A memorial service will honor the seven crew members of the space shuttle Columbia Tuesday at the Johnson Space Center near Houston, with President Bush scheduled to attend. The president met Monday with NASA chief Sean O'Keefe to discuss the shuttle's loss. The US space agency said initial data point to a problem with heat- resistant tiles designed to protect the craft during reentry to Earth's atmosphere. NASA officials also said remains of all seven astronauts have been found as a massive hunt for debris continued in Texas and Louisiana.
A respected former Navy admiral will lead an independent inquiry on the shuttle disaster, NASA announced. Adm. Harold Gehman formerly headed the investigation into the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, although officials stressed that preliminary evidence does not suggest a terrorist attack on Columbia. NASA is conducting an internal review, and the House and Senate plan hearings.
Bush submitted a $2.23 trillion spending plan to Congress that would boost funding for the military, homeland security, and NASA, and accelerate tax cuts. But it would impose "spending discipline" on programs such as Medicare. The fiscal 2004 budget also projects a record deficit of $304 billion for this year and a five-year total of $1.08 trillion - without taking into account the cost of a possible war with Iraq - and drew swift condemnation from Democrats.
While the Bush administration prefers Iraq's peaceful disarmament, it "will not shrink from war," Secretary of State Powell wrote in a commentary in the The Wall Street Journal. Powell added that his presentation of intelligence data to the UN Security Council won't contain any "smoking gun" but will show that Saddam Hussein's regime has engaged in a "pattern of deception" and has failed to fully disclose its weapons programs, and to cooperate "immediately, unconditionally, and actively" with UN inspectors.
Manufacturing activity in the US slowed last month, but not as much as analysts predicted. The Institute for Supply Management said it's manufacturing index slipped to 53.9 in January from 55.2 in December. A reading above 50 indicates growth.
Tyson Foods Inc., the world's largest meat-processor, goes on trial Tuesday in Chattanooga, Tenn., on charges of conspiring to smuggle illegal immigrants to work at its poultry plants in nine states. Among those scheduled to testify are two ex-managers and a former worker from a facility in Shelbyville, Tenn., who struck plea deals with prosecutors. Tyson, based in Springdale, Ark., denies any corporate scheme to hire undocumented workers and maintains that any managers who did so acted on their own.