- The Washington Times - Friday, November 30, 2001

Civil-union law faces court battle

MONTPELIER, Vt. Vermont's Supreme Court was asked yesterday to decide whether wagering among 14 lawmakers about the outcome of last year's debate over civil unions should invalidate the law.

Town clerks, legislators and taxpayers are challenging the landmark law that basically gives homosexual couples "marriage" rights, claiming state House members who threw $1 into a betting pool had a stake in the outcome of the vote a violation of House rules. Members aren't allowed to vote on an issue in which they have a direct interest.

If those 14 lawmakers, all supporters of the law, had been disqualified from voting, the bill would have died. Instead, it passed 76-69, then received Senate approval and the governor's signature.


Prosecutors object to Olson's plea change

LOS ANGELES Prosecutors said yesterday that if a judge is considering allowing Sara Jane Olson to withdraw her guilty plea, the former Symbionese Liberation Army fugitive should be forced to undergo cross-examination about the decision.

Mrs. Olson, 54, was a fugitive for more than 20 years until her 1999 arrest on charges she tried to murder officers by planting bombs under police cars to avenge the deaths of six SLA members in a 1974 shootout. The bombs didn't explode. She had been living in Minnesota as the wife of a doctor and mother of three children.


White House mail set to resume

The White House again will receive mail delivery, roughly one month after the discovery of lethal anthrax spores at a sorting facility prompted the service to shutter.

On Oct. 23, officials said that a military facility that sorted White House mail had tested positive for anthrax contamination amid a widening bioterrorism scare linked to letters laced with the potential bioweapon.

All staff at the facility as well as visitors tested negative for the disease.


ACLU issues Arabic 'bust card'

PHILADELPHIA The American Civil Liberties Union has begun distributing an Arabic-language "bust card" informing immigrants of their rights if confronted by law enforcement officers.

The cards were created in response to the Justice Department's plan to interview thousands of young Middle Eastern men as part of the terrorism investigation.

The cards inform immigrants that they have the right to remain silent, the right to be free from unreasonable searches and the right to speak with an attorney, though they caution that those detained by the Immigration and Naturalization Service do not receive court-appointed attorneys.

Federal authorities have said no immigrants will be punished for declining to be interviewed.


NASA delays Endeavour launch

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. With just nine hours remaining until liftoff, NASA yesterday delayed the launch of space shuttle Endeavour by a day because of a Russian supply ship that was poorly docked to the International Space Station.

Shuttle managers decided to give engineers until today to make sure no damage would result from Endeavour's own docking.

Russia's Mission Control outside Moscow suspects a cable may be blocking the docking mechanism between the space station and Progress supply ship.


Study confirms Mars had oceans

Mars is dry, dusty and cold, but a new study confirms that the Red Planet once was covered by vast oceans and had more water per square mile than Earth.

It once had enough water to cover the planet to a depth of almost a mile, researchers say. Mars lost its water over millions of years through a combination of chemical reaction and the bombardment of asteroids and comets.

In a study appearing today in the journal Science, planetary researchers Vladimir A. Krasnopolsky of Catholic University of America and Paul D. Feldman of Johns Hopkins University said that Mars' upper atmosphere contains molecular hydrogen, or H2, a finding that confirms earlier theoretical models of the water history of the planet.


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