U.S. Military

Conservationists and Native American tribes have filed a lawsuit over the Navy's expanded use of sonar in training exercises off the Washington, Oregon and California coasts, saying the noise can harass and kill whales and other marine life.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the the Pentagon will propose a $33 billion cut in the military's budget, for the 2013 fiscal year.

The AP reports that will be achieved by reducing ground forces by 100,000 and by eliminating older aircraft.

The AP reports:

"Defense Secretary Leon Panetta tells a Pentagon news conference the administration will request a 2013 budget of $525 billion, plus another $88 billion for operations in Afghanistan. Combined, those totals are about $33 billion less than the Pentagon is spending this year.

For the fourth time since April, an active duty member of the military has died in a high-speed motorcycle crash in western Washington. All of the victims were riding high-performance bikes known for giving their riders a dose of adrenaline.

Courtesy of Walter Friesen

Family and friends are grieving the loss of a Seattle couple who were killed as they sailed around the world.  They were captured by Somali pirates, along with another couple from California. 

Walter Friesen  knew them.  He's a member of the Seattle Singles Yacht Club, where the deceased couple met. 

Courtesy Joe Grande

Updated at 11:22 a.m.

The U.S. military reports pirates have killed four American hostages they were holding on a yacht off Somalia's coast. The U.S. Central Command says negotiations had been under way to try to win release of the two couples on the pirated vessel Quest.

Gunshots were heard; and when U.S. forces reached the yacht, they found four all four hostages had been shot.

Two of the hostages. Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle, are from the Seattle area. Quest was owned by Jean and Scott Adam, a couple from California who had been sailing around the world since December 2004.  The Associated Press reports U.S. Navy personnel administered to the four as soon as they could board the boat, but all had died from their wounds.

Northwest soldiers are expressing mixed opinions over the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The U-S Senate voted over the weekend to end the 17-year old policy that allows gays to serve, but not openly. The bill now goes to the President.

The Defense Department is deploying about 700 soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord to Afghanistan next summer to support combat operations.

The department said Friday the I (First) Corps Headquarters will serve as the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command Headquarters.

In a press release, Joint Base Lewis-McChord public affairs noted a historic aspect to the assignment:

Paula Wissel/KPLU

A lesbian flight nurse says she's anxiously waiting to rejoin her unit in the U.S. Air Force reserve.  Major Margaret Witt was discharged in 2004 under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.