British navy escorts Russian warship near UK waters
Britain’s Royal Navy has escorted one of Russia’s warships through the North Sea near U.K. waters, officials said Dec. 26, amid increasing tensions between the two countries.
The HMS St. Albans with 190 sailors on board was used to escort the Russian Admiral Gorshkov frigate Dec. 25 through what British officials called “areas of national interest” on Christmas Day.
In addition, a Royal Navy helicopter was used to track other Russian vessels in the area.
The navy said there has been a recent surge in Russian vessels traveling near U.K. waters. Officials said that on Christmas Eve, a navy vessel was used to escort a Russian intelligence-gathering ship through the North Sea and English Channel.
Defense Secretary Gavin William said Britain wouldn’t tolerate aggression.
“Britain will never be intimidated when it comes to protecting our country, our people and our national interests,” he said Dec. 26.
There has also been an increase in recent years of Russian fighter planes testing NATO and British air defenses, leading to jets being scrambled to keep Russian fighters away.
The incidents at sea follow a difficult visit to Moscow by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson just before Christmas. Johnson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov disagreed on a number of policy points, reflecting increasing tensions between Britain and Russia.
Johnson accused Russia of meddling in Britain’s internal affairs but said there were still areas in which the two countries could work together.
British officials warned this month that Russian ships may cut undersea internet cables in a bid to disrupt communications and commerce. AP
Nevada man sentenced in sale of stolen Air Force ammunition
A Nevada man who sold smoke grenades and military-issued ammunition stolen from the U.S. Air Force has been sentenced to 18 months in prison and two years’ probation.
U.S. Attorney Steven Myhre says 38-year-old Temogen Tran Noguni of Henderson was sentenced Dec. 22 in Las Vegas after pleading guilty in August to one count of unauthorized sale of U.S. property.
Two co-defendants previously pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the case, including Jonathan Owens, a 27-year-old staff sergeant at Nellis Air Force Base.
Federal prosecutors say Noguni acknowledged he bought the items from Owens in 2015.
In addition to smoke grenades, the items included body armor vests, rifle scope, night vision binoculars and goggles. The ammunition included armor-piercing .50 caliber cartridges not available for public sale.
Myhre says Noguni was arrested after he listed the items for sale on the internet. AP
D.C. appeals court denies stay of transgender military ban
The White House has lost another attempt to put a hold on a requirement that it allow transgender people to enlist in the military starting on Jan. 1.
A decision by the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is the latest court decision to go against the White House, meaning the issue may end up before the Supreme Court.
President Donald Trump tweeted in July that the federal government “will not accept or allow” transgender individuals to serve “in any capacity” in the military. That would reverse a 2016 policy change under President Barack Obama allowing transgender people to serve openly.
Trump later formally directed the Pentagon to extend indefinitely a ban on transgender individuals joining the military, and he gave Defense Secretary Jim Mattis six months to come up with a policy on how to deal with those currently serving.
Several legal challenges to that proposed ban are ongoing. The Pentagon has said the enlistment of transgender recruits will start Jan. 1 and go on amid the legal battles.
At least four federal judges have refused to allow the ban to go into effect, including U.S. District Judge Jesus G. Bernal in California. On Friday, Bernal rejected an administration request to throw out a lawsuit asking for the ban to be voided and issued a preliminary injunction against the ban going into effect.
The Justice Department has asked federal appeals courts to intervene and put the Jan. 1 requirement on hold.
The D.C.-based appeals court and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., both turned away the administration’s request.
Administration officials “have not shown a strong likelihood that they will succeed on the merits of their challenge to the district court’s order,” the judges on the D.C. appeals court panel said. AP
Spokane, Wash., to seek factory for new Boeing plane
Business leaders in Spokane, Wash., will make a pitch to attract the design, production and final assembly of Boeing’s new midsize airplane.
Greater Spokane Incorporated, the region’s chamber of commerce, along with Spokane International Airport say they are forming a task force to attract the project.
Boeing’s proposed new airplane is called the “NMA” and the company plans to announce the launch of the project in 2018.
Spokane business leaders said Dec. 22 they want Boeing to continue to manufacture airplanes in the Pacific Northwest. They touted the 240 aerospace manufacturers in the Inland Northwest, along with the region’s lack of congestion and affordable housing prices. AP
Brazil’s president rejects selling Embraer to Boeing
Brazilian President Michel Temer has rejected selling control of jet maker Embraer to Boeing.
The Brazilian company confirmed Dec. 21 that it is in talks with Chicago-based Boeing regarding a possible deal.
But the Brazilian government has veto power over a change in controlling interest in Embraer, one of the largest makers of mid-size aircrafts in the world.
At a breakfast with media in Brasilia Dec. 21, Temer said the government would welcome an infusion of foreign capital into Embraer, but would not consider ceding majority control.
Temer also said the two companies had not previously informed him that they were in talks.
Boeing’s approach to Embraer is seen as a response to competitor Airbus, which has plans to buy a majority stake of Canadian jet maker Bombardier Inc. AP