declare that the war there is over. US troops will be replaced by up to 7,000 military contractors by next year, according to a New York Times report.

A bombing of a Iraq Army recruitment center in Baghdad, that killed at least 59 civilians and potential recruits earlier this week, provided a chilling reminder that insurgents and militias still threaten stability in the country, but the Obama administration assured the public that withdrawal from Iraq is on track.

Unemployment Claims Still Rising

The number of new applications for unemployment continues to rise and recently hit 500,000, up 12,000 from last week, according to The New York Times. The claims rate is at its highest point since November. The increase indicates that employers are cutting jobs as economic recovery slows. The US unemployment rate has hovered around 9.5 percent for months, and analysts say that employers are hiring less than they were earlier in the year.

Nearly One in Five Americans Think Obama Is Muslim

A recent survey shows that 18 percent of Americans incorrectly believe that President Barack Obama is a Muslim. That number is up from 11 percent in 2009, according to Pew research polls. The number of Americans who correctly believe that Obama is a Christian fell from 48 in spring of 2009 to percent to 34 percent in 2010. Most people who believe Obama is a Muslim also disagree with his policies.

EPA Extends Comment Period on Coal Ash Rules, Lobbyists on the Attack

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has extended the deadline for public comments on proposed coal sludge regulation until November, according to The Hill. Coal ash sludge is created by coal burning power plants and contains toxic chemicals like arsenic and mercury. The EPA this spring proposed two options for regulating coal ash sludge, and coal industry lobbyists are pushing federal regulators to choose the less aggressive option that would continue the classification of coal sludge as a nonhazardous waste. Public concern over coal sludge has increased since November 2008 when a sludge impound in Tennessee burst and spilled 5.4 million cubic yards of sludge across pristine watersheds and private rural property. Coal sludge is regulated under the same nonhazardous waste rules as household trash and is often stored in open, above ground impounds and pits.

Lefties Ask France to Pay Back Haiti for Slave Fee

France has dismissed a petition supported by left-leaning politicians, artists and scholars to provide Haiti with $17 billion in reparations to fund recovery efforts following a violent earthquake earlier this year. The petition, signed by Noam Chomsky and other notables, demands France reimburse Haiti for a fee leveled by French King Charles X after a revolt there cost the king slaves and property. French officials say calls to reimburse Haiti are nothing new and the country has already provided substantial aid.