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April 17, 2013

News Briefs April 17, 2013

At least 2,070 US military deaths in Afghanistan since 2001

As of April 17, 2013, at least 2,070 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count.

At least 1,716 military service members have died in Afghanistan as a result of hostile action, according to the militaryís numbers.

Outside of Afghanistan, the department reports at least 119 more members of the U.S. military died in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Of those, 11 were the result of hostile action.

The AP count of total OEF casualties outside of Afghanistan is four more than the departmentís tally.

The Defense Department also counts three military civilian deaths.

Since the start of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, 18,418 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department. AP

China criticizes increase in U.S. forces in Asia

China’s military says the U.S. is destabilizing the Asia-Pacific region by sending more forces to the area and boosting its alliances with regional partners.

Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told reporters at a news conference April 16 that such steps run counter to regional political trends and damage peace and stability. Yang said countries involved should focus instead on increasing trust among regional players.

China’s armed forces have consistently criticized Washington’s deployment of additional ships and men to Asia, along with moves to increase cooperation both with treaty partners, including Japan and the Philippines, and other countries such as Vietnam.

The redeployments come as the U.S. winds down fighting in Afghanistan. Beijing sees them as directed at containing China’s diplomatic, military, and economic rise. AP

Alaska-based soldier gets 16 years in spy case

An Alaska-based military policeman will serve 16 years in prison and will be dishonorably discharged for selling military secrets to an undercover FBI agent posing as a Russian spy.

Spec. William Colton Millay of Owensboro, Kentucky, was sentenced April 15. A panel of eight military members recommended a 19-year sentence but that was dropped to 16 years because of a pretrial agreement.

Military prosecutors painted Millay as a white supremacist who was fed up with the Army and the United States, and was willing to sell secrets to an enemy agent, even if that would cost his fellow soldiers their lives.

Defense attorneys said Millay is emotionally stunted, was only seeking attention and is a candidate for rehabilitation. AP

Airbus expanding its Wichita, Kansas, plant, workforce

Airbus Americas Engineering says it is planning to expand into a third space in downtown Wichita, Kansas.

The company announced April 15 it has already hired more people than had been expected after its last expansion. The firm’s vice president of engineering, John O’Leary, says it has hired 150 people, more than the 100 it had planned to hire when it expanded in 2012.

The company now employs about 400 people in Wichita.

The new building is adjacent to the company’s current facility. It will give the company 10,000 square feet to provide more space for current operations and allow for future growth. AP

German court sees merit in case brought by Afghan airstrike victims, asks for video evidence

A German court says a case brought by relatives of Afghans killed in a 2009 NATO airstrike ordered by German forces has merit, and it now plans to proceed with a review of evidence.

The Bonn regional court says it wants to see video material recorded by the American fighter jets ordered by a German colonel to bomb two stolen fuel tankers in the Afghan region of Kunduz.

The airstrike killed 91 Afghans and injured 11, most of them civilians, causing a political furor and the resignation of several senior officials in Germany.

The Bonn court said April 17 that the two plaintiffs might be entitled to compensation if the German colonel is shown to have failed to protect civilians as required by the Geneva Conventions. AP

Nearly two-thirds of slots in veterans job-training program still unfilled

Federal auditors say a job-training program designed to help veterans re-enter the workforce has more than 60,000 empty slots, left unfilled despite efforts to reduce the jobless rate among veterans.

The program is geared toward unemployed veterans between the ages of 35 and 60. It covers up to one year of tuition for training in high-demand jobs at local community or technical colleges.

In all, Congress allowed for up to 99,000 participants, and the inspector general for the Department of Veterans Affairs found that only about a third of the slots were being used. The program is just one of a range of education benefits for veterans. Most of those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan qualify for one of the others, so theyíre not eligible for this particular program. AP




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NASA completes LADEE mission with planned impact on Moon’s surface

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Photograph courtesy of NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech

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