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September 25, 2012

News Briefs – September 25, 2012

U.S. trade office bows to WTO ruling on Boeing

The United States Trade Office says the U.S. government has responded to and complied with a World Trade Organization ruling that found the U.S. had provided illegal subsidies to Boeing.

The U.S. and the European Union have been at odds over subsidies to the world’s top plane makers – Chicago-based Boeing and Europe’s Airbus. A WTO panel has also ruled that European governments provided $18 billion in subsidies to Airbus, although not all were deemed illegal.

The trade office claimed the U.S. had complied with the March WTO ruling by stopping select payouts to Boeing through NASA and the Pentagon and by removing some beneficial tax and funding policies. It didn’t specify a cost of the measures.

The EU said Sept. 24 it will review the U.S. compliance measures. AP

U.S. begins test flights of MV-22 Osprey in Japan

The U.S. Marines are conducting their first test flights of the MV-22 Osprey aircraft in Japan after months of protests there over safety concerns.

The hybrid aircraft can take off like a helicopter and fly like an airplane. Flight operations were conducted Friday at a base in southern Japan where they are temporarily deployed before being transferred to Okinawa.

Following two recent crashes, tens of thousands of Okinawans have protested the deployment, saying that they are not safe to fly in Okinawa’s crowded environment.

But Japan’s central government gave the green light for operations to begin this week after a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who said Washington is confident in the safety of the aircraft. The planes are to head to Okinawa this month. AP

U.S. to reinstate New Zealand military ship visits

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says that after a 25-year ban, America will begin allowing Royal New Zealand Navy ships to visit U.S. military and Coast Guard facilities around the world.

Panetta says a policy change will allow the defense secretary to authorize individual visits. He says the U.S. also is removing restrictions to make it easier for the two militaries to engage in exercises and for leaders to hold security discussions.

Panetta spoke during a news conference Sept. 21 at the Government House with New Zealand Defense Minister Jonathan Coleman.

New Zealand banned nuclear weapons from the country 25 years ago so U.S. warships have not been able to enter its ports, and New Zealand ships were not allowed in U.S. military or Coast Guard ports. AP

Iran shows off new air defense system

Iran has displayed a new, all-Iranian-made air defense system that is reportedly an upgrade to an earlier Russian-made mobile model.

The system was on show Sept. 21 during a military parade in Tehran commemorating the start of the Iraq-Iran war 32 years ago.

The semi-official Fars news agency says the Raad, or Thunder, is more advanced than its Russian predecessor and is designed to confront fighter jets, cruise missiles, smart bombs, helicopters and drones.

The agency says Raad carries missiles with a range of 50 kilometers (30 miles), capable of hitting targets at 22,000 meters (75,000 feet).

Iran’s military leaders have said they believe future wars will be air- and sea-based and Tehran has sought to upgrade its air defense systems and naval power in anticipation of such a possibility. AP

Iran’s Navy aims to expand presence to Antarctica

Iran’s Navy chief says his country is planning to expand its presence in international waters, part of efforts to boost its military and extend its reach all the way to Antarctica.

Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayyari says in comments reported by state Press TV Sept. 22 that the move will allow the navy to raise the Iranian flag anywhere from the North to South Poles.

Sayyari said earlier this year that Iran seeks to put warships in international waters off the U.S. coast ìwithin the next few years.

Iran’s efforts have been interpreted as a response to America’s beefed-up naval deployment near Iran’s shores in the Persian Gulf. AP

California governor signs 18 bills that benefit veterans

California veterans and their families will receive a slew of new state benefits – from cheaper college tuition to expedited vocational licenses – under a legislative package signed by Gov. Jerry Brown Thursday.

The Democratic governor said in a statement that the 18 bills ìrespect the honor and dignity of those who serve.

He also took the opportunity to needle Congress about failing to work across party lines for the benefit of service members in a similar way.

Yesterday, a bill to invest in job training for veterans was blocked because of Washington political infighting,î he said. ìHere in California, Republicans and Democrats joined together to support our veterans.

Among the bills signed into law are AB2371, which provides treatment for criminal defendants suffering from a mental illness acquired during military service, and SB1287, which grants injured veterans discounted fishing licenses.

Another, AB1505, says California will reinstate benefits for soldiers discharged from the military for being gay if the federal government does.

Many of the new laws involve higher education. One triples the number of years veterans are eligible for priority registration at public colleges. Another extends eligibility for in-state tuition.

Several establish new funding mechanisms for veterans’ services, including a new ìsupport our troopsî specialized license plate.

California National Guard Adjutant General Maj. Gen. David Baldwin said the legislation shows the state is keeping its promises.

This comprehensive package of legislation signed by Gov. Brown continues to demonstrate that California is fulfilling its obligation to our veterans and their families who have sacrificed so much,î he said in a statement. AP




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