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July 17, 2012

News Briefs – July 17, 2012

North Korea says powerful army chief relieved of posts

North Korea says it has relieved its military chief, a key adviser to new leader Kim Jong Un, from all posts because of illness.

North Korea’s state media said July 16 that the decision to relieve Ri Yong Ho of duties was made at a Workers’ Party meeting Sunday.

Ri was vice marshal of the Korean People’s Army and the military’s General Staff chief. The “military first” policy of Kim’s predecessor Kim Jong Il has made the army more powerful.

It was not clear who would succeed Ri. North Korea didn’t elaborate on Ri’s condition or future.

Animosity on the Korean Peninsula has deepened since a North Korean rocket launch in April that the U.N. called a cover for banned missile testing. North Korea says it was a satellite launch. AP

 

Judge nixes soldier’s Iraq electrocution suit

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by the mother of a Pittsburgh-area soldier who was electrocuted in his barracks shower at an Army base in Iraq.

In essence, U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer has ruled that Houston-based military contractor KBR Inc. couldn’t be held liable for the death because military commanders – not the contractor – made the decisions on where to house soldiers and whether buildings with substandard electrical systems were suitable or not.

Attorneys for Cheryl Maseth, the mother of SSgt. Ryan Maseth, say they’ll appeal to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Attorneys for KBR were attempting to determine if they’ll comment on the decision.

All parties agree that Maseth died on Jan. 2, 2008, when an improperly grounded water pump electrified his shower water. AP

 

Vietnam Memorial education center wins approval

An education center planned for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington has received preliminary approval for construction of an underground facility on the National Mall.

The proposed center would include exhibits, a bookstore and restrooms. Organizers say it will include a timeline of U.S. military history from Bunker Hill to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

On July 12, the National Capital Planning Commission granted preliminary approval for the two-level structure that will be on the northern grounds of the Lincoln Memorial.

Jan Scruggs, president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, says the group plans to break ground for the facility in November with the goal of opening the center in 2014 for troops returning from Afghanistan.

The group must raise about $40 million to complete the $85 million project. AP




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