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November 1, 2013

News Briefs November 1, 2013

Navy kickback mastermind seeks shorter prison term

The mastermind of a kickback scheme that cost the Navy $18 million is asking a judge to sentence him to a split term of prison and community service, rather than the more than 10 years behind bars that prosecutors are seeking.

Ralph M. Mariano is set to be sentenced Nov. 1 in federal court in Providence. The former civilian employee of the Navy pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy, theft of government property and tax evasion. He’s one of six people to plead guilty in the case.

Prosecutors say Mariano has failed to take responsibility for his crimes since entering the plea.

Mariano’s lawyer says his client has taken responsibility and should receive a lesser prison sentence along with community service hours that he called tantamount to long-term, full-time, indentured servitude. AP

China accuses Japan of interfering in naval drills

China Oct. 31 accused Japan of interfering in its recent naval exercises and said it may take unspecified further action if the meddling doesn’t stop.

The tough talk comes amid a bitter dispute over competing claims to an uninhabited island group in the East China Sea.

Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told reporters that a Japanese navy ship entered the exercise zone on Oct. 25 and stayed for three days, despite a Chinese notice to ships that it’s navy would be conducting drills in the area.

Yang said Japanese ships and aircraft also lingered close by for days conducting high intensity tracking and surveillance.

Not only do those actions constitute interference in our normal training activities, they also threaten the safety of our ships and planes and could lead to accidents or miscalculations, Yang said.

Japan must cease such provocations or bear responsibility for the consequences, he said. China reserves the right to take further measures.

The 13-month island feud has raised tensions between the rivals – who are also important economic partners – to new heights. Coast guard vessels regularly confront each other in waters around the islands and government-to-government exchanges have been frozen.

The dispute sharpened in September 2012 when the Japanese government nationalized them against China’s objections. AP

Aircraft carrier USS Ford to be christened in Virginia

The Navy’s newest aircraft carrier is set to be christened in early November.

Susan Ford Bales is scheduled to smash a bottle of American sparkling wine across the ship’s hull on Nov. 9 to christen the USS Gerald R. Ford. She is the sponsor of her father’s namesake ship.

Huntington Ingalls Industries says Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan will serve as the keynote speaker at the christening ceremony.

Construction of the Ford began in November 2009 at Newport News Shipbuilding.

The Ford is the lead ship in a new class of carriers. It features a new nuclear power plant, a redesigned island, electromagnetic catapults, improved weapons movement and an enhanced flight deck.
The Ford will replace the USS Enterprise, which was inactivated last year. AP




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NASA Cassini images may reveal birth of new Saturn moon

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

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