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July 28, 2014

News Briefs July 28, 2014

Marines seek authorization for dolphin deaths

The Marine Corps is asking for a five-year authorization from the National Marine Fisheries Service for incidental deaths of bottlenose dolphins during training exercises at a bombing and target range.

The Sun Journal of New Bern, N.C., reports that Connie Barclay of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the authorization guarantees the Marines will be in compliance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The Marine Corps has applied for the authorization before, and the five-year request is designed to streamline the process.

The request would allow for 30 incidental deaths of dolphins during training within the five-year period that begins in September and ends in September 2019.

The request includes a 30-day public comment period that runs through Aug. 15.

Previously, the Marine Corps has said no dolphins have been killed during training at either of the ranges. Procedures call for training to be halted or delayed if dolphins are seen in the area.

Once this is approved, it will be good for five years and the Marine Corps will submit yearly reports to us and then they’ll have to renew their incidental harassment authorization in five years, Barclay said.

The Brant Island Bombing Target and Piney Island Bombing Range are at the mouth of the Neuse River and in Pamlico Sound and are used for bombing and strafing practice by aircraft and small watercraft.

Though it may not be likely that a dolphin is injured from bullets or bombs, injuries from explosive shock waves are also considered, according to the request. Dolphins can also be injured from collisions with fast boats used at the ranges. AP

Gay soldiers relaxed after restrictions lifted

The repeal of the military policy of don’t ask, don’t tell and the overturning of part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act opened doors more widely to gay people serving openly in the military.

It didn’t mark radical changes to the way the fighting force looked or behaved but brought the possibility of marriage and spousal benefits to soldiers that were previously denied.

While there are no solid statistics on the number of gay and lesbian soldiers currently in the military, a group of soldiers at Fort Campbell, Ky., spoke with The Leaf-Chronicle about life in the military before and after the repeal of the policy.

Each soldier spoke about being concerned about their sexuality surfacing and in some cases walking away from conversations that turned uncomfortable. AP

Defense Department employee gets two years in prison

A federal judge has sentenced a Defense Department supervisor who oversaw construction and service contracts at a Southern California Marine Corps base to two years in prison after he pleaded guilty to bribery and other charges.

U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Battaglia July 25 also ordered Natividad Lara Cervantes to forfeit more than $100,000 he earned from accepting bribes from contractors who sought to win or retain multimillion-dollar government contracts at Camp Pendleton.

Cervantes called himself the godfather of Camp Pendleton. He pleaded guilty in January to bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery of a public official.

He is the third defendant to be sentenced in the case. Two contractors were sentenced to six months and a year prison respectively after pleading guilty to paying bribes to Cervantes. AP

Rockwell Collins sells satellite business

Military contractor and commercial and private jet equipment supplier Rockwell Collins Inc. says it has completed the sale of its satellite communications business.

The Cedar Rapids, Iowa,-based company says the business will be renamed DataPath Inc. The business designs, manufactures and services ground-based satellite communication systems primarily for military customers.

Details of the sale were not immediately released.

The company says in a statement July 25 the sale is part of a strategy to reshape its government systems business to focus on core products that will fuel future growth.

The sale includes operations in Duluth, Ga., and Stockholm, Sweden, and includes about 365 employees.

Rockwell acquired DataPath in June 2009 in a transaction valued at $130 million and incorporated the products into its own Rockwell Collins brand. AP

Boeing CEO apologizes for ‘cowering’ remark

Boeing CEO Jim McNerney has apologized for a remark describing the aerospace giant’s employees as cowering during his tenure.

The Seattle Times reports McNerney said the remark during a July 23 call with analysts after he was asked if he’s thinking about retiring after he turns 65 next month. McNerney said he won’t retire because the heart will still be beating, the employees will still be cowering.

In an apology July 25, McNerney says the remark was a joke gone bad.

Boeing employees and union leaders didn’t find it funny.

Machinists’ District 751 president Jon Holden describes the remarks as a new low in relations between the company and its workers.

McNerney sent out a company-wide apology. AP




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