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Shutlle Discovery Enters Orbit to Rendezvous with ISS


US Space Shuttle: The U.S. space shuttle Discovery is in orbit, heading for a rendezvous Monday with the International Space Station.
Saturday's launch from (the U.S. state of) Florida was the U.S. space agency's first nighttime launch in four years.
NASA officials say Discovery's mission is one of the most complex flights ever attempted by the space agency. The mission includes rewiring the International Space Station, which has been running on a temporary electrical system since it went into orbit in 1998.
Astronauts on the shuttle will have to retract half the solar array that has been providing temporary power to make room for a new solar wings to power the space station. Two astronauts will make two spacewalks to make the electrical connections.

Iraq: Iraqi officials say gunmen have stormed into the homes of two Shi'ite families in Baghdad killing nine people.
Police say attackers broke into a home in the southwestern Jihad neighborhood today (Sunday) and shot dead five brothers. In another a second incident, gunmen entered a house in the same area and killed a man and his three sons.
It was not known if the attackers were from the same group or if the two families were related.
Clashes were also reported Sunday between Shi'ite militiamen and a Sunni Arab tribe in the nearby al-Amil neighborhood.

Rumsfeld – Iraq: The Pentagon says outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has made a surprise farewell trip to Iraq.
A spokesman said Saturday that Rumsfeld is in Iraq to thank U.S. troops and their families for the sacrifices they are making.
The spokesman gave no other details of Rumsfeld's schedule.
Rumsfeld resigned in November, one day after the Republicans lost control of Congress in the mid-term elections. His successor, former C.I.A. director Robert Gates, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Wednesday and will take over as Defense Secretary later this month.

Bush – Iraq: President Bush is considering several options on the situation in Iraq, including recommendations of the bi-partisan Iraq Study Group.
In his weekly radio address Saturday, Mr. Bush said he will seriously consider the panel's recommendations. The president said he will also consider Iraq policy reviews by the U.S. State Department, the Pentagon and the National Security Council.
As part of the president's strategic review, he plans to meet this week with senior State Department officials, military commanders, and independent experts on Iraq.
Meanwhile, opposition Democrats continue to push for Mr. Bush to adopt many of the recommendations of the respected bi-partisan Iraq Study Group. In his party's weekly address (Saturday), the incoming chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee said the U.S. must begin to change its strategy in the war-torn country.

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