Society's ChildS


Big NASA Budget Cuts to Slash Mars Missions, Experts Say

© unknown
NASA's budget for the next fiscal year is likely to include deep cuts to planetary science programs, forcing the space agency to withdraw altogether from an international effort to send two new missions to Mars, experts say.

President Barack Obama is slated to submit his administration's federal budget request for fiscal year 2013 on Monday (Feb. 13), and NASA will hold a series of briefings to discuss its share on the same day. While exactly how much money is allocated to NASA is unknown, insiders expect a significant reduction in the portion slotted for robotic exploration of Mars and other solar system bodies.

The cuts probably will compel NASA to bow out of the European Space Agency-led ExoMars missions, which aim to launch an orbiter and a drill-toting rover to the Red Planet in 2016 and 2018, respectively, says one space policy expert.

"NASA has, I think, already told ESA it's not going to be able to provide a launch vehicle in 2016," said John Logsdon, professor emeritus at George Washington University. "So that is going to cause a big international uproar on one dimension. And the planetary community in the U.S. is going to be very unhappy about the fact that there's no money for major new planetary missions."


US: Cardinal-Designate Dolan: Obama Reneging On Birth Control Provision

Sources: President Promised Dolan That He Would 'Get Most Of What He Wanted'

Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan says President Barack Obama hasn't kept his promise, when it comes to the new White House policy on contraception.

Sources told CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer that Archbishop Dolan feels betrayed after his meeting with the president on the issue late last year.

A Catholic group in Alabama filed the first lawsuit against the Obama administration's new birth control regulations as the controversy got even more heated Thursday.

Heart - Black

US, Missouri: 'Possessed' Mother Found With Blood-Covered Baby After 'Slitting Her Throat' in Same Woods Where Ex-Boyfriend Was Found Dead

© Camden County Sherrif's OfficeCharged: Bradie Simpson, 39, of Camdenton, Missouri, was found in woods 225ft from her home as she held her baby covered in blood with a deep wound
  • Missouri mother Bradie Simpson 'assaulted baby'
  • Found in woods holding her nine-month-old girl
  • Ex-boyfriend found in same woods in September
  • Told church pastor she's 'possessed' in October
A mother allegedly slashed her nine-month-old baby's throat just months after telling a pastor she could be possessed and might hurt the girl.

Bradie Simpson, 39, of Camdenton, Missouri, was found in woods 225ft from her home as she held the baby covered in blood with a neck wound.

It comes months after the body of her ex-boyfriend, the baby's father, was found in the same woods last September, reported ABC affiliate KSPR.


Canada's Harper Reaches Agreement With China on Uranium Sale

© The Associated Press/The Canadian Press/Sean KilpatrickPrime Minister Stephen Harper takes part in a toast with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. Beijing, Dec. 3
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper reached agreements with China to facilitate uranium exports and air travel as part of efforts to deepen ties.

Harper and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced a pact that will give Canadian uranium producers more access to China's civilian nuclear power industry, according to a joint statement released by Harper's office. Canada is home to the world's largest uranium producer, Cameco Corp. No details of the agreement were provided.

"This agreement will help Canadian uranium companies to substantially increase exports to China, the world's fastest growing market for these products," Harper said in a statement. "It will generate jobs here at home while contributing to the use of clean reliable energy in China."

Harper, who is on a four-day visit to China, is seeking to attract Chinese investment in Canada's natural resources and sell more energy to Asia, while winning business in China for Canadian companies. The two countries announced an investment protection pact Feb. 8.

"I think Canada-China relations are continuing along a very positive route," Harper said after meeting President Hu Jintao yesterday. "We are reaching a new level."

Wen, who met Harper in Beijing on Feb. 8, called for discussions on a possible free trade agreement, the Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday. He said China is "ready to expand imports of energy and resource products from Canada" and boost cooperation in areas including renewable energy and the peaceful use of nuclear power, according to Xinhua.


Pakistani Man Fights Police Over 40-Foot Shark

© The Associated PressPeople look at a carcass of whale shark in Karachi, Pakistan on Tuesday, Feb 7, 2012.
Qasim Khan waged the unlikeliest of battles with Pakistani authorities Thursday over the right to charge hundreds of curious visitors the equivalent of 22 cents each to see a roughly 40-foot whale shark he bought from a fisherman.

Khan is in the business of buying fish, albeit usually much smaller ones, and jumped at the chance on Tuesday to pay about $2,200 for the 20-ton behemoth, which was discovered dead in the Arabian Sea off the southern Pakistani city of Karachi.

Business was brisk Wednesday, as several thousand people paid to see the brown and white-spotted shark, which Khan set up under a cloth tent next to the harbor. People crowded around to put their hands on the massive fish, and families snapped their picture with it - ignoring the pungent smell as it began to rot.

But police cracked down Thursday, saying fishery authorities had decided people should be allowed to see the shark for free. Khan resisted and hid his prize attraction under the giant piece of green cloth he had previously used as a tent.


Famous Spain Judge Convicted of Misusing Authority

© The Associated Press/Paul WhiteJudge Baltasar Garzon arrives for the last day of his trial at the Supreme Court in Madrid Wednesday Feb. 8, 2012.
The superstar Spanish judge who won global fame for aggressively taking on international human rights cases was convicted Thursday of overstepping his jurisdiction in a domestic corruption probe and barred from the bench for 11 years, marking a spectacular fall from grace for one of the nation's most prominent citizens.

Baltasar Garzon was unanimously convicted by a seven-judge panel of the Supreme Court. Because he is 56, the punishment could end his Spanish judicial career. Hours after the verdict, hundreds of Garzon supporters braved freezing weather in Madrid's central Sol plaza shouting "Shame! Shame!" in protest.

It was just one of three cases pending against Garzon, who is still awaiting a verdict in trial on the same charge - knowingly overstepping the bounds of his jurisdiction - for launching a probe in 2008 of right-wing atrocities committed during and after the Spanish civil war of 1936-1939 even though the crimes were covered by a 1977 amnesty.

In Thursday's verdict, the court ruled that Garzon acted arbitrarily in ordering jailhouse wiretaps of detainees talking to their lawyers, the court said, adding that his actions "these days are only found in totalitarian regimes."

Ironically, Garzon is best known for indicting a totalitarian ruler, former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, in 1998, and trying to put him on trial in Madrid for crimes against humanity. He also indicted Osama bin Laden in 2003 over the Sept. 11 attacks.


US: NRC Approves First New Nuclear Plant in 3 Decades

© The Associated Press/Mary Ann ChastainSteam rises at Georgia Power's Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro, Ga. On Thursday, the NRC approved a request to build two new reactors at Plant Vogtle.
The nation's first new nuclear power plant in a generation won approval Thursday as federal regulators voted to grant a license for two new reactors in Georgia.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted 4-1 to approve Atlanta-based Southern Co.'s request to build two nuclear reactors at its Vogtle site south of Augusta.

The vote clears the way for officials to issue an operating license for the reactors, which could begin operating as soon as 2016 and 2017.

The NRC last approved construction of a nuclear plant in 1978, a year before a partial meltdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania raised fears of a radiation release and brought new reactor orders nearly to a halt.

NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko voted against the Vogtle license, saying he wanted a binding commitment from the company that it would make safety changes prompted by the March 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan.

Heart - Black

Sick! US: Dad makes boy, 4, run nearly nude in snow

A father's harsh parenting has aroused wide controversy after a video was circulated online showing his nearly-nude four-year-old son running in snow.

The boy, Duo Duo, was running with only a pair of pants and trainers to combat the morning temperature of minus 13 degrees Celsius in New York, where the family from the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing spent their Spring Festival holiday.

The 44-year-old entrepreneur trained his son to run in the freezing weather for five minutes and do push-ups despite the boy's trembling and cries for a hug.

He uploaded the training footage online and dubbed it the "eagle dad" parenting approach, the Yangtze Evening News reported yesterday.

Bad Guys

US: $26B bank foreclosure fraud settlement to be announced

mortgage protest
© Richard A. Lipski / Washington PostLast year, some mortgage lenders and government officials took action after discovering that many mortgage documents were mishandled.
State and federal officials on Thursday will announce a landmark settlement with five of the nation's banks over their flawed and fraudulent foreclosure practices.

The $26 billion deal, which officially will be unveiled at a 10 a.m. Department of Justice news conference, aims to help troubled borrowers by reducing the amount they owe on their mortgages, lowering their interest rates and paying restitution to homeowners who suffered mortgage-related abuses.

Long-running negotiations over the settlement received a major boost Wednesday when California ­Attorney General Kamala Harris agreed to back the effort after withdrawing her support last fall, according to three people with knowledge of the talks, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal had not been finalized.


Air Canada Headed for Threat of Labour Disruption as Pilots Start Strike Vote

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Air Canada headed closer to another possible labour disruption Thursday after its pilots began a strike vote in response to what they said was a "rigid" company position that appeared aimed at escalating their contract dispute.

A strike mandate after the schedule five days of voting would put the airline's 3,000 pilots in a legal strike position early on Feb. 17, or 72 hours after the end of a legally manadatory cooling off period.

The strike vote doesn't mean the pilots will actually initiate a labour stoppage, but it gives the union the ability to respond to any unilateral moves by the company.

"The corporation has tabled a position that asks for more concessions and threatens our entire careers through scope changes that would ship much of our flying outside Air Canada, possibly offshore," Captain Gary Tarves, chairman of the Air Canada Pilots Association, said in a memo to pilots.

Tarves said the airline's "rigid position" raises "the possibility that it simply seeks to run out the legislated time clock and lead us toward an escalation."