News Briefs – September 20, 2019

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Germany extends anti-Islamic State mission in Iraq by 1 year

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet has approved extending Germany’s military participation in an international coalition against the Islamic State group.
Merkel spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said Sept. 20 the Cabinet extended the Bundeswehr’s training of local Iraqi forces until Oct. 31, 2020.
A shorter extension that expires on March 31 was applied to the use of Germany’s Jordan-based Tornado reconnaissance aircraft and also the use of German refueling aircraft for anti-Islamic State missions.
Demmer says the international coalition’s work has been “bearing fruit” with the extremist group’s widespread defeat in Iraq. She says the extension of Germany’s commitment is aimed at ensuring those gains are not eroded.
The mission caps German military participation at 700 troops. AP
 

NASA manager casts doubt on 2024 moon landing by astronauts

A top NASA manager is casting doubt on the space agency’s ability to land astronauts on the moon by 2024.
Kenneth Bowersox, acting associate administrator for human exploration, told a Congressional subcommittee Sept. 20 that NASA is doing its best to meet the White House-imposed deadline. But he says he wouldn’t bet anything on it.
Bowersox — a former space shuttle and space station commander — says it’s good for NASA to have “that aggressive goal.” He says many things need to come together, like funding and technical challenges, for 2024 to stand a chance. And he acknowledges there’s a lot of risk in making that date.
The Trump administration urged NASA in March to accelerate its moon-landing plans by four years to 2024. AP
 

House panel asks Boeing CEO to testify about grounded plane

A congressional committee investigating the grounded 737 Max is asking Boeing Chairman and CEO Dennis Muilenburg to testify at a hearing next month.
The House Transportation Committee said Sept. 19 that Chairman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., “formally invited” Muilenburg to a hearing on Oct. 30.
The committee also wants to hear from John Hamilton, the chief engineer of Boeing’s commercial airplanes division.
Boeing did not immediately say whether Muilenburg or Hamilton would testify.
Last week, DeFazio and another lawmaker asked Muilenburg to let committee staffers interview several Boeing employees.
DeFazio’s committee has held three hearings since May focusing on the Max, but no one from Boeing has testified.
The plane has been grounded since shortly after the second of two crashes that together killed 346 people. AP