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Astronauts clean up after leaks on station

Astronauts had to contend with water and air leaks and shrill alarms Monday while outfitting a new passageway for spacewalkers on the international space station.

About 2 cups of water spilled from a cooling line that was being hooked up between the newly attached air lock and the rest of the space station late Sunday. The crews of space shuttle Atlantis and the space station had to mop up the mess with towels.

Then an alarm went off in the space station laboratory. A computer evidently sensed a drop in water pressure and shut off the cooling system in the lab.

An air leak cropped up about 10 hours later. Space station astronaut Jim Voss said he could hear air seeping from a valve near the air lock. NASA described the leak in the air-circulating system as small.

Mission Control radioed up lengthy instructions for checking the valve and some seals Monday night, and Voss got right on it.

Medical progress . . .

SEPTUPLETS: The doctor of a woman who delivered septuplets last week credits the successful birth to the mother's willpower and motivation to help her children.

"Yesterday she walked with me all the way upstairs to the neonatal intensive care unit," where she held two of the babies, said Dr. Mutahar Fauzia, the mother's physician. "She didn't want to walk. I told her, "You have to walk.' So she listened."

The 28-year-old mother, whose name has not been released, is expected to leave Washington's Georgetown University Hospital today, Fauzia said. The septuplets, now in the neonatal intensive care unit, probably will stay in the hospital for eight weeks, she said.

ARTIFICIAL HEART: Two weeks after receiving the world's first fully implantable artificial heart, a middle-aged man in a Louisville, Ky., hospital is improving markedly as he begins light exercises to gain strength, but doctors warned Monday that he would remain seriously ill for "a very, very long time."

The softball-sized device, called the AbioCor, was placed in the man's chest July 2 in a seven-hour surgery at Jewish Hospital.

Doctors have taken the man on and off a ventilator several times since the procedure because he is not strong enough to breathe on his own. He is expected to remain hospitalized at least two months.

Democrats urged to make

room for the religious

INDIANAPOLIS _ Leaders of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council criticized their party for often appearing hostile toward people with strong religious beliefs and said the Democrats need to make people of faith welcome if they hope to expand their political support nationally.

"We have too often dismissed and disparaged the importance of faith in American life and made the faithful feel unwelcome in our party, particularly if they are open and outspoken about their religion," said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn.

Also Monday . . .

CHURCH BOMBING TRIAL: An Alabama judge all but ended the prosecution of the 1963 Birmingham church bombing case by ruling that the sole remaining defendant, Bobby Frank Cherry, was mentally incompetent to stand trial.

SCIENTIST LEAVING: One of the nation's top scientists in stem cell research is leaving for Britain because of what he says is an increasingly hostile climate in the United States toward such work. Roger Pedersen, a biology professor at the University of California at San Francisco, said he is moving to Cambridge University this summer to continue his research, which requires the destruction of days-old embryos.

GRAHAM STILL UNCONSCIOUS: Katharine Graham, 84, who helped build the Washington Post into one of country's top newspapers, was unconscious and in critical condition with a head injury in Boise, Idaho, after tumbling on a concrete walkway in Sun Valley.

HISTORY RE-EMERGES: Workers Monday look at the 30-ton steam engine of the USS Monitor, which had been submerged off Cape Hatteras, N.C., since a storm on New Year's Eve 1862 sank the Union ironclad. The ship, which had fought the Confederate ironclad Virginia to a draw in March 1862, was the first U.S. warship without sails or masts.