WASHINGTON – Embattled New York Rep. Anthony Weiner’s prospects for political survival dimmed precipitously on Wednesday with the appearance on the Internet of an X-rated photo said to be of the congressman – and the first calls from fellow Democrats for him to step down.
“In light of Anthony Weiner’s offensive behavior online, he should resign,” Pennsylvania Rep. Allyson Schwartz, a member of the party campaign committee’s leadership, said in a statement that was quickly followed by similar expressions from other Democrats.
Separately, several officials said that Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, was pregnant. An official at the State Department, where Abedin serves as deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, had no comment. Abedin was traveling with Clinton on an official trip to the Mideast and Africa.
Weiner, 46, has admitted sending explicit photos and messages via the Internet to about a half-dozen women over the past three years.
Gas pipeline leak report criticized
SAN FRANCISCO – The head of the federal agency investigating a deadly pipeline explosion scolded Pacific Gas & Electric Co. on Wednesday for taking nearly nine months to report that there had been a gas leak near the disaster site years earlier.
Deborah Hersman, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said she was “disappointed” and “frustrated” that the information came so late in the ongoing investigation of the September blast, which killed eight people and destroyed 38 houses in San Bruno, a suburb south of San Francisco.
“This investigation has been in high-priority mode,” Hersman said as she toured the disaster site and met with people who lost homes and loved ones. “This is information that should have been provided earlier.”
Staffers discovered paperwork on May 20 documenting a leak in the same pipeline in 1988, nine to 10 miles south of the explosion site, PG&E spokesman Brian Swanson said.
WASHINGTON – NASA’s top watchdog warned Wednesday that the agency’s next major mission to Mars, an SUV-sized science rover, could miss its fall launch date because of technical problems – another delay to a project already late and over budget.
Of particular concern is the possibility that the rover’s drill bit could contaminate the rock and soil samples it obtains and undermine the prime mission of the Mars Science Laboratory, answering whether Mars could support life. Also worrisome to NASA Inspector General Paul Martin were problems with the rover’s flight software and backup systems.
These and other glitches could impact whether the $2.5 billion project, already at least $900 million over budget and two years late, launches on time from Kennedy Space Center.
Investigators also raised concerns about the rover’s power output and whether it will be affected by a rough landing on the Martian surface, now planned for August 2012.
Lightning sends 77 cadets to hospital
CAMP SHELBY, Miss. – Two Air Force Reserve cadets were taken to a hospital by ambulance and 75 others by bus after a lightning strike Wednesday at a southern Mississippi military training base, a spokeswoman said.
Air Force Reserve cadets from around the country were at the Joint Forces Training Center for two weeks of work, said Army National Guard Maj. Deidre Musgrave. All were responsive and stable after the lightning hit about 2 p.m., she said.
Forrest County emergency operations director Terry Steed said nobody was directly hit when lightning hit a power pole near tents.