- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 12, 2009

Lightning delays shuttle launch

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. | NASA scrubbed Space Shuttle Endeavour’s Saturday evening launch after lightning struck at least 11 times near the seaside launch pad.

NASA technicians found no damage after an electrical storm Friday afternoon, but said they would need at least another day to check critical systems.

A mission management team planned to meet early Sunday to determine whether all the testing had been completed and whether to fuel Endeavour for a possible Sunday evening launch. Liftoff would be at 7:13 p.m. if NASA attempts to launch Sunday.

Mike Moses, chairman of the team, said there were 11 lightning strikes within three-tenths of a mile of the pad, although none of them struck the shuttle, external tank or the two solid rocket boosters.

At the pad, the shuttle has an elaborate lightning protection system with sensors and wires to direct lightning away from the shuttle and its rockets.

“The lightning protection system did its job,” he said.

Iconic hotel to reopen

HONOLULU | Despite a dour economy and a Hawaii tourism industry that is in its roughest patch ever, four dozen employees of the iconic Ilikai Hotel won their jobs back Friday when their labor union and the property’s new owner inked a surprise deal.

The Y-shaped, 30-story Ilikai was considered Hawaii’s first luxury high-rise when it opened in 1964, and it gained more prominence when it was featured in the opening sequence of the hit TV series “Hawaii Five-0.”

The pact will lead to the hotel’s reopening sometime soon, though neither the local Unite Here union nor the Waikiki hotel’s owner, New York City-based iStar Financial Inc., said when.

The Ilikai is now just one of a number of tall hotels in Waikiki, Oahu’s most popular tourist locale. The 800-room hotel fell onto hard times when then-owner Brian Anderson sold off pieces as time shares and eventually forced the property into foreclosure.

IStar acquired the Ilikai for $51 million at a foreclosure auction in May.

Single body found in cemetery exhumation

ALSIP, Ill. | Only one body, and nothing abnormal, was found Saturday in an exhumed grave at a historic black cemetery in suburban Chicago after authorities had been told they would discover two bodies stacked on top of each other.

Four former employees are accused of digging up hundreds of corpses and dumping them in a scheme to resell burial plots at Burr Oak Cemetery, home to the graves of civil rights-era lynching victim Emmett Till and blues singer Dinah Washington.

An attorney for the cemetery’s owner told Cook County authorities they would find two bodies in the grave, a sheriff’s spokeswoman said Saturday morning. But that turned out to be wrong.

Workers dug 7 feet down during a court-ordered exhumation and found only one body in the grave of Rachel Boone, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said Saturday afternoon. Mrs. Boone’s son had long suspected that there was another body buried underneath her, and the exhumation was scheduled before the current investigation began.

Authorities declared portions of the cemetery a crime scene and closed it Friday after thousands of relatives showed up looking for the graves of loved ones. Families continued to arrive Saturday morning.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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