News In Brief

A mock warhead was shot down over the Pacific Ocean during a Defense Department test, setting the stage for stepped-up development of a controversial antiballistic missile defense. The dummy warhead was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and intercepted 140 miles above the central Pacific, outside the Earth's atmosphere. Two of three previous tests had failed. The next is scheduled for October.

Two spacewalking astronauts, with robotic and ship-bound helpers, successfully installed a new $164 million airlock on the International Space Station. The lock, an antechamber that keeps precious oxygen from escaping, was delivered by the crew of the space shuttle Atlantis. Before, astronauts on the station could only walk in space by exiting through a docked shuttle.

According to a New York Times investigation of last November's presidential voting in Florida, hundreds of overseas absentee ballots would have been disqualified if state laws had been strictly enforced. It's not known whom the ballots were cast for, but most were believed to be those of pro-George W. Bush military personnel. A statistical modeler claims that Bush still would have won a very close election with Al Gore, but perhaps by 245 votes instead of the 537 that earned him the state's 25 electoral votes and the White House.

The bodies of three Illinois brothers of ethnic Albanian origin were the first Americans found in Serbian mass graves, the Washington Post reported. Serbian police investigators made the discovery in the vicinity of Kosovo, where the victims appeared to have been executed at close range in 1999 during the region's ethnic conflict.

Because of enforcement efforts, the number of students denied US Education Department loans or grants due to drug convictions could triple to 34,000 during the coming school year. Some in congress have expressed concern that the original intent of the bill governing these grants was to deny them only to students already receiving aid, not to applicants with past convictions. Aid can be restored to those who undergo drug rehabilitation.

Campaign-finance reform legislation was put on indefinite hold late last week when procedural questions stalled congressional debate on a bill to ban unregulated contributions and certain political ads.

Andrew Burnett was given the maximum three-year sentence by a California court for throwing the dog of another motorist to its death in front of oncoming traffic. The road rage incident occurred last year following a fender-bender from which Burnett fled.

The solar-powered, unmanned Helios aircraft reached an altitude of 76,000 feet in a test flight from Hawaii. Researchers hope to take the flying wing, which is 247-feet long, eight feet wide, and has 14 propellers, to a record 100,000 feet later this summer. The experimental aircraft, piloted via computer, is being developed by NASA and AeroVironment Inc.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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