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Southern California has had blustery and dry weather this week, but the winds Wednesday were southwesterly, not the sometimes fierce northeasterly Santa Anas that fan the region’s worst wildfires.

Wildland fires that erupted Monday near Banning and Moreno Valley were held to a couple of acres.


Ford CEO: 2010 will be profitable

WILMINGTON — Ford CEO Alan Mulally says the automaker should be “solidly” profitable in 2010 as it recovers from the severe downturn in the auto industry.

Mr. Mulally says that Ford should also see “continuing improvement” in 2011. He was speaking to shareholders at the company’s annual meeting in Delaware.

Ford has rebounded faster than most rivals from the plunge in auto sales during the recession.

The company reported a $2.7 billion profit in the first quarter and has a growing market share. But it must also deal with a stubbornly high debt.


NASA: All on track for Atlantis launch

CAPE CANAVERAL — With good weather expected, NASA was optimistic as it headed toward Friday’s launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis on its final voyage.

Atlantis is set to blast off at 2:20 p.m. Forecasters said there is a 70 percent chance of good weather, with low clouds the lone concern.

“We’ve had a very clean countdown so far,” NASA test director Jeremy Graeber told reporters Thursday.

The shuttle and its six astronauts will deliver a Russian compartment to the International Space Station. The chamber is filled with more than 3,000 pounds of U.S. supplies, including food and laptop computers. It will be the first — and last — time a shuttle carries a Russian module to the orbiting lab. Only two other shuttle flights remain.

Once the shuttles are retired, NASA will leave station deliveries to commercial companies and other countries, and focus on eventual trips to asteroids and Mars.

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