- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 20, 2008

Shuttle readied for emergency use

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. | NASA moved the space shuttle Endeavour to the launch pad early Friday, a precautionary step in case it’s needed as a rescue spacecraft for the upcoming Hubble Space Telescope mission.

Endeavour arrived at its destination before sunrise. It marks the first time NASA has had a space shuttle on the launch pad as a rescue ship.

Atlantis and its seven astronauts are set to blast off on the last Hubble repair mission next month. NASA needs Endeavour on standby to bring the astronauts home in case Atlantis suffers irreparable damage during its flight, set to start Oct. 10.

While working to repair Hubble, which had some essential insulation blown off its replacement batteries earlier this week, the astronauts will be far from the International Space Station, which could normally be used as a safe haven for several weeks if their shuttle were seriously damaged.

L.A. train crash injures 14

LOS ANGELES | An out-of-service bus driven by a mechanic turned abruptly into a light rail train near downtown during the morning rush Friday, injuring at least 14 people and rattling commuters a week after a deadly train crash in a Los Angeles suburb.

The impact knocked the front car of the electric train off the track while on a run to Long Beach. The other cars remained on the track, which reopened about three hours after the crash.

“We had an out-of-service bus turn in front of the train,” said Marc Littman, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transit Authority, which operates both the train and the bus. “We don’t know who had the right of way.”

The bus looked like it had been broadsided by the train, with a large dent on one side and a bend in the roof. All the injured people were on the train, though that vehicle showed much less damage than the bus.

GM recalls 42,000 Saturn SUVs

DETROIT | General Motors Corp is recalling about 42,000 Saturn Vue compact sport utility vehicles built from February to July due to a potential leak of power steering fluid that could cause a fire, it said Friday.

GM said there were four reports of minor fires in the engine compartment due to fluid coming in contact with the exhaust system, but no accidents or injuries were reported.

The report covers a tube nut that could have loosened on a group of Saturn Vues from the 2008 and 2009 model years that are equipped with six-cylinder engines. GM said dealers would inspect and tighten the nut and check the fluid level as needed. The recall is expected to begin Sept. 26, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

New Detroit mayor vows new start

DETROIT | Ken Cockrel Jr. was sworn in as mayor Friday, vaulted into office by a sex scandal that destroyed the reign of Kwame Kilpatrick and threw the nation’s 11th-largest city into chaos for months.

The 42-year-old Democrat became the city’s chief executive at 12:01 a.m., promoted from president of the City Council to replace the disgraced Kilpatrick, also a Democrat. He was sworn in by a federal appeals court judge during a special midmorning ceremony at the downtown municipal center.

“This is our time for hope and also for renewal,” Mr. Cockrel said. “It’s our time to breathe life back into the city.”

Mr. Cockrel, a former newspaper reporter, has hired a former federal prosecutor as deputy mayor, picked a police chief and urged residents to put their trust in the new team at City Hall. He also said getting his hands on the city’s budget problems is a priority and already has met with outside auditors.

“From this moment on, the past is the past,” he said after the ceremony.

Husband killer wins custody

HUNTINGDON, Tenn. | A woman convicted of killing her minister husband two years ago was granted permanent custody of their three young daughters Friday and said she has resumed a cordial relationship with the grandparents who fought to take the children away from her.

Mary Winkler was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the 2006 death of her husband Matthew, a Church of Christ minister, and is on probation for the killing she blamed on domestic abuse.

Mrs. Winkler, who spent a total of seven months in jail and a mental institution, has had temporary custody of her daughters - ages 11, 9 and 3 - since August.

Judge Ron Harmon of Carroll County Chancery Court returned full custody following a brief hearing, saying he was pleased Mrs. Winkler and her former in-laws have agreed to work together for the good of the children.

Paternal grandparents Dan and Diane Winkler of Huntingdon took temporary custody of the children after their mother’s arrest and went to court trying to adopt them over her objections. After the hearing, Mrs. Winkler walked across the courtroom and hugged the grandparents.

Piggy bank burglar gets 6 years in jail

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. | A man convicted of stealing $20 from a toddler’s piggy bank has been sentenced to six years in prison.

Four-time convicted burglar Ryan Mueller was convicted Thursday of felony burglary as a repeat offender in a Sheboygan, Wis., court.

Prosecutors say the 31-year-old Mueller broke into a home in August 2007 and stole money from a 2-year-old girl’s piggy bank while she slept. They say the girl’s mother walked into the room and caught Mueller in the act.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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