Small asteroid to zip harmlessly past Earth Monday

Posted June 24, 2011, at 9:18 p.m.

PASADENA, Calif. — NASA says a newly discovered asteroid will have a close encounter with Earth on Monday, but there’s no need to worry.

The space agency’s Near-Earth Object Program Office says the small space rock — dubbed 2011 MD — will pass 7,500 miles above Earth’s surface over the southern Atlantic Ocean at about 9:30 a.m. EDT.

Though it will come close, it’s not a distance record-holder. Earlier this year, a tiny asteroid flew by even closer — within 3,400 miles.

The latest asteroid measures 33 feet long and was discovered this week by telescopes in New Mexico. Scientists say asteroids this size sail past Earth every six years.

The asteroid will briefly be bright enough that medium-size telescopes may be able to spot it.

Police: Baby died from morphine in breast milk

COLUMBIA, South Carolina — U.S. authorities say an infant girl died from a lethal dose of morphine that was in her mother’s breast milk.

The mother, 37-year-old Stephanie Greene, was charged Friday with homicide by child abuse.

Investigators say Greene’s 6-week-old daughter, Alexis, was found dead in her parents’ bed in November 2010.

Autopsy results showed high levels of morphine in the child’s blood. Authorities say the painkiller got into Greene’s breast milk after she took pills and used patches containing morphine constantly since the baby’s birth.

Investigators say she illegally obtained the drugs at least 38 times in less than two years.

NY Assembly clears way for Senate vote on same-sex unions

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York’s Assembly has passed amendments protecting religious groups that oppose gay marriage from discrimination lawsuits, leaving only a Senate vote to decide if the state will legalize same-sex unions.

Amid cheers, the Assembly passed the religious exemptions by a vote of 82-47. The chamber passed the main gay marriage bill a week ago.

The Senate was to begin debate Friday night and vote on the measure that advocates hope will give renewed momentum to the national drive for gay marriage.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will sign the law if the Senate approves it. New York would become the sixth state, and the largest, to legalize gay marriage.

Ohio pair accused of duct-taping, recording child

DAYTON, Ohio — An Ohio man and woman have been jailed after being accused of duct-taping the woman’s 3-year-old daughter and using a cellphone to record the girl as the tape was ripped from her mouth.

Authorities say 22-year-old Sherry Allender and 26-year-old Charles Jones Jr., both of Kettering, Ohio, duct-taped the toddler’s mouth, hands and legs. They say the recording shows the girl falling down while bound and screaming as the tape is ripped from her mouth.

Allender and Jones are charged with complicity to commit abduction and complicity to endanger a child. Their attorneys did not immediately return calls for comment.

Bond was set Thursday at $250,000 in a Dayton courtroom.

Authorities say the child had no serious injuries and is with a relative.

Stranded penguin moved to NZ zoo, set for surgery

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — This is one homesick penguin, stranded on a New Zealand beach 2,000 miles from Antarctica and eating sand it mistook for snow.

Wildlife officials stepped in Friday and moved the ailing young bird to a zoo where surgery was planned to clear its throat of sticks and sand.

The emperor penguin appeared healthy when it was first spotted Monday on picturesque Peka Peka Beach on New Zealand’s North Island — the country’s first sighting of the bird in the wild in 44 years.

But it grew more lethargic as the week passed, falling weakly into the wet sand at times, and officials feared it would die if they didn’t intervene.

“It’s not going to survive here on the beach if we left it here,” said Peter Simpson, a program manager for New Zealand’s Department of Conservation. “There’s too much public pressure. It’s just out in the open.”

The penguin had been eating small sticks of driftwood and sand, which experts said it likely thought was the snow it normally consumes for hydration in Antarctica. Temperatures hovered around 50 degrees, far higher than the subfreezing temperatures it’s used to.

Wellington Zoo staff said the bird was dehydrated and suffering heat exhaustion.

Congressman introduces bill to allow online poker

LAS VEGAS — U.S. Rep. Joe Barton introduced a bill Friday to legalize online poker, hoping to pull the estimated $6 billion industry out of the shadows at a time when its top operators face serious legal troubles.

The Republican lawmaker from Texas told The Associated Press that the bill would let states choose whether they want to allow residents to play poker on the Internet, and operators would be required to already have gambling licenses in at least one U.S. state.

A law passed in 2006 barred financial institutions from processing illegal gambling payments, but many have complained since then that it didn’t explicitly outlaw playing poker and it didn’t define well enough exactly what is illegal.

 

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