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November 27, 2013

News Briefs November 27, 2013

Groups press EPA on Kirtland fuel spill cleanup

Two New Mexico citizen groups are repeating demands for the federal Environmental Protection Agency to conduct an independent review of the Kirtland Air Force Base groundwater contamination.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the Albuquerque-based Citizen Action and the environmental group Amigos Bravos sent a letter last week calling on the EPA to conduct its own preliminary assessment.

Dave McCoy of Citizen Action complained that the Air Force and state Environment Department are not pursuing cleanup in any meaningful way.

But state officials disputed McCoy’s contention, pointing to an accelerated cleanup effort launched during the summer that includes expanded soil vapor and water pumping.

Air Force officials discovered a leaking underground fuel line in 1999. Subsequent investigation concluded that it had likely been leaking for decades. AP

Ex-Navy workers sentenced in travel voucher scheme

One of two former Navy workers recently sentenced in a travel voucher scheme in Gulfport, Miss., has been ordered to prison for three years and restitution of about $55,000.

Quentin Lydell Lacour also must serve 100 hours of community service within a year of his release from prison, according to a judgment filed in federal court Nov. 22.

The Sun Herald reports U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden sentenced Lacour last week on charges of conspiracy to submit false claims and aggravated identity theft.

Lacour pleaded guilty Aug. 27, admitting his role in the crimes and of using someone else’s identity on vouchers for money deposited into his bank account in 2008 and 2009. AP

China’s aircraft carrier heads to South China Sea

China’s sole aircraft carrier is heading to the South China Sea for the first time on a mission to test its crew and technical capabilities.

The mission is bound to be closely watched due to China’s drive to assert its claims to the entire sea and its islands. China has developed civilian and military outposts and used its coast guard to confront ships from other nations.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the Liaoning was accompanied by two destroyers and a missile cruiser when it left its home port of Qingdao Nov. 26. It has launched and recovered jet fighters but not yet been given its full complement of aircraft.

The Liaoning was bought from Ukraine and extensively refurbished before entering service last year. AP

Businessman in Navy bribery case held without bail

A global businessman at the heart of a multimillion-dollar Navy bribery case has been ordered held without bail.

A federal judge in San Diego made the ruling Nov. 25 after a prosecutor argued that Leonard Francis was an extreme flight risk because of his wealth and global connections.

A tentative ruling last week would have freed Francis on $1 million bail if he stayed at an apartment under rigorous surveillance and 24-hour guard.

The Malaysian businessman owns a company that services Navy ships at overseas ports. He was arrested in San Diego in September on charges that he offered Navy officers luxury travel, prostitutes and cash for providing ship routes and helping steer ships to those ports.

Francis, his cousin and three Navy officers have pleaded not guilty. AP

Fashion police cracks down at Hawaii Army base

Army teams are monitoring what civilians and soldiers are wearing and how they’re behaving at a Hawaii base.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Nov. 25 a fashion police Courtesy Patrol at Schofield Barracks on Oahu is cracking down on attire that’s deemed inappropriate. That includes short shorts, bare midriffs, visible underwear, sagging pants and swimwear other than at the pool.

The two-person teams are also on the lookout for uniformed soldiers who are committing violations such as walking while talking on a cellphone and failing to extend proper courtesies.

The Army says a crackdown on revealing, offensive and unkempt off-duty attire is also in effect at several mainland posts.

The Courtesy Patrol has the authority to verbally detain a soldier but no authority to detain a civilian. AP

Pakistan deploys first domestic drones

The Pakistani military says it has deployed its first domestically developed drones.

The statement released by the military Nov. 25 did not make clear whether the aircraft are armed or unarmed, and officials did not immediately respond to request for comment.

The military says the Burraq and Shahpar drones will be used by the Pakistani army and air force.

Pakistan has protested U.S. drone attacks as a violation of the country’s sovereignty. It has demanded the U.S. provide the country with armed drones so it could carry out attacks itself. AP




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