- The Washington Times - Monday, April 6, 2009

AIR FORCE

Coffin at Dover first to be shown

DOVER, Del. | The media received permission to cover the arrival Sunday of an airman killed overseas, the first such opportunity since the Obama administration overturned an 18-year ban on news coverage of returning war dead.

After receiving permission from family members, Air Force officials planned to open Dover Air Force Base for the media to observe the return of the flag-covered coffin carrying the body of Staff Sgt. Phillip Myers of Hopewell, Va.

Staff Sgt. Myers, 30, was killed Saturday near Helmand province, Afghanistan, after being hit from an improvised explosive device, the Department of Defense said. A member of the 48th Civil Engineer Squadron, he was awarded a Bronze Star in recognition for his efforts in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Department of Defense said. His body was expected to return at 11 p.m.

The new Pentagon policy gives families a choice of whether to admit the press to ceremonies at Dover, home to the nation’s largest military mortuary and the entry point to the United States for service personnel killed overseas. It was unclear whether anyone from Staff Sgt. Myers’ family would be at the ceremony.

DIPLOMACY

Obama to push Antarctica limits

The Obama administration is pushing to protect Antarctica’s fragile environment by imposing mandatory limits on the size of cruise ships sailing there and the number of passengers they bring ashore.

At a conference set to begin Monday in Baltimore, U.S. diplomats will propose amending the 50-year-old Antarctic Treaty. The move would seek to mandate, under international law, the current voluntary restrictions on tourism.

A U.S. document provided to the Associated Press by the State Department says the plan would “minimize the likelihood of marine oil spills” in the Antarctic and “ensure that tourism is conducted in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.”

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Rodham Clinton was to kick off the conference Monday by hosting more than 400 officials and observers making the short trip down to Washington. The conference is the first joint meeting of Antarctic Treaty signatories and the Arctic Council, which covers the northern polar region. The Baltimore conference runs to April 17.

DIPLOMACY

Rice uncertain about U.S. journalists

The U.S. envoy to the United Nations says the Obama administration hopes two American journalists detained in North Korea will be released swiftly and safely. But Ambassador Susan E. Rice acknowledges there are no guarantees.

She says the United States is continuing to work with Swedish diplomats who represent U.S. interests in North Korea to win freedom for Euna Lee and Laura Ling. The journalists work for former Vice President Al Gore’s San Francisco-based Current TV media venture.

Ms. Rice cautioned Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that while “there are no guarantees,” the two are safe “to the best of our knowledge.”

Ms. Lee and Ms. Ling were detained by North Korean border guards March 17 while on a reporting trip to China. North Korea’s official news agency has said they can be tried for illegal entry and “hostile acts.”

MILITARY

Defense CEO pay seen as issue

Defense industry CEOs may want to duck and cover: Their pay-and-bonus packages are coming into the sights of Capitol Hill lawmakers looking for their next populist prey.

Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat and Armed Services Committee chairman, mused to reporters this past week that he’s contemplating targeting the compensation that defense contractors pocket as another example of taxpayers’ money enriching corporate moguls, reports Lisa Hoffman of Scripps Howard News Service.

Anticipating the coming pitchforks, Robert Stevens, CEO of No. 1 defense contractor Lockheed Martin, already has asked that he receive no raise this year in his salary of $26.5 million. But Mr. Stevens remains eligible this year for a bonus worth 293 percent of that sum.

Then there’s General Dynamics chief Nicholas Chabraja, whose 2008 compensation was - in comparison - a paltry $18 million. But he is slated to retire this year, after 12 years at the helm, with about $48 million in stock options, pension and other benefits.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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