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By DENNIS DAILY, United Press International   |   Feb. 28, 2003 at 4:00 AM
AIRLINE EXECS WORE GOLDEN PARACHUTES

Just as US Airways was careening into bankruptcy court the executives at the controls walked away with over $35 million.

A report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette shows during a time when the airline was moaning about its financial shape and workaday employees were fighting for their jobs, several top-level executives retired, getting payments of up to $15 million each.

Among those collecting the mega-severance pay was Stephen Wolf who ran the carrier for seven years.

Although the executives simply cashed in on the wording of their original hiring contracts, the announcement of the super settlements is not sitting well with displaced lower-level employees.

One former investor in the airline told the publication the payments are another example of "outsized compensation to management that borders on looting."


NASA TARGETING MARS AGAIN

Another NASA mission is preparing to send probes to Mars, with the launches set for May and June. The space agency is continuing its plans to send robotic buggies to the Red Planet.

The roving science probes are described as being about the size of a home refrigerator turned on its side -- with wheels.

In 1999 NASA lost two robotic Mars missions. One was a lander, the other was an orbiter and the two cost the agency nearly $300 million.

There has been at least one stunning Mars-related success. In 1997 the Mars Pathfinder mission successfully landed a small robotic vehicle on the planet's surface. It sent incredible photos to Earth.

This newest set of projects uses larger robots that are said to have a greater range. Four Earth stations will monitor information sent back from the mission.


STOLEN GUNS LOCATED IN CYBERSPACE

When an expensive paintball gun collection was stolen, police used an online auction site to find the merchandise and arrest the thieves.

News Net 5 Ohio says officers used a fake paintball-motifed name to set up an account on the popular eBay auction site. They then made offers for merchandise.

Finally they located goods identical to what was stolen being offered for sale by someone who lived just 15 miles from the site of the burglary.

Police continued to up their bid on various paintball guns and finally won the auction. Police met the seller under the guise of buying the merchandise. All the guns are back under lock and key and the seller and three others are facing charges.


RETRIEVING PETS GETTING MORE COSTLY

The cost of getting a "found" pet back from pound is getting more expensive. A recent look at charges for animal care in Arizona, as relayed by the Arizona Daily Star, shows in many cases it costs more than $100 to get back a pet that has been in city or county custody.

Not only are fees high, but Phoenix-area authorities recently voted to more than double the fee to retrieve licensed dogs, from $45 to $100. The fee is now the same as charged to care for unlicensed pets.

Authorities say the added fees are necessary as many animals that are found and cared for end up being euthanized.

During a recent four-month period Maricopa County authorities cared for 3,514 animals. Only 15 percent were retrieved by owners. Twenty-five percent were adopted and more than 2,000 or 60 percent ended up being put to sleep.

© 2003 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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