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The US air war against the Islamic State costs $8.3 million a day

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The Pentagon has revised its estimate of the cost of the US air war in Iraq and Syria, saying the price tag for the campaign against the Islamic State group comes to about $8.3 million a day.

Since air strikes began on August 8, the campaign — which has involved about 6,600 sorties by US and allied aircraft — has cost $580 million, said Pentagon spokesman Commander Bill Urban.

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The Defense Department had previously put the average daily cost of the military operation at more than $7 million a day.

The higher figure reflected the increased pace of air strikes and related flights, a defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

But independent analysts say the Defense Department is underestimating the genuine cost of the war effort, which began in mid-June with the deployment of hundreds of US troops to secure the American embassy in Baghdad and to advise the Iraqi army.

Some former budget officials and outside experts estimate the cost of the war has already exceeded a billion dollars, and that it could rise to several billion dollars in a year’s time.

Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments projected the war could cost $2.4 to $3.8 billion a year, in an analysis issued on September 29.

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If the intensity of the bombing raids is expanded, the air war could cost as much as $4.2 to $6.8 billion per year, according to Harrison’s report.

One of the biggest drains on the budget for the air war are the large number of surveillance and reconnaissance flights that bombing raids require, analysts say.

The campaign, dubbed “Operation Inherent Resolve,” has seen thousands of spy flights and aerial refueling runs.

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The cost of flying the spy planes range from about $1,000 an hour for Predator and Reaper drones to $7,000 an hour for high-altitude Global Hawk drones, or as much as $22,000 per hour for E-8 J-STAR (Joint Surveillance Target Radar Attack System) aircraft.

Funds for the air war are coming out of the Pentagon’s de facto war budget, the Overseas Contingency Operations fund.

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Separate from the regular defense “base” budget, the OCO fund is often portrayed as a “credit card” to cover the costs of wars.

Congress increased the OCO budget to about $85 billion for last fiscal year, ending September 30. The proposed fund for the new fiscal year 2015 is due to drop to $54 billion.


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GOP Senate candidate suspended football player for one game — for allegedly raping a 15-year-old girl: report

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On Thursday, in an op-ed, the conservative Washington Examiner reported on an incident from Alabama Republican Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville's career as a football coach for Auburn University in 1999.

"When Clifton Robinson, the short but quick receiver from Naples, Florida, returned to the Auburn University football team in August 1999 after pleading guilty to contributing to the delinquency of a minor to avoid going to trial after being charged with the second-degree rape of a 15-year-old girl, first-year head coach Tommy Tuberville pledged to figure out the right punishment for him," wrote Siraj Hashmi. "'Clifton is back on the team,' Tuberville said. 'He and I will sit down today, and I'll tell him that we do things right around here, so he can expect there will be some punishment. What it is, I don't know yet.' That punishment ended up being a mere one-game suspension from the team's Sept. 4 season opener against Appalachian State. Auburn won 22-15."

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Arizona Republican attacks Fauci and Birx for ‘undermining’ Trump with COVID-19 facts

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COVID-19 hospitalizations in Arizona set a record on Thursday, but one of the state's Republican representatives in Congress went to Fox News to urge the end of President Donald Trump's Coronavirus Task Force.

"I think that Birx and Fauci have gone well past their, their -- they've expired, their time of usefulness has expired," Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) said.

"What they do, is when the president comes out and makes a policy -- because he is the president, he is the policymaker. When they come and make these statements that they make, they engender panic and hysteria and undermine what the president's doing. That's what I think's critical," they argued.

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Texas conservatives lose their minds after GOP Gov. Greg Abbott mandates masks in public

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Texas' Republican Gov. Gregg Abbott finally acknowledged that there is a serious problem as COVID-19 takes down the state's population.

It was just a few months ago that municipalities were deciding for themselves when and if they would reopen. But Abbott shut it down, saying that his orders "overrule any local jurisdiction."

In April, "Abbott and the state’s other Republican leaders have blasted local officials in Dallas and Houston for what they called overzealous enforcement of COVID-19 regulations, first zeroing in on Democratically led Harris County’s decision to fine residents for not wearing face masks, a penalty Abbott banned in his April 27 reopening order," ProPublica reported. "The fights came to a head this month with the arrest of a Dallas hair salon owner who refused to shutter her business, an act of defiance that was supported by a right-wing group that launched a GoFundMe campaign a day before she reopened that raised $500,000 before it was disabled."

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