USA

Fresh from a vacation in Maine, President Bush visits Louisiana and Mississippi Monday for meetings with local officials and citizens to review what progress has been made since hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast Aug. 29, 2005. During Bush's visit to his parents' coastal retreat in Kennebunkport, about 700 antiwar demonstrators were blocked Saturday at a checkpoint near the family compound, where the president fished and biked during his first visit in two years.

NASA officials said they leaned toward delaying the launch of the space shuttle Atlantis until Tuesday and probably later in order to assess any possible damage from lightning on Friday. The strike, one of the most powerful ever at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., hit a wire used to protect the shuttle on the launch pad, but not the shuttle itself.

FedEx Express, operator of the world's largest cargo airline, reached a tentative new contract with its 4,700 pilots Sunday. Since negotiations stalled last October, the sides have operated under a 1999 contract. Details of the new agreement, which is subject to a vote of the pilots, were not announced.

In the lead-up to Tuesday's first anniversary of hurricane Katrina, about 500 people gathered at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans Saturday for an event dubbed Hands Around the Dome. The effort to encircle the facility, a symbol of desperation after the storm, came up short during a heavy downpour. The Superdome has undergone $140 million in renovations and will reopen Sept. 25 for a Saints football game.

Paul Salopek, a Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, was charged Saturday with espionage in Sudan while working on a freelance assignment for National Geographic. A judge in the war-torn province of Darfur granted a defense request to delay his trial until Sept. 10.

Defense Secretary Donald Rums-feld held a closed-door meeting Saturday in Alaska with an estimated 700 to 800 family members of soldiers whose duty in Iraq has been extended. According to insider accounts of the session, in which Rumsfeld was peppered with questions, he said he'd do everything he could to make sure that members of the 172nd Stryker Combat Brigade didn't have their Iraq duty extended further.

A Seattle engineering firm warned about problems with BP's Alaska oil pipelines more than four years ago, according to a draft report made to the state. It has surfaced as BP's Alaska operations are partially shut down because of a leaking pipeline discovered this month. The report was released during a grand jury investigation of a 200,000-gallon spill in March.

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