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Report: Space agency's work force in need of some new blood

Compiled from Times wires
Published May 6, 2006

CAPE CANAVERAL - NASA's work force is graying and the agency lacks a long-term plan for luring qualified workers to help send astronauts to the moon and Mars, a National Research Council report says.

"NASA doesn't have a lot of people leaving, so what's been happening is they're aging in place," said MIT aeronautics professor Daniel Hastings, co-chair of the panel of aerospace experts who wrote the report.

The space agency has been too focused on short-term labor problems, such as what to do with some 900 employees whose work is ending along with the soon-to-be-retired space shuttle, the experts wrote. And there has not been enough attention on the type of skills needed in the future and the aging of the work force, they said.

NASA requested the report last year from the research council, a nonprofit organization that is part of the National Academies of Science, which offer policy advice under congressional charter.

NASA spokesman Doc Mirelson said the space agency would reserve comment on the interim report until making a formal response Monday at a meeting with the panel.

New rules for exchange program after abuse cases

The families who host the nearly 30,000 foreign exchange students who stay in this country each year now will have to undergo criminal background checks, under new rules that went into effect this week.

Under the State Department rules, exchange student programs also will be required to tell the students how to identify and report sexual abuse, and to notify the department and local law enforcement of any reports of abuse.

The new State Department rules were proposed last summer and went into effect Thursday. The State Department's Office of Exchange Coordination and Designation said last year it had received only five reports of abuse.

Ex-CIA officer Plame agrees to book deal

NEW YORK - Valerie Plame, the former CIA operative whose unmasking led to a federal investigation and the indictment of a top vice presidential aide, has agreed to a book deal with the Crown Publishing Group.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but the Associated Press reported that the deal was in the low seven figures. The book, scheduled to come out in the fall of 2007, is tentatively titled Fair Game.

How much Plame, will reveal could be complicated by two factors: The CIA, which reviews the manuscripts of former agents and has reportedly become stricter about what it will permit, and next year's scheduled trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby , the former chief aide to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Appeals court ducks gay marriage question

SAN FRANCISCO - A federal appeals court on Friday sidestepped whether it was unconstitutional under federal and state law to deny gays and lesbians the right to marry, leaving the issue to state courts to decide.

The case, brought by two gay Orange County men who were denied a marriage license, leaves Massachusetts as the only state allowing same-sex marriage.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the couple should await the outcome of California litigation challenging the state's law banning gay nuptials.

A San Francisco judge has already declared the marriage ban invalid, but the decision was stayed for review by a state appeals court, which is expected to hear arguments soon.

[Last modified May 6, 2006, 08:04:35]

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