Shuttle heads into orbit
Space shuttle Endeavour blasted off Thursday night carrying five astronauts and giant solar wings for the international space station. The shuttle rose promptly from its seaside pad at 9:06 p.m. CST in a brilliant blaze of light that turned night into day for miles around. It resembled a bright star as it soared through a clear sky into orbit. The space station, Alpha, was 230 miles above the Indian Ocean at liftoff, its residents supposedly asleep. Endeavour will catch up with the station on Saturday. Once unfurled, the wings will stretch 240 feet from tip to tip, and 38 feet across, constituting the largest structure ever deployed in space.
WTO protests pass peacefully
A boisterous crowd of roughly 2,000 spilled into a downtown park Thursday, chanting and blocking some traffic during rush hour, to mark the anniversary of the riotous protest that stalled World Trade Organization meetings here last year.
Despite the vandalism of several Starbucks coffee shops earlier in the week, Thursday's demonstrations were mostly quiet and lighthearted a far cry from the tear gas, riot squads and chaos of 1999. Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske even provided a motorcycle escort for a cardboard anniversary cake 5 feet tall and 6 feet wide that was carried to a park by about a half-dozen activists.
Unruly passenger arrested
An airline passenger accused of throwing a beer can and a cup of ice at a flight attendant was arrested and 15 other passengers were detained Thursday after their plane made an emergency stop in Albuquerque, the FBI said. The America West flight carrying 165 passengers and six crew members was headed for Las Vegas from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Julio Calero, 32, of Miami, was charged with committing a crime aboard an aircraft and interfering with the flight crew, FBI spokesman Doug Beldon said. He described the incident as alcohol-related.
Crash kills kindergartner
A bus packed with children overturned within sight of their elementary school Thursday in Herndon, killing a 5-year-old kindergartner. More than 30 other children were taken to hospitals.
State Police Trooper Chuck Robertson said the bus carrying 47 children apparently ran off the shoulder of the road and the driver overcorrected, sending the bus across both lanes before it overturned.
The kindergartner, Tyler Powers, apparently was thrown from the bus. The others were helped out of the wreckage through emergency exits and the shattered front windshield.
Ford issues SUV recall
Ford Motor Co. is recalling 876,413 Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers to replace faulty parts on the suspension system. The recall affects 1995 through 1997 models of the Explorer and the 1997 Mountaineer, which have sway bar links that can break off, especially in cold climates. The sway bar connects the left and right front wheel control arms and helps control the pitch of the vehicle in turns.
The recall covers 846,591 Explorers and 29,822 Mountaineers. Ford will notify owners by mail and its dealers will provide free replacement links that are wider.