- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 27, 2010


NASA gives up on roving Mars craft

LOS ANGELES | The Mars rover Spirit has logged nearly five miles during six years of rolling around the red planet. It has driven forward, backward and uphill over plains, plateaus, and even a mountain as tall as the Statue of Liberty.

No more.

NASA on Tuesday declared an end to Spirit’s roving career after repeated attempts to free it from a sand pit where it’s been stuck for nine months. With Martian winter approaching, the focus instead will turn to improving Spirit’s tilt so its solar panels can receive maximum sunlight.

“Spirit has encountered a golfer’s worst nightmare: the sand trap that no matter how many strokes you take you can’t get out of it,” said Doug McCuistion, who heads the Mars exploration program at NASA headquarters.

Trying to look on the bright side, NASA said Spirit can still do research while stuck in place, provided it survives the winter. Scientists wasted no time drawing up new research priorities for the former rover, including studying the planet’s core, tracking the weather and examining the soil in detail.


Dutch company inks Saab purchase

DETROIT | Saab got a new life Tuesday as General Motors Co. agreed to sell the Swedish car brand to the small Dutch luxury carmaker Spyker Cars NV.

Under the deal, GM will get $74 million in cash plus $326 million worth of preferred shares in Saab. GM will get “other considerations,” which it did not specify. The Swedish government is also ready to guarantee a loan of up to 4 billion kronor ($550 million) from the European Investment Bank, Industry Minister Maud Olofsson said.

The deal is a coup for Spyker and a lifeline for Saab, which has around 3,500 employees in Sweden but has lost money for years under GM’s ownership and was slated for liquidation. But it’s also a huge challenge for Spyker, which sold only 23 cars in the first half of 2009, its most recent reporting period, and posted a net loss of 8.7 million euros. The 11-year-old company has yet to make a profit.

Under the deal, GM will continue to provide engines and transmissions for the new company for “an extended period of time,” and it will keep making the 9-4X crossover vehicle for Saab, said John Smith, GM’s vice president of planning and alliances.


Centenarian dies after getting degree

CONCORD | It was Harriet Richardson Ames’ dream to earn her bachelor’s degree in education. She finally reached that milestone, nearly three weeks after achieving another: her 100th birthday.

On Saturday, the day after receiving her diploma at her bedside, the retired schoolteacher died, pleased that she had accomplished her goal, her daughter said. Mrs. Ames had been in hospice care.

Mrs. Ames, who turned 100 on Jan. 2, had earned a two-year teaching certificate in 1931 at Keene Normal School, now Keene State College. She taught in a one-room schoolhouse in South Newbury, and later spent 20 years as a teaching principal at Memorial School in Pittsfield, where she taught first-graders.

Through the years, she had taken classes at the University of New Hampshire, Plymouth Teachers College and Keene State to earn credits for her degree. With her eyesight failing, she stopped after retiring in 1971 and was never sure if she had enough credits.

Her wish for a degree became known when a Keene State film professor interviewed her a couple of years ago for a piece on the college’s own centennial, which the school celebrated last year.


Dollar gains on China bank move

NEW YORK | The U.S. dollar and the Japanese yen climbed against most of their major currency counterparts Tuesday in world currency markets as China implemented a clampdown on bank lending.

China’s central bank ordered banks that need to raise their reserve ratios to implement the change Tuesday, banking sources said.

The dollar and yen climbed against higher-yielding currencies on speculation China, the world’s growth engine, will take further steps to cool its economy, discouraging demand for higher-yielding assets.


FBI probes police beating

PITTSBURGH | The FBI is looking into whether Pittsburgh police officers violated the civil rights of an 18-year-old violist they suspected of carrying a gun by brutally beating him as he walked to his grandmother’s house after dark, a spokesman said Tuesday.

The FBI launched an initial probe even though it has not yet received a letter from Jordan Miles’ attorney formally requesting a criminal investigation into the Jan. 12 confrontation, spokesman Jeff Killeen said. The fact-finding mission is the first level of FBI investigations, Mr. Killeen said, and is designed to uncover evidence that civil rights have been violated.

Mr. Miles says three undercover officers beat him as he walked from his mother’s home to his grandmother’s nearby. Pictures taken by his mother show his swollen face covered with red, raw bruises and his right eye swollen shut. A bald spot mars his head where he says his dreadlocks were torn out.

Mother Terez Miles has said she thinks the three white officers targeted her son because he was a young black man walking in a “rough” neighborhood around 11 p.m. Chuck Hanlon, vice president of the city police union, said officers Michael Saldutte, David Sisak and Richard Ewing followed their training and the law.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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