National briefs (5/11/13)

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3-D gun plans posted online

WASHINGTON -- U.S. officials have told the Texas creator of a plastic gun that was made from a 3-D printer and successfully test-fired last weekend to take down online blueprints for the weapon.

The move by the State Department, under its authority to review arms exports, followed the posting of an online video by Defense Distributed showing a demonstration of its handgun, the Liberator. The gun, which looks like a water pistol but fires a .380 caliber bullet, was almost entirely made on a printer that can fabricate solid objects from blueprints. A regular nail was used as a firing pin.

Cody Wilson, a founder of Defense Distributed, an Austin nonprofit corporation, said he had complied with the government request, but that he and his attorneys were reviewing their options and talking to a number of organizations that support open-access to information about challenging any ongoing ban.

Boston bombing suspect

DOSWELL, Va. -- Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev has been buried in a cemetery in central Virginia, infuriating some members of the area's Islamic community who say they weren't consulted.

The secret interment this week at a small Islamic cemetery ended a frustrating search for a community willing to take the body, which had been kept at a funeral parlor in Worcester, Mass., as cemeteries in Massachusetts and several other states refused to accept the remains.

Obama urged to bar pipeline

WASHINGTON -- A group of 150 major Democratic donors and clean energy investors have sent President Barack Obama a letter urging him to deny a presidential permit to the Keystone XL pipeline, comparing the decision's significance to Abraham Lincoln's push to end slavery through a constitutional amendment.

The pipeline would transport heavy crude from Alberta to refineries on the Gulf Coast .

In response, White House spokesman Clark Stevens noted in an email that in his first term Mr. Obama imposed the first-ever greenhouse gas emissions limits on vehicles and doubled the amount of renewable energy in the United States. But he declined to comment on what the administration would decide to do about Keystone.

'Morning-after pill'

NEW YORK -- In the latest skirmish between the courts and the Obama administration over contraception, a federal judge Friday refused to suspend his order requiring that the morning-after emergency contraceptive pill be made available to all ages without a prescription.

The Justice Department last week requested suspension of the April 5 order by Judge Edward R. Korman of the Eastern District of New York pending an appeal on behalf of the Food and Drug Administration.

Post office has big losses

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Postal Service said Friday it lost $1.9 billion over the past three months and warned that losses would continue to mount without help from Congress.

The loss for the financial quarter ending March 31 was narrower than a $3.2 billion loss for the same period last year, thanks to slightly higher revenues and lower payments toward health benefits for workers who will retire in the future.

But the Postal Service continues to lose money at a rapid pace due to a decline in mail volume and a congressional requirement that it make advance payments to cover expected health care costs for future retirees -- something no federal agency does.

Over the past six months, the Postal Service has shed about 31,000 full-time employees, consolidated 61 processing facilities, eliminated 350 delivery routes and reduced work hours in 5,000 offices. It now has the lowest number of full-time employees since 1966.

NASA spacewalk planned

WASHINGTON -- Two astronauts will make a hastily planned spacewalk today to try to fix an ammonia leak in the power system of the International Space Station.

The leak in a cooling system was discovered Thursday when "snowflakes" of ammonia were seen flying away from the station.

Spacewalks are rarely done on such short notice, but the space agency wanted to check out the leak before all the ammonia escaped.

-- Compiled from news services

nation


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