EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 10, 2013

US cutting millions in military, other aid to Egypt


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States is cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Egypt in response to the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi and the crackdown by the military-backed government on his supporters.

The U.S. provides $1.5 billion in aid each year to Egypt. While the State Department did not provide a dollar amount of what was being withheld, most of it was expected to be military aid. A U.S. official said the aid being withheld included 10 Apache helicopters at a cost of about $500 million.

The official provided the information only on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to comment by name.

The U.S. decision to slash aid to Egypt will create new friction in Washington’s already uneasy relations with the government that ousted the first democratically elected Egyptian president. And the consequences won’t end there. The move will anger Persian Gulf states, push Egypt to seek assistance from U.S. rivals and upend decades of close ties with the Egyptians that that have been a bulwark of stability in the Middle East.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement that the U.S. will withhold delivery of certain large-scale military systems as well as cash assistance.

to the Egyptian government until “credible progress” is made toward an inclusive government set up through free and fair elections.

3-star Navy admiral fired as deputy chief of nuclear command, demoted to 2-star rank

WASHINGTON (AP) — The deputy commander of U.S. nuclear forces, Vice Adm. Tim Giardina, was notified Wednesday that he has been relieved of duty amid a military investigation of allegations that he used counterfeit chips at an Iowa casino, the Navy said.

The move is exceedingly rare and perhaps unprecedented in the history of U.S. Strategic Command, which is responsible for all U.S. nuclear warfighting forces, including nuclear-armed submarines, bombers and land-based missiles.

The Navy’s top spokesman, Rear Adm. John Kirby, said Giardina, who had held the job since December 2011, is being reassigned to the Navy staff pending the outcome of the probe by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which originated as a local law enforcement investigation in Iowa in June.

As a consequence of being removed from his post at Strategic Command, Giardina falls in rank to two-star admiral. He had been suspended by Gen. Robert Kehler, the top commander at Strategic Command, on Sept. 3, although that move was not disclosed publicly until Sept. 28.

After his suspension Giardina remained at Strategic Command but was not allowed to perform duties that required use of his security clearance.

If approved as Fed chair, Yellen must confront tough challenges on stimulus, economic recovery

WASHINGTON (AP) — If she becomes the next Federal Reserve chair, the challenges that lay ahead for Janet Yellen will require both the steely intellect and the personable style that many attribute to her.

The job as the world’s most important banker comes with a daunting to-do list: deciding when to slow the Fed’s stimulus, forging consensus from a fractious policy committee and calculating the effects of any economic slowdown from Washington’s budget fight. That’s in addition to monitoring volatile financial markets and fine-tuning the Fed’s communications.

First, though, Yellen will have to get there. She will need to overcome Washington’s toxic political environment and win confirmation from the Senate to succeed Ben Bernanke when his term ends Jan. 31.

It’s almost enough to make you wonder why she would want the job.

Yellen is widely seen as a “dove” on Fed policy. She stresses the need to use the Fed’s tools to boost growth and reduce unemployment in the sluggish aftermath of the Great Recession, rather than worry about igniting future inflation.

Charity to pay military death benefits as White House scrambles to contain controversy

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration, scrambling to tamp down a controversy over suspended death benefits for the families of fallen troops, announced Wednesday that a charity would pick up the costs of the payments during the government shutdown.

“The Fisher House Foundation will provide the families of the fallen with the benefits they so richly deserve,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement, adding that the Pentagon would reimburse the foundation after the shutdown ended.

Hagel said Fisher House, which works with veterans and their families, had approached the Pentagon about making the payments. The Defense Department typically pays families about $100,000 within three days of a service member’s death, but officials say the shutdown was preventing those benefits from being paid.

A senior defense official said the government could not actively solicit funds from private organizations but could accept an offer. The official was not authorized to publicly discuss the offer by name and insisted on anonymity.

The failure to make the payments has stirred outrage on Capitol Hill and at the White House. Obama spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday that the president was “disturbed” when he found out the death benefits had been suspended and demanded an immediate solution.

US Marshals: Gunman with assault-type rifle peppers US courthouse in W.Va. before being shot

WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) — A man with an assault-type rifle fired up to two dozen rounds at the federal court building in a West Virginia city on Wednesday before security officers returned fire, critically wounding the gunman, the U.S. Marshals Service said.

One security officer within the Wheeling Federal Building was injured by flying debris, but there were no other injuries, said Chief Deputy Mike Claxton of the Marshals Service in northern West Virginia.

The gunman, whose name was not released, was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries, Claxton said.

He said investigators were seeking a search warrant for the gunman’s home in hopes of determining the motive and if he acted alone.

Asked if the gunman had any beef with the U.S. government, Claxton said, “We’re really digging hard at this point to find out.”

Mexico shocked as pregnant indigenous woman gives birth on lawn after clinic refuses entry

MEXICO CITY (AP) — An indigenous woman squats in pain after giving birth, her newborn still bound by the umbilical cord and lying on the ground. It’s a photograph that horrified Mexicans because of where it took place: the lawn outside a medical clinic where the woman had been denied help, and it struck a nerve in a country where inequity is still pervasive.

The government of the southern state of Oaxaca announced Wednesday that it has suspended the health center’s director, Dr. Adrian Cruz, while officials conduct state and federal investigations into the Oct. 2 incident.

The mother, Irma Lopez, 29, told The Associated Press that she and her husband were turned away from the health center by a nurse who said she was only eight months pregnant and “still not ready” to deliver.

The nurse told her to go outside and walk, and said a doctor could check her in the morning, Lopez said. But an hour and a half later, her water broke, and Lopez gave birth to a son, her third child, while grabbing the wall of a house next to the clinic.

“I didn’t want to deliver like this. It was so ugly and with so much pain,” she said, adding she was alone for the birth because her husband was trying to persuade the nurse to call for help.

NASA spacecraft arcs around Earth en route to Jupiter; arrival planned for 2016

LOS ANGELES (AP) — NASA’s Juno spacecraft whipped around Earth on Wednesday, using our home planet as a gravity slingshot to fling itself toward Jupiter.

Snapping pictures during the swing past Earth, Juno hurtled 350 miles above the ocean off the coast of South Africa, the point of closest encounter.

Previous missions to the outer solar system have used Earth as a celestial springboard since there’s no rocket powerful enough to make a direct flight. The Galileo spacecraft buzzed by Earth twice in the 1990s en route to Jupiter, the solar system’s largest planet located 484 million miles from the sun.

Launched in 2011, Juno flew beyond the orbit of Mars before looping back toward Earth for a quick visit. Wednesday’s flyby boosted Juno’s speed from 78,000 mph relative to the sun to 87,000 mph — enough momentum to cruise past the asteroid belt to Jupiter, where it should arrive in 2016.

NASA and the European Space Agency said ground controllers in Australia and Spain picked up a signal from the spacecraft shortly after the pass. But engineers were puzzled by the low data rate and were investigating.