- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 9, 2010


NASA to take one giant leap for antenna

LOS ANGELES | The deep space antenna that relayed Neil Armstrong’s famous “one giant leap for mankind” declaration from the moon to a rapt American audience will be offline for eight months for repair.

Work begins this week to replace a steel doughnut-shaped bearing on the aging 230-foot-wide dish at the NASA Deep Space Network site at Goldstone Dry Lake in the Mojave Desert about 150 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

The labor-intensive process, which will involve jacking up 9 million pounds, will keep the antenna out of service until at least November.

During the repair, interplanetary communications will not be disrupted, said deputy project manager Wayne Sible.


Lawmakers ask feds to stop pot raids

DENVER | Colorado lawmakers trying to regulate marijuana dispensaries are asking the U.S. attorney general to stop raids of medical marijuana operations.

The group e-mailed the request to Eric H. Holder Jr. on Monday, following up on a letter sent last week.

The lawmakers say the raids are discouraging dispensary operators and medical marijuana patients and growers from working with them on proposed regulations.

The letter was sent by Sens. Chris Romer and Nancy Spence and Reps. Tom Massey and Beth McCann.

A suburban Denver man has been charged with possession in federal court after agents raided his home and found 224 pot plants. Agents also have raided two laboratories that test medical marijuana after their owners applied for drug licenses.


Naval Academy has record applications

ANNAPOLIS | The U.S. Naval Academy is reporting a record number of applications, both overall and in the number of minorities who have applied.

Bruce Latta, the dean of admissions, told the academy’s board of visitors on Monday that the school received 17,416 applications for the class of 2014. He said that is 2,100 more than last year.

A typical class at the academy has about 1,230 students.

Minority applications rose to 5,382, nearly 1,000 more than last year. That’s almost a 23 percent increase.

The Naval Academy has made a big push over the past three years to reach out to minorities and parts of the country that have been underrepresented at the school.


Former NASA official profited from contracts

JACKSON | A former high-ranking NASA official has pleaded guilty in Mississippi to designing contracts that netted him more than $270,000 in illegal profits.

Liam P. Sarsfield is a former chief deputy engineer in Washington, D.C. Prosecutors say he controlled a $1.5 million fund and designed contracts that wouldn’t have to be put out for bid.

Authorities say some of the money ended up in the hands of another top NASA official, Courtney A. Stadd, who faces felony charges in southern Mississippi, home to NASA’s Stennis Space Center.

Sarsfield’s attorney declined to comment. Messages were left with an attorney for Mr. Stadd, who was NASA’s chief of staff and White House liaison from 2001 to 2003. He has pleaded not guilty.

Sarsfield will be sentenced June 24. He pleaded guilty to one charge of acts affecting a personal financial interest.


Oldest American dies at age 114

WESTMORELAND | Mary Josephine Ray, the New Hampshire woman who was certified as the oldest person living in the United States, has died at age 114 years, 294 days.

She died Sunday at a nursing home in Westmoreland but was active until about two weeks before her death, her granddaughter Katherine Ray said.

“She just enjoyed life. She never thought of dying at all,” Miss Ray said. “She was planning for her birthday party.”

Even with her recent decline, Mary Josephine Ray managed an interview with a reporter last week, her granddaughter said.

The Gerontology Research Group said Mrs. Ray was the oldest person in the U.S. and the second-oldest in the world. She also was recorded as the oldest person ever to live in New Hampshire.

The oldest living American is now Neva Morris, of Ames, Iowa, at age 114 years, 216 days. The oldest person in the world is Japan’s Kama Chinen at age 114 years, 301 days.


Sugary beverages dry up at schools

NEW YORK | The U.S. beverage industry has largely stopped delivering sugary drinks to schools and has replaced them with lower-calorie options, the head of the industry’s trade association said Monday.

“It’s a brand new day in America’s schools when it comes to beverages,” said Susan Neely, president and chief executive of the American Beverage Association, which represents Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and other major soft drink companies.

The association released a report showing a 95 percent decline in sales of full-calorie soft drinks to schools between fall 2004 and fall 2009.

Ms. Neely attributed the decline to voluntary guidelines that the industry adopted in 2006 under an agreement with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a joint initiative of former President Bill Clinton’s foundation and the American Heart Association.

Mr. Clinton said he was “stunned” by the results.

“There’s been a dramatic shift toward lower-calorie and more nutritious beverages in schools, including waters, 100 percent juices and portion-controlled sports drinks,” he said.

The guidelines that have been implemented over the past three years permit the sale of water, unsweetened juice and low-fat and nonfat milk, flavored and unflavored, in elementary and middle schools. Diet sodas and sports drinks can be sold in high schools.


Execution delayed after drug overdose

COLUMBUS | Gov. Ted Strickland on Monday postponed the execution of a convicted killer who managed to take an overdose of pills in his death row cell and was found unconscious just hours before he was to be driven to his execution.

Lawrence Reynolds Jr., 43, who was sentenced to die for killing his neighbor in 1994, was found unconscious about 11:30 p.m. Sunday at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown, prisons spokeswoman Julie Walburn said.

Reynolds, who was scheduled to die by lethal injection Tuesday, was showing signs of consciousness Monday at a Youngstown hospital, but medical staff weren’t prepared to release him, Miss Walburn said. His condition was upgraded from serious to stable.

The inmate took the pills despite being under a 72-hour watch — routine for inmates approaching execution dates — that includes frequent monitoring by prison guards outside the cell, Miss Walburn said.


Museum to display head of Old Baldy

PHILADELPHIA | A museum in Philadelphia once again will showcase the head of Old Baldy, the horse Gen. George Meade rode during many of the Civil War’s most infamous battles.

The warhorse’s preserved head was the subject of a battle between two city museums that both claimed ownership.

A deal has been reached that allows the Grand Army of the Republic Museum and the Civil War Museum to share Old Baldy. He could arrive at the Grand Army museum this month.

The Civil War Museum closed in 2008 but plans to reopen in 2015. Other items in its collection have been sent to several area museums.

Old Baldy was considered a Union hero after surviving the battles of Antietam and Gettysburg, and soldiering on after being shot in battle many times.


Gunman at office wounds 2, himself

DALLAS | A father and son were wounded Monday after a gunman walked into a financial office in a Dallas high-rise and opened fire, police said.

Scared employees and customers at a bank in a 15-story office building hid in vaults after the first shots were fired just before 11 a.m., witnesses said.

The gunman, who later got involved in a shootout with police in the building, was in critical condition after shooting himself, said Senior Cpl. Lt. Kevin Janse, a Dallas police spokesman.

Police said the gunman and the father and son apparently had an ongoing dispute, but it was not clear why the suspect opened fire on them on the third floor of the Four Forest building in northern Dallas. The father, 63, and his 39-year-old son were in stable condition at a hospital.

Witnesses said blood gushed from both sides of the son’s neck as he made his way down an escalator after the shootings and pleaded for help.


Air Force base sees a rash of suicides

SALT LAKE CITY | Hill Air Force Base has hired a psychologist and others to deal with a rash of suicides, mostly among civilians complaining of harsh working conditions.

Ogden Air Logistics Center commander Maj. Gen. Andrew Busch said two civilians and an airman have committed suicide this year.

A Hill spokesman said that brings to at least 25 confirmed suicides since 2006 that were mostly committed off the base.

Bonnie Carroll, a military widow who founded the advocacy group Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, said suicides also have been a problem at Fort Campbell, an Army base in Kentucky and Tennessee.

She said the Defense Department has added thousands of mental health professionals to the ranks of the military because of a greater awareness of the problem.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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