National Digest


May 28, 2004

CAPE CANAVERAL, FLA. — Newly discovered planet may be youngest ever seen

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - One of NASA's space telescopes has discovered what scientists believe may be the youngest planet ever spied - a celestial body that, at 1 million years old or less, is a cosmic toddler. By comparison, the Earth and the rest of the solar system are 4.5 billion years old. Until now, the youngest planets observed around other stars were a few billion years old.

The object is in the constellation Taurus, 420 light-years away - quite close by astronomy standards. It is believed to be on the inner edge of a planet-forming dusty disk that encircles a million-year-old star.

It is the first major finding by the Spitzer Space Telescope, an infrared telescope that has been orbiting the sun and studying the universe since last summer.

Interrogating contractor subject of GSA probe

NEW YORK - CACI International Inc., whose expanding information technology business relies heavily on business with government agencies, is facing a probe by the U.S. General Services Administration that could result in its being banned from future government contracts. After the news, New York Stock Exchange-listed CACI shares closed yesterday at $37.48, down $4.94, or 12 percent.

The GSA, which oversees contractors' eligibility to do business with the U.S. government, is investigating the Army's use of a computer services contract with CACI to hire interrogators for Iraqi prisons. At least one civilian interrogator working under that contract has been accused of taking part in mistreating prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.

Governor of Puerto Rico helps end hostage standoff

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - In a dramatic intervention, Puerto Rico's governor helped end a nearly three-hour hostage standoff yesterday by confronting the knife-wielding assailant and listening to his demands for a job and a house.

Gov. Sila Calderon, 61, decided to join the negotiations despite the advice of police, who had said it could be dangerous. Her participation came after the captor demanded to talk personally with the governor. He was arrested after he put down his foot-long kitchen knife. At one point, he had held the knife to the throat of his captive, a receptionist in the governor's mansion.

Dozens of police had surrounded the three-story building near the governor's mansion after Roberto Figueroa took the receptionist hostage about 9:30 a.m., sending other office workers running.

U.S. inmate population grows to 1 in 75 men

WASHINGTON - America's inmate population grew by 2.9 percent last year, to almost 2.1 million people, with one of every 75 men living in prison or jail. The inmate population continued its rise despite a drop in crime and widespread efforts to reduce some sentences, especially for low-level drug crimes.

The report issued yesterday by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics attributes much of the increase to get-tough policies enacted during the 1980s and '90s.

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