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The work builds on previous research that showed algae can produce fatty oils. The biggest challenge is producing it on a large enough scale and at a cheap enough price.

For the project, the Defense Department awarded $35 million in contracts to two defense contractors that have, in turn, signed research contracts with several universities and private firms.

Murder suspect defends killings

WICHITA, Kan. — A man charged in the slaying of Kansas abortion provider Dr. George Tiller has been advocating through mailings from his jail cell that such killings are justifiable.

Scott Roeder sent anti-abortion activist Linda Wolfe of Oregon a pamphlet that lauds Paul Hill, the convicted murderer of an abortion doctor, as an “American hero,” and includes examples of Hill’s writings about how it is justifiable to kill abortion doctors.

The Rev. Donald Spitz, whose anti-abortion group Army of God celebrates Hill’s teachings, says he provided Mr. Roeder with seven of the pamphlets upon his request.

Mr. Roeder is charged with first-degree murder in the May 31 fatal shooting of Dr. Tiller. He is jailed in Sedgwick County jail and was unavailable for comment. The public defender’s office representing Mr. Roeder did not respond to a message seeking comment.

‘Tree arsonist’ baffles police

GALVESTON, Texas — Galveston officials are investigating the torching of 30 palm trees in the last two months.

“What we’ve got on our hands, a serial tree arsonist, I’ve never seen before,” said Fire Marshal Gilbert Robinson. “I’ve talked to colleagues of mine, and that’s the first they’ve heard of setting palm trees on fire.”

Fire Marshal Robinson said the calls reporting burning trees have recently increased in frequency.

Tree service company owner Greg West is offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to charges.

“We just got hit by a hurricane, and the only thing that lived were the palm trees,” Mr. West told the Galveston County Daily News.

From wire dispatches and staff reports