News Briefs – October 4, 2019

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S. Korea says N. Korea fired a projectile off eastern coast

South Korea’s military says North Korea has fired at least one projectile off its eastern coast in what appeared to be a demonstration of its expanding military capabilities ahead of nuclear negotiations with the United States.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff on Sept. 2 didn’t immediately confirm what the weapons were and how far they flew.
The launch came after a senior North Korean diplomat announced on the evening of Oct. 1 that North Korea and the United States have agreed to resume working-level nuclear talks this weekend.
Negotiations have been at a standstill for months following the collapse of a February summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump over disagreements in exchanging sanctions relief and disarmament. AP
 

California keeps 100 National Guard troops at Mexico border

California is keeping a small contingent of National Guard troops at the state’s southern border for another six months.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Oct. 1 that he’s giving them the additional mission of helping to stop the smuggling of illegal pesticides, including carbofuran. The deadly chemical is increasingly found at illegal cannabis cultivation sites.
He’s allowing up to 100 troops to remain through March to help the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Counter Terrorism Operations Center. But he says they still won’t aid the federal government’s immigration operations.
Instead, the troops will continue focusing on deterring smuggling of illegal drugs and disrupting other forms of organized crime.
Newsom announced in February that he would withdraw most of the troops from the border, devoting some to help with wildfire prevention efforts instead. AP
 

Virgin Galactic says it’ll fly Italian air force researchers

Virgin Galactic says it has been contracted by the Italian air force for a suborbital research flight aboard its winged rocket ship.
The company announced Oct. 2 that the mission will be flown as early as next year, carrying three Italian specialists who will tend to the experiments while the craft is in space.
Virgin Galactic is best known for its plans to carry tourists into the lower fringes of space to experience weightlessness and view the Earth far below.
But its spaceships also are designed to carry experiments that require several minutes of microgravity.
Virgin Galactic crews have reached space on test flights over California, and the company recently moved staff to Spaceport America in New Mexico to begin commercial launches. AP
 

U.S. approves $39M sales of anti-tank missiles to Ukraine

Congress and the State Department have given initial approval to a $39 million sale of anti-tank missiles to Ukraine to help the country battle Russia-backed separatists, officials said Oct. 1.
Congressional aides said final approval of the sale of the Javelin missiles is expected to be announced soon after both Republicans and Democrats signed off on the proposal. The aides spoke on condition of anonymity because the sale is not final.
It was first reported Oct. 1 by Bloomberg News. The State Department declined to comment.
Ukraine requested the missiles earlier this year. It is not part of the aid that was delayed as President Donald Trump pressed the Ukrainian president to investigate his political rival.
The Javelin missile is manufactured by a joint venture of Lockheed Martin, based in North Bethesda, Md., and Raytheon, which has its headquarters in Waltham, Mass.
The U.S. has been providing military aid to Ukraine since Russia invaded following the ouster of a Kremlin-backed president in 2014. AP
 

Reports say Boeing insider filed safety complaint about Max

Boeing’s reputation is taking another hit, as published reports say a company engineer filed an internal complaint alleging that company managers rejected a backup system that might have alerted pilots to problems linked to two deadly crashes involving the 737 Max jet.
The Seattle Times and The New York Times report that an engineer who worked on the Max said managers were urged to consider a backup system for determining speed that could also detect when sensors measuring the direction of the plane’s nose weren’t working.
Faulty data from those sensors triggered an automatic nose-down push that pilots weren’t able to overcome before crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
The newspapers say the engineer isn’t sure the backup would’ve made a difference but shows a need for more emphasis on safety. AP