- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 17, 2002

Russian firm plans tourist spaceship
ZHUKOVSKY, Russia Eager to open up a space tourism market, a Russian aerospace company has created a mockup of a "space plane" that would give an adventurer willing to pay nearly $100,000 the chance to experience three minutes in zero gravity on the edge of space.
About 100 people have already booked seats to fly on the Cosmopolis-XXI (C-21) suborbital plane, said Eric Anderson, president of Space Adventures, an Arlington-based company working with Russia's private Suborbital Corp. on the project.
Space Adventures helped the first space tourist, Dennis Tito, broker his flight last year to the International Space Station atop a Russian Soyuz rocket an eight-day trip for which Mr. Tito reportedly paid the Russian space agency $20 million.
The C-21, which planners say will be operational in three years, would offer a much briefer glimpse of the final frontier.

Poland approves mall at Auschwitz site
WARSAW A Polish regional authority has approved the construction of a shopping mall on a controversial site near the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz, PAP news agency reported.
A decision in 2000 by the municipal authorities in Auschwitz to allow the construction of a discotheque in the former tannery sparked protests from the international Jewish community, leading to the closure of the club last year.
But the Jewish community appears to have accept a decision by the heritage council in the southern Polish city of Krakow to build a shopping mall at the site of the tannery, where Jewish prisoners were forced to work during World War II.
At least 1.5 million men, women and children, of whom more than a million were Jews from countries occupied by Nazi Germany, were exterminated in Auschwitz between 1942 and 1945.

Britain to label cannabis low-risk
LONDON Medical experts gave the go-ahead Thursday for Britain to reclassify cannabis as low-risk in the latest in a series of moves relaxing attitudes toward soft drugs.
In a report to Home Secretary David Blunkett, experts from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs said all cannabis preparations should be downgraded to Class C the lowest risk grouping of controlled drugs.
The government stressed it has no plans to decriminalize cannabis but emphasized the need to refocus police effort on Class A drugs the most harmful category including ecstasy, cocaine and heroin.

Weekly notes
An aspiring Italian actor who poses for tourists as a sword-touting Roman gladiator in front of the Colosseum in Rome could face up to three years in jail for bearing illegal arms. Unlike other centurions who carry plastic or wooden swords, Franco Magni, 29, had armed himself with a real sword. … An 80-year-old woman in France has died after receiving a blood tranfusion that was contaminated by the AIDS virus. Officials said the patient was already "very seriously" ill before she received the transfusion in January, and no evidence had been found that the contaminated blood caused her death. It was the first known case in France of HIV contamination by blood donation since 1998.


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