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Trump nominates Energy Department's No. 2 to replace Perry

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump has formally chosen the Energy Department's No. 2 official to replace Secretary Rick Perry.

Trump had been saying he planned to elevate Dan Brouillette, a former George W. Bush administration official, to the post. The promotion, which was announced by the White House on Thursday, had been anticipated by many in Washington energy circles.

Perry said he plans to leave the agency by Dec. 1. Brouillette will be the acting secretary immediately after Perry departs, but unlike officials serving in an acting capacity at other agencies, the White House has sent his name to the Senate for a confirmation vote.

Brouillette, 57, a Louisiana native, isn't expected to deviate much from the priorities of his soon-to-be former boss, which have included selling more U.S. natural gas abroad and protecting the electric grid from cyberattack.

Like Perry, Brouillette backs efforts to have the federal government subsidize coal and nuclear plants that have been unable to compete with cheaper electricity from natural gas and renewables. So far, such a federal intervention has been unsuccessful.

Brouillette previously worked at the agency as an assistant secretary for congressional and intergovernmental affairs under Bush, and as staff director for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where he played a role in crafting energy legislation. He also was a senior executive in the policy office of Ford Motor Co. and financial services provider United Services Automobile Association.

--Bloomberg News

As Trump abandons Paris climate pact, diplomats keep negotiating

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump may be withdrawing the U.S. from the international Paris accord to fight global warming, but he's still sending a delegation to the world's largest climate change summit next month.

The U.S. will dispatch a team to the United Nations' annual climate change gathering in Madrid that will mirror the delegation at last year's summit, according to the State Department, signaling that the group will probably consist of career diplomats and lower-ranking officials. The delegation will engage in negotiations to protect U.S. interests and ensure a level playing field for U.S. businesses, the agency said.

Last year's U.S. representatives were led by Judith Garber, who was at the time a principal deputy assistant secretary in the State Department's Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. The U.S. has developed a reputation in recent years of offering the contrarian view at the climate summit. In 2017, it promoted a controversial discussion on "clean coal" as others were focused on putting an end to the use of the fossil fuel.

--Bloomberg News

Trial to determine sanity for Capital Gazette gunman rescheduled for March

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Anne Arundel County Judge Laura Ripken has set a new date for the trial to determine whether the Capital Gazette shooter was sane at the time of the mass shooting, according to the Maryland Judiciary.

Slated to begin March 4, the trial to determine whether the Laurel man convicted of murdering Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters will serve his time in state prison or be committed to a psychiatric hospital is expected to last 13 days, said Nadine Maeser, spokeswoman for the judiciary.

 

The new trial date comes after attorneys for Jarrod Ramos asked for a postponement on Oct. 30 as they were to begin selecting a jury to decide their client's fate.

Circuit Court Judge Michael Wachs granted Ramos a delay, agreeing that his attorneys needed time to review recently disclosed records, two days after the 39-year-old pleaded guilty to the 23 charges he faced, including five counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted first-degree murder, six counts of first-degree assault and 11 counts of using a firearm in the commission of a felony.

--The Capital Gazette

Space Coast's launch dry spell is ending: SpaceX sending its Starlink satellites to orbit

ORLANDO, Fla. -- SpaceX is set to end a three-month dry spell of ground-based launches from the Space Coast on Monday with a planned launch of its Internet satellite constellation.

Scheduled to launch at about 9:55 a.m. EST from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's launch complex 40, a Falcon 9 rocket will carry about 60 satellites into orbit. Called Starlink, the satellites are part of what could one day be a constellation numbering thousands of spacecraft in low-Earth orbit providing lower-cost Internet connectivity, even in remote areas of the globe.

Monday's launch will be SpaceX's second for Starlink. The company sent the first 60 Starlink satellites into space in late May.

The Federal Communications Commission has approved SpaceX for about 12,000 satellites within its Starlink constellation. SpaceX will need about 12 launches of 60 satellites each to reach moderate global connectivity.

Earlier this year, the company said it was hoping to start increasing its cadence of launches to as many as six Starlink launches by the end of 2019, allowing it to offer continuous coverage of the planet's most populated regions sooner. But that dream hasn't yet been realized.

It's unclear how many more Starlink missions SpaceX may be able to squeeze in before the end of the year.

In September, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said the company hopes to have up to 24 Starlink launches in 2020.

If the complex endeavor, which CEO Elon Musk called "one of the hardest engineering projects" he's ever seen, is successful, it could help SpaceX raise the capital it needs to fund developing more advanced and reusable rockets.

As it is, next week's Starlink launch will be another push into SpaceX's goal of full reusability.

--Orlando Sentinel

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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