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News Briefs II

Senate Panel Rejects Military-Base Closure Plan

Los Angeles Times

A Senate panel Thursday voted down another round of military base-closings, effectively killing the proposal's chances for this year and raising the odds the Pentagon will begin starving some bases of resources since it can't kill them outright.

Despite a vigorous advocacy campaign by the Pentagon, the base-closing proposal died on a 98 vote in the Senate Armed Services Committee when Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) a former supporter, changed sides. The proposal is expected to come up later on the Senate floor, but it is given little chance there, and opposition in the House is even stronger.

Pentagon officials, strapped for billions of dollars to fund weapons purchases and troop readiness, have warned that without further closings they might be forced to cut back operations at less-important bases - or even try to close them on their own initiative. One official likened such efforts to "dropping a nuclear bomb on a community," especially since affected areas would not automatically receive federal aid to rebound from the economic blow, as has been the case with congressionally authorized closures.

Military officials haven't said which bases they might seek to squeeze or close.

Court Reaches Decision Case Over Frozen Embryos

The Washington Post
New York

Ruling on what it called "mind-numbing" questions about frozen human embryos, New York state's top court on Thursday ordered a divorced Long Island couple to abide by a signed agreement that prevents the woman from being implanted with an embryo when her ex-husband does not want a child.

Maureen and Steven Kass disagreed about the fate of five frozen embryos that remained stored in liquid hydrogen five years after the breakup of their marriage. Maureen Kass, 40, regarded them as her last best chance at getting pregnant. But Steven Kass, 37, said he did not want to raise a child with his ex-wife.

Steven Kass demanded that courts enforce a contract the couple signed before trying to have a baby using frozen embryos and in-vitro fertilization.

In a unanimous ruling, the New York Court of Appeals said "the overriding choice of these parties could not be plainer Only by joint decision of the parties would the [embryos] be used for implantation."

Noting that tens of thousands of frozen embryos are stored in liquid hydrogen across the United States, the court acknowledged courts and legislatures have been slow to keep up "as science races ahead."