In the news...

May 16, 2014

New Briefs May 16, 2014

Kirtland cleanup work to start with pilot project

The Air Force is going to start small but says it’ll meet a July 1 deadline to begin cleaning up a long-ago fuel spill at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., and avoid state-threatened fines of up to $10,000 per day.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that a pilot project will begin the effort to remove contaminants from the underground pipeline leak discovered in 1999.

According to state and Air Force documents, the pilot project’s system would remove contaminants from an area of 50 feet across, a fraction of the area of contaminated groundwater.

The contamination is moving through groundwater in the direction of Albuquerque drinking water wells.

The state threatened fines unless the Air Force had started removing contaminants from the water in operation by July 1. AP

Japanese panel urges greater military role

A government-appointed expert panel has submitted that urges Japan to reinterpret its constitution so its troops could use force to defend other countries for the first time in the post-World War II era.

Japan maintains a military now only for its own defense, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing for it to play a greater role in international security.

Panel members have said that a deteriorating regional security environment makes Japan’s current ban on what is known as collective self-defense inadequate.

Opponents say the proposed reinterpretation would undermine the war-renouncing clause of Japan’s constitution.

Abe will have to overcome doubts within the ruling coalition to win approval for collective self-defense.

Surveys show public opinion is mixed. AP

Oklahoma House passes military base sales tax measure

The Oklahoma House has narrowly passed legislation that authorizes sales taxes to be collected from civilians who purchase products from private-sector vendors on military bases.

The House approved the measure May 14 by a vote of 51-42 – the minimum number required to pass legislation in the 101-member House. The Senate last month voted 39-0 for the measure that now goes to Gov. Mary Fallin to be signed into law.

Currently, purchases from private vendors on military bases are exempt from sales taxes. The bill’s author, Rep. Mike Jackson of Enid, says the bill requires a change in local sales tax ordinances, plus the approval of the U.S. military, before taxes are collected.

Jackson says purchases by active-duty and retired military personnel will remain exempt. AP

Russia aims to exit ISS project in 2020

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said May 13 his country doesn’t intend to use the International Space Station past the year 2020 and that this would effectively exclude the United States from using the orbiting laboratory.

The statement came amid high tensions between Washington and Moscow over the Ukraine crisis and the sanctions imposed by the United States. Rogozin did not draw a direct connection between those tensions and the space station, but said it is really alarming to us to continue developing major high-technology projects with such an unreliable partner as the U.S., which is politicizing everything,î the Interfax news agency reported.

Rogozin said that after 2020, Russia would like to redirect the resources now used for manned spaceflight to other space projects. Those projects were not specified in the reports, but he said the national space agency would be presenting a plan this summer.

Rogozin said that the Russian segment of the space station can exist independently of the American one, but the American segment cannot exist on its own without the Russian one.î However, he promised that Russia will act completely pragmatically and will not place any impediments for work on the ISS.

Since the end of the U.S. space shuttle program, Russian Soyuz spacecraft are the only way to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS.

The deputy premier also said Russia intends to sell rocket engines to the United States only upon guarantees that they will not be used for military purposes.

United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, uses Russian RD-180 engines as the first stage in its Atlas V launch vehicle, which is used for military and intelligence satellites. A ULA statement sent to The Associated Press said the company was unaware of any restrictions. AP




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