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NASA managers picked July 1 to launch the first space shuttle in almost a year. The decision to launch Discovery was made despite recommendations against a liftoff attempt by NASA's chief engineer and safety offices. Discovery, will try out inspection methods and repairs that were devised following the Columbia disaster of 2003.

Osama bin Laden's deputy called off a plan to release deadly gas into the New York subway system in 2003, according to a book excerpt released Sunday on Time magazine's website. The report says that US officials were aware of a plan by Al Quaeda that was cancelled 45 days before its execution and could have killed as many people as the Sept. 11 attacks. "We were aware of the plot and took appropriate precaution," Paul Browne, a New York Police Department spokesman said. The FBI and the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority declined comment.

Episcopalians were divided over the role of homosexuals in the church as they were set to choose a national leader on Sunday. The successor for presiding Bishop Griswold will inherit a church with declining membership . The new presiding bishop will be installed Nov. 4 at the Washington National Cathedral.

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New Orleans is unprepared for catastrophes 10 months after hurricane Katrina, and New York and Washington DC don't meet guidelines to respond to disaster almost 5 years after the 9/11 attacks, a federal security analysis showed. The analysis found that most American cities and states are not ready for terrorist attacks, natural disasters ,and other major emergencies. "Frankly, we just have not, in this country, put the premium on our level of catastrophe planning that is necessary to be ready for those wide-scale events," Homeland Security Undersecretary George Foresman told reporters.

The golden buffalo, symbol of the American West, will grace the nation's first gold coin. The coin, which will be slightly thicker and larger than a Kennedy half dollar, will contain one ounce of gold and will be designated a $50 gold piece. The US mint said it will start taking orders for the coin this coming week.

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