News Briefs – July 25, 2018


Russia’s Lavrov meets Germany’s Merkel for talks on Syria

The German government says Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the head of the Russian military have met Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin for talks on Syria and Ukraine.
The government said the July 24 meeting between Lavrov, German counterpart Heiko Maas, Merkel and the chief of the Russian military’s general staff, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, was agreed last week between Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin. It hadn’t previously been announced publicly.
In a written statement, the government gave few details of the meeting’s outcome. It said “the situation in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, was at the center of the discussion. The conflict in eastern Ukraine was also addressed.”
The meeting came after Lavrov and Gerasimov met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem July 23, also to discuss Syria. AP

Defense bill would curb Cabinet control of nuclear agency

A bill being negotiated in Congress would essentially end the Trump administration’s direct supervision of an agency that oversees the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile.
The Senate-approved bill would remove the National Nuclear Security Administration from direct control of the Energy Department, where it’s been since its creation in 2000, and empower it to act nearly on its own.
The White House and Energy Secretary Rick Perry strongly oppose the plan. It’s also opposed by senior lawmakers in both parties. But efforts to remove that change from the bill have come up short.
A Perry spokeswoman says the change would threaten national security.
The National Nuclear Security Administration has come under criticism in the past. In 2014, a congressional commission concluded that the agency had failed in its mission. AP

Israel activates missile defense system after Syria rockets

The Israeli military says it activated its aerial defense system in response to incoming rockets from the fighting in neighboring Syria.
The military says two interceptors were launched July 23 from the David’s Sling system after the rockets were identified. No injuries or damage was reported and the military says the rockets landed in Syrian territory.
The incident set off sirens throughout northern Israel.
It’s unclear who fired the rockets in Syria and what they were aimed at.
Earlier this month, Israel twice in the same week fired a Patriot missile at an unmanned aircraft that approached the country’s border from Syria.
In June, Israel fired a missile at a drone that approached its airspace near the Syrian frontier. AP

Germany: Intruders cut through perimeter at U.S. air base

The German military says seven people were detained after cutting through a fence surrounding a U.S. air base that peace activists claim holds nuclear weapons.
Germany’s dpa news agency reported July 23 that the activists were stopped after entering the security zone at the Buechel Air Base, in the country’s west.
The German military said the intruders were later released and now face criminal complaints for property damage, breaking and entering, and dangerous interference with air traffic.
It’s the second time in less than 10 days that anti-nuclear activists have broken into the base.
German and U.S. forces are jointly stationed at Buechel Air Base. A legal complaint from a nearby resident over the storage of nuclear weapons at the base was rejected by Germany’s top court earlier this year. AP

Lockheed: second quarter earnings snapshot

Lockheed Martin on July 24 reported second-quarter earnings of $1.16 billion.
The Bethesda, Md.,-based company said it had net income of $4.05 per share. Earnings, adjusted for severance costs, were $4.31 per share.
The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of eight analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $3.89 per share.
The aerospace and defense company posted revenue of $13.4 billion in the period, which also beat Street forecasts. Five analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $12.75 billion.
Lockheed expects full-year earnings to be $16.75 to $17.05 per share, with revenue in the range of $51.6 billion to $53.1 billion.
Lockheed shares have fallen almost 1 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has increased 5 percent. The stock has risen 10 percent in the last 12 months. AP

UK space officials seek nifty name for Mars rover

The U.K. Space Agency is looking for a catchy name for the ExoMars Rover being developed for use in a mission set for 2020.
The agency launched a competition July 20 to find the best name for the rover, a key U.K. contribution to the European Space Agency’s Mars voyage.
The winner won’t get a trip to Mars — that would take far too long.
However, the winner will win the chance to take three guests on a tour of the Airbus facility in Stevenage, around 30 miles north of London, where the rover is being built.
The rover is a six-wheeled robot that will search for evidence of past or even present life.
The contest is open to residents of countries belonging to the European Space Agency. AP