Obama's war

September 21, 2010 1:40:56 PM PDT
George W. Bush started it, but the war in Afghanistan is now very much Barack Obama's - to finish, or extend and get mired in.

The war has become top-of-mind because nine service members were killed -- "a large number of them American" according to officials -- along with three others, when their helicopter crashed in Zabul Province.

The Taliban claims it shot the chopper down; the Pentagon insists the helicopter somehow crashed as it was attempting to land, just before sunrise.

The crash is the deadliest in the last four years, and brings the total U.S. and NATO casualties this year in Afghanistan to 526 - compared to 504 last year. This has been, and will be, the deadliest year for U.S. and NATO forces since the U.S. invasion nearly nine years ago.

Pres. Obama has pledged, as part of his surge, that he will end the war by next summer. We'll see.

We'll have the latest from the war, and on today's helicopter crash, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, it's way over-budget and way late, but now the poor folks who have to contend with years more of construction of the 2nd Avenue Subway have something else to contend with: Overnight construction. The sound of jackhammers - piercing the overnight quiet at the intersection of East 87th St. and 2nd Avenue. You can imagine the reaction. Ironically, just three blocks away, on Park Ave., many buildings have a strict policy about renovations - you simply can't do them before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. We're on the scene tonight.

And Consumer Reports tonight takes a look at the quality of store brands versus name brands: Are you sacrificing quality when you go for the bargain? The results are surprising.

Speaking of money, one day after the recession's "end" was set by "experts" as happening a year ago June, the Federal Reserve decided that the economy's recovery is so anemic - and in fact has slowed recently - that it left a key interest rate at basically zero for the 15th consecutive month.

The Fed cited weak household spending in light of high unemployment, paltry and few raises, dropping home prices and a lack of available credit. It also noted that businesses are not expanding budgets, not investing in new plants, and spending just enough to maintain equipment and not adding to payrolls. Doesn't sound like much of a recovery.

And bad news for gay activists, who had hoped to finally get rid of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Senate Republicans - voting unanimously and joined by a couple of Democrats - basically killed any notion of repealing the policy today, at least during this session, by voting 56-43 not to debate the measure.

Maybe you knew the bill was in trouble when Lady Gaga became the most outspoken critic of the policy. She tried to lobby some Republican swing votes, including Maine Sen. Susan Collins. All to no avail.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER

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