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January 29, 2014

News Briefs January 29, 2014

Navy: Jet crash pilot listed in good condition

The Navy says the condition of a fighter pilot whose jet crashed off the coast of Virginia is improving.

Naval Air Force Atlantic spokesman Mike Maus said Jan. 28 that the pilot is listed in good condition. He was originally listed in critical condition by medical staff after being flown by Navy helicopters to a civilian hospital in Norfolk on Jan. 15. The pilot has since been transferred to Naval Medical Center Portsmouth.

The pilot was on a routine training mission in an F/A-18E Super Hornet when something went wrong and he ejected about 45 miles off Virginia Beach.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

The name of the pilot has not been released. AP

Lawmakers revisit COLA cut for military retirees

Congress is revisiting its decision to cut annual cost-of living adjustments to pensions for most working-age military retirees in the wake of outrage from veterans groups and others.

The budget agreement approved this month reduced those adjustments by 1 percent.

Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, says it was wrong to single out military retirees in the effort to reduce the deficit. Not a single member of the committee voiced disagreement.

The COLA change is scheduled to take effect at the end of 2015.

Pentagon officials asked Congress not to make any more changes to military pensions until a commission completes an extensive review of compensation and retirement benefits. That report is due February 2015. AP

Environmental groups sue Navy, fisheries service

More environmental groups are challenging the National Marine Fisheries Service’s decision to allow the Navy to inadvertently harm whales and dolphins while conducting sonar and other training off Hawaii and Southern California.

Groups led by the Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit against the fisheries service and the Navy in federal court in San Francisco Jan. 27.

The fisheries service last month issued the Navy a permit for the training.

Navy officials estimate its activities would have a negligible impact on marine mammal populations. But the NRDC argues sonar is responsible for population declines in marine mammal populations.

The lawsuit comes a several weeks after Earthjustice and other environmental groups filed a similar lawsuit in federal court in Honolulu. AP

Marine Corps to retry sergeant in Iraq war case

The Marine Corps has decided to retry a sergeant whose murder conviction from the Iraq war has been overturned twice by military courts.

Marine Corps spokesman Lt. Col. Joseph Kloppel announced Jan. 27 that the military branch had determined that the seriousness of the crime warranted a retrial of the case of Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins.

Hutchins led an eight-man squad accused of kidnapping retired Iraqi policeman Hashim Ibrahim Awad from his home in April 2006, marching him to a ditch and shooting him to death in the village of Hamdania.

The military’s highest court overturned his murder conviction and ordered Hutchins released from the brig last year after ruling there were errors in his case.

Hutchins has had had his conviction overturned twice in the past three years. AP




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