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In brief: Report says Iran hangs rebels

TEHRAN, Iran – Iran’s state radio said authorities have hanged in public 14 members of a Sunni Muslim rebel group blamed for bombings and killings in southeastern Iran.

The report today said the executions took place in the city of Zahedan, some 930 miles southeast of Iran’s capital Tehran. The 14 included Abdulhamid Rigi, brother of Abdulmalik Rigi, the leader of Jundallah, or soldiers of God, a Sunni Muslim group that Iran says has close ties to “foreign forces” in neighboring Afghanistan, a possible reference to the al-Qaida terror group.

Shuttle launch delayed again

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Thunderstorms once again forced NASA to call off the launch of space shuttle Endeavour on Monday, the fifth delay for the space station construction mission.

NASA said it would try again Wednesday.

In a scene nearly identical to Sunday, launch managers halted the countdown just minutes before Endeavour and seven astronauts were supposed to blast off. This time, storms packed with lightning popped up on opposite sides of the launching site, close enough to violate NASA’s safety rules.

Hole in jetliner forces landing

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Southwest Airlines is inspecting nearly 200 of its aircraft overnight after a hole in the fuselage of a plane forced an emergency landing in West Virginia.

Charleston, W.Va., airport spokesman Brian Belcher said passengers on the 737 aircraft could see the outside through the 1-foot-by-1-foot hole in the rear of the plane. The cabin lost pressure, but no one was injured. The flight, which originated in Nashville and was headed to Baltimore, landed safely in Charleston Monday evening. It’s not clear what caused the damage.

Southwest Airlines Co. spokeswoman Marilee McInnis said the company is inspecting all of its 737-300s overnight as a precaution. Service today shouldn’t be affected. The 137-seater makes up about a third of the carrier’s fleet of 544 jets.

Episcopals vote to affirm gay clergy

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Episcopalians are moving toward affirming an open role for gay and lesbian clergy in their church despite pressure from fellow Anglicans not to do so.

Episcopal bishops voted at a national meeting Monday for a statement that says “God has called and may call” gays and lesbians to ministry. Delegates to the meeting already approved a nearly identical statement. This latest version is likely to be approved by Friday.

Episcopalians caused an uproar in 2003 by consecrating the first openly gay bishop. That decision has nearly split the world Anglican Communion, which includes Episcopalians.

To calm tensions, Episcopal leaders three years ago had urged restraint by dioceses considering gay candidates for bishop. No openly gay bishops have been consecrated since then.