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In the Nation

Three indicted in gun-fair death

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Three men, including a small-town police chief, were indicted yesterday on involuntary manslaughter counts in the gun-fair death of an 8-year-old who accidentally shot himself in the head with an Uzi. The club where the fair was held also was charged.

Fair ads promised that shooters would have certified instructors, but officials said the child, Christopher Bizilj, was supervised by an uncertified 15-year-old boy. Bizilj lost control of the 9mm micro submachine gun as it recoiled while he was firing at a pumpkin Oct. 26 at the Machine Gun Shoot & Firearms Expo at the Westfield Sportsman's Club.

Pelham Police Chief Edward Fleury was charged because he owns the sponsor of the gun fair, COP Firearms & Training. Two men who brought the automatic gun to the show also were indicted.

- AP

NASA delays robot's Mars trip

WASHINGTON - NASA is delaying a mission to Mars that already had been overbudget and will get even more costly.

The launch of the massive roving robot with a rock-zapping laser was pushed back yesterday from next year until 2011, adding $400 million to the $1.6 billion price tag. More than 10 problems, all solvable with time, forced the postponement, Mars exploration chief Doug McCuistion said.

The Mars Science Laboratory is designed as the most powerful spacecraft to explore the Martian surface and will probe the red planet's climate and geology in finer detail than previous missions. It is the first time since 1994 that NASA will miss a chance to launch toward Mars. Earth and Mars pass close enough to launch probes only every 26 months.

- AP

N.Y.'s MTA eyes hikes to close gap

NEW YORK - Drivers in New York City would pay to cross the East River and companies would be taxed on their payrolls under a proposal to stanch financial bleeding at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Transit riders would be spared a potential 23 percent fare increase. A state commission's proposal, released yesterday, calls for boosting MTA fare revenue by 8 percent instead.

The agency needs to close a $1.4 billion deficit in its operating budget next year and a $3 billion deficit by 2012. The agency is legally required to balance its budget. Under the proposal, companies in a 12-county area would pay $330 in tax for every $100,000 they pay workers.

- AP


President and Laura Bush

have bought a home in the pricey Preston Hollow area of Dallas. They do not yet have occupancy, but Laura Bush said: "As soon as we do, we'll announce exactly where it is."

Texas juries

this year sentenced the fewest number of inmates to death row since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976. Nine people convicted were sentenced to die, according to the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.