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July 26, 2013

News Briefs July 26, 2013

Alabama governor seeks help with Guard furloughs

Alabama’s governor has written the president to try to get help with furloughs for some Alabama National Guard members.

Gov. Robert Bentley asked President Barrack Obama to direct the Department of Defense to grant the state’s National Guard the authority to shift funds and avoid further furloughs of dual-status employees who work full time for the Guard during the week and then train as Guard members on the weekend.

Bentley said the 11 days of furloughs from July through September are exacerbating an already critical shortage of full-time National Guard staff. A Guard spokesman, Col. Dennis Butters, said the furloughs amount to a 20 percent cut in pay for the three months.

Bentley has not received a response yet. AP

 

Army officer pleads guilty in Iraq contracting

A retired Army lieutenant colonel pleaded guilty July 23 to misusing his position as a contracting officer in Iraq six years ago to enrich himself, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Harold Broek, 49, of Lacey admitted steering military contracts to a company set up by his own family. They made tens of thousands of dollars in profit on one deal for radios, federal prosecutors said.

Broek has agreed to pay $52,000 in restitution and he could face up to five years in prison when he is sentenced Oct. 15 in federal court in Tacoma.

Broek pleaded guilty to the charge of criminal conflict of interest in a deal with the Justice Department, which agreed not to prosecute his family, The News Tribune reported.

In 2007, Broek was deployed as chief of contracting for the Tikrit Regional Contracting Center.

He exploited a partnership with an Iraqi contractor named Rohit Goel by guiding work to Goel’s Avalon International Limited, court records said. Goel in turn would steer significant portions of certain contracts to a business called Global Motion, which was run by Broek’s family.

On the radio deal, Broek shortened a deadline for an Army contract worth $162,151 in such a way that heavily favored Goel. Goel fronted Global Motion $99,978 to supply the radios. Global Motion spent $58,733 buying radios and kept the rest of the money, court records said.

Tax records showed Global Motion made a profit of $52,400 in 2007 and 2008, which determined the amount of restitution.

The case was investigated by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Recovery, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Defense Criminal Investigative Service. AP

 

Levin steps up bid to stop military justice revamp

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee is stepping up his opposition to legislation that seeks to stanch the growing number of sexual assaults in the armed forces by overhauling the military justice system.

Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, has released two letters from senior Defense Department officials that support keeping commanders involved in deciding whether to prosecute sexual assault cases.

Legislation introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York would remove commanders from the process of deciding whether serious crimes, including sexual misconduct cases, go to trial. That judgment would rest instead with seasoned trial lawyers – civilians who have prosecutorial experience.

But Levin says that approach would take away one of the “strongest weapons” commanders have to change the culture in their units and stem sexual assaults. AP

 

New China coast guard ships in disputed area

Chinese coast guard ships have been spotted for the first time near disputed islands controlled by Japan following a reorganization of the service in a bid to boost its effectiveness.

Japan’s coast guard said four Chinese craft were viewed early July 24 just outside Japanese territorial waters around the East China Sea islands called Diaoyu by China and Senkaku by Japan.

Chinese websites ran photos reportedly taken by the Japanese coast guard showing a ship painted in red, white and blue striped China coast guard livery.

The new service formally inaugurated on Monday combines four bodies formerly responsible for fisheries administration, maritime surveillance, customs enforcement and border control.

China has also frequently sparred with the Philippines and Vietnam over overlapping claims to parts of the South China Sea. AP

 

Bombardier delays first flight of CSeries plane

Bombardier has delayed again the first test flight of its much-touted CSeries single-aisle airliner.

The world’s third-largest maker of civilian commercial aircraft had been aiming for the first flight by the end of July but said Wednesday it will occur “in the coming weeks” without giving a target date. The plane was originally scheduled to fly by the end of 2012 and was delayed again last month. Bombardier said highly technical last steps are taking more time than initially anticipated to validate the overall systems and ongoing software integration.

“While the process has taken more time than we had expected, we are pleased with the results and are very comfortable taking more time to ensure the required integration is finalized and the CSeries aircraft is cleared for its first flight,” said Mike Arcamone, president, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft.

The Montreal-based company has said it hopes to capture half the global market of the 100-to-149-seat planes, and has marketed the plane as being 20 percent more fuel-efficient than the comparable Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 family of aircraft.

Bombardier has received 388 commitments for two versions of the aircraft, including 177 firm orders. AP




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Headlines July 31, 2015

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