Obama Orders Probe Into Airport Security

Barack Obama has ordered an urgent review of airport screening after a former London student was able to take explosives on board a transatlantic airliner headed to the US on Christmas Day.

An urgent investigation is under-way to find out how Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab evaded security checks to board the plane carrying 278 passengers on Friday.

Authorities had apparently been warned about the 23-year-old Nigerian’s extremist views by his own millionaire father.

A spokesperson for the Obama administration said the probe targeted the Department of Homeland Security, specifically the Transportation Security Administration.

He said the US President was “interested in learning how the explosive material was brought on board the aircraft and steps that can be taken to enhance the ability of airport screeners to detect and interdict such materials in the future”.

Abdul Mutallab was charged in hospital on Saturday night with attempting to destroy the aircraft during its final approach to Detroit airport.

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Obama Gives NASA Bigger Budget, Backs New Rocket, Cancels Ares 1

Ares Shuttle comparisons

President Barack Obama will ask Congress next year to fund a new heavy-lift launcher to take humans to the moon, asteroids, and the moons of Mars, ScienceInsider has learned. The president chose the new direction for the U.S. human space flight program Wednesday at a White House meeting with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, according to officials familiar with the discussion. NASA would receive an additional $1 billion in 2011 both to get the new launcher on track and to bolster the agency’s fleet of robotic Earth-monitoring spacecraft.

The current NASA plan for human exploration is built around the $3.5 billion Constellation program, which would provide a way to get humans to the space station and beyond. But its initial launcher, Ares 1, has faced a string of cost and technical problems, and it was excluded from several options for future space flight put forth earlier this year by an outside panel chaired by retired aerospace executive Norman Augustine. Although that panel suggested a $3 billion boost to NASA’s $18.7-billion-a-year budget in order to take a firm next step in human space flight, Obama’s support for a $1 billion bump next year represents a major coup for the agency given the ballooning deficit and the continuing recession. And NASA just won a $1 billion boost from Congress for 2010 in a bill signed by the president.

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