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Space shuttle 'Discovery' wraps up mission, begins return journey

CAPE CANAVERAL

Shuttle wraps up mission, heads home

Discovery and its crew left the International Space Station on Saturday and aimed for a homecoming in two days to wrap up one of the last missions of NASA's storied shuttle program. Discovery undocked as the two spacecraft soared nearly 220 miles above New Guinea. Shuttle commander Alan Poindexter and his crew will spend today getting their ship ready for re-entry. Landing is scheduled for Monday morning. It may be a long time before so many people are together again in space. Only three shuttle flights remain, each with a crew of six. That's one fewer person than usual to allow more room for cargo, and will result in 12 people orbiting together, instead of 13. Four of the 13 on this mission were women, a world record. The crowd consisted of eight Americans, three Russians and two Japanese.

DALLAS

LBJ's daughter is hospitalized

A family spokesman said Luci Baines Johnson, the youngest daughter of former President Lyndon Johnson, is being treated at the Mayo Clinic for what doctors suspect is a rare autoimmune disorder that affects the nervous system. Spokesman Tom Johnson said an emergency medical charter flew Johnson to the clinic in Rochester, Minn., on Friday. She was admitted to a hospital in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday after experiencing weakness in her limbs. The spokesman's statement said doctors suspect Guillain-Barre syndrome, which affects the nerves that control movement and can cause paralysis.

Iran

U.S. is target at nuclear summit

Iran's top political and religious authority lashed out at the United States at a nuclear disarmament conference Saturday in Tehran meant to counter a nonproliferation summit in Washington earlier in the week. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, described the United States as the world's "only nuclear scofflaw." He called Washington hypocritical for advocating arms control while retaining a stockpile of nuclear weapons, and for accepting the arsenal of Israel, which is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which requires transparency for its nuclear program.

Philippines

Charges dropped in mass killings

The Philippine government on Saturday dropped charges against two prominent members of a powerful political family accused of the mass killing of 57 people in November, the single worst incident of political violence on record in the nation. Though the main suspect, Andal Ampatuan Jr., remains in jail facing multiple murder charges, the dismissal by the Department of Justice of the cases against two of his brothers — Zaldy and Akmad Ampatuan — surprised Filipinos and alarmed human rights advocates.

India

15 injured in blasts at cricket stadium

At least 15 people were wounded Saturday by two explosions near a crowded cricket stadium in Bangalore as thousands of spectators were arriving for a match in India's popular professional league. The police told Indian news media that the explosives detonated near an outer wall of the stadium.

Times wires

Space shuttle 'Discovery' wraps up mission, begins return journey 04/18/10 [Last modified: Sunday, April 18, 2010 12:04am]
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