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Lindsey Graham calls for permanent US military presence in Afghanistan

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The US military will never leave Afghanistan if Sen. Lindsey Graham has his way.

The Republican senator from South Carolina expressed his hope Sunday that the country would invite the US to install permanent military bases.

“I hope that we can find an enduring relationship with Afghanistan that will make sure that country never goes back into the hands of terrorists,” Graham told NBC’s David Gregory. “The idea of putting permanent military bases on the table in 2011, I think, would secure our national interests and tell the bad guys and the good guy we’re not leaving, we are staying.”

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“But that’s important,” observed Gregory. “You believe a permanent US military presence in Afghanistan is required to order to head off a potential failed state in the future?”

“I think it would be enormously beneficial to the region as well as Afghanistan,” Graham replied.

“We’ve had airbases all over the world. A couple of air bases in Afghanistan would allow the Afghan security forces an edge against the Taliban in perpetuity. It would be a signal to Pakistan that the Taliban are never going to come back in Afghanistan. They could change their behavior.”

Graham continued: “It would be a signal to the whole region that Afghanistan is going to be a new and different place and if the Afghan people want this relationship, they are going to have to earn it. But I hope they will seek a relationship with the United States where we can have an enduring relationship, economic, militarily and politically.”

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In December, Graham made similar remarks to CNN’s Eliot Spitzer.

“Under the right circumstances I think it would really secure the gains we made to have a U.S. presence in Afghanistan, two airbases that would be beneficial to the Afghan security forces,” he said.

“I am appalled by Senator Graham’s comments,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) said in a statement. “Rather than advocating for a permanent extension of the costly and counterproductive military occupation of Afghanistan, it is time to finally end America’s longest war and bring our men and women in uniform home.”

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President Obama’s administration has vowed to begin a withdrawal of US troops starting in July of this year, but in recent months administration spokespeople have been backtracking on that deadline.

This video is from NBC’s Meet the Press, broadcast Jan. 2, 2010.


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Supreme Court to hear sentencing case for ‘Washington sniper’

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He has described himself as a "monster" and confessed to his crimes. Lee Boyd Malvo was 17 years old when he and an accomplice carried out a deadly three-week shooting spree that terrorized the Washington area in 2002.

Malvo was sentenced to life in prison without parole and the Supreme Court is to hear arguments on Wednesday on whether such a sentence can be meted out to a juvenile.

The nation's top court is hearing the case after a court in Virginia ruled that Malvo deserved another sentencing hearing because his age at the time was not taken into account.

Virginia's attorney general appealed the ruling and the Supreme Court will be deciding whether its 2012 and 2016 rulings that mandatory life sentences for minors are unconstitutional applies retroactively to Malvo's case.

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NASA unveils flexible, one-size-fits-all space suits

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Bye bye to bunny hops: when US astronauts next touch down on the Moon, expect them to walk almost as they do on Earth, thanks to a new generation of spacesuits offering key advantages over those of the Apollo-era.

Prototypes of the Orion Crew Survival Suit that will be worn on the journey and the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU) for the lunar surface were unveiled at NASA's Washington headquarters Tuesday ahead of the agency's planned return to the Moon by 2024.

Standing in front of a giant US flag, spacesuit engineer Kristine Davis wore a pressurized red, blue and white xEMU suit, showing off a vastly improved range of motion thanks to bearings systems on the waist, arms, and legs.

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Hong Kong leader abandons policy speech after heckles from lawmakers

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Hong Kong's embattled leader abandoned a State of the Union-style speech on Wednesday after she was heckled by rowdy opposition lawmakers during chaotic scenes inside the city's legislature.

The speech by chief executive Carrie Lam was billed as an attempt to win hearts and minds after four months of seething pro-democracy protests.

Instead, it laid bare the intense polarisation coursing through the semi-autonomous financial hub after weeks of huge and increasingly violent rallies.

And it was swiftly dismissed by protesters who called for a new rally on Sunday.

Lam, who has historic low approval ratings, tried twice to begin her policy address inside the Legislative Council which had opened for a new session some three months after it was trashed by masked protesters.

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