The basic ingredients for life - warmth, water, and organic chemicals - are in place on Saturn's small moon, Enceladus, scientists said yesterday, detailing the content of huge plumes erupting off its surface. The scientists described observations made by the Cassini spacecraft when it flew over the surface of Enceladus on March 12 as part of an ongoing exploration of Saturn and its moons. Scientists working on the mission did not say they had detected any actual evidence of life on the moon, where geysers at its south pole continuously shoot watery plumes about 500 miles off its icy surface into space. (Reuters)
Panel urges tighter nuclear licensingThe government should tighten licensing procedures for radioactive materials, according to a group of outside specialists assembled after a congressional investigation identified security gaps. In a probe last year that set up a bogus company, investigators said they were able to obtain a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that allowed them to buy enough radioactive material for a small "dirty bomb." A panel of independent technical specialists that examined the licensing process for potential vulnerabilities has recommended several changes, including background checks on applicants, and visiting applicants' facilities. (AP)
More snooping found at State Dept.State Department workers viewed passport applications containing personal information about high-profile Americans, including the late Playboy playmate Anna Nicole Smith, at least 20 times since January 2007, an internal department review has concluded. That total is far more than disclosed last week with the news that presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton, John McCain, and Barack Obama had been victims of improper snooping. The internal review has found the additional instances of department employees or contractors looking at computerized passport files of politicians and celebrities. (AP)
Man who put baby in oven sentencedGALVESTON - A jury sentenced a father yesterday to 25 years in prison for severely burning his infant daughter after putting her in a microwave and turning it on for up to 20 seconds. The jury had convicted Joshua Mauldin on Tuesday of felony injury to a child, rejecting his assertions that he was insane when he put his daughter Ana in the microwave last year. (AP)
Court paves way for 9/11 lawsuitsNEW YORK - Lawsuits can proceed on behalf of thousands of workers who say they were not properly protected as they cleaned up the World Trade Center site after the 2001 terrorist attacks, a federal appeals court said yesterday. Lawyers for New York City and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey had argued that they are immune from nearly 8,000 workers' claims, but the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit said it is too early to decide whether the defendants are protected. The ruling means the city and the Port Authority must continue to defend the claims of respiratory and other injuries from emergency workers who cleaned up the site. (AP)
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