April 28, 2011 in Nation/World

In brief: Giffords arrives for Florida launch


Cape Canaveral, Fla. – Rep. Gabrielle Giffords left hospitals behind Wednesday for the first time since her shooting nearly four months ago and traveled to NASA territory for the next-to-last space shuttle launch with her husband in command.

“Gabby is looking forward to some time away from the rehab center & the chance to see Captain Mark Kelly launch again!” Giffords’ staff posted on her Facebook page.

Space shuttle Endeavour is due to blast off Friday afternoon with Kelly at the helm.

Giffords flew by NASA jet from Houston to Florida’s Space Coast.

New waterways rules proposed

Traverse City, Mich. – The Obama administration proposed new guidelines Wednesday that would boost the government’s ability to protect streams, wetlands and other sensitive waterways from pollution.

Business and property rights groups said the policy would stifle economic growth by generating more red tape for builders of homes and shopping centers, but environmentalists defended it as essential step to provide clean drinking water and protect waterfowl habitat.

Administration officials said their goal was to clarify which waters are subject to federal regulation under the 1972 Clean Water Act, a question that two Supreme Court rulings in the past decade have not resolved.

EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers said the plan would not take effect until after a 60-day public comment period.

Heller appointed to Senate seat

Carson City, Nev. – U.S. Rep. Dean Heller will enter next year’s U.S. Senate race from the perch of incumbency after Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval on Wednesday named Heller to succeed John Ensign next month.

Heller’s appointment was anticipated and sets up a political scramble on how his House seat will be filled.

Ensign, 53, has been dogged by an ethics investigation after acknowledging in 2009 to having an extramarital affair with a former staffer. Last week he abruptly announced his resignation effective May 3.

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