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February 21, 2014

News Briefs February 21, 2014

Philippine military chief: China claims nonsense

The Philippine military chief has said Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea are nonsense an dhas vowed to defend fishermen if they face intimidation by Beijings naval forces.

The comments Feb. 20 by Gen. Emmanuel Baustita in an interview with The Associated Press are the latest in a war of words between Beijing and Manila over their rival claims in the resource-rich waters.

China says practically all of the South China Sea belongs to it, and its navy and air force are increasingly assertive in pressing that claim.

Baustita said the claim is of course nonsense. Take a look at the map. AP

Contractor denies charge in Iran documents case

A former defense contractor charged with trying to ship Iran stolen proprietary information about the Air Force F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program and military jet engines pleaded not guilty Feb. 19.

Mozaffar Khazawee entered the plea in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, Conn., to charges of transporting property stolen from companies where hed worked, including jet engine maker Pratt & Whitney. He used to live in Manchester, Conn., but now lives in Indianapolis.

Prosecutors said customs inspectors found sensitive technical manuals and other documents in a November shipment to Iran that Khazawee described as household goods.

Authorities added a count of transporting stolen property this week. They said about $60,000 was seized when Khazawee was arrested and is subject to forfeiture if hes convicted.
A message left Feb. 19 with his attorney wasnt immediately returned.

Pratt & Whitney, a subsidiary of Harford, Conn.,-based United Technologies Corp., said its fully cooperating with authorities and protecting sensitive technical data was one of its highest priorities. Authorities have not publicly identified the companies, but Pratt & Whitney confirmed its one of them.

Khazawee, who remains detained, was arrested last month in New Jersey at Newark Liberty International Airport en route to Tehran. The money was seized primarily from his carry-on luggage at the time of his arrest, prosecutors said.

Each charge carries a maximum prison term of 10 years upon conviction. AP

Air Force seeks comment on expanded training site

The U.S. Air Force is moving forward with its 2008 proposal to expand a bomber training site, most of which is over southeastern Montana.

The FAA Feb. 18 notified the Montana Department of Transportation that it was taking public comment through April 3 on the proposed expansion of the Powder River Complex, said Debbie Alke, administrator for the Aeronautics Division.

The expanded training airspace would stretch about 300 miles between Billings, Mont., and Bismarck, N.D., with airspace also over northeastern Wyoming and South Dakota, The Billings Gazette reports.

The Air Force proposed the expansion, saying it needs a larger area to better train B-1 crews stationed at Ellswroth Air Force Base, S.D., and B-52 crews stationed at Minot AFB, N.D., to ensure their readiness to succeed and survive in combat. The proposal calls for flights up to 240 days a year, with large force exercises involving about 20 aircraft about 10 days per year.

Some ranchers and private pilots in Montana oppose the expansion.

Feb. 18, Montana Democratic Senators Jon Tester and John Walsh wrote to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welch III to state their opposition. AP

Bush hosts summit on helping veterans transition

Former President George W. Bush say hiring military veterans is not just the right thing to do, but the smart one as well.

He spoke Feb. 19 at a summit at the George W. Bush Institute on helping veterans transition back into civilian life. Bush said, We are focused and well be relentless in serving our vets.

Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, also spoke. She and first lady Michelle Obama founded the Joining Forces campaign to rally the country around its servicemen and servicewomen.

Bush says one issue to address is a stigma associated with post-traumatic stress, which ha ben mislabeled a disorder. He says its treatable.

Bushs policy institute is part of the George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. AP

Governor says union jobs not welcome in South Carolina

Gov. Nikki Haley constantly stresses her effort to bring jobs to South Carolina.

But Haley says she discourages companies from moving to the state if they will bring a unionized workforce.

Haley told The Greenville News Feb. 20 she does not want union jobs in the state. Haley was in Greenville, S.C., for an automotive conference.

Haley says shes happy for the non-union jobs at BMW, Michelin and Boeing. But she would not like to see Ford, General Motors or Chrysler in South Carolina.

Its not something we want to see happen, Haley said.

Haleys like opponent in this years election, Camden Sen. Vincent Sheheen, says South Carolina should remain a right-to-work state where employees decide whether to join a union.

But I also think that if Ford Motor Co. wanted to bring 10,000 jobs to South Carolina, we would welcome them with open arms, Sheheen said.

During Haleys first year in office, the National Labor Relations Board went to court to block Boeing from making its Dreamliner jet at a new factory in North Charleston.

The NLRB said Boeing built the plant in South Carolina in retaliation for past union strikes at the companys Washington state operations. The NLRB later dropped the complaint.

Theyre coming into South Carolina. Theyre trying, Haley warned. Were hearing it. The good news is its not working.

Erin McKee, president of the South Carolina chapter of the AFL-CIO said Haley is not doing a good job of representing the people of the state.

South Carolinians have the right to good jobs, and if those jobs are union jobs, theyre union jobs, McKee said. AP




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Courtesy photograph

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