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November 13, 2011 | By Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times
Army Pfc. Douglas J. Jeffries Jr. liked to perform — and not just on stage with the alternative rock band he played in during high school. Known for his sense of humor and fondness for comical stunts, Jeffries once wore an inflatable sumo wrestler costume to Porterville's Wal-Mart, the biggest place in the Tulare County town northeast of Bakersfield, and walked down the aisles strumming his guitar. "When the batteries went dead, his suit deflated," recounted his father, Douglas Jeffries Sr. "And he continued walking through, playing his guitar.
October 27, 2011 | By Laura King, Los Angeles Times
Insurgents with rifles and rocket-propelled grenades launched a sustained attack Thursday against a U.S. base in Kandahar. No coalition casualties were reported, but the hours-long confrontation demonstrated the Taliban's continuing ability to strike in the heart of Afghanistan's main southern city. The attack, which began in midafternoon and stretched into the evening, targeted a joint civilian-military installation housing what is known as a provincial reconstruction team, or PRT, mainly devoted to development projects.
October 25, 2011
Eating Mud Crabs in Kandahar Stories of Food During Wartime by the World's Leading Correspondents Edited by Matt McAllester University of California Press: 214 pp., $27.50
October 23, 2011 | By Rick Rojas, Los Angeles Times
For Army Staff Sgt. David P. Senft , the years at war had taken a toll. The 27-year-old helicopter mechanic from Grass Valley, northeast of Sacramento, was reserved but tough. And with a love of flying and fast cars, his family said, he wanted to live life on the edge. But in the summer of 2010, in the time leading up to his latest deployment to Afghanistan, he was different. He resisted a return to war. His family and friends said he was depressed, emotionally fragile and, at least once, had tried to kill himself.
October 16, 2011 | By Nicole Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times
When Jason Weaver of Anaheim was 15, he told his mother he wanted to join the military. She told him to think about it. Two years later, Patricia Weaver came home to find her son meeting with a recruiter. She told the man to leave. "I said, 'I got one more year with my baby,'" she said. "It was my only child. " But her son persisted. After he graduated from El Dorado High School in Placentia in 2007, he decided to get in shape to join the Army. He lost 60 pounds, quit his job at a local grocery store and enlisted in January 2008.
September 10, 2011 | By Laura King, Los Angeles Times
In the country where the Sept. 11 plot was hatched and its Al Qaeda masterminds found shelter, public knowledge of the link between the devastating events of a decade ago and today's war has grown hazy. Nearly half of all Afghans are under the age of 15, too young to have a firsthand recollection of that day, or the U.S.-led invasion that began less than a month later. Among older people, even those grateful that the invasion ended Taliban rule, there is a sense that the conflict has moved far beyond its original impetus.
September 1, 2011 | By Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times
Sixty-seven U.S. troops died last month in the Afghanistan war, nearly half of them killed when the Taliban shot down a Chinook helicopter, making August the deadliest month for Americans in the nearly decadelong conflict. The attack on the helicopter, which took place Aug. 6 in Wardak province, west of the capital, was also the deadliest single event of the war for U.S. forces. The 30 service members who lost their lives in the attack — the majority of them Navy SEALs, including some from the unit responsible for killing Osama bin Laden — were flying in to help Army Rangers under fire.
July 28, 2011 | By Laura King, Los Angeles Times
In Afghanistan these days, choosing a life of public service is becoming akin to signing one's own death warrant. The mayor of Kandahar, a 65-year-old U.S. citizen who had returned to his native country after the fall of the Taliban to take up his dangerous post, was killed Wednesday by a suicide attacker with a bomb tucked into his turban. Mayor Ghulam Haider Hamidi was the latest in a long line of senior government and security officials to die a violent death, apparently at the hands of insurgents.
July 27, 2011 | By Laura King, Los Angeles Times
A suicide bomber with explosives packed into his turban killed the mayor of Kandahar on Wednesday -- the latest in a wave of assassinations that claimed the life of President Hamid Karzai's half-brother earlier this month. The assailant apparently mingled with a crowd of constituents meeting Mayor Ghulam Hamidi, who had lived in the United States for years before returning to Afghanistan and taking up his dangerous post. The blast killed at least one other person, a provincial spokesman said.
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