January 21, 2011 in Nation/World

In brief: Rocket launched off West Coast


Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. – The largest rocket ever launched from the West Coast blasted off Thursday with a classified defense satellite on board.

The 235-foot-tall Delta IV Heavy Launch Vehicle lifted off at 1:10 p.m. carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office. The booster rose into the sky over California’s central coast and arced over the Pacific Ocean, a spectacle visible over a wide area.

United Launch Alliance, the joint venture of rocket builders Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co., said in a statement that the launch was a success.

This was the fifth launch of a Delta IV but the first from the West Coast. The other four launches were at Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Manson helper denied parole

Corona, Calif. – In a decision suggesting that the brutal Sharon Tate murders are unforgivable, a parole board panel on Thursday refused to consider releasing Patricia Krenwinkel, who told the board she was seeking the approval of Charles Manson when she participated in the killings.

The two-member panel made clear it was the horror of the killings, among the most notorious of the 20th century, that led them to reject the bid for parole in spite of Krenwinkel’s efforts to change her life.

They said the atrocious murders of seven people had affected the entire world – evidenced by letters which came in from around the globe urging that she be kept behind bars.

The parole board issued its decision after a four-hour hearing at which Krenwinkel wept, apologized for her murderous deeds and said she was ashamed of her actions.

Krenwinkel, 63, has been imprisoned longer than any other woman in California.

Obama’s approval ratings improve

Washington – President Barack Obama is enjoying a surge in public approval as he marks the midpoint of his first term, with independent voters who were instrumental to Republican victories in last year’s congressional elections beginning to swing back to the president.

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey released Wednesday night showed Obama’s job-approval rating at 53 percent, an 8-point jump from mid-December and his highest rating since July 2009. Surveys from CNN/Opinion Research and ABC News/Washington Post also put Obama’s approval rating above the 50 percent threshold.

Most heartening to the White House was the improvement of Obama’s numbers among self-identified independent voters. According to Gallup, 46 percent now approve of his performance, up from 41 percent during the lame-duck session and an all time low of 38 percent last July.

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