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October 9, 2013

Headlines October 9, 2013

News:

Pentagon chief attends arrival of four war dead –

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel traveled to Dover Air Force Base Oct. 9 for the arrival of the remains of four U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan. Joining Hagel on the trip from Washington were Army Secretary John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno.

Shutdown halts death benefits for military families –

A growing number of military families are facing temporary denial of the $100,000 death gratuity benefit the Defense Department typically provides after service members are killed while on active duty. At least 17 troops have died — including six killed in Afghanistan — since the government shutdown began Oct. 1. But their family members have not immediately received the lump sum payments known as a “gratuity benefits.”

DOD: Troops will get all pays, allowances Oct. 15 –

The Pentagon’s accountants said today that all troops will receive their pays and allowances on time for the mid-month paycheck next week, but some details remain unclear. The Defense Finance and Accounting Services issued a statement saying that “Normal pay and allowances have been processed and you will receive them in your mid-month pay. The amount reflected in your mid-month statement will be deposited.”

 

Business:

Pentagon withholds Pratt & Whitney funds over management –

The Pentagon’s contract management agency will withhold 5 percent of billing son the next four F-35 jet engine contracts from United Technologies’ Pratt & Whitney unit, according to a DOD spokesperson.

Federal contractors’ pain won’t vanish after shutdown ends –

The U.S. government shutdown may hurt contractors long after Congress and President Barack Obama find a way to open federal offices and resolve the debt ceiling dispute.

Bell-Boeing team tests Osprey’s ability to refuel other aircraft –

The medium-lift Osprey, proven in combat as a troop and equipment transport, could soon get a new mission: refueling other aircraft. A series of tests in August and September has given aviation officials hope that the Osprey could be used to extend the range of other platforms, including helicopters and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

 

Defense:

Current funding makes hollow force ‘inevitable’ –

The Army’s top supply officer is concerned that a hollow Army is “inevitable” if reduced discretionary funding caps are not reversed. And the government shutdown isn’t helping matters.

Unsatisfied with answers on A-10, senator keeps James hold in place –

Senate Armed Services member Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., is keeping up her effort to block the White House’s pick for US Air Force secretary after the service provided insufficient data on its plans to retire its A-10 attack aircraft fleet.

House defense hawks urge tea party to drop Obamacare war –

House GOP defense hawks are joining their Senate cohorts in calling for the party’s far-right faction to drop its war on Obamacare and focus on issues like voiding further Pentagon budget cuts.

Did Obama swap ‘black’ detention sites for ships? –

Instead of sending suspected terrorists to Guantanamo Bay or secret CIA “black” sites for interrogation, the Obama administration is questioning terrorists for as long as it takes aboard U.S. naval vessels. And it’s doing it in a way that preserves the government’s ability to ultimately prosecute the suspects in civilian courts.

Air Force: C-130 overshot landing strip in May –

A C-130 loaded with passengers on a medical evacuation flight skidded off the runway at a forward operating base May 19 because the plane approached the landing strip too fast for weather conditions, according to an Air Force accident investigation.

 

Veterans:

VA to furlough 7,000 employees, close regional offices –

Veterans regional offices will be closed and nobody will answer their phones beginning Tuesday morning as the government shutdown forces furloughs of 7,000 employees of the Veterans Benefits Administration.

 

Space:

NASA spacecraft zips by Earth en eoute to Jupiter –

A NASA spacecraft bound for Jupiter will swing by Earth on Wednesday to get the boost it needs to arrive at the giant gas planet in 2016.  Using Earth as a gravitational slingshot is a common trick since there isn’t a rocket that’s powerful enough to catapult a spacecraft directly to the outer solar system.

China calls NASA conference ban ‘discriminatory’ –

China has criticized the U.S. space agency NASA over its decision to bar Chinese scientists from attending a conference in the United States. The meeting is a key event for scientists searching for planets beyond the solar system.

Neptune’s moon Naiad spotted By Hubble Telescope for first time in decades –

A tiny, mysterious moon orbiting Neptune has been spotted for the first time in more than 20 years. By analyzing photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, scientists at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., have caught sight of Naiad, the innermost of Neptune’s moons. The 62-mile-wide (100 kilometers) moon has remained unseen since the cameras on NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft discovered it in 1989.

 

Technology:

Quick fusion-powered trips to Mars no fantasy, scientists say –

Sending astronauts to Mars aboard a superfast spacecraft powered by nuclear fusion may seem like a sci-fi dream, but it’s entirely attainable, scientists say. The physics behind a fusion-driven rocket have been demonstrated in the laboratory, so such a device may well be propelling people on 90-day trips to the Red Planet in a matter of decades, according to a team of researchers working on the technology.




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