- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 4, 2003

NASA: Shuttle launch delayed till late 2004

NASA officials decided yesterday to delay the next shuttle flight until at least September 2004, saying they need time to make changes and repairs prompted by the probe of the Columbia disaster.

This is at least the third postponement of the shuttle fleet’s estimated return to flight since Columbia broke up over Texas during re-entry on Feb. 1, killing all seven astronauts. The three remaining shuttles have been grounded since then.

The new launch window is from Sept. 12 to Oct. 10, 2004, said William Readdy, NASA’s associate administrator for space flight.

“I can almost guarantee that this is going to be a long uphill climb back to flight,” Mr. Readdy said.

Soldiers fear for Iraqi wives’ lives

PACE, Fla. — Two Florida National Guard soldiers who married Iraqi women against their commander’s wishes are being investigated for purportedly defying an order, their families said.

The men, both Christians who converted to Islam so they could be married under Iraqi law, had expected to return to Florida this month, but a new Army policy that requires troops to remain in Iraq for 12 continuous months may keep them there until April.

In the meantime, Sgt. Sean Blackwell, 27, of Pace, and Cpl. Brett Dagen, 37, of Walnut Hill, want to send their wives to the United States because of threats from anti-American Iraqis.

Vickie McKee, Sgt. Blackwell’s mother, said yesterday her daughter-in-law has asked that the women not be identified for that reason. Both women are physicians.

Mrs. McKee, who said the Army is trying to prevent the women from coming to the United States, has delivered letters from her son and his wife to the district office of Rep. Jeff Miller, Florida Republican. Dan McFaul, a spokesman for Mr. Miller, said the congressman can do nothing until the women request visas.

Band says show and suicide to go on

TAMPA, Fla. — Ignoring threats of criminal charges, a band leader promised to proceed with plans for a live suicide during a concert that will be broadcast over the Internet tonight.

Hell on Earth leader Billy Tourtelot said on the band’s Web site yesterday that the concert and suicide will take place in an undisclosed location in St. Petersburg. The band intends to broadcast the event on its Web page at 7:30 p.m. EDT.

Mr. Tourtelot’s announcement last month that he would host the suicide of a terminally ill fan led the city to ban the event with an ordinance and prompted a judge to issue an injunction against it.

No Senate run for Andrew Young

ATLANTA — After keeping Democrats on the edge of their seats for days, former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young announced yesterday that he will not run for the U.S. Senate.

That leaves the post being vacated next year by retiring Sen. Zell Miller without a significant Democratic challenger.

Four Republicans, including Reps. Mac Collins and Johnny Isakson, are already campaigning for Mr. Miller’s seat.

“I was afraid I’d win. Winning would mean I would spend the next seven years of my life in Washington, and Washington is not always the center of action,” Mr. Young said.

Senate confirms AIDS ambassador

The Senate yesterday confirmed President Bush’s selection of Randall Tobias, a retired chairman and chief executive officer of Eli Lilly and Co., to head the administration’s global battle against AIDS.

With the rank of ambassador, Mr. Tobias will oversee a $15 billion plan that Mr. Bush signed into law in May to combat the disease, primarily in Africa and the Caribbean, with treatment as well as prevention.

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