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July 10, 2013

News Briefs July 10, 2013

Subcommittee approves NASA reauthorization bill

The Space Subcommittee July 10 approved a draft bill to reauthorize programs at NASA for two years, including a topline budget of $16.8 billion dollars for the agency, which is consistent with the requirements of the Budget Control Act.

My goal is to ensure that Congress ñ and this subcommittee does everything in its power to support the next generation of explorers and maintain Americaís leadership in space, said Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., space subcommittee chairman. ìIn order to protect the American space legacy, we must make hard choices, prioritize budgets, and give NASA direction for future endeavors.

The draft bill ensures the continued development of the next generation of human space flight vehicles by investing in the Space Launch System and Orion crew capsule. The bill directs significantly more funds for development of SLS and Exploration Ground Systems than was included in the presidentís request. It also ensures efficient and effective utilization of the International Space Station, the on-schedule development of the commercial crew program, and continued delivery of supplies with the Commercial Resupply Services program.

The draft bill was approved by the Subcommittee by a vote of 11 to 9.

Air Force pulls sexual assault prevention brochure

The Air Force has pulled a brochure circulated at a South Carolina base after a lawmaker complained about some objectionable advice to sexual assault victims such as submitting to an attack rather than resisting.

New York Rep. Louise Slaughter July 9 released a copy of a letter she received from the Pentagon informing her of the Air Force’s decision to withdraw the brochure from Shaw Air Force Base. The Pentagon said in the letter that it shared some of the lawmaker’s concerns about some of the brochure’s material.

The brochure contained some common-sense recommendations, such as checking around a car before entering and using dead-bolt locks and peepholes when home alone.

The brochure said circumstances should dictate whether to submit to an attack rather than resist. AP

No harm to U.S. from leaked Gitmo files

A former Guantanamo Bay prosecutor says secret detainee assessments that U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning gave to WikiLeaks did not threaten national security.

Retired Air Force Col. Morris Davis testified as a defense witness July 9 at the soldier’s court-martial.
Manning has acknowledged sending nearly 800 Gitmo detainee assessments to the anti-secrecy group in March 2010. Five of the documents are the basis of an espionage charge.

Davis says four of the men named in the briefs had been released from Gitmo years earlier. He says the fifth is on a list to be transferred out.

Davis says the still-classified assessments contain little information that hasn’t been publicly released by sources other than WikiLeaks. And he says an enemy would learn nothing of value by reading the briefs. AP

Vermont council reverses position on F-35s at airport

The City Council in the Vermont city that is home to Burlington International Airport has reversed a decision it made last year to oppose plans by the Air Force to base F-35 fighter planes there with the Vermont National Guard.

The South Burlington council voted 3-2 July 9 night in favor of having the F-35s at the airport.

Last year, the council voted 4-1 to oppose bringing the planes to Vermont, largely because of the noise the planes are said to make. But on Town Meeting Day in March, two city councilors who voted against the planes were replaced by councilors thought to support it.

The council’s vote is not binding. The secretary of the Air Force is expected to decide this fall whether to base the F-35s in Vermont or elsewhere.

Residents of nearby Winooski also held a public meeting July 8. AP

Scott AFB pilots test out cockpit iPads

Pilots at a southwestern Illinois Air Force base are decluttering cockpits, swapping pounds of paper maps and bulky flight manuals for iPads Minis.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports the experiment involves C-21A planes at Scott Air Force Base.

Typically, each plane has about 50 pounds of paper on board, including maps, navigational charts and flight manuals. The printouts must be replaced every two months because they’re continually updated.

That costs money: about $25,000 a year in printing costs alone, plus the additional fuel that’s consumed because of the weight.

Maj. Jared Detloff is one of the pilots testing the 11 ounce tablet, which he velcros to a control yolk in the cockpit.

He says there’s been a learning curve to using the tablet, but so far it has been well-received. AP

Vietnam Memorial seeks pictures of D.C. veterans

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is collecting photographs of veterans named on the memorial wall, but organizers say they are coming up short on pictures of District of Columbia veterans.

The memorial group has been collecting photographs since 2009 to be shown in a planned education center. Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund President Jan Scruggs says they’ve only received 76 photos of the 241 D.C. veterans who were killed in the war.

Scruggs says families can still mail in photographs or submit them online. He says it takes some detective work to track down the stories and faces behind the 58,000 names on the memorial.

About 1,000 Vietnam veterans are from the Washington, D.C., area. AP

Organizers aim to start building the new underground education center next year to honor veterans who died.




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