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January 22, 2014

News Briefs January 22, 2014

Dead woman identified in homicide at Nellis AFB

Authorities have identified a 34-year-old woman found dead at Nellis Air Force, Nev., in a case that led to the arrest of her husband on a murder charge.

The Clark County coroner says Theresa Rivera died of asphyxia Jan. 17 at home on Kevil Circle at the air base north of Las Vegas.

Her death was ruled a homicide.

Her husband, 32-year-old Rickey L. Massey Jr., was arrested and is being held at the Clark County jail on $1 million bail pending a Jan. 21 court appearance in Las Vegas.

A base spokeswoman says Massey is a technical sergeant. His hometown wasn’t made public.

Police said Rivera and Massey had been involved in a domestic dispute hours before her body was found.

Investigators say she appeared to have been beaten. AP

Cessna, Bell gains lift Textron fourth quarter profit

Textron said Jan. 22 that its fourth-quarter net income rose 13 percent, benefiting from higher revenue from its Cessna jet and Bell helicopter businesses and its industrial division.

For the three months that ended on Dec. 28, Textron earned $167 million, or 59 cents per share.

That compares with $148 million, or 51 cents per share, in the same months a year earlier. Income from continuing operations was 60 cents per share, beating analysts’ average estimate by a penny.

Revenue rose 4 percent, to $3.51 billion from $3.36 billion. Analysts polled by FactSet expected $3.41 billion.

The Cessna aircraft unit got a boost from deliveries of 62 new Citation business jets. Volumes rose in the Bell helicopter division and in the company’s industrial unit, which makes golf carts, tools, test instruments and other products. Volumes fell in the unit that makes armored vehicles and equipment for the defense and aerospace markets.

For this year, Textron anticipates earnings rising to $2 to $2.20 per share on revenue of $13.2 billion. Wall Street predicted profit of $2.22 per share on revenue of $13.3 billion. Textron’s outlook doesn’t include the $1.4 billion acquisition of aviation company Beechcraft, which is expected to close in the first half.

In 2013, net income totaled $498 million, or $1.75 per share, on $12.1 billion in revenue. AP

Veterans cemetery nears completion

Muddy roads will soon give way to asphalt and bare ground transformed with sod and landscaping as construction of the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Cemetery near Slidell, La., enters its final stages.

The Times-Picayune reported the $8 million cemetery is scheduled to open in April. The 75-acre site is on the north side of Interstate 12 next to the Louisiana National Guard’s Camp Villere in St. Tammany Parish.

SBS Construction of Baton Rouge is building the cemetery on property donated by the National Guard. Work began in December 2012.

The administration building is more than halfway completed. Elsewhere, crews continue to work at the entrance to the cemetery and the pavilion where funeral services will be held.

When we get the landscaping in here, it’s really going to set this thing off, said project superintendent Greg Gibson of SBS Construction. It’s going to look really nice.

Visitors will enter the cemetery on a new road beginning at the entrance to Camp Villere. The administration building will have restrooms open 24-hours a day. In the lobby will be a kiosk where visitors will be able to find the location of a grave, said Robin Keller, communications director for the state Department of Veterans Affairs, which will operate the cemetery.

The cemetery will initially have 2,579 crypts each capable of holding two coffins, 273 gravesites for cremated remains and 480 niches in vaults for cremated remains.

The cemetery is available for qualifying veterans, their spouses and dependent children. There is no charge for burial spots for veterans. A small fee is assessed for spouses and dependent children, cemetery officials said. Veterans receive free headstones or markers as part of their VA benefit, Keller said. AP

China begins naval drills in South China Sea

Chinese naval vessels including an island landing ship began drills Jan. 20 in the South China Sea, where China and several other nations are locked in territorial disputes.

Two destroyers and China’s largest amphibious landing craft started the exercises after sailing from the naval base on the southern island province of Hainan, the official Xinhua News Agency said. The ships also boast three helicopters and a company of marines.

Xinhua quoted Commander Jiang Weilie as saying the drills would focus on integrated combat missions involving ships, submarines and aircraft, suggesting other units may also be involved.

China has moved sharply to assert its claim to nearly the entire South China Sea and its island groups, frequently dispatching patrol vessels to challenge foreign ships and demanding that other nations obtain its permission to fish in the area. The Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei also claim the entire sea or parts of it.

Late last year, China dispatched its first aircraft carrier and accompanying ships to the South China Sea for sea trials. One of the ships turned to block a U.S. ship shadowing the flotilla, forcing it to take action to avoid a collision. AP

Japan says U.S. base in Okinawa is only solution

The Japanese government said Jan. 20 it would push forward with a long-stalled agreement to relocate a U.S. military base within Okinawa, despite the re-election of a mayor who opposes the plan.

A government spokesman said building the base in Nago city is the only solution, given all the factors involved.

We remain unchanged on continuing steadily with the plan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, adding the government would work hard to win over Okinawa residents.

His comments come a day after Nago city Mayor Susumu Inamine, who vowed to block construction of the base by denying permits for the project, won a hard-fought contest against a pro-base opponent supported by Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

The local residents, the people of this prefecture are so much against this, Inamine said of the base after his victory.

The U.S. and Japan agreed in 1996 to move the Marines Corps Futenma air station to Nago from a more congested part of Okinawa, but many Okinawans want the base off their island completely. AP

Afghan president again demands U.S. airstrikes end

Afghanistan’s president demanded Jan. 19 that the United States no longer carry out military operations or airstrikes and must jump-start peace talks with the Taliban before his country signs a security deal to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014.

President Hamid Karzai’s deepening anti-American rhetoric comes as the Taliban intensifies its assaults ahead of the planned withdrawal and after the Jan. 17 militant raid on a popular Kabul restaurant, the deadliest single attack against foreign civilians in the course of the nearly 13-year U.S.-led war.

Although Karzai has made similar demands in the past, he has in recent weeks ratcheted up his condemnations of alleged U.S. failures as Afghans look fearfully ahead to an uncertain future.
Karzai made the statement after being presented with the findings of an investigation into a joint Afghan-U.S. military operation last week that resulted in civilian casualties which he blamed on a U.S. military air strike.

The U.S.-led international military coalition, however, provided a sharply different account Sunday of what happened during the two-day operation against insurgents in eastern Parwan province, saying it was an Afghan-led effort and carried out at the request of the government. AP

UAE plans mandatory military service for males

The United Arab Emirates has begun the process of imposing mandatory military service for adult males to add another layer to the national defense force, the country’s prime minister announced Sunday.

The move appears aimed at least in part on feeding more Emirati nationals into the federation’s armed forces. The UAE military and police forces depend on foreigners to bolster their ranks.

Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said on his official Twitter feed that male high school graduates between the ages of 18 to 30 will be required to serve nine months, while those without a high school diploma must serve two years under the draft legislation. Military service for female Emiratis would be voluntary.

The UAE, which sits across the Persian Gulf from Iran, enjoys warm relations with the United States and other Western powers. A relatively young country, it was formed in 1971 after decades under British protection. AP

Bid protest on Air Force museum in Ohio denied

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force says work on a new building can go ahead in southwest Ohio.

Work on the $35.4 million expansion project was held up after another contractor filed a protest of the award to Turner Construction Co. But the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reviewed the bid award and rejected the protest.

A notice to proceed was issued Jan. 17.

The fourth building for the museum near Dayton, Ohio, will allow relocation of the Presidential Aircraft Gallery from a hangar in a restricted-access area of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. A gallery on research and development will also move, and a new space gallery will showcase a space shuttle exhibit. Another gallery will focus on airlift operations.

The fourth building is now expected to open in 2016. AP

France to up Africa military presence

The defense minister says France will create new outposts and broaden its military presence in Africa’s turbulent Sahel region to better fight the terror threat from extremist groups like al Qaeda.

In an exclusive interview Jan. 21 with The Associated Press, Jean-Yves Le Drian said France is moving toward a regional counterterrorism approach in former French colonies like Chad, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali. French troops largely ousted al Qaeda-linked militants from northern Mali last year.

The minister plans to detail the plan to U.S. officials during a trip to Washington this week. France has worked closely with U.S. forces to try to fight extremism in Africa.

Le Drian said the new plan will involve the creation of specialized posts in the region including for logistics, intelligence-gathering and airborne assets. AP

Iran sends warships to Atlantic

Two Iranian warships set sail Jan. 21 for the Atlantic Ocean on their navy’s first-ever mission there, state TV reported.

The voyage comes amid an ongoing push by Iran to demonstrate the ability to project power across the Middle East and beyond.

The report said that the destroyer Sabalan and the logistic helicopter carrier Khark will be dispatched on a three-month voyage.

The warships will have task of securing shipping routes as well as training new personnel, the semi-official Fars news agency quoted Iran’s navy chief Admiral Habibollah Sayyari as saying.

It said the ships, carrying some 30 navy academy cadets for training along with their regular crews, left the southern Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. It did not mention any ports of call.

Iran has regularly deployed warships to the Gulf of Aden off the eastern coast of Africa to fight piracy and protect commercial ships.

The recent Iranian naval surge is also a response to U.S. naval deployment near the Islamic Republic’s coasts in the Persian Gulf. The U.S. Navy’s 5th fleet is based in Bahrain – across the gulf from Iran.

It has also sent its warships to Syrian waters in recent years.

In 2012, Iran said it aims to put warships in international waters off the U.S. coast within the next few years, and extend its reach as far as Antarctica. AP

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