US News: Military Forces in Europe?; Wyoming Landslide; NASA Engineer Key to Space Travel Dies

Astronaut Neil Armstrong smiles inside the Lunar Module on July 20, 1969. Armstrong was the first man to walk on the surface of the moon. (NASA/Newsmakers)
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Western official says the United States is considering deploying about 150 soldiers for military exercises to begin in Poland and Estonia in the next few weeks.
The exercises would follow Russia's buildup of forces near its border with Ukraine and its annexation last month of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said earlier this week that the U.S. is looking for ways to reassure its NATO allies of its strong commitment to collective defense.
The Western official says ground exercises in Poland and Estonia would last about two weeks but that such exercises would continue on a rotating basis off and on over time.
The official isn't authorized to discuss the plan by name because it hasn't been made final and requests anonymity.

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) -- No one can say when the mountainside collapsing into this Wyoming resort town will give way. But it appears increasingly likely that when it does, it's going to take a piece of Jackson with it.
Workers and residents have watched helplessly as the slow-motion landslide spanning hundreds of yards split a house in two and buckled pavement.
Standing at the edge of the rocky slope, Jackson Fire Chief Willy Watsabaugh said the earth movements slowed somewhat Saturday. That gives crews a chance to re-assess the damage, yet leaves an uncertain fate for the businesses, houses and two apartment buildings in the slide zone.
What triggered the slide remains under investigation. Authorities are looking into whether construction at the foot of the mountainside contributed.

SCARBOROUGH, Maine (AP) -- John C. Houbolt, an engineer whose contributions to the U.S. space program were vital to NASA's successful moon landing in 1969, has died. He was 95.
Houbolt's family confirmed his death Tuesday at a Maine nursing home of complications from Parkinson's disease.
As NASA describes on its website, while under pressure during the U.S.-Soviet space race, Houbolt was the catalyst in securing U.S. commitment to the science and engineering theory that eventually carried the Apollo crew to the moon and back safely.
His efforts in the early 1960s are largely credited with convincing NASA to focus on the launch of a module carrying a crew from lunar orbit, rather than a rocket from earth or a space craft while orbiting the planet.

WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) -- The body of a small boy apparently cast off the side of a highway in Massachusetts is confirmed as that of a missing 5-year-old.
Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. says the body found Friday off Interstate 190 in Sterling has been positively identified as Jeremiah Oliver of Fitchburg. No charges were immediately announced related to Jeremiah's death.
He was last seen by relatives in September but wasn't reported missing until December.
Early said in a statement Saturday that the autopsy report is not complete and the investigation is continuing.
Jeremiah's case has led to criminal charges against his mother and her boyfriend and calls for changes within the state's child welfare agency. Three Massachusetts workers have been fired.
Jeremiah's mother, 28-year-old Elsa Oliver, pleaded not guilty in March to charges including kidnapping, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and reckless endangerment. Her boyfriend, 23-year-old Alberto Sierra, pleaded not guilty to similar charges.

HOUSTON (AP) -- A Texas-based group of volunteers involved in searches for missing persons around the nation has run afoul of federal aviation authorities for using drones in their work.
A fleet of four unmanned aircraft used by Texas EquuSearch has been grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration until the agency develops rules that allow for the commercial use of unmanned aircraft. Congress has given the FAA until the end of next year to do so.
Texas EquuSearch claim its drones are not used for commercial purposes and therefore should not be subject to the restrictions.
Group founder Tim Miller says an attorney involved in drone litigation is working on a lawsuit to challenge the ban.

NEW YORK (AP) -- A man police say pulled the beard of a Sikh professor last year in New York City has been charged with a hate crime.
Christian Morales was charged Saturday with aggravated harassment in the September attack of Columbia University professor Prabhjot Singh (PRUHB'-joht sihng) in upper Manhattan.
A phone number for Morales is out of service. It's unclear if he has an attorney.
Singh has said a group of young men called him "Osama" and a "terrorist" before one grabbed his beard and others beat him. He suffered a fractured jaw.
Hate crimes task force detectives had been investigating the case.
Sikhism is a religion that originated in India. In some cases, practitioners have been targeted by attackers who confuse it with Islam.

DETROIT (AP) -- Government documents show that General Motors waited years to recall nearly 335,000 Saturn Ions for power steering failures despite getting thousands of consumer complaints and warranty repair claims.
Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration didn't seek a recall of the 2004-2007 compact cars even though it opened an investigation more than two years ago. The government's auto safety watchdog found the problem caused 12 crashes and two injuries.
The documents, posted on the NHTSA's website Saturday, show yet another delay by GM in recalling unsafe vehicles. It's also another example of government regulators reacting slowly to a safety problem despite being alerted by consumers and the company's warranty data.
GM and NHTSA were criticized for their response to a deadly ignition-switch problem in more than 2.6 million small cars.

National energy boom blurs political battle lines
DENVER (AP) -- The U.S. energy boom is blurring the traditional political battle lines across the country.
Democrats are split between environmentalists and business and labor groups -- and one key issue is the proposed Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline.
Some deeply conservative areas are allying with conservationists against fracking, the drilling technique that's largely responsible for the boom.
There's even more confusion among Democrats in the states as drilling rigs multiply and approach schools and parks.
California Gov. Jerry Brown was shouted down at a recent state convention by activists angry about his support for fracking.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has kept fracking in limbo for three years while his administration studies health and safety issues.
In Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper has drawn environmentalists' ire for defending the energy industry.