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World Briefs I

Mir Computer Fails Again

The Washington Post

The main computer aboard the troubled Mir space station inexplicably broke down again Monday, shutting off systems that automatically keep the station's power-gathering solar panels properly aligned with the sun.

With the computer down, Mir slipped into a slow rotation, with its arrays of long, rectangular solar panels only intermittently catching the sun's rays. Cosmonauts Anatoly Solovyev and Pavel Vinogradov and American astronaut Michael Foale turned off a power-consuming oxygen system and began burning solid-state canisters that produce oxygen through chemical interaction. The three also turned off other systems and worked in semi-darkness to conserve electricity.

To right the station, the crew fired thruster rockets to keep the panels oriented to the sun. There was no danger to the crew or any thought of abandoning ship, Russian officials said. "I think this is nothing frightening, although it is unpleasant," said Valery Udaloy. Mission Control chief Vladimir Solovyev said he expects the attitude control system to be back in operation within two days.

The breakdown was the third computer malfunction aboard Mir this year, a period marked by numerous mishaps, including a collision with an unmanned cargo vessel, docking malfunctions, an on-board fire and breakdowns in the oxygen-generating and cooling systems. In July, a member of the previous Russian crew accidentally disconnected a power cable to a computer, throwing the spaceship into a slow tumble similar to its current pattern.

Paula Jones' Attorneys Withdraw

Los Angeles Times

The two lawyers representing Paula Corbin Jones in her sexual harassment suit against President Clinton officially withdrew from the case Monday, citing "fundamental differences of opinion" with her about "the future course of this litigation."

The move throws the case into turmoil, and increases the chance the president will be forced to stand trial next year on the embarrassing charges, say legal sources on both sides.

"There's not going to be a settlement. Clearly this case is going to trial," predicted one lawyer who is familiar with the case.

Attorneys Joseph Cammarata and Gilbert K. Davis, who have represented Jones at no cost since 1994, filed a motion with a judge in Little Rock, Ark., seeking permission to quit the case.

They wanted to settle her suit for a $700,000 payment and a vaguely worded statement from Clinton saying the former Arkansas state worker was a person of good character.

But Jones refused, saying she wanted Clinton to apologize for his conduct in a Little Rock hotel room six years ago.

"It's never been about money; it's about language," said Susan Carpenter McMillan, a friend and spokeswoman for Jones.

.Activists Hope to Halt Launch Of Plutonium


Anti-nuclear activists vowed Monday to take non-violent steps, including trying to reach the launch pad for a sitdown, to prevent the National Aeronautics and Space Administration from lofting an unmanned spacecraft to Saturn soon with 72 pounds of plutonium aboard.

The activists say NASA has been understating the health risks if the Cassini spacecraft were to break apart during a rocket explosion at liftoff or were to re-enter the atmosphere during a swing around Earth on its seven-year mission.

"They've taken the most optimistic figures they can find," said Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist at the City University of New York who has studied the NASA risk analysis.

But NASA and Energy Department officials said the mission is safe and called critics' charges unsubstantiated.

Radioactive plutonium provides energy for electricity-generating devices on Cassini. Scientists say Saturn is too far from the sun to allow practical use of solar power cells.