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June 14, 2013

News Briefs June 14, 2013

Top military leader disputes diplomat on Benghazi

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says four members of Army special forces in Tripoli were never told to stand down after the attack last year on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey disputed the claim by former top diplomat Gregory Hicks, who told a House panel last month that the unit was told not to go to assist Americans under siege.

Dempsey told a Senate panel June 12 that when the unit contacted commanders in Germany, it was told that it would be better used in Tripoli to handle any wounded. He also said a plane evacuating Americans from Benghazi would have crossed paths in the air if they had left Tripoli.

Four Americans were killed in the attack. AP

Navy revises plan for solar panels on runway

The Navy says it no longer favors covering an historic Hawaii runway with solar panels to meet green energy requirements and will instead place panels on fallow acreage.

The plan to cover 28 acres of Ford Island runway had drawn protest from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and others.

The Navy in an environmental assessment says 50,000 panels on Waipio Peninsula are preferred and the Ford Island runway remains an alternative site.

The Honolulu Star Advertiser reports the solar energy equipment is part of a military power project for bases on Oahu and Kauai in response to a push by Congress and the Defense Department to substitute renewable energy for dependence on foreign fossil fuel.

Public for the environmental assessment is open through June 24. AP

Air Force recruiter convicted on sex abuse counts

A military jury in South Texas has convicted a Houston-area recruiter on multiple sexual assault-related counts.

Air Force TSgt. Jaime Rodriguez faces up to life in prison in the penalty phase at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

The San Antonio Express-News reports Rodriguez previously pleaded guilty to six charges and 23 specifications of wrongdoing. He was accused of having unprofessional relationships with recruits and an assistant.

Rodriguez late June 12 was convicted of aggravated sexual assault, abusive sexual contact, non-forcible sodomy, aggravated sexual contact, wrongful sexual contact and exposure. He was acquitted on two sexual assault-related counts for alleged 2011 incidents with women in a back room of his office.

Rodriguez was tried at Lackland because the Air Force Recruiting Service is headquartered in San Antonio. AP

Navy kickbacks defendant requests new lawyer

A former employee of the U.S. Navy who admitted leading a kickback scheme that cost the Navy $18 million is asking for a new lawyer less than two weeks after pleading guilty to conspiracy, theft of government property and tax evasion.

Ralph Mariano filed papers in U.S. District Court in Providence saying there has been a ├Čcomplete breakdown├« in the relationship between him and his lawyer, Robert Corrente. Corrente is a former U.S. Attorney, and Mariano says he has a conflict because he was leading the office at the same time the U.S. Attorney’s office was investigating the scheme.

Corrente would not comment.

Mariano says he does not want to change his plea, but wants a new lawyer to help him before he is sentenced in September. AP

Japanese carrier’s Boeing 787 has engine problem

A Japanese carrier’s Dreamliner had engine trouble before takeoff June 12, a day after a rival airline had a problem on another 787 plane.

Neither problem was with the lithium-ion batteries that were overheating and resulted in the Boeing aircraft being grounded for four months. The 787s returned to commercial service last month with their batteries now encased to prevent overheating from spreading.

The All Nippon Airways flight was scheduled to go from Ube to Tokyo’s Haneda airport but the right-side engine would not start, airline spokesman Yoichi Uchida said. He said its 141 passengers are taking other flights.

June 11, a Japan Airlines 787 returned to Haneda shortly after takeoff because of a problem in its deicing system.

The system is needed depending on weather conditions, and a malfunction can at times be dangerous, but the jet was not at risk and it returned safely, JAL spokesman Jian Yang said. The flight was en route to Singapore. AP




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