Leak ruins NASA moon rocket launch bid; next try weeks away
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA’s new moon rocket sprang another dangerous fuel leak Saturday, forcing launch controllers to call off their second attempt this week to send a crew capsule into lunar orbit with test dummies. The inaugural flight is now off for weeks, if not months.
The previous try on Monday at launching the 322-foot (98-meter) Space Launch System rocket, the most powerful ever built by NASA, was also troubled by hydrogen leaks, though they were smaller. That was on top of leaks detected during countdown drills earlier in the year.
After the latest setback, mission managers decided to haul the rocket off the pad and into the hangar for further repairs and system updates. Some of the work and testing may be performed at the pad before the rocket is moved. Either way, several weeks of work will be needed, according to officials.
With a two-week launch blackout period looming in just a few days, the rocket is now grounded until late September or October. NASA will work around a high-priority SpaceX astronaut flight to the International Space Station scheduled for early October.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson stressed that safety is the top priority, especially on a test flight like this where everyone wants to verify the rocket’s systems “before we put four humans up on the top of it.”
How Archives went from ‘National Treasure’ to political prey
WASHINGTON (AP) — It was the setting for “National Treasure,” the movie in which Nicolas Cage’s character tries to steal the Declaration of Independence. It has long been among the most trafficked tourist destinations in the nation’s capital.
But what the National Archives and Records Administration has never been — until now — is the locus of a criminal investigation of a former president.
Yet that’s exactly where the agency finds itself after sending a referral to the FBI stating that 15 boxes recovered from former President Donald Trump’s Florida home in January contained dozens of documents with classified markings.
“I don’t think Donald Trump has politicized the National Archives,” said Tim Naftali, the first director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. “I think what Donald Trump did was cross red lines that civil servants had to respond to.”
Those government workers operate out of the public eye, behind the marble façade of the Archives building in downtown Washington. It’s there, beyond the Hollywood plotlines, where a crucial component of the federal bureaucracy resides, with dozens of employees acting as the custodians of American history, preserving records that range from the mundane to the monumental.
Crash threat over Mississippi skies ends with pilot’s arrest
RIPLEY, Miss. (AP) — An airport worker who knew how to take off but not land stole a small airplane Saturday and threatened to crash it into a Walmart, circling for five hours over unnerved Mississippians before ending the flight safely in a soybean field where police arrested him.
Cory Wayne Patterson, 29, was uninjured after the rough landing shortly after posting a goodbye message to his parents and sister on Facebook, authorities said at a news conference. The message said he “never actually wanted to hurt anyone.”
After an anxious morning of watching the plane’s meandering path overhead, Tupelo Mayor Todd Jordan called the resolution “the best case scenario.”
No one was injured.
Patterson was employed fueling planes at the Tupelo Regional Airport, giving him access to the twin-engine Beechcraft King Air C90A, police Chief John Quaka said.
Trump moves to general election mode with Pennsylvania rally
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) — Larry Mitko voted for Donald Trump in 2016. But the Republican from Beaver County in western Pennsylvania says he has no plans to back his party’s nominee for Senate, Dr. Mehmet Oz — “no way, no how.”
Mitko doesn’t feel like he knows the celebrity heart surgeon, who only narrowly won his May primary with Trump’s backing. Instead, Mitko plans to vote for Oz’s Democratic rival, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a name he’s been familiar with since Fetterman’s days as mayor of nearby Braddock.
“Dr. Oz hasn’t showed me one thing to get me to vote for him,” he said. “I won’t vote for someone I don’t know.”
Mitko’s thinking underscores the political challenges facing Trump and the rest of the Republican Party as the former president shifts to general election mode with a rally Saturday night in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, the first of the fall campaign.
While the rally was organized to bolster Oz and Doug Mastriano, the GOP’s hard-line nominee for governor of Pennsylvania, it was Trump’s first rally since the FBI’s search of his Mar-a-Lago club, and Trump spent part of the evening railing against it.
Gorbachev buried in Moscow in funeral snubbed by Putin
MOSCOW (AP) — Russians who came for a last look at former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on Saturday mourned both the man and his policies that gave them hope. President Vladimir Putin claimed to be too busy to attend.
Gorbachev, who died Tuesday at age 91, launched drastic reforms that helped end the Cold War. But he also precipitated the breakup of the Soviet Union, which Putin had called the 20th century’s “greatest geopolitical catastrophe.”
The farewell viewing of his body in an ostentatious hall near the Kremlin was shadowed by the awareness that the openness Gorbachev championed has been stifled under Putin.
“I want to thank him for my childhood of freedom, which we don’t have today,” said mourner Ilya, a financial services worker in his early 30s who declined to give his last name.
“I am a son of perestroika,” he said, using the Russian word for Gorbachev’s reform, or reconstruction, initiatives.
Ukraine’s nuclear plant partly goes offline amid fighting
ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine (AP) — The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog said Saturday that the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine was disconnected to its last external power line but was still able to run electricity through a reserve line amid sustained shelling in the area.
International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Grossi said in a statement that the agency’s experts, who arrived at Zaporizhzhia on Thursday, were told by senior Ukrainian staff that the fourth and last operational line was down. The three others were lost earlier during the conflict.
But the IAEA experts learned that the reserve line linking the facility to a nearby thermal power plant was delivering the electricity the plant generates to the external grid, the statement said. The same reserve line can also provide backup power to the plant if needed, it added.
“We already have a better understanding of the functionality of the reserve power line in connecting the facility to the grid,” Grossi said. “This is crucial information in assessing the overall situation there.”
In addition, the plant’s management informed the IAEA that one reactor was disconnected Saturday afternoon because of grid restrictions. Another reactor is still operating and producing electricity both for cooling and other essential safety functions at the site and for households, factories and others through the grid, the statement said.
Flashbacks: Charred California town no stranger to wildfire
WEED, Calif. (AP) — Her home destroyed, dog missing, and 10-year relationship with her boyfriend recently ended – all Naomi Vogelsang could do on Saturday was sit outside of a Northern California wildfire evacuation center with $20 in her pocket, waiting for a ride to the casino.
“It can’t be any worse,” she said.
Vogelsang is one of thousands of people displaced this week by California’s latest inferno, this time in the small community of Weed about 280 miles (451 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco. Most visitors know this town as a novelty, a place to stop while traveling on Interstate 5 and buy an ironic T-shirt.
But for the people who live here, the past few years have introduced another worry in a world full of them: Dark skies, swirling ash and flames that race so quickly they leave little time for escape.
This time it was a blaze known as the Mill Fire. Flames raced from Roseburg Forest Products, which makes wood products, into the Lincoln Heights neighborhood where a significant number of homes burned and residents had to flee for their lives on Friday afternoon. The blaze spread to more than 6.6 square miles (17 square kilometers) by Saturday evening and was 25% contained.
Border patrol: 9 migrants die crossing swift Texas river
Officials on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border searched for more victims Saturday after at least nine migrants died while trying to cross the rain-swollen Rio Grande, a dangerous border-crossing attempt in an area where the river level had risen by more than 2 feet in a single day.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Mexican officials discovered the victims near Eagle Pass, Texas, on Thursday, following days of heavy rains. U.S. officials recovered six bodies, while Mexican teams recovered three, according to a CBP statement. It is one of the deadliest drownings on the U.S.-Mexico border in recent history.
The river, which was a little more than 3 feet (90 centimeters) deep at the start of the week, reached more than 5 feet (1.5 meters) on Thursday, and the water was flowing five times faster than usual, according to the National Weather Service.
The CBP said U.S. crews rescued 37 others from the river and detained 16 more, while Mexican officials took 39 migrants into custody.
CBP did not say what country or countries the migrants were from and did not provide any additional information on rescue and search operations. Local agencies in Texas that were involved have not responded to requests for information.
Attack raises doubts about Argentine VP’s security protocols
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Every day for the past two weeks, the routine was the same: Argentina’s powerful Vice President Cristina Fernández was met by a crowd of feverish supporters who wanted to touch their leader. And every day she obliged and approached them.
But on Thursday the routine pressing of the flesh took a sinister turn when a man in the sea of supporters pointed a handgun inches from the vice president’s face and pulled the trigger with a distinct click.
The loaded .38-caliber semiautomatic weapon evidently jammed, and the suspect was arrested. Now the apparent assassination attempt is raising questions about whether the most influential woman in Argentine politics for the past two decades should change her relationship with the many loyal followers who constantly seek a handshake or autograph.
“Cristina was cornered,” said Silvana Venegas, a 43-year-old woman who witnessed the event. “She was easy prey, very easy.”
For a few minutes afterward, Fernández continued signing autographs and waving. Her security detail seized the gunman but did not remove her from the area.
No. 2 Ohio State wears down No. 5 Notre Dame 21-10
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — With its vaunted offense bogged down, No. 2 Ohio State leaned on its revamped defense in a top-five opener against a former Buckeye that tested its toughness.
C.J. Stroud threw two touchdown passes and Ohio State shut out No. 5 Notre Dame over the final 42 minutes in a gritty 21-10 victory on Saturday night.
“The story of the night was the defense, to turn around and play the way they did after what’s been said about them in the off-season, questioning their toughness, and play the way they did against the No. 5 team in the country … I thought the energy was off the charts for the defense tonight,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said.
The first regular-season meeting of the storied programs since 1996 was a homecoming for first-year Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman. The former Buckeyes linebacker has made a meteoric rise to lead the Fighting Irish at the age of 36.
Freeman is 0-2 as a head coach after losing a bowl game just weeks after being named Brian Kelly’s successor.
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