Local

May 24, 2013

News Briefs May 24, 2013

Unclaimed veterans’ remains laid to rest in California

The unclaimed remains of 35 military veterans and two military wives have been given formal military burials in Northern California.

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat says the remains, some left unclaimed for decades, were escorted by 120 motorcycles from Santa Rosa to the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery in Dixon May 20.

Among the cremated remains are those of eight men who served in World War I and 17 who served in World War II.

A ceremony was held at the Santa Rosa Memorial Park before a hearse began the 75-mile drive to the cemetery. The motorcade included more than 120 motorcyclists from law enforcement, the Patriot Guard and the American Legion Riders.

Several local and military officials spoke at the ceremony, which was attended by veterans and local residents. AP

Six months for contractor who stole Marine supplies

A defense contractor at Camp Pendleton, Calif., has been sentenced to six months in prison for his role in the theft of pricey medical equipment intended for overseas Marines.

The U.S. attorney in San Diego said in a statement May 20 that Michael Tuisee was also sentenced to six months of house arrest and three years’ probation, and must pay about $180,000 in restitution.

Tuisee admitted that he conspired with two people who worked in warehouses at Camp Pendleton to steal medical gear like ventilators, autoclaves and defibrillators. Tuisee would take the items from the base in his personal car and sell them to medical equipment resellers.

The judge told Tuisee he abused his position and breached the government’s trust. AP

Two San Diego contractors sentenced in Navy scheme

A federal judge has given three-year prison sentences to two San Diego defense contractors convicted of fraud in a scheme to bribe Navy officials with more than $1 million in cash and gifts.

The judge May 20 also ordered Joanne Loehr to pay $300,000 and Robert Ehnow to pay nearly $800,000 in restitution to the Navy.

Prosecutors say the companies used bribes including flat screen TVs and luxury massage chairs to get millions in business at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado.

Ehnow owned L&N Industrial Tool & Supply Inc., which filed for bankruptcy in 2011.

Loehr owns Centerline Industrial Inc., which was put on probation for five years and ordered to forfeit more than $1.8 million.

Eleven people, including several Navy officials, have been sentenced in the case. AP

House passes bill on lying about military medals

The U.S. House has passed a bill making it a crime for people to falsely claim they have received a military medal in order to obtain money or government benefits. Under the legislation, which passed overwhelmingly and now goes to the Senate, offenders could face up to a year in jail.

The Stolen Valor Act attempts to revive a law on fraudulent claims to medals that was struck down by the Supreme Court last year. The court ruled that simply lying about a medal was protected by First Amendment rights.

The bill passed May 20 narrows the focus to make it a crime to seek benefits, such as money or a job, by claiming to be a medal recipient. AP

Military Bowl moving from D.C. to Annapolis

Military Bowl organizers announced May 20 that the game will move this year from Washington’s RFK Stadium to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, placing the sixth annual game in a setting designed to honor service members about 30 miles from the nation’s capital.

Steve Beck, DC Bowl Committee president and executive director, said the Maryland venue, which includes a decommissioned Navy airplane outside its gates, is the perfect setting to reflect the bowl’s mission of supporting the nation’s military. The stadium, home for Navy’s football team and near the U.S. Naval Academy, also includes arches that tell the stories of battles fought by the Navy or Marine Corps.

“Those who attend will find Memorial Stadium to be historic, fan friendly, and designed to promote a wonderful family environment,” said Chet Gladchuck, the academy’s director of athletics.

The Dec. 27 game, which is sponsored by Northrop Grumman, will benefit the USO. The move was first reported by The Capital of Annapolis. AP

UTC completes Pratt & Whitney Power Systems unit divestiture

United Technologies Corp. announced May 17 it has completed the divestiture of its Pratt & Whitney Power Systems unit to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.  Divesting Power Systems allows UTC to focus on its core aerospace and commercial businesses.

Pratt & Whitney has entered into a long-term agreement with MHI under which Pratt & Whitney will provide certain engineering and manufacturing services to MHI in connection with the development of the FT4000, Power Systems’ next-generation industrial gas turbine.  Under the long term agreement, P&W has also agreed to provide GG8 turbines to MHI. 

General Dynamics NASSCO delivers USNS Montford Point

General Dynamics NASSCO recently delivered USNS Montford Point (MLP-1), the lead ship of the Mobile Landing Platform class, to the U.S. Navy. 

The ship is named in honor of Camp Montford Point, the Jacksonville, N.C., site where the first African-American Marines were trained.

Construction of the USNS Montford Point began in May 2011, incorporating a “design-build” approach to improve the ship’s readiness for production.  The 785-foot-long auxiliary ship will serve as a floating base for amphibious operations, and operate as a transfer point between large ships and small landing craft.

“Congratulations to the NASSCO-Navy-MSC team and to the entire group who built this ship,” said Fred Harris, president of General Dynamics NASSCO.  “The approach we have taken in building this first-of-class ship, with the requirements and planning complete and the material available at the start of construction, has resulted in the delivery of MLP-1 under budget and on schedule.  This reflects NASSCO’s tradition of delivering high-quality, mission-ready ships.”

NASSCO is currently building the second ship of the class, MLP-2, scheduled for undocking in September and delivery in the first quarter of 2014. Construction of MLP-3, the third ship in the class, began in February.

Report: Combat troop discharges increase sharply

A newspaper investigation has found that the number of soldiers discharged from the Army for misconduct has risen to its highest rate in recent times, and some are wounded combat troops who’ve lost their medical care and other veterans benefits because of other-than-honorable discharges.

The Gazette [Colorado Springs, Colo.] investigation based on Army data found that annual misconduct discharges have increased more than 25 percent Army-wide since 2009, mirroring the rise in wounded. Among combat troops, the increase is especially sharp.

Total discharges at the eight Army posts that house most of the service’s combat units have increased 67 percent since 2009. Those figures include soldiers diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.

The newspaper reports soldiers were sometimes cut loose for minor offenses the Army acknowledges can be symptoms of TBI and PTSD. AP

Karzai seeks Indian military aid amid Pakistan row

Afghan President Hamid Karzai will seek increased military aid from India during a three-day visit starting May 20 and will discuss recent cross-border clashes with Pakistan, India’s archrival, an aide said.

The comments follow a weekend report by the Times of India that said Afghanistan’s ambassador to India had said the country needs India’s help with “equipment and weapons to fight.” The Press Trust of India later quoted a spokesman for New Delhi’s Foreign Ministry as saying the country is ready to meet any such request.

“Yes, we will ask for assistance for the strengthening of our security forces,” Karzai spokesman Aimal Faizi said in a briefing ahead of the trip. He did not comment on the Indian reports.

Karzai’s visit could irk Pakistan, especially if any arms deal materializes. Pakistan considers Afghanistan its own backyard and suspects rival India of seeking greater influence there as a strategy to hem in the country from both sides. Pakistan and India have fought three wars since they were divided into two countries when they gained independence from Britain in 1947.

Afghanistan and India signed a strategic partnership agreement in 2011 that has included Indian military training of Afghan security forces. Faizi indicated in Saturday’s briefing that Karzai would seek to expand that cooperation. “Whatever our Afghan security forces would need for assistance and help, India would help us,” he said. AP

Wild turkeys relocated from Davis-Monthan air base

A group of wild turkeys is now roaming Mount Lemmon after being captured at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson, Ariz.

Managers with the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the base’s cultural and natural resources office had been monitoring the birds’ movement through eastside neighborhoods until they were in a location where they could be captured without harm.

They were released May 17 atop Mount Lemmon.

The turkeys were among 17 released by the department in February in the Happy Valley area.

Gould’s turkeys were first reintroduced to the Rincon Mountains in 2012. They are the largest of five wild turkey species.

Game and Fish and the National Wild Turkey Federation have been reintroducing them since 1980 into the Sky Island mountain ranges across southeastern Arizona. They now number around 1,000. AP

Jordan jet crashes near Syrian border, two killed

Jordan’s military says a trainer jet has crashed near the Syrian border, killing its two Jordanian pilots.

A spokesman says the British-made aerobatic T-67 Firefly trainer was on a routine flight early May 16 west of King Hussein Air College, a Royal Jordanian Air Force base in the border town of Mafraq, when it developed an unspecified “technical fault.”

The spokesman demanded anonymity under army regulations.

The base is believed to house 3,000 Syrian army and police defectors and 200 U.S. troops dispatched recently to bolster Jordan’s border defenses against potential Syrian threats.

The base is also believed to be the site where U.S. experts are training secular Syrian opposition fighters seeking to topple Bashar Assad. It is in a military zone that is off limits to the public. AP

U.S. military considers Pacific island for training

The U.S. military is exploring the idea of using the Pacific island of Pagan to practice dropping bombs and other training maneuvers.

The proposal for the island about 330 miles north of Guam is still in the early stages. It is part of the military’s broader effort to focus more on the Asia-Pacific region.

Maj. Neal Fisher says the military has been seeking input from all stakeholders and is committed to being a good neighbor.

But critics fear the plan could hurt the island’s environment, endangered species and archaeological resources.

Some Pagan residents who were evacuated following a 1981 volcanic eruption are also worried the plan could prevent resettlement. Just a handful of people currently live in Pagan, which is part of the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. AP

U.S. Navy tests anti-mine drones in Gulf drills

The U.S. Navy is putting underwater drones through wartime-style drills as part of international mine-clearing exercises in the Persian Gulf following similar maneuvers by Iran.

The U.S.-led exercises, which began last week, include operations by the unmanned SeaFox devices, which are equipped with sonar and an explosive charge designed to shoot and destroy mines. It is part of the Navy’s plans to increasingly deploy automated surveillance and protection systems, including aerial drones.

Navy commanders insist the exercises, comprising more than 41 nations, are not intended solely against possible Iranian threats. But Iran has previously warned it could block critical Gulf oil routes in retaliation for Western sanctions over Tehran’s nuclear program.

In apparent response to the U.S.-led drills, Iran last week staged its own minesweeping operations. AP

Boeing resumes 787 deliveries after four-month halt

Boeing is delivering 787s again after a four-month halt while it fixed problems that led to smoldering batteries.

Boeing announced a delivery May 14 to Japan’s All Nippon Airways.

Airline flights and deliveries were halted in mid-January after two battery incidents, including a fire on a plane that had just finished a flight. Boeing says it has fixed the issue.

Airlines have been slowly resuming flights. Ethiopian Airlines was the first to get the plane back in the air, on April 27. United Continental Holdings Inc. is set to resume 787 flights again on Monday.

Boeing says that even with the halt in deliveries, it is on track to meet its original goal of delivering more than 60 of the planes this year. AP

North Korea replaces hard-line defense chief

North Korea has replaced its hard-line defense chief with a little-known army general.

The significance of Jang Jong Nam’s appointment wasn’t immediately clear. The announcement comes amid tentative signs of an interest in diplomacy after weeks of rising animosity and dueling threats on the Korean Peninsula.

Little is known about Jang. Mention of his new role was buried May 13 in a state media dispatch listing those who attended an art performance with leader Kim Jong Un.

It’s not known when Jang replaced Kim Kyok Sik. Kim is the former commander of battalions believed responsible for deadly attacks on South Korea in 2010. State media previously identified Jang as head of the army’s First Corps who pledged allegiance to Kim Jong Un and threatened South Korea in a speech last December. AP

Israel grounds drone aircraft fleet after crash

Israel’s military has grounded a fleet of high altitude surveillance drones after one was downed over the Mediterranean Sea.

The military says it intentionally crashed the unmanned aircraft late May 11 because of a malfunction.

The military would not say how many aircraft were grounded. The planes will stay down during an investigation.

An Israeli defense official said the drone was the Israeli-made Heron 1, which flies at high altitudes and can stay in the air for about 45 hours. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters.

Last year, a larger Heron TP drone crashed on a routine flight.

Israel is a world leader in drone technology. Palestinians say Israel uses drones to fire missiles, but Israel does not confirm that. AP

Airbus sales drive first quarter profits at parent company

European aerospace company EADS said strong deliveries by airplane maker Airbus helped drive higher earnings in the first quarter and laid out the hope that the new A350 long-range aircraft should make its first flight this summer.

The Airbus parent company also reaffirmed May 15 its forecast of lifting commercial aircraft deliveries this year to between 600 and 610, as demand from Middle Eastern and Asian carriers to expand their fleets continues to drive sales for one of Europe’s largest exporters.

EADS made a net profit for the January-March quarter of 241 million euros ($314 million), nearly double last year’s equivalent of 126 million euros.

EADS CEO Tom Enders said in a statement the company “had a rather good start into 2013” and remained focused on improving profitability further “in 2013 and beyond.”

Airbus delivered 144 aircraft in the first quarter, up from 131 in the same period last year. Last year Airbus delivered 588 aircraft, including 30 of its A380 superjumbos.

Airbus’s revenue from commercial aircraft sales jumped nearly 16 percent in the quarter thanks to rising deliveries. Airbus’ orders also continued to rise, with 410 net commercial aircraft orders in the quarter.

Airbus, which expects to take in around 700 orders this year, is preparing for the first flight of its new A350 long-range aircraft that is aimed at rivaling Boeing’s 777 and 787.

In a call with reporters Chief Financial Officer Harald Wilhelm said Airbus is “more and more confident” that the A350 will make its first flight sometime this summer, after two years of delays blamed partly on the aircraft’s new design, which makes use of unprecedented amount of lightweight carbon-fiber material.

EADS’ overall revenue rose 9 percent to 12.4 billion euros in the first quarter. The company targets “moderate” revenue growth in 2013 and operating profit of 3.5 billion euros, well above the 3 billion euros booked in 2012. AP




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