The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 49.0°F | Overcast

News Briefs

Testimony Might Clear U.S. Spy Being Tried in Russia


Lawyers for accused American spy Edmond Pope said the testimony of a Russian engineer Thursday before a closed Moscow court supported Pope’s account of receiving only nonclassified information about a high-speed Russian torpedo.

One of Pope’s lawyers, Andrei Andrusenko, said the testimony by the Shkval torpedo engine’s leading designer significantly bolstered Pope’s defense. Pope, a former U.S. naval intelligence officer, is accused of stealing Russian technological secrets for the United States.

The White House has tried to intercede on Pope’s behalf, but Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Pope’s fate is in the court’s hands. The 54-year-old businessman from State College, Pa., faces a 20-year prison sentence if convicted.

Arsenty Myandin, the leading designer of the Shkval’s engine, appeared Thursday as a witness for the prosecution, Andrusenko said. Myandin was an important witness because he contributed almost all of the material contained in five reports that Pope bought about the Shkval in the late 1990s, the lawyer said. Because the trial is closed, the only accounts of the testimony come from the lawyers.

Sentenced to 408 Years, Serial Killer Says He ‘Will Return to God’


In an excruciating confrontation with the families of his victims, serial killer Robert Yates Jr. tearfully turned to a crowded courtroom Thursday and apologized for “the sorrow, the pain and the anguish that you feel.” He was sentenced to 408 years in prison for one of the longest murder sprees in U.S. history.

“I’ve taken away the love, the compassion and the tenderness of your loved ones, and I’ve submitted in that place grief and bitterness,” Yates, a former military helicopter pilot and father of five, said with his voice breaking.

“In my struggle to overcome my guilt and shame, I have turned to God, I will return to God,” he added, as hisses and jeers broke out in the courtroom. “I hope that God will replace your grief with hope, and your sorrow with peace.”

Yates, 48, pleaded guilty to 13 killings in eastern Washington, mostly of destitute young women, from 1975 to 1998. He is charged with three additional murders, and if convicted, will exceed the conviction record of every killer in U.S. history except Jeffrey Dahmer, convicted of 17 killings.

NASA Delays Mission to Mars


NASA on Thursday unveiled its latest plans to explore Mars, delaying from 2005 to at least 2011 a long-planned mission to send a robot to the Red Planet to collect a soil sample and return to Earth.

“Ultimately, we want to go to Mars and get a sample and bring it back to Earth,” said Edward Weiler, NASA’s associate administrator for space science. “But we have to be very, very sure that that billion- or two-billion-dollar mission to go get a sample is going to the right place on Mars.”

To find that right place, one that maximizes the odds of finding rocks and soil that could show whether life ever existed on Mars, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration will take a more long-range, step-by-step approach that will cost more and take longer to implement.

But it will be less susceptible to failure, more international in scope and more responsive to scientists’ evolving knowledge about Mars, Weiler said, noting, “You have to assume Mars will continue to surprise us. This program will represent a long-term strategy. It will not just end with a Mars sample return, as the old one did.”