News in Brief: White House Tries to Ease Tensions Between Pakistan and Coalition, and More

White House Tries to Ease Tensions Between Pakistan and Coalition

Tensions between the US and the NATO coalition in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan are on the rise as the Obama administration scrambled to offer apologies for a helicopter strike that killed three Pakistani soldiers last week, according to The New York Times. The Pakistani government initially responded to the attack by closing key border crossings to US supply shipments going into Afghanistan. The coalition, eager to show progress in a conflict, has put increased pressure on Pakistan to crack down on insurgent operations in the borderlands.

Afghan War Rages for Nine Years

The war in Afghanistan officially began nine years ago today. At least 2,118 United States service men and women have been killed and 8,530 have been wounded in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, according to CNN. Thousands more civilians have died, and civilian and coalition body counts hit all time highs during the summers of 2009 and 2010. According to watchdog group the National Priorities Project, the United States has spent more than $350 billion on the conflict, which continues to rage as insurgents seek to destabilize the country.

Toxic Sludge in Hungary Hits Major River

Toxic red sludge that burst from an industrial waste reservoir in Hungary earlier this week has reached the mighty Danube River, the second-longest river in Europe, according to an National Public Radio web report. Since the reservoir break on Monday, three villages and miles of streams and waterways have been contaminated with the red sludge, a toxic waste product from making aluminum. Hungarian officials said the sludge has not caused any immediate damage to the Danube.

White House: Senate Will Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

The Obama administration expects the Senate to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the Clinton-era rule that prevents openly gay and lesbian peoples from serving the military. A White House spokesperson told The Advocate on Wednesday that President Obama wants “a lasting and durable solution to DADT” and expects a defense authorization bill including language that would repeal the rule to pass the Senate when it resumes after the midterm recess. Senate Democrats failed by two votes to bring the defense bill up for debate before the recess began last month.

Obama to Consider Legislation Making It Harder to Challenge Foreclosure

Legislation that would make it harder for homeowners to challenge home foreclosures is awaiting President Obama’s approval, according to Reuters. The bill, which quietly made its way through Congress this spring, requires courts to accept foreclosure documents notarized out of state, making it harder to challenge the authenticity of the documents. The White House is considering the bill amid reports that large banks and mortgage processors like JP Morgan and Bank of American have made improper foreclosure filings.