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In brief: Air Force cuts tilt toward Air Guard

Washington – The Air Force on Friday detailed plans to cut the service by nearly 10,000 active, National Guard and Reserve airmen next year, as part of a broad move to downsize and shift capabilities around the country to be better prepared for wars of the future.

More than half of the personnel cuts, and much of the aircraft and other equipment moves, will be borne by the Air Guard, triggering criticism from the National Guard Association.

The Air Force said the service cannot absorb any further cuts in active duty forces because that would limit its ability to respond to multiple crises.

Overall, about 3,900 active duty, 5,100 Air Guard and 900 Air Force reserves would be cut in the next year.

Taliban’s Mullah Omar wrote to Obama in 2011

Washington – Reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar wrote to President Barack Obama last year indicating an interest in talks key to ending the war in Afghanistan, current and former U.S. officials told the Associated Press.

The letter purportedly from Omar was unsigned. It was passed through a Taliban intermediary in July and intended for the White House.

The previously undisclosed communication was considered authentic by people who saw it, but skeptical administration officials said they cannot determine if it actually came from Omar. The Obama administration did not directly respond to the letter, two officials said, although it has broadened contacts with Omar’s emissaries since then.

Sources who described the letter did not disclose its precise contents, but one current and one former official said it addressed Taliban willingness to build trust with the United States.

Britain’s government loses energy secretary

London – Britain’s coalition government suffered a setback Friday with the resignation of the country’s energy secretary after prosecutors accused him of lying about a driving offense in 2003 and “perverting the course of justice.”

Chris Huhne, a key Liberal Democrat, will be replaced by Ed Davey, a junior treasury minister from his party.

Keir Starmer, director of public prosecutions, appeared on television Friday to say that after considering material on the allegations from a newspaper source, “we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against both Mr. Huhne and Ms. Pryce (Huhne’s former wife, Vicky Pryce) for perverting the course of justice.”

“The essence of the charges is that between March and May 2003 Mr. Huhne having allegedly committed a speeding offense falsely informed the investigating authorities that Ms. Pryce was the driver of the vehicle in question and she falsely accepted that she was the driver.”

Both Huhne and Pryce, an economist, will appear in court in two weeks to answer the charges.


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