USA

Its 13-day mission to the International Space Station complete, the crew of the shuttle Atlantis made a final orbit of the laboratory Monday and beganthe return trip to Cape Canveral, Fla. Touchdown there is expected Wednesday. The Kennedy Space Center already is preparing the shuttle Endeavour for a March 11 launch to the space station.

The Department of Agriculture ordered the largest recall of frozen beef in US history – 143 million pounds – from a Chino, Calif., slaughterhouse, although officials said the threat to human health probably is small. Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., however, is the subject of an investigation into animal cruelty. The company supplies meat for school lunch programs.

Tornadoes and other strong storms cut a swath across Alabama and the panhandle of Florida Sunday, leveling houses, toppling trees, knocking out electricity to thousands of residents, and injuring at least 29 people – two of them seriously. Hardest hit was Prattville, Ala., where a Wal-Mart employee (above) looks at her overturned pickup truck.

District Attorney Craig Watkins of Dallas called a news conference Monday to discuss potentially sensational materials related to the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy that were found in a courthouse safe. Although some of the material purportedly is a transcript of a conversation between Lee Harvey Oswald, who shot Kennedy, and nightclub owner Jack Ruby, who then killed Oswald, critics suggested that it was part of a script for an uncompleted movie about the assassination.

The union representing 32,000 public school teachers across Puerto Rico planned to set a strike date Tuesday unless negotiations for a new contract have resumed by then. The teachers seek higher pay and improved working conditions from the Department of Education.

Police in Newark, N.J., were crediting a broad anticrime strategy for the city's first murder-free month in more than 40 years. Newark had averaged two homicides a week in recent years, with the rate spiking by 50 percent between 2002 and 2006. A teachers union that paid for billboards that read, "HELP WANTED: Stop the Killings in Newark Now!" said it would take them down.

Ryan Newman capitalized on a strategic error by rival driver Tony Stewart on the final lap of the Daytona 500 to win the premier race of the NASCAR circuit Sunday night. The victory was a first at Daytona for him and for the owner of his car, Roger Penske, whose drivers have won the Indianapolis 500, the crown jewel of open-wheel racing, a record 14 times.

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