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'Atlantis' cleared for Monday launch

NASA cleared space shuttle Atlantis for liftoff Monday on a trip to stock up the International Space Station with several years' worth of spare parts.

Mission managers gave the go-ahead Saturday as forecasters put the odds of good launch weather at 90 percent, about as good as it gets.

Atlantis will deliver nearly 30,000 pounds of pumps, storage tanks, gyroscopes and other spare parts, along with six astronauts who will unload everything.

The goal is to take up as many large parts as possible, to keep the space station running for five to 10 years after the shuttle program ends next fall. Some of the pieces are too big to fit in any other spacecraft.

Only six shuttle missions remain, including this one.

Atlantis will bring back Clearwater astronaut Nicole Passonno Stott , who has been living on the space station since the end of August.


Sweden returns skulls looted from Hawaii

With a solemn ceremony in Stockholm's antiquities museum, Sweden marked the return of 22 skulls looted from a native Hawaiian community more than a century ago.

The symbolic ceremony on Saturday — attended by guests from Hawaii and the Nordic countries' own indigenous Sami population — was part of Sweden's increased efforts to return indigenous remains collected by scientists across the world.

The Swedish government in 2005 ordered its museums to search through their collections, and has since returned more than 20 human remains, mainly to Australia.

The Hawaiian skulls had been returned privately earlier Saturday so that the Hawaiian delegates could perform a ritual according to traditional customs.

"We know that they were collected, although by today's standards: they were looted," said Museum director Lars Amreus.

United Nations: U.N. food chief Jacques Diouf said Saturday he was chilly but otherwise slept okay after his first night on a hunger strike to draw attention to the plight of the world's hungry before next week's U.N. food summit. Diouf began the 24-hour strike Friday night in the lobby of the Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

PHILADELPHIA: A suburban swim club accused of discrimination last summer after revoking the memberships of mostly black and Hispanic children plans to declare bankruptcy this week.

Pakistan: A suicide car bomber attacked a police checkpoint outside Peshawar Saturday, killing 11 people, including four children.

Times wires

'Atlantis' cleared for Monday launch 11/14/09 [Last modified: Saturday, November 14, 2009 10:05pm]
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