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National news in brief 6/19/08

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Feds cut climate research to save on fuel costs

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- They haven't rechristened a ship the Irony, but federal researchers are canceling and cutting back on voyages aimed at studying climate change and ocean ecosystems so they can save money on boat fuel. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has scrapped at least four trips nationwide and is shortening others "because of the increase in petroleum prices," chief spokesman Anson Franklin said Wednesday. In a June 10 e-mail to NOAA field offices and others, portions of which were obtained by The Associated Press, NOAA warned of an "approximate" $1.7 million budget shortfall due to fuel costs.

Prison for man who swiped corpse parts

NEW YORK -- A man convicted of secretly cutting up corpses as part of a multimillion-dollar body parts scheme has been sentenced to a term of nine to 27 years in prison. One of the corpses plundered in the scheme was that of "Masterpiece Theatre" host Alistair Cooke. Prosecutors say bone and tissue were taken from many corpses without family permission and sold for use in transplants and other medical procedures. Christopher Aldorasi was sentenced Wednesday. He was found guilty in April of enterprise corruption and other criminal counts. The scheme's ringleader pleaded guilty earlier this year.

Engineer first sentenced for economic espionage

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- An engineer who admitted he tried to sell fighter-pilot training software to the Chinese Navy was sentenced Wednesday to 24 months in federal prison, in the first sentencing for a newly defined intellectual property crime. Xiaodong Sheldon Meng, 44, was sentenced on the rare charge of committing economic espionage against the U.S. It's the most serious crime under the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 and involves stealing trade secrets to benefit a foreign government. Only five cases have been filed under the law, three of them in Silicon Valley, which authorities say is fertile ground for trade secret thieves.

Boeing wins round in Air Force tanker protest

WASHINGTON -- Congressional investigators have upheld Boeing's protest of a $35 billion Air Force tanker contract awarded to Northrop Grumman Corp. and Airbus parent European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., and recommended that the service hold a new competition. The Government Accountability Office said Wednesday that it found "a number of significant errors that could have affected the outcome." The Air Force had no immediate reaction to the GAO findings. While the GAO decision is not binding, it puts pressure on the Air Force to reopen the contract and could pave the way for Boeing to capture part or all of the award.

Chase turns sour for lemonade stand robber

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Call it a lemonade standoff. A girl whose lemonade stand was robbed of $17.50 chased the suspect into a nearby home and called police, who spent nearly an hour trying to coax the man into surrendering. "The guy came up and was, like, 'Give me your money,"' said 12-year-old Dominique Morefield, who was running the lemonade stand with a group of friends. "I was shocked. It was just my immediate reaction to chase after him." Officers eventually persuaded Steve Tryon, 18, to come outside after 45 minutes and arrested him on a preliminary felony charge of robbery Tryon was ordered to be held in the Vigo County Jail on $50,000 bond. He will be formally charged Friday.

-- From wire reports


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