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News briefs

December 2, 1995
Web posted at: 2:15 p.m. EST

Observatory satellite heads out to study the sun


CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (CNN) -- An unmanned Atlas rocket left Cape Canaveral Air Station Saturday morning, carrying a satellite observatory toward the sun.

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (Soho) will is designed to watch the sun for two years or longer, and will record and transmit data on the sun's core, corona, outer atmosphere and solar winds.

The satellite, departing earth a week late because of rocket problems, will reach its observation point -- a million miles from earth and 92 million miles from the sun itself -- in four months.

NASA and the European Space Agency are sharing the $1 billion cost of the mission.

Deadbeat dad grounded


NEW YORK (CNN) -- Jeffrey Nichols, dubbed the country's "worst deadbeat dad" for skipping over $600,000 in child support payments, has been told he must seek a judge's permission to spend money on anything other than his debt.

New York Supreme Court Justice Phyllis Gangel-Jacob slapped the sanction on Nichols Friday when she learned that he had spent a $16,000 payment for a magazine article on precious metals. Nichols worked as an investment advisor on commodities and precious metals in 1994.

Gangel-Jacob sent Nichols to jail on contempt charges August 14. He can be released once he pays $68,000 on his debt, but to date he has paid nothing.

Nichols is accused of running through two countries and three states to avoid child support payments to his first wife, Marilyn Nichols Kane. The couple had three children.

Road-kill Rudolph

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (CNN) -- Vandals ran over Rudolph and made off with Snoopy, Woodstock and some elves Friday. Norm Bugg, who puts up the 30,000 light Christmas display every year, said it was the second time in three years the display had been routed.

"If we get hit hard again," he said, "we're going to quit."

The vandals drover over Rudolph, who was left in the street outside Bugg's home.

"Rudolph is road-kill," said Margi Clingenpeel, Bugg's sister-in-law. "We're not going to let this defeat us. There are too many thousands of people who like this."

Packwood may become political consultant


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former Sen. Bob Packwood, who resigned following charges of sexual and official misconduct, reportedly plans to start a political consulting business on Capitol Hill.

He told The Associated Press in an interview he would scout around for clients and advise them on legislation and how they should lobby Congress.

"I'm going to give them advice based on a quarter century of experience in how this place operates," he was quoted as saying.

Packwood resigned in September after the Senate Ethics Committee advised that he be dismissed for alleged sexual harassment, for allegedly procuring jobs from lobbyists for his ex-wife, and for obstructing justice by tampering with his personal diaries.

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Unhappy Babbitt gives away billions in mining rights

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An unenthusiastic Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt was compelled Friday to sell an estimated $2.9 billion worth of mining rights to a private company for $1,745.

The sale was required by a mining law enacted 123 years ago to promote development in the West.

"In the spirit of the Christmas season I'm delivering a gift to the mining industry," Babbitt said at a news conference Friday. He criticized the 1872 Mining Act, which requires the sale of federal land for mining for as little as $2.50 an acre.

"This process has gone from distasteful to obscene," Babbitt said, dramatizing his outrage by rolling onto the stage a large Christmas-wrapped box with "$2.9 billion" stamped on the side.

Contrite Dodgers Hall-of-Famer gets no jail term

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Brooklyn Dodgers hero Duke Snider was sentenced by one of his old fans Friday to two years' probation and a $5,000 fine for tax evasion.

Snider, 69, pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to commit tax fraud and confessed to not reporting $97,400 in cash from card shows and memorabilia sales between 1984 and 1993.

"I take full responsibilities for my actions," Snider said. "I also hope that my fans, especially those in Brooklyn, can accept my apology."

Judge Edward Korman said Snider was "idolized" by the generation to which Korman belonged, but said the former star was not getting lenient treatment.

Korman noted that the sentencing guidelines did not require Snider to do prison time and gave Snider some grace marks for having paid his back taxes. The judge said he was aware that Snider also suffers from diabetes, hypertension, and other illnesses.

In addition to the $5,000 fine, Snider has paid about $30,000 in back taxes and owes the Internal Revenue Service about $25,000 to $27,000 in interest and penalties.


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