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May 18, 2011

Space Shuttle Endeavour launches for final time

Space Shuttle Endeavour launches for final time

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

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The crew of Endeavour’s final mission, STS-134, which launched on Monday at 8:56 AM EDT.
Image: NASA.

Video of Endeavour’s final launch. (Video: NASA)

The Space Shuttle Endeavour launched on its final mission, STS-134, at 8:56 AM EDT Monday. The mission’s primary objectives are to deliver Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer 2 and ExPRESS Logistics Carrier 3, as well as other materials and supplies, to the International Space Station (ISS).

The shuttle launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with six crewmembers aboard, including mission commander Mark Kelly, pilot Gregory Johnson, and mission specialists Roberto Vittori, Andrew Feustel, and Gregory Chamitoff.

The shuttle is scheduled to arrive and dock with the ISS on Wednesday morning (EDT) to begin a two-week stay aboard the orbiting laboratory. While aboard the station, the crew is scheduled to perform four extra-vehicular activities, or spacewalks, to install components to the exterior of the ISS.

Endeavour is scheduled to land for the final time on June 1st.

Mission commander Mark Kelly is the husband of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was wounded in the 2011 Tucson shooting. Rep. Giffords flew to Kennedy Space Center to witness the launch.

The launch was originally scheduled for April 29, but was delayed hours before the launch after the discovery of a technical problem that required that the launch be scrubbed in order to be fixed.

Before liftoff, commander Mark Kelly shared his thoughts on the mission: “As Americans, we endeavour to build a better life than the generation before and endeavour to be a united nation. In those efforts we are often tested. This mission represents the power of teamwork, commitment and exploration. It is in the DNA of our country to reach for the stars and explore. We must not stop.”

Approximately 500,000 spectators came to Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the launch, but a passenger aboard a commercial flight from New York to Palm Beach, Stefanie Gordon, obtained video from her seat on the airplane.

STS-134 is the 25th and final mission of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, and the 134th and penultimate mission of the Space Shuttle Program. Endeavour, NASA’s youngest space shuttle, was originally built to replace the Space Shuttle Challenger after the 1986 disaster that killed its seven crewmembers during the ill-fated launch of the STS-51-L mission. Endeavour’s first flight was STS-49 in May 1992.

There is only one scheduled shuttle mission remaining after STS-134, which will be STS-135. That mission, using Space Shuttle Atlantis, is currently scheduled for a July launch.

“Today’s final launch of Endeavour is a testament to American ingenuity and leadership in human spaceflight,” commented NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, who is a former astronaut and veteran of four spaceflights himself. “As we look toward a bright future with the International Space Station as our anchor and new destinations in deep space on the horizon, we salute the astronauts and ground crews who have ensured the orbiter’s successful missions. The presence of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords at the launch inspired us all, just as America’s space program has done for the past 50 years.”



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Shriver speaks out over Schwarzenegger’s affair and love child

Shriver speaks out over Schwarzenegger’s affair and love child

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Arnold Schwarzenegger (File photo)

Maria Shriver has broken her silence and spoken out after revelations her husband Arnold Schwarzenegger had an affair and fathered a love child with a household staff member 10 years ago.

“This is a painful and heartbreaking time,” she said in a statement released to American news organizations. “As a mother, my concern is for the children. I ask for compassion, respect and privacy as my children and I try to rebuild our lives and heal.”

Shriver, 55, and Schwarzenegger, 63, have four children together: Katherine, 21, Christina, 19, Patrick, 17, and Christopher, 13.

On their Twitter accounts, the couple’s children expressed their feelings. Patrick, who changed his name on the account from Schwarzenegger to Shriver, wrote, “Some days you feel like shit, some days you want to quit and just be normal for a bit, yet i love my family till death do us apart. #family.”

Katherine, the eldest of the four children, wrote, “This is definitely not easy but I appreciate your love and support as i begin to heal and move forward in life. I will always love my family!”

The former California first couple’s split went public yesterday after Schwarzenegger, admitted to fathering a child with a member of their household staff.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the staff member, whose name will not be released for her and her child’s privacy, worked for the family for 20 years, retiring in January.

Cquote1.svg Some days you feel like shit, some days you want to quit and just be normal for a bit, yet i love my family till death do us apart. #family. Cquote2.svg

—Patrick Schwarzenegger’s tweet

“After leaving the governor’s office I told my wife about this event, which occurred over a decade ago,” Schwarzenegger said in the statement on Monday night to the Los Angeles Times.

“I understand and deserve the feelings of anger and disappointment among my friends and family,” Schwarzenegger said. “There are no excuses and I take full responsibility for the hurt I have caused. I have apologised to Maria, my children and my family. I am truly sorry.”

In his statement, Schwarzenegger, most famous for his role in the Terminator movies, asked the media to respect his privacy and to “respect my wife and children through this extremely difficult time.”

“While I deserve your attention and criticism, my family does not,” he said.



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Former Louisiana Tech University President F. Jay Taylor dies aged 87

Former Louisiana Tech University President F. Jay Taylor dies aged 87

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

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Taylor was President at the University for 25 years

F. Jay Taylor, the former president of Louisiana Tech University, died Sunday aged 87. Taylor held the post from 1962 until his retirement in 1987. During his tenure, Taylor made major changes to the university, securing funds to improve campus infrastructure. He started his career as a historian and was also a Naval aviator who served during World War II.

Dan Reneau, the current president of the university and vice president under Taylor, released a statement shortly after Taylor’s death. He paid tribute to the former president, saying, “Dr. Taylor was a great leader and great president. I was privileged to serve seven years under him as vice president. A senior statesman and point guard in the Tech family has fallen, and we will miss him greatly.”

While president of Louisiana Tech, Taylor worked on adding buildings to the site, as well as improving the school’s athletics program. He said in a 2003 interview that “[his] goal was to help bring Louisiana Tech onto the national and international scene.”

Taylor is survived by his wife, Lou. Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.



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Elizabeth II begins state visit to Ireland amid protests, security fears

Filed under: Archived,Europe,Ireland,Politics and conflicts — admin @ 5:00 am

Elizabeth II begins state visit to Ireland amid protests, security fears

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

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File photograph of Elizabeth II.
Image: NASA.

Cquote1.svg It is 100 years since a British monarch has been in Ireland. Many thought a king or queen would never be welcomed back. Cquote2.svg

Mark Simpson, BBC reporter

The Garden of Rememberance in Dublin, where Elizabeth laid a wreath commemorating Irish republicans who fought for independence.
Image: Infernalfox.

Elizabeth II has begun the first state visit by a British monarch to Ireland and yesterday laid a wreath at the Garden of Rememberance in Dublin, which commemorates Irish republicans who fought for independence. The tour comes amid protests by republicans and a massive security crackdown—this morning the Irish Army destroyed a pipe bomb on a bus destined for the capital described as “viable”.

Mary McAleese, the president of Ireland, greeted Elizabeth—wearing a jade green outfit—and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, when she arrived at Aras an Uachtarain after landing at Baldonnel military airbase yesterday morning. The Irish tricolour and the Union flag flew above the home of the president; Elizabeth was welcomed with a flypast and 21 gun salute.

After lunch, she was shown the Book of Kells—an ancient Latin manuscript containing the gospels of the New Testament—at Trinity College. Arriving at the Garden of Remembrance shortly afterwards, she bowed her head stood for a moment of silence after laying a wreath to remember Irish republicans who fought for independence against British rule. The laying of the wreath is seen as a hugely symbolic moment in the first visit to the country by a British monarch since 1911, when George V travelled to Ireland while it was still part of the United Kingdom.

While most of Ireland seems to support the visit by the head of the British monarchy, the military and the Garda have launched the largest security operation in the history of the country amid fears republican dissidents might launch an attack. More than 6,000 police and soldiers have been deployed in Dublin, and much of the city has been closed off. On Monday night, a bomb—described as “viable”—was found in the luggage compartment of a bus in County Kildare. All the passengers were evacuated from the bus and the Irish army later performed a controlled explosion on the device to make it safe. Police in London also warned on Monday they had received a bomb threat, which, according to sources, was from republican dissidents and was written in code.

Hundreds of republican protesters opposed to the peace process clashed with Garda on the streets of Dublin yesterday, throwing cans, bottles and fireworks at police lines. Riot officers fought off demonstrators throwing bricks, and 21 protesters were arrested. “Whatever the turnout the problem in Ireland has not gone away, namely the British presence in the north of our country,” Ruarai O’Bradaigh, a prominent republican dissident and a former chief of staff at the IRA, said. “Resistance to that presence just like the presence of the English Queen will continue.”

The visit is to last four days, during which time Elizabeth is to visit Croke Park, a football stadium where British forces fired on football supporters in 1920 during the Irish War of Independence, killing 14 players and spectators. She is also to travel to County Tipperary to see the Rock of Cashel and will see the Irish National Stud in County Kildare. Although there have been small demonstrations, journalists in Ireland say the mood is largely supportive of the visit. “It was one small step for the Queen—one huge moment in British-Irish history. It is 100 years since a British monarch has been in Ireland. Many thought a king or queen would never be welcomed back,” Mark Simpson, a BBC reporter, said. “Whatever the security concerns, this has been a landmark moment in Dublin. In truth, it’s one that most people living in Ireland today thought they would never see.”



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Dominique Strauss-Kahn refused bail after appearance in New York court

Dominique Strauss-Kahn refused bail after appearance in New York court

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File photograph of Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
Image: Guillaume Paumier.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund, has been refused bail after appearing in court in New York charged with sexually assaulting a chambermaid at a hotel in Manhattan. The decision by the judge to remand him in custody yesterday will likely disrupt emergency talks over the European debt crisis, demolish hopes that he will challenge Nicolas Sarkozy for the French presidency, and spell the end of his political career.

In court, Strauss-Kahn appeared sombre and tired. The judge agreed with the argument by the prosecution that the French politician was a flight risk after he reportedly tried to flee the country on a passenger jet for Paris. The defence said Strauss-Kahn denied the charges against him and offered $1,000,000 bail and said he would reside in Manhattan with an electronic bracelet, but the judge refused. Afterwards, defence lawyer Benjamin Brafman said: “This battle has just begun.”

The politician appeared in court charged with three crimes, including attempted rape, after a chambermaid told detectives she had been sexually assaulted by Strauss-Kahn in a luxury hotel near Times Square. “The maid described being forcibly attacked, locked in the room and sexually assaulted,” a spokesperson for the New York Police Department said. Detectives said the politician was detained in the first class cabin of the passenger plane which was minutes from leaving for Paris. Strauss-Kahn had reportedly fled the hotel “in a hurry” after the attack, leaving a number of personal effects behind.

Prosecutors have last night announced they are investigating claims made by a French author, Tristane Banon, that she was sexually assaulted by Strauss-Kahn in 2002. At the time, her mother—socialist councillor Anne Mansouret— persuaded her not to press charges against him, but yesterday she told French television that Strauss-Kahn had an “addiction” to “preying” on women, and had “a difficulty in controlling his impulses.” The author’s lawyer has announced he is planning to file a complaint with Banon to officials about the alleged attack. Kahn can be convicted and sentenced over the alleged attacks on the chambermaid and on Banon because he does not have diplomatic immunity.

Strauss-Kahn was considered a serious contender and was expected to announce his candidacy against Sarkozy this month, but the allegations are expected to destroy the hopes of his supporters, increase infighting among the French left, and leave his political career in tatters. His arrest comes at a critical moment for the IMF, and will likely plunge efforts to stabilise the financial states of struggling eurozone countries into chaos. Strauss-Kahn was meant to discuss the bailouts of Greece and Portugal with European Union financial officials at a meeting in Brussels this week.



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  • “IMF head remains in New York prison; charged over alleged hotel sex attack” — Wikinews, May 16, 2011

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