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In brief: Space travelers return safely

Almaty, Kazakhstan – NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and two Russian cosmonauts landed safely Wednesday in the snowy expanses of central Kazakhstan after spending five months on the International Space Station.

The Soyuz capsule carrying Kelly, Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka landed about 30 miles from the northern Kazakh city of Arkalyk.

Kelly returns to earth just as his twin brother Mark, husband of wounded congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, prepares to take part in the U.S. space shuttle Endeavour’s final mission in April. Scott Kelly was shown in a NASA photo wearing a turquoise wristband with a peace sign, a heart and the name “Gabby.”

The capsule came back to harsh conditions. The space travelers were bundled into blankets after being pulled from the capsule, then placed in reclining stretchers as they slowly acclimated to the planet’s gravity after months of weightlessness.

Drones spying on drug traffickers

Mexico City – U.S. Customs and Border Protection has been surreptitiously flying Predator drones into Mexico for two years, helping Mexican authorities spy on suspected drug traffickers, the Associated Press has learned.

The border security agency’s surveillance flights, approved by Mexico but never announced by either country, predate occasional flights into Mexico by the U.S. Air Force’s $38 million Global Hawk drone that began last month.

Mexico’s National Security Council said in a statement Wednesday that unmanned aircraft have flown over Mexico on specific occasions, mainly along the border with the U.S., to gather information at the request of the Mexican government.

The flights expand the U.S. role in the drug war, in which Americans already have been training Mexican soldiers and police as well as cooperating on other intelligence.


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