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July 11, 2014

News Briefs July 11, 2014

Afghan aid is dropping, but how fast is too fast?

Civilian assistance to Afghanistan was always slated to shrink with America’s military footprint, but U.S. aid officials were caught off guard when Congress became upset by testy relations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and slashed civilian aid by 50 percent this year.

War-weary lawmakers were content with the level of aid already in the pipeline and backed the cut.

But U.S. aid agency officials are warning that reducing assistance too quickly is risky.

They argue that if aid to Afghanistan continues this precipitous drop, it will jeopardize gains in education, health care and other civilian programs.

Obama administration efforts to keep aid levels from plummeting, however, are going up against political pressure from those upset about Afghan corruption and mismanagement and the perception that the U.S is throwing good money after bad. AP

Convicted U.S. spy Arthur Walker dies in prison

Arthur Walker, a retired Navy lieutenant convicted in 1985 for his role in a spy ring, has died in prison. He was 79.

Walker was convicted of stealing secret documents from a defense contractor and giving them to his brother, John A. Walker Jr., for delivery to the Soviet Union.

Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke says Walker died earlier this month at FCI Butner Low in Butner, N.C.

John Walker pleaded guilty in 1985 along with his son, Michael L. Walker, to charges of spying for the Soviet Union.

Arthur Walker and John Walker received life sentences under rules that considered such federal terms to constitute 30 years in prison. Michael Walker was released in 2000. AP

New Hampshire opens first criminal court for vets

New Hampshire’s governor and top judicial and military officials gathered to dedicate the state’s first court designed to handle the criminal cases of military veterans.

Located in Nashua, the court will focus intensive treatment to address the substance abuse, trauma and anger management issues that often drive veterans’ crimes.

Maj. Gen. William Reddel – adjutant general of the New Hampshire National Guard – said the court is not about providing a get-out-of-jail-free card. He said it’s about fixing the problems behind the crimes.

Chief Justice Linda Dalianis said the court is a tribute to the valor and sacrifice of veterans. She said she hopes it will be a place where troubles turn into triumph.
The court begins hearing cases in August. AP

U.S. military leaders backed Bergdahl prisoner swap

The top U.S. military leaders unanimously supported the Obama administration’s exchange of five Taliban leaders for an Army sergeant who was a prisoner of war in Afghanistan for five years.

In a series of letters, the chairman and the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the United States does not leave troops behind. Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said the swap in May was likely the last, best chance to free Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Five senior Taliban officials were released from detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for Bergdahl.

Lawmakers have raised questions about whether Bergdahl was a deserter and whether the United States gave up too much for his freedom.

Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, released the letters July 10. AP

Boeing raises forecast for new airplane demand

Boeing is raising its long-term forecast for new airplane demand by more than 4 percent and it’s still the Asia-Pacific region that is driving most of the growth.

Boeing expects orders of 36,770 new airplanes over the next 20 years, with total list prices valued at an estimated $5.2 trillion.

Low-cost carriers are helping to fuel the fastest growing segment of the market, single-aisle airplanes. Those aircraft make up 70 percent of all orders.

Boeing says about 37 percent of the airplane deliveries will be made in the Asia-Pacific market, with North America and Europe the next two most common destinations.

Boeing says the market for airplanes is strong and resilient.

Shares of the Chicago company hit an all-time high this year, but have fallen almost 8 percent this month. AP




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