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In brief: Count starts for shuttle flight

Sat., Aug. 22, 2009, midnight

Cape Canaveral, Fla. – NASA has begun the launch countdown for space shuttle Discovery.

The countdown clocks began ticking late Friday. Discovery is scheduled to blast off early Tuesday morning. Forecasters put the odds of acceptable conditions at 70 percent.

Discovery and a crew of seven will deliver about 17,000 pounds of supplies and equipment to the International Space Station.

NASA test director Steve Payne said the only outstanding issue is a shuttle power controller that had to be replaced, but so far, all the testing looks good.

Ex-VOA official faces charges

Washington – A former top official for Voice of America was indicted Friday on corruption charges, accused of taking thousands of dollars in concert and sports tickets in exchange for favors to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Horace Cooper, who is also a one-time aide to former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey, is accused of defrauding the government after getting choice seats to see ’N Sync, the Dixie Chicks and Bruce Springsteen, among others.

The indictment charges Cooper agreed to use his position at Voice of America – and his subsequent job at the Labor Department – to advance the interests of Abramoff and his clients.

Abramoff was sentenced in September 2008 to four years in prison on charges of mail fraud, conspiracy and tax evasion. Since pleading guilty in 2006, the once-powerful lobbyist has cooperated with an investigation of influence-peddling.


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