Columbia blasts off on Hubble servicing mission

Columbia blasts off onHubble servicing mission
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Space shuttle Columbia and a crew of seven blasted into orbit today on an arduous mission to renovate the Hubble Space Telescope after a one-day wait for warmer launch weather. Columbia vaulted into clouds just before dawn as Hubble was passing more than 350 miles above the Gulf of Mexico and heading toward the Florida peninsula. The round-and-round-the-world chase should end Sunday.
"Hubble's up there ready for us, and we're ready to go to work," shuttle commander Scott Altman called out. The launch was surrounded by extraordinarily tight security to guard against a possible terrorist attack. F-15 fighter jets were on patrol, and a no-fly zone was in force within 35 miles of the launch pad.
Studies find benefitsin welfare programs
WASHINGTON -- Poor children did better in school if their mothers participated in welfare-to-work programs, as long as the programs increased family income and didn't merely substitute a small paycheck for a small welfare check, studies evaluating programs around the country show. Positive effects on school achievement were still evident 4 1/2 years after the programs began, suggesting they will make a real difference in kids' lives, said researchers at Manpower Demonstration Research Inc., which conducts rigorous evaluations of welfare programs.
The news wasn't good for teen-agers, who fared slightly worse in school after their mothers went to work. These problems weren't associated with any particular type of welfare program, and researchers suspect that teens in other low-income families may face similar problems.
Yates murder trial
HOUSTON -- In the months before Andrea Yates drowned her five children, her best friend documented her deteriorating mental condition, noting she paced around her suburban Houston home like a "scared animal." "I was very concerned about my friend," Debbie Holmes testified Thursday at Yates' capital murder trial for the drowning deaths of three of the children. "I was calling my sister and my other family members constantly crying.
"I was very frustrated at the lack of care I thought she was receiving." Holmes' sister made a suggestion: "You need to write this down in case something bad happens." Portions of the journal Holmes kept are now evidence in Yates' trial for the June 20 deaths of 7-year-old Noah, 5-year-old John and 6-month-old Mary. Charges could be filed later in the deaths of Paul, 3, and Luke, 2.
Yates has pleaded innocent by reason of insanity. She faces life in prison or the death penalty if convicted.
Crime scene hair linkedto early murder suspect
STAMFORD, Conn. -- An early suspect in the 1975 killing of a teen-ager who now has immunity in the case has hair that is similar to samples found at the crime scene, sources say. Jury selection begins next month for Michael Skakel, a nephew of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy who is charged with murdering Martha Moxley. His lawyer, Michael Sherman, would not say whether he would try to raise doubt in jurors' minds using the evidence linking another man, Kenneth Littleton, to the scene.
"We will make absolutely every effort to introduce all evidence that may exonerate Michael Skakel," Sherman said, declining to be more specific. Skakel is accused of beating Moxley to death with a golf club in their wealthy Greenwich neighborhood Oct. 31, 1975. Skakel and Moxley were both 15 at the time.
Lawmakers ask Skillingto clarify his testimony
WASHINGTON -- Some lawmakers believe ex-Enron Corp. chief executive Jeffrey Skilling knew more about questionable financial transactions than he told Congress recently and are asking him to clear up what they see as discrepancies between his testimony and the accounts of his former colleagues. Leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee told Skilling in a letter Thursday that documents obtained by the panel's investigators "appear to raise serious questions about the accuracy of your testimony."
Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., the committee chairman, "remains convinced that Mr. Skilling was not candid in his statements before Congress," said Ken Johnson, a spokesman for Tauzin. "Testifying under oath is sacred, and anyone who violates that trust will be held accountable. We intend to aggressively pursue this until we get the truth."
Associated Press

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