NASA gives 'go' for launch as storms loom
NASA will try today to launch space shuttle Discovery on its final voyage. Mission managers met Wednesday to discuss an electrical problem and concluded the shuttle is safe to fly. But forecasters say there is an 80 percent chance that thunderstorms will keep Discovery on the pad. Liftoff is scheduled for 3:29 p.m. Managers will reconvene before daybreak to assess the weather before loading the shuttle's fuel tank. Discovery's flight to the International Space Station was first stalled by gas leaks. Then a problem cropped up Tuesday with a computerized controller for one of the main engines. At this point, the mission is running three days late. The space agency has until Sunday — possibly as late as Monday — to launch Discovery. Otherwise, it will have to wait until December because of sun angles. Discovery has carried 180 astronauts into orbit over its 26-year career, and logged nearly 150 million miles and more than 5,600 orbits of Earth. It is NASA's oldest surviving shuttle and fleet leader, and will be the first to be prepared for museum retirement.
YouTube blocks cleric's videos
Under pressure from U.S. and British officials, YouTube removed from its site Wednesday some of the hundreds of videos featuring calls to jihad by Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born, Yemen-based cleric who has played an increasingly public role in inspiring violence directed at the West. Last week, a British official pressed for the videos to be removed, and a New York congressman, Anthony Weiner, sent YouTube a letter listing hundreds of videos featuring the cleric. In an e-mail, Victoria Grand, a YouTube spokeswoman, said that the site had removed videos that violated the site's guidelines prohibiting "dangerous or illegal activities such as bombmaking, hate speech and incitement to commit violent acts," or that came from accounts "registered by a member of a designated foreign terrorist organization" or that were used to promote such a group's interests.
St. Louis: An indictment unsealed Wednesday accuses Mohamud Abdi Yusuf of St. Louis of providing material support to al-Shabab, a Somalia terror group. Yusuf and Abdi Mahdi Hussein of Minneapolis also are accused of conspiring to structure financial transactions. A third man, Duane Mohamed Diriye, is also charged and remains at-large.
Deer Lodge, Mont.: District Judge John Larson scheduled a Jan. 31 execution date for Ronald Allen Smith, 53, of Red Deer, Alberta, the only known Canadian on death row in the United States.
Memphis: Rescued Chilean miner Edison Pena is set to arrive in New York today to attend Sunday's New York City Marathon. To follow are a visit to Graceland in January and a trip to Las Vegas to watch "Viva Elvis," the Cirque du Soleil show based on Elvis' music. Yes, he's a big Elvis fan.