Obama seeks $83B for wars
President Barack Obama is seeking $83.4 billion for U.S. military and diplomatic operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, pressing for special troop funding that he opposed two years ago when he was senator and George W. Bush was president. Obama's request, including money to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan, would push the costs of the two wars to almost $1 trillion since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to the Congressional Research Service. The additional money would cover operations into the fall. "This will be the last supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan," said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, acknowledging that Obama had been critical of Bush's use of similar special legislation to pay for the wars.
Fixing vet health records
Obama promised a more efficient record system to ease delays in health care for wounded veterans, as the government copes with more than 33,000 military personnel injured in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Under the new system, an electronic record would follow a service member in the military and then later in the Veterans Affairs Department's medical system. There is currently a six-month backlog in disability claims at the VA. Because the two agencies have different medical systems, veterans have complained about bureaucratic hurdles and long waits as they enter the VA system.
Where cars fly off the lot
Baghdad may be one of the few cities worldwide where the auto industry is doing relatively well — at least compared with the worst of the war, when sales were stagnant. Those bad days are not entirely over, but with violence ebbing, business is booming at Baghdad car dealerships as well-heeled Iraqis are indulging in a new-car passion, long out of reach. Showrooms are popping up in safer neighborhoods around town to meet the demand, offering selections from sleek sports cars to four-wheel-drive behemoths, most imported from Amman, Jordan or Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Imad Hassan said sales at his dealership in east Baghdad soared about 90 percent in 2008 over the previous year, when fighting in the city peaked.