Briefs 0121


Flu season fuels debate over paid sick time

NEW YORK — Sniffling, groggy and afraid she had caught the flu, Diana Zavala dragged herself in to work anyway for a day she felt she couldn’t afford to miss.

A school speech therapist who works as an independent contractor, she doesn’t have paid sick days. So the mother of two reported to work and hoped for the best — and was aching, shivering and coughing by the end of the day. She stayed home the next day, then loaded up on medicine and returned to work.

“It’s a balancing act” between physical health and financial well-being, she said.

An unusually early and vigorous flu season is drawing attention to a cause that has scored victories but also hit roadblocks in recent years: mandatory paid sick leave for a third of civilian workers — more than 40 million people — who don’t have it.

Supporters and opponents are particularly watching New York City, where lawmakers are weighing a sick leave proposal amid a competitive mayoral race.

Investigators: Boeing 787 battery fire not result of overcharge

WASHINGTON — The battery that caught fire in a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 in Boston earlier this month was not overcharged, but government investigators said there could still be problems with wiring or other charging components.

An examination of the flight data recorder indicated that the battery didn’t exceed its designed voltage of 32 volts, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a statement.

NTSB investigators are continuing to look at the battery system. They plan to meet Tuesday with officials from Securaplane Technologies Inc., manufacturer of the charger for the 787s lithium ion batteries, at the company’s headquarters in Tucson, Ariz., said Kelly Nantel, a spokeswoman for the board.

“Potentially there could be some other charging issue,” Nantel said. “We’re not prepared to say there was no charging issue.”

Even though it appears the voltage limit wasn’t exceeded in the case of the Japan Airlines 787 battery that caught fire on Jan. 7 in Boston, it’s possible that the battery failures in that plane and in an All Nippon Airways plane that made an emergency landing in Japan last week may be due to a charging problem, according to John Goglia, a former NTSB board member and aviation safety expert.

Sexual offenses, indiscretions leading causes for firings of military commanders

WASHINGTON — Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, fired from his command in Afghanistan last May and now facing a court-martial on charges of sodomy, adultery and pornography and more, is just one in a long line of commanders whose careers were ended because of possible sexual misconduct.

Sex has proved to be the downfall of presidents, members of Congress and other notables. It’s also among the chief reasons that senior military officers are fired.

At least 30 percent of military commanders fired over the past eight years lost their jobs because of sexually related offenses, including harassment, adultery, and improper relationships, according to statistics compiled by The Associated Press.

The figures bear out growing concerns by Defense Department and military leaders over declining ethical values among U.S. forces, and they highlight the pervasiveness of a problem that came into sharp relief because of the resignation of one of the Army’s most esteemed generals, David Petraeus, and the investigation of a second general, John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan.

The statistics from all four military services show that adulterous affairs are more than a four-star foible. From sexual assault and harassment to pornography, drugs and drinking, ethical lapses are an escalating problem for the military’s leaders.

By wire sources