Among other items: Erie, Pa., Mayor Rick Filippi was charged yesterday with using inside knowledge to invest in real estate near the proposed site of a horse-racing and casino complex.

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA should use astronauts, not a robot, to carry out a crucial life-prolonging mission to the acclaimed Hubble Space Telescope one last time, a National Academy of Sciences panel concluded yesterday.

Using a robot would be highly uncertain and could take too long, the panel of scientists, engineers and astronauts said. But NASA’s chief has vowed he will not risk astronauts just to keep the 14-year-old telescope beaming back breathtaking snapshots of the cosmos for another five years.

Sean O’Keefe, National Aeronautics and Space Administration administrator, has repeatedly contended a Hubble mission would be riskier to the astronauts than a shuttle flight to the international space station. However, the National Academy of Sciences committee concluded the difference in risk is “very small.”

“Given the intrinsic value of a serviced Hubble, and the high likelihood of success … the committee judges that such a mission is worth the risk,” said the panel’s 135-page, congressionally requested report.

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Mayor faces charges in real-estate deal

ERIE, Pa. — Mayor Rick Filippi was charged yesterday with using inside knowledge to invest in real estate near the proposed site of a horse-racing and casino complex.

State Attorney General Jerry Pappert said Filippi, 38, had invested money in a company formed to buy properties near a former paper plant at the same time he was leading confidential negotiations with developers seeking to turn the site into an $80 million gambling complex.

Filippi, a Democrat elected in 2001, faced charges including criminal conspiracy, conflict of interest and accepting improper influence. If convicted, he would have to leave office and likely face up to five years in prison.

Two Filippi business partners, Eric Purchase, Filippi’s longtime friend and former campaign manager, and Rolf Patberg, face similar charges.

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