Defense bill approved
The Senate overwhelmingly approved a $631 billion defense bill Tuesday that sends a clear signal to President Barack Obama to move quickly to get U.S. combat troops out of Afghanistan, tightens sanctions on Iran and limits the president’s authority in handling terror suspects. Ignoring a veto threat, the Senate voted 98-0 for the legislation that authorizes money for weapons, aircraft and ships and provides a 1.7 percent pay raise for military personnel.
Mars rover planned
NASA is headed to Mars — again.
The space agency said Tuesday it plans to launch another mega-rover to Mars in 2020 that will be modeled after the wildly popular Curiosity. To keep costs down, engineers will borrow Curiosity’s blueprints, build from spare parts where possible and use proven technology including the novel landing system that delivered the car-size rover inside an ancient crater in August.
“If we act now, we can build one at the lowest possible price,” NASA sciences chief John Grunsfeld said.
Warden is suspended
The warden of a North Carolina prison has been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation into allegations that inmates were forced to rub hot sauce on their genitals, officials said Tuesday. A Department of Public Safety spokeswoman said that Sampson Correctional Institution administrator Lafayette Hall has been placed on paid leave while the State Bureau of Investigation reviews what happened at the Clinton facility. A correctional officer, David P. Jones, has also been put on leave, officials said.
Hearing for Obama uncle
President Barack Obama’s uncle is getting a new deportation hearing after an appeals board ordered the agency running the U.S. immigration court system to review his case. Onyango Obama, the half brother of the president’s late father, is from Kenya but has lived in the United States for decades. He was ordered by an immigration judge to leave the U.S. in 1992, when he failed to renew an application to remain. He later sought to reverse the deportation order.
Compiled from wire reports.