ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Air Force has decertified a unit responsible for maintaining an estimated 2,000 nuclear warheads at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. Decertification means members of the 898th Munitions Squadron cannot perform their usual duties with nuclear weapons. A spokesman for the Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio said Wednesday the move wasn’t prompted by any risk to the public. He said qualified individuals from Air Force units based elsewhere will monitor nuclear weapons stored at Kirtland.
Florida: Problems on shuttle
NASA was assessing a cracked thermal tile and protruding ceramic ring Wednesday on the space shuttle Endeavour — two new problems that don’t appear serious but warrant extra attention. Engineers are trying to determine whether the spacer might come loose during re-entry and, if it did, whether it would slam into the rudder or orbital-maneuvering rockets. Officials said it’s too soon to know whether astronauts would need to attempt repairs. Boeing is a prime contractor for the shuttle program.
N. Carolina: Edwards tape
A former aide to John Edwards turned over the now infamous sex tape to a judge Wednesday, then faced tough questions from attorneys for the ex-presidential candidate’s mistress who were frustrated with his changing story about where the tapes had been kept. On top of that, Andrew Young said Elizabeth Edwards has threatened to sue him for contributing to the downfall of their marriage. Young’s attorneys turned over several items to be placed under seal, including an original videotape marked “special” that purportedly shows John Edwards in a sexual encounter with mistress Rielle Hunter. Young also turned over a copy of the tape.
Utah: Global warming vote
The Utah House has passed a resolution questioning the science behind global warming and calling for federal officials to stop policies aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The measure passed 56-17 on Tuesday and now goes to the state Senate. The resolution says the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to regulate carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act is based on questionable science and could hurt the economy.
Minnesota: Bush billboard
Former President George W. Bush has returned on a billboard funded by some people who apparently aren’t happy with the way things are going in Washington. The billboard’s tagline: “Miss me yet?” A billboard company manager said the message was purchased by a group of small business owners and people from the Twin Cities area who want to remain anonymous. She said the billboard overlooking Interstate 35 in Wyoming, Minn., is scheduled to stay up until at least the end of February.
New York: Ancient DNA test
Scientists have pieced together most of the DNA of a man who lived in Greenland about 4,000 years ago, a pioneering feat that revealed hints about his appearance and even an increased risk of baldness. It’s the first genome from an ancient human, showing the potential for what one expert called a time machine for learning about the biology of ancient people. Analysis suggests the Greenland man probably had type A-positive blood, brown eyes, darker skin than most Europeans, dry earwax, a boosted chance of going bald and several biological adaptations for weathering a cold climate, researchers report in today’s issue of the journal Nature.
Brazil: Heat wave kills 32
Thirty-two elderly people died in a southeastern Brazilian city this week because of a heat wave that has pushed temperatures to unseasonably high levels, a health official said Wednesday. All of the fatalities in Santos near Sao Paulo involved people between 60 and 90 years old with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or hypertension, the health ministry said. The first deaths were registered Monday, when the temperature in Santos reached 102 degrees. Temperatures were well above 86 degrees in the following days.
From Herald news services