- The Washington Times - Friday, December 22, 2006

Space shuttle returns to Earth

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Space Shuttle Discovery landed safely at the Kennedy Space Center yesterday , ending a successful 13-day mission to rewire the International Space Station.

The shuttle made a fiery re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere and a long glide to touchdown at the seaside landing strip shortly after 5:30 p.m., bringing home a seven-member crew that included Germany’s Thomas Reiter, who had spent the past six months at the space station.

Discovery dropped a new crew member, rookie U.S. astronaut Sunita Williams, at the orbiting outpost for a six-month stint in space.

NASA got a break with the weather in Florida after wrestling with difficult conditions at the Kennedy Space Center and at the backup landing site, Edwards Air Force Base in California. Officials even considered landing Discovery at a rarely used site in New Mexico.

Shuttle managers skipped a first opportunity to land in Florida before deciding the weather had cleared sufficiently for a safe touchdown on their second chance.

DeLay replacement has angioplasty

HOUSTON — Rep.-elect Nick Lampson, newly elected to the seat once held by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, underwent a procedure yesterday to open up a partially blocked blood vessel, his spokeswoman said.

Doctors at Christus St. John Hospital in suburban Houston performed the angioplasty on Mr. Lampson, 61, and placed a stent in the vessel.

Mr. Lampson was “conscious, alert and in good spirits throughout the procedure,” spokeswoman Carrie Chess said. He was expected to be discharged today.

His wife, Susan Lampson, drove him to the hospital Thursday night because he started feeling sick during dinner. The blockage was found during a test yesterday , Miss Chess said.

Comptroller pleads guilty to felony

ALBANY, N.Y. — The state’s chief financial officer, Comptroller Alan Hevesi, resigned yesterday and pleaded guilty to a felony for using a state employee as his wife’s chauffeur.

The plea effectively ended Hevesi’s 35-year political career and wrapped up an investigation by Albany County District Attorney David Soares, who had been presenting evidence about Hevesi to a grand jury.

Hevesi, 66, will serve no jail time. He agreed to pay a $5,000 fine and to not file any appeals. He also agreed not to take office on Jan. 1. The New York City Democrat had been re-elected in November despite the scandal.

Couple convicted in caged kids case

NORWALK, Ohio — A couple accused of forcing some of their 11 adopted special-needs children to sleep in chicken-wire cages were convicted yesterday of endangerment and abuse.

A jury found both Michael Gravelle, 57, and his wife, Sharen, 58, guilty of four felony counts of child endangering, two misdemeanor counts of child endangering and five misdemeanor counts of child abuse. Each was acquitted of 13 other charges.

The parents argued during their three-week trial that they needed to keep some of the youngsters in enclosed beds rigged with alarms to protect them from themselves and each other and stop them from wandering at night.

The couple face one to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000 for each felony count.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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