Once the Discovery mission is completed, NASA said the space shuttle program will be grounded again until a problem with the craft's foam insulation is resolved. On liftoff Tuesday, a chunk of foam peeled off Discovery's external fuel tank, but NASA does not believe the debris damaged the shuttle or jeopardized its 12-day mission. It acknowledged, however, that the incident could have caused serious damage, similar to that that led to the 2003 Columbia tragedy. On Thursday, in an unprecedented maneuver, Discovery performed a back flip before docking with the International Space Station to allow the crew to photograph the shuttle's underside.
At 3 a.m. Thursday, after a final push by the White House to win over reluctant Republicans, the House narrowly approved the Central American Free Trade Agreement. It eliminates tariffs on US exports to Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic. Labor unions lobbied hard against the agreement, which the Senate approved last month, and most House Democrats opposed it too.
Ahmed Ressam, the Algerian national who plotted to bomb Los Angeles International Airport on the eve of the millennium, was sentenced to 22 years in prison Wednesday in Seattle. In 1999 Ressam was arrested in Washington State as he drove off a ferry from British Columbia with 124 pounds of bomb-making materials. Initially, he cooperated with authorities in hopes of winning a reduced sentence, but he later stopped, citing the stress of solitary confinement.
A team of American, Canadian, and South African researchers said they've uncovered the embryos of a long-necked, plant-eating dinosaur (Massospondylus carinatus). The embryos, the oldest yet found, date to the beginning of the Jurassic Age 190 million years ago. The discovery stems from research begun three years ago of dinosaur eggs found in South Africa in 1978.
The variety of tuna, marlin, swordfish, and other big ocean predators has declined by as much as 50 percent over the past half-century due to overfishing, according to a report in Thursday's online edition of the journal Science. It said, however, that fish remain abundant in five areas, including two in the US - off Florida's east coast and south of Hawaii.
Teenagers in the US are more wired than ever, a new report compiled for the Pew Internet & American Life Project said. The study found that 90 percent of teens, through age 17, have online access, compared to 75 percent in 2000. About half with access use the Internet every day.