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In brief: Colson in critical condition after surgery

Lansdowne, Va. – Charles Colson, a key figure in the Watergate scandal who later founded a prison ministry, is in critical condition following brain surgery, according to his organization.

Prison Fellowship said the 80-year-old Colson underwent surgery Saturday to remove a pool of clotted blood on the surface of his brain. The group said he became ill Friday night while speaking at a conference.

The group’s statement Tuesday said he is listed in critical condition but has shown “some early signs of potential for recovery.” Spokeswoman Kelsey Hulgan said he is in a hospital in northern Virginia.

Colson was a special counsel to President Richard Nixon who went to prison for his role in a Watergate-related case and became a Christian evangelist for fellow inmates.

Delta rocket carrying top-secret payload

Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. – A rocket carrying a top-secret payload blasted off Tuesday from the California coast.

The Delta IV rocket lifted off at 4:12 p.m. from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, about 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

“We’ve just seen the successful liftoff” of the rocket, launch commentator Don Spencer said in a webcast.

Since the launch involved a classified cargo for the National Reconnaissance Office, no details were immediately available about whether it was boosted to its intended orbit.

The reconnaissance office, which oversees the nation’s constellation of spy satellites, has kept mum about the purpose of the mission and directed United Launch Alliance to cut off the live broadcast three minutes after liftoff.

Intelligence analysts think the rocket carried a radar imaging satellite capable of seeing at night and through bad weather.

In recent years, the United States has worked to phase out its fleet of older, heavier radar reconnaissance satellites with smaller but equally capable ones, said Charles Vick, a space policy analyst with the think tank.

One killed when crane falls in Manhattan

New York – The boom of a crane set up at a subway construction site came perilously off its base and crashed to the ground, killing a construction worker and injuring four other people Tuesday night, city officials said.

The worker was pronounced dead after the accident at the Manhattan construction site of the No. 7 subway line extension, officials said. One other person was hospitalized in serious condition and three people were treated for minor injuries, according to a Fire Department spokesman.

The crane was set up on the second of three levels on the construction site on Manhattan’s West Side, the city officials said. The FDNY said the boom came apart in two pieces – one 80 feet long and the other 40 feet long. The cause of the accident was under investigation.