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NASA to know today whether shuttle can fly Monday

CAPE CANAVERAL

NASA may decide shuttle launch date today

Engineers should know today whether Endeavour's six-man crew and their families — including wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords — need to stick around for a Monday launch attempt or come back sometime around Mother's Day. Technicians spent Saturday draining fuel from the shuttle and then getting into the crowded guts of the left rear compartment. Their job is to figure out just what went wrong in a heating system for a power module that controls crucial hydraulics. The problem was severe enough to make NASA postpone Friday's launch.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill.

Court won't block plan to blast levee

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers inched closer Saturday to blowing a hole in a Mississippi River levee to try to keep flood waters out of a small Illinois town after the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis declined to block the move as requested by the state of Missouri. The corps moved a pair of barges loaded with the makings of an explosive sludge into position near the Birds Point levee in Missouri, but said it hadn't yet decided that it needed to breach the 60-foot-high earthen wall to protect Cairo, Ill. About half that town's 2,800 residents have been evacuated from the area, local police said.

Pakistan

Police foil attempt to burn church

Police broke up a mob of people armed with sticks that was threatening to attack a church Saturday after word spread that two copies of the Koran had been burned in the city of Gujranwala in eastern Pakistan, officials said. A crowd of about 300 that blamed local Christians for the burnings was marching toward the church when police charged, lightly injuring several protesters. A burned Koran was found Saturday, and two weeks earlier several burned pages from the holy book turned up, said Nabil Awan, a local official. Pakistan's Christians, who make up 1.6 percent of the country's population of about 180 million, live in fear of being persecuted or arrested under the country's harsh laws against blasphemy.

Maldives

Thousands seek ouster of president

Several thousand protesters converged on the Maldives capital, Male, on Saturday to demand that President Mohammed Nasheed step down, an opposition spokesman said. The spokesman, Mohammed Shareef, said about 5,000 people, mostly young men, were protesting against economic hardship, alleged mismanagement and wasteful spending. Government officials could not be contacted immediately for comment. Maldives is an Indian Ocean archipelago of 1,200 islets inhabited by around 300,000 people with a tourism-driven economy.

Mexico

Police find arsenal in home gym

Mexican federal police said Saturday that they had discovered a basement arsenal hidden behind the mirrors of a home gym that included three antiaircraft guns, dozens of grenades, a grenade launcher, AK-47s and other high-powered weapons. The neatly ordered stockpile found in an upscale neighborhood in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, also contained several makes of machine guns, rifles, a shotgun and more than 26,000 ammunition cartridges, according to Raul Avila Ibarra, the federal police commissioner in charge of the city.

Times wires

NASA to know today whether shuttle can fly Monday 04/30/11 [Last modified: Saturday, April 30, 2011 10:23pm]
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