Sat, Jan 21, 2017 - Page 7 News List

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UNITED STATES

Scientists begin Mars study

Six carefully selected scientists have entered a dome on a remote Hawaii volcano as part of a human-behavior study that could help NASA as it draws up plans for sending astronauts on long missions to Mars. The four men and two women moved into their new simulated space home on Thursday afternoon on Mauna Loa, settling into the vinyl-covered shelter of 110m2, or about the size of a small, two-bedroom home, for an eight-month stay. They will have no physical contact with people in the outside world and will work with a 20-minute delay in communications with their support crew, or the time it would take for an e-mail to reach Earth from Mars. The NASA-funded project is studying the psychological difficulties associated with living in isolated and confined conditions for an extended period.

UNITED STATES

Hastert files US$1.7m claim

Imprisoned former House of Representatives speaker Dennis Hastert wants one of his sexual abuse victims to return the US$1.7 million in hush money the Illinois Republican paid him over several years, according to a court filing this week in an ongoing civil case. The document is a counterclaim to the victim’s breach-of-contract lawsuit that he filed last year, arguing that Hastert owed him US$1.8 million — what he said was the unpaid balance of an unwritten US$3.5 million hush-money deal. Hastert, 75, is serving a 15-month sentence in a federal prison for violating banking laws as he withdrew thousands of dollars, starting in 2010, to pay the victim, abruptly halting the payments after the FBI interviewed Hastert in late 2014. Documents in Hastert’s federal criminal case say he abused the victim — referred to in filings only as “Individual A” — when he was 14 in the late 1970s when Hastert coached wrestling at Chicago’s Yorkville High School.

UNITED STATES

Mosque leaders sent survey

A Texas lawmaker has sent a survey to mosques in the state asking leaders about Shariah law and to pledge support for the “safety” of former Muslims who have chosen to leave the faith, implying that they could face unspecified persecution for doing so. The correspondence, marked “urgent,” was mailed by Republican Representative Kyle Biedermann of Fredericksburg. Mustafaa Carroll, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said on Thursday that he told mosque leaders to ignore the survey. He also called on state leaders to formally rebuke it. One question asks respondents to renounce possible retribution those choosing to leave Islam could face. Others inquire about support for opposing Shariah law and about efforts by congressional Republicans to have the US Department of State label the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization.

UNITED STATES

Canadians handed land ban

Three Canadians have been banned from US federal land for five years after pleading guilty to walking on a sensitive hot spring in Yellowstone National Park and other crimes at parks across the western US. Charles Gamble, Alexey Lyakh and Justis Price Brown pleaded guilty during a hearing on Thursday before US Magistrate Judge Mark Carman at the Yellowstone Justice Center. The men were from the group High on Life SundayFundayz. Gamble’s attorney, Alex Rate, said his client and friends have been threatened and shamed on social media for what amounted to making bad decisions on a road trip.

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