News Briefs – May 29, 2019

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California congressman says he’s taken photo with dead enemy

U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter of California has acknowledged taking a photo with a dead combatant during his time as a Marine as he defended a Navy SEAL charged with multiple war crimes.
The Union-Tribune reports the Republican congressman made the comments during a town hall May 25 in his San Diego-area district.
Hunter has advocated for a pardon for Edward Gallagher, who’s charged with stabbing to death a teenage Islamic State fighter under his care in Iraq in 2017 and then holding his reenlistment ceremony with the body.
Hunter told the audience that he also posed for a photo next to a dead combatant but said he didn’t text it or post to social media.
He called the military justice system “corrupt.”
Calls to Hunter’s offices weren’t returned May 27. AP
 

Australian navy pilots struck by lasers in South China Sea

A witness says Australian navy helicopter pilots were hit by lasers while exercising in the South China Sea, forcing them to land as a precaution.
Scholar Euan Graham, who was onboard the Royal Australian Navy flagship HMAS Canberra on a voyage from Vietnam to Singapore, said in an account of the incident that the lasers had been pointed from fishing vessels while the Canberra was being trailed by a Chinese warship.
China maintains a robust maritime militia in the South China Sea composed of fishing vessels equipped to carry out missions just short of combat.
Similar incidents involving lasers and the Chinese military have been reported as far away as Djibouti, where the U.S. and China have bases. Last year, the U.S. complained after lasers were directed at aircraft there. AP
 

Air New Zealand orders eight Boeing Dreamliners with GE engines

Air New Zealand announced May 27 that it has ordered eight new Boeing Dreamliner planes with a list price of $2.7 billion.
The nation’s flagship carrier said it negotiated a substantial discount on the price it will pay for the 787-10 planes, which is typical for such purchases. It said the new planes will replace its fleet of eight Boeing 777-200s, and it will take delivery of the new planes over a period of five years beginning in 2022.
Air New Zealand said it will use engines made by Boston-based GE for the new planes after using British Rolls-Royce engines for previous purchases of Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.
The British manufacturer ran into problems with its Trent 1000 engines that forced it to carry out inspections and repairs, causing delays and cancellations across the globe, including to some Air New Zealand flights.
Air New Zealand Chief Executive Christopher Luxon said the new planes would be 25 percent more fuel efficient than those they’re replacing.
“In connecting New Zealand with the world, we naturally offer a high proportion of long-haul flights, and these state-of-the-art aircraft will ensure we continue to operate one of the world’s youngest and most efficient jet fleets,” Luxon said in statement.
The agreement includes options to increase the number of new planes to 20, as well as flexibility around delivery dates and switching some orders to smaller 787-9 planes.
Air New Zealand is 52 percent owned by the New Zealand government. AP