Americans’ ride to space in question
MOSCOW — Prospects seemed to dim Thursday for a timely launching of a Russian rocket that would carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station next month, with Russian space officials temporarily grounding a similar rocket after one crashed shortly after takeoff Wednesday.
With the end of NASA’s space shuttle program last month, U.S. astronauts must travel into space on Russian Soyuz rockets. When one of them crashed over Siberia on Wednesday, concerns began to mount.
Space officials in Russia canceled the Friday launching of a Soyuz rocket carrying a navigation satellite for Glonass, Russia’s equivalent of the United States’ GPS system.
Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin also ordered an overhaul of the safety procedures at the Russian space agency, according to his spokesman. The changes will affect how the agency checks rockets, satellites and space vehicles it buys from manufacturers in Russia and will influence its prelaunching procedures.
In the accident Wednesday, the rocket’s third and final stage shut down for reasons not yet known before the spacecraft had entered orbit. It arced back to earth still carrying its cargo of fuel and food, including fresh green apples and cloves of garlic eagerly awaited by the space station’s crew.
—Andrew E. Kramer, The New York Times
U.N. releases $1.5 billion in frozen Gadhafi assets
WASHINGTON — Even with Moammar Gadhafi still on the run, the nations that aided Libya’s rebellion moved swiftly Thursday to release billions of dollars of cash needed for the difficult — and, for some foreign companies, potentially lucrative — task of rebuilding the country after six months of fighting.
The U.N. Security Council approved an immediate infusion of $1.5 billion that the United States seized last spring. Officials said the money was urgently needed to provide basic services, especially electricity, and perhaps as important, to build political support for Libya’s rebel leaders, known as the National Transitional Council, as they try to consolidate control of the country after 41 years of Gadhafi’s government.
“Gadhafi hasn’t paid salaries in months,” Jeffrey D. Feltman, an assistant secretary of state, said in a telephone interview from Istanbul, where diplomats from 28 nations and seven international organizations met Thursday to discuss preparations for a post-Gadhafi Libya. “It would be a real boost for the TNC to be able to do that.”
With so much uncertainty over the governance of Libya, none of the money will be given to the rebels, but instead will go directly to pay for services and fuel costs.
—Steven Lee Myers and Dan Bilefsky, The New York Times
Boston archdiocese lists priests accused of sexual abuse
BOSTON — The Archdiocese of Boston on Thursday published a partial list of clergy members accused of sexual abuse, nearly a decade after a scandal erupted here involving widespread abuse by priests and revelations that the archdiocese had been shielding molesters for years.
Victim advocacy groups have long pressed the archdiocese to publish such a list, a step that a number of other dioceses have already taken. Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley first suggested in 2009 that he would publish a list; diocesan officials said this week that it had taken two years to gather the necessary input and weigh complicated issues like the due process rights of priests whose cases have not been fully adjudicated.
In an open letter, O’Malley said he had decided to publish a list of 134 priests and two deacons “after serious and thoughtful consideration and prayer.” They include priests whom the church or courts have found guilty of sexually abusing a child, others who left the priesthood before or after accusations of abuse and dead priests who have been publicly accused of abuse.
The list, published in a searchable database on the diocese’s website, also includes 22 current diocesan priests who remain on administrative leave while their cases are investigated.
—Abby Goodnough, The New York Times
Google reaches deal with second French publisher
PARIS — A second French publisher has reached a deal on digital books with Google to settle a copyright lawsuit in exchange for control over how its out-of-print, copyright-protected works are scanned and sold.
Such works account for the vast majority of the world’s books, and they are central to Google’s ambitions of creating a universal digital information repository. But its digitization project has prompted numerous lawsuits by publishers seeking to enforce their copyrights.
On Thursday, French publisher La Martiniere said that it had agreed to split revenue from digital sales of these books with Google. The accord comes after a similar agreement between Google and Hachette Livre, the largest French publisher, that was completed last month.
In 2009, La Martiniere won a ruling against Google in a Paris court, which awarded the publisher 300,000 euros, or $420,000, and ordered Google to stop scanning its books. Google appealed that decision, but the two companies said Thursday that they had agreed to end the litigation.
Philippe Colombet, director of Google Books in France, said the deal would allow the company to move forward in a constructive fashion, to the benefit of French authors and readers.
“This collaboration is an important step in our relations with French publishers and contributes to the preservation and the flourishing of French culture,” he said in a statement.
—Eric Pfanner, The New York Times