News Briefs – January 18, 2019

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Food pantry opens for employees at Coast Guard Academy

A coalition of Coast Guard-related nonprofit groups has opened a pop-up food pantry at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy to help Coast Guard and academy workers affected by the partial government shutdown.
About 160 of the 260 government-funded nonessential employees at the New London, Conn.,-based academy are furloughed. Most others, including faculty and active-duty Coast Guard personnel, are working without pay.
The Coast Guard, part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is not funded during the shutdown.
The southeastern Connecticut chapter of the Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association, the Coast Guard Enlisted Association of Southeastern Connecticut and the Coast Guard Spouses’ Association of Southeastern Connecticut, set up the pantry in the academy’s Leamy Hall.
Affected workers can pick up donated food, pet supplies and household items. AP
 

Defense intel report fuels worries of China attack on Taiwan

A new defense intelligence assessment lays out U.S. concerns about China’s growing military might, underscoring worries that Beijing could decide it has the ability to attack Taiwan and win.
A senior defense intelligence official says the key concern is that as China upgrades its military equipment and technology and reforms how it trains and develops troops, it becomes more confident in its ability to wage a regional conflict. And Beijing’s leaders have made it clear that reasserting sovereignty over Taiwan is their top priority.
The official says China could easily fire missiles at Taiwan but has more work to do before it could successfully invade the self-governing island.
The Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency released a new China report Jan. 15. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to provide greater insight into the intelligence findings of the report. AP
 

Bulgaria’s parliament OKs talks with U.S. on F-16 jet deal

Bulgaria’s Parliament has approved a government plan to open talks with the United States on a deal for eight new F-16 fighter jets to replace its aging Russian MiG-29s and bring its air force in line with NATO standards.
Parliament on Jan. 16 approved the plan in a 130-84 vote after a long, heated debate. Supporters called it a strategic choice for the country, while opponents voiced fears that the jets would be too expensive.
The center-right government preferred the offer for F-16s over Sweden’s bid for new Gripens and Italy’s offer for second-hand Eurofighters.
Defense Minister Krasimir Karakachanov told parliament that unlike the Swedish and Italian offers the F-16 fighter jets do not need additional agreements for supplies of the necessary weaponry. AP
 

Alabama county OKs $4 million incentive plan for new Airbus plant

An Alabama county has approved a $4 million incentive plan for Airbus as the European aircraft maker is set to start building a factory near its existing plant there.
The Mobile County Commission tells news outlets in a statement that commissioners voted Jan. 14 to approve the money. Airbus will host a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday for its new facility assembling the A220-300 plane. It’ll be next to a plant where Airbus already produces the A320 in Mobile.
The statement says the money will be paid out as $400,000 annually over 10 years.
The project agreement with the county requires Airbus to hire 432 new employees to earn the reimbursements.
Commissioner Jerry Carl says he expects another vote over various fee waivers and tax abatements the agreement calls for the county to grant or support. AP