- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 8, 2003

NASA readies robots for Mars

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The first of a pair of robots is ready to launch from Cape Canaveral today, joining a scientific armada headed for Mars in an international effort to determine if life exists or ever existed on Earth’s neighbor.

The first of two Mars Expedition Rovers, robots about the size of riding lawn mowers, sat atop a Delta 2 rocket scheduled for launch at 2:05 p.m.

Its twin is scheduled for launch on June 25. They join Japanese and European satellites on their way to the red planet and two NASA satellites already orbiting Mars.

All the activity takes advantage of a rare proximity between the planets that has cut the normal travel time from the usual nine to 10 months to just seven months for missions launched this year.

The two rovers, with a combined price tag of $800 million, are the most sophisticated robots ever sent to another planet. They will land on opposite sides of the planet and have few limitations on where they can travel and what they can study.

Girl abducted during burglary

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — A 9-year-old girl was abducted from her home by an intruder who had backed his car into the family’s garage, apparently burglarized the home, and then beat the girl’s mother and teenage brother when they walked in on him, authorities said yesterday.

Police were able to talk to the girl’s mother, who was hospitalized with serious injuries, but were still searching for young Jennette Tamayo.

A neighbor’s home video surveillance system had caught a grainy image of the car on the street, and Jennette’s brother had seen his sister crying in the back seat as the intruder attacked him, authorities said.

Authorities said yesterday that the attack and abduction appeared to have stemmed from an interrupted burglary, but they didn’t know why the house was targeted.

Judge upholds district’s desegregation plan

BOSTON — A federal judge upheld a suburban school system’s voluntary desegregation policy, throwing out a closely watched lawsuit that had been brought by parents who claim the policy discriminated against their children.

The parents of six students — black, white, Latino and biracial — had sued to overturn a policy designed to bring racial balance to the schools in Lynn, about 10 miles northeast of Boston.

The case was believed to be the first challenge to a voluntary desegregation plan to go to trial. Twenty-one other Massachusetts cities and towns and several others across the country have voluntarily desegregated their school systems and were watching the case.

Teen fined for failing to file tax return

HARRISBURG, Pa. — When 17-year-old Laurie Hanniford worked as a part-time swim instructor three years ago, she made $316 and paid $3.16 in local taxes. Last month, she was fined $352 for not filing a local tax return.

Miss Hanniford, a high school junior, pleaded no contest and got the fine reduced to $77. But the ensuing outrage from her parents and the parents of about two dozen teens who received the same treatment has prompted officials to consider softening the ordinance.

“It’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of to fine her — she was 14 at the time — for taxes that have already been paid,” said the teenager’s mother, Sarah Hanniford.

Man who shot pipeline sentenced to 16 years

FAIRBANKS, Alaska — A man who shot a hole through the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, causing it to leak more than 285,000 gallons of oil into the wilderness, was sentenced Friday to 16 years in prison on state charges.

Daniel Lewis was convicted of oil pollution and criminal mischief in December. Cleaning up the Oct. 4, 2001, spill cost more than $13 million.

“Mr. Lewis didn’t pick some little pipe somewhere. He picked the main trans-Alaska pipeline,” Judge Jane Kauvar said. “He shot at this pipeline because he knew this was the pipeline that would get the most attention.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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