VIDEO: Today's Headline News from Associated Press

PUSH TO LOOSEN GITMO TRANSFER RULES

 

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is pushing to overcome obstacles to closing the Guantanamo Bay prison, setting the White House on a collision course with Congress in its bid to loosen restrictions for moving out detainees.

 

Administration officials say a Senate defense policy bill coming up for debate within days would allow them to move out prisoners who have long been cleared for transfer overseas but are still held, in part because of a complicated Pentagon certification process. The bill would ease those restrictions and lift a ban on bringing suspected terrorist prisoners from Guantanamo to the United States for detention, trial or emergency medical treatment.

 

Obama has wanted to close Guantanamo since coming to office, but restrictions imposed by Congress have slowed movement out of the prison to a virtual standstill. The White House effort to lighten those barriers faces dogged resistance, with opponents pointing out that some former detainees have joined terrorist efforts after being released from the remote U.S. naval prison in Cuba.

 

"Why would you want to reduce the standard?" asked Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., who along with Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., is working on amendments to preserve the current high bar for transfers.

 

Even if the Senate passes the White House-backed legislation, the House earlier this year approved a measure that further restricts transfers, including an outright ban on sending detainees to Yemen. Yemen is a particular challenge since more than half of the 164 detainees are from there. It's also home to the world's most active al-Qaida branch.

 

NASA LAUNCHES ROBOTIC EXPLORER TO MARS

 

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- NASA's newest robotic explorer, Maven, rocketed toward Mars on Monday on a quest to unravel the ancient mystery of the red planet's radical climate change.

 

The Maven spacecraft is due at Mars next fall following a journey of more than 440 million miles.

 

"Hey, guys, we're going to Mars!" Maven's principal scientist, Bruce Jakosky of the University of Colorado at Boulder, told reporters after liftoff.

 

Jakosky and others want to know why Mars went from being warm and wet during its first billion years to cold and dry today. The early Martian atmosphere was thick enough to hold water and possibly support microbial life. But much of that atmosphere may have been lost to space, eroded by the sun.

 

Maven set off through a cloudy afternoon sky in its bid to provide answers. An unmanned Atlas V rocket put the spacecraft on the proper course for Mars, and launch controllers applauded and shook hands over the success.

 

"What a Monday at the office," NASA project manager David Mitchell said. "Maybe I'm not showing it, but I'm euphoric."

 

Ten years in the making, Maven had Nov. 18, 2013, as its original launch date, "and we hit it," Mitchell said.

 

"I just want to say, `Safe travels, Maven. We're with you all the way.'"

 

AS BAN ON PRINTED 3-D GUNS ENDS, EXTENSION SOUGHT

 

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- As the technology to print 3-D firearms advances, a federal law that banned the undetectable guns is about to expire.

 

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer says he's seeking an extension of the law before it expires Dec. 9.

 

He said the technology of so-called 3-D printing has advanced to the point anyone with $1,000 and an Internet connection can access the plastic parts that can be fitted into a gun. Those firearms can't be detected by metal detectors or X-ray machines.

 

Schumer says that means anyone can download a gun cheaply, then take the weapons anywhere, including high-security areas.

 

The Democrat is pushing the extension along with Sens. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Bill Nelson of Florida. The effort was announced Sunday.

 

The technology has recently advanced to create handguns capable of shooting several shots, rather than just one, before it ceases to function. Schumer also says the guns can now be made with all plastic parts, and no metal.

 

A blueprint for one such firearm was recently downloaded more than 100,000 times, Schumer says.

 

"We are looking at a world in which anyone with a little bit of cash can bring an undetectable gun that can fire multiple bullets anywhere - including planes, government buildings, sporting events and schools," Schumer said. "3-D printers are a miraculous technology that have the potential to revolutionize manufacturing, but we need to make sure they are not being used to make deadly, undetectable weapons. "

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