- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 18, 2007

Endeavour may return early

HOUSTON — NASA kept a close eye on Hurricane Dean as it churned through the Caribbean yesterday and said it may cut short Space Shuttle Endeavour’s flight if the storm threatens Mission Control in Houston.

NASA said it will shorten a planned six-hour spacewalk today, as it seeks ways to prepare for a Tuesday landing instead of the currently scheduled Wednesday arrival.

“We’d really like to protect an option to be able to end the mission on Tuesday,” mission management team chairman Leroy Cain said.

The shuttle is scheduled to land at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which is not forecast to be affected by the storm.

Rescuers search for missing after storm

SAN ANTONIO — Rescuers searched yesterday for people swept away in flash floods caused by the remnants of Tropical Storm Erin.

At least five persons died Thursday and another two were missing because of Erin’s thunderstorms.

The storms dropped up to 11 inches of rain in parts of San Antonio, Houston and the Texas Hill Country.

Summer storms have poured record rainfall across Texas and parts of Oklahoma and Kansas, with floods killing 22 persons since mid-June. One July storm dropped 17 inches of rain in 24 hours and brought Texas out of a drought that had persisted for more than a decade.

Deadly heat grips South, Midwest

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Authorities in Memphis and Alabama reported 10 more heat-related deaths yesterday , bringing the toll in the Southeast and Midwest to at least 47 since oppressive triple-digit temperatures settled over the region last week.

In Memphis alone, heat has been blamed as a factor in 10 deaths, mostly elderly victims, in nine days. A 62-year-old man was found dead in his home yesterday, the Shelby County Medical Examiner’s office announced. The body of a 77-year-old woman was found Thursday evening in her residence, where the temperature inside was 101.

Health officials in Alabama announced yesterday that eight persons there died of heat-related causes this week and last week. The state has had 11 straight days with triple-digit temperatures, breaking records that dated back to 1881 in some areas.

Hundreds mourn Merv Griffin

LOS ANGELES — Hundreds of friends, family members and dignitaries, including California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former first lady Nancy Reagan, gathered in Beverly Hills yesterday to mourn the death of entertainer Merv Griffin.

Mr. Griffin, a former television talk-show host and creator of popular game shows “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune,” died earlier this week of complications from cancer at age 82.

He hosted “The Merv Griffin Show” for more than 20 years on TV, and was known for his wit, charm and friendly demeanor.

“In a world where there is precious little affability and friendship and concern and compassion … his life is a reminder that maybe we ought to act differently,” said the Rev. George O’Brien of the Church of the Good Shepherd, where the memorial service was held.

Legal mistake allows toddlers to marry

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A law passed this year allows Arkansans of any age — even infants — to marry if their parents agree, and the governor may have to call a special session to fix the mistake, lawmakers said yesterday.

The legislation was intended to establish 18 as the minimum age to marry and also allow pregnant teenagers to marry with parental consent, bill sponsor Rep. Will Bond said. An extraneous “not” in the bill, however, allows anyone who is not pregnant to marry at any age if the parents allow it.

A code-revision commission — which fixes typographical and technical errors in laws — tried to correct the mistake, but a group of legislators said yesterday the commission went beyond its powers.

Celebrities attend Astor’s funeral

NEW YORK — The city’s wealthy power brokers united in mourning with its working-class citizens yesterday as the city that Brooke Astor loved so dearly bid farewell to the philanthropist and society fixture.

Mrs. Astor’s wooden casket sat on the altar inside St. Thomas Church on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, where the pews held Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and former Mayors Edward I. Koch and David N. Dinkins, entertainer Whoopi Goldberg, opera star Jessye Norman and banker David Rockefeller.

“On behalf of 8.2 million New Yorkers: She will be deeply missed,” Mr. Bloomberg said in his eulogy before about 1,000 mourners.

Mrs. Astor died Monday of pneumonia at age 105, after months of declining health and family infighting over her care and financial legacy.

During her lifetime, Mrs. Astor gave away nearly $200 million.

From staff reports and wire dispatches.

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