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Secretary of Defense replaces general in charge of strike fighter program

washington

Gates RElieves strike fighter general

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday he was replacing Marine Maj. Gen. David R. Heinz, the man in charge of the Pentagon's largest weapons program — the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter — and withholding $614 million in award fees from the contractor, Lockheed Martin. The surprise announcement came from a Pentagon chief who has sought to impose accountability across the department's senior leadership and who had promoted plans for the plane last year in persuading Congress to kill the more expensive F-22 jet. But a special Pentagon review team since warned of possibly billions in overruns. He disclosed the reshuffling as he released the Pentagon's proposed $708.3 billion spending package for the fiscal year 2011. Gates will announce today a yearlong review aimed at answering practical and emotional questions about the effect of lifting the ban on gays in the military, and impose looser standards for enforcing the ban in the meantime.

michigan

Autopsy: Imam shot 20 times in FBI raid

A Muslim prayer leader accused of encouraging his followers to commit violence against the U.S. government was shot 20 times during an FBI raid last fall, according to an autopsy report released Monday. The autopsy was completed a month after Luqman Ameen Abdullah's death, but Dearborn police were granted a delay while they investigated the Oct. 28 shooting, said Dr. Carl Schmidt, Wayne County's chief medical examiner.

israel

Two rebuked in attack on U.N. compound

The Israeli military confirmed Monday it had reprimanded a brigadier general and a colonel for the firing of artillery shells that hit a U.N. compound during the Gaza war last winter. It was a rare admission of high-level wrongdoing at a time when Israel is battling accusations of war crimes. But the military maintained ambiguity about whether the shells that struck the compound contained white phosphorous, which can be used to illuminate battlefields or cause smokescreens, but also burn flesh.

italy

Italy's secret service tied to CIA abduction

The Italian secret service was probably aware of "and perhaps complicit in" the abduction of an Egyptian cleric from the streets of Milan in 2003, a judge in Milan said Monday. But, he added, state secrecy prevented the court from proving it. The statement by Judge Oscar Magi was part of a document explaining his reasoning behind the November ruling that convicted 23 Americans, most CIA operatives, of kidnapping the cleric. It was the first case to yield convictions in "extraordinary rendition," in which suspects are captured in one country and taken to another.

washington

FDA issues liver risk warning for HIV drug

Patients taking a Bristol-Myers Squibb drug for HIV are at risk of a rare, but potentially fatal, liver disorder. The Food and Drug Administration said it has received 42 reports since Videx was approved in 1991. Four patients died from bleeding or liver failure after developing the problem, known as noncirrhotic portal hypertension.

Elsewhere

Atlanta: Civil rights icon Joseph Lowery, 88, was in stable condition at Emory University Hospital Midtown after being admitted Saturday because of respiratory problems.

Louisiana: Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said he'll stop delaying President Barack Obama's nominees to be federal prosecutors and judges in his home state.

Vermont: Radioactive tritium, a carcinogen discovered in potentially dangerous levels in groundwater at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, has now tainted at least 27 of the nation's 104 nuclear reactors.

Times wires

Secretary of Defense replaces general in charge of strike fighter program 02/01/10 [Last modified: Monday, February 1, 2010 10:46pm]
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