NASA aims for March 12 space shuttle launch

NASA is aiming to launch the space shuttle Discovery next month after repeated delays caused by critical valves.

Shuttle managers said Wednesday they hope to launch on March 12, a full month after the original launch date of Feb. 12.

If the shuttle isn't flying by March 13 or 14, it will have to wait until April to make way for a Russian Soyuz rocket that's supposed to blast off with a fresh crew for the international space station.

NASA kept postponing the launch after having problems with hydrogen gas valves. One of these valves broke during November's launch of Endeavour.

Discovery's three valves are being replaced with valves that engineers hope will be less likely to crack. NASA will review all the work next week before committing to a March launch.

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NY judge finds hedge-fund swindler competent

A federal judge in New York says a hedge-fund cheat is well enough to stand trial _ or plead guilty _ for skipping out on prison.

Judge Kenneth Karas, relying on a medical report from the Bureau of Prisons, said Friday there's no reason to think that 49-year-old Samuel Israel "is suffering from mental disease."

Israel's lawyer, Barry Bohrer, says Israel may plead guilty, but no commitment has been made.

Israel, of Armonk, went on the lam in June instead of surrendering for a 20-year prison sentence for bilking investors in the Stamford, Conn.-based Bayou funds. Israel faked his suicide and absconded for nearly a month before surrendering in Massachusetts.

Israel tried to plead guilty last year, but Karas ordered a medical evaluation instead.

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Man who faked SC death sentenced over bogus cash

A South Carolina man who was tracked to Indiana after faking his death has been sentenced to a year in federal prison for counterfeiting more than $65,000 to finance his life on the lam.

Julius "Butch" Nesbitt spent more than six weeks on the run before his January 2008 arrest at a friend's home in Terre Haute. Federal prosecutors say he and another man made the bogus bills that were passed in several states.

A federal judge in Indianapolis sentenced the 59-year-old Nesbitt, who pleaded guilty to the counterfeiting charges.

Nesbitt had faced drug charges in South Carolina when he cast his boat adrift in an inlet about 30 miles south of Myrtle Beach. His disappearance prompted a search over several days.

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Pub spirit is a western film star

THE ghostly figure of a COWBOY walks in front of a roaring fire in a haunted pub and is caught on video.


Spooky ... the ghost walks through the pub

Locals are convinced paranormal forces are at play and that the spooky sighting is definitely a GHOST.

Just visible is a Stetson style hat and a waistcoat. Caught as pals tested out the video mode on a new mobile phone, the strange presence was NOT seen until the recording was played back.

And landlords have told of similar spooky goings-on in the same pub in Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs. Spooked

Filmed by local Andy Willett and pals Macca and Vince Bundy, the bizarre footage spooked all three.

"It has to be a ghost," Mr Bundy, 43, said. "There is no other explanation." "We didn't see it while we were sitting there, only when we played the video.

"I couldn't believe it.

"You can make out a hat and a waistcoat. I've never seen a video as clear as this before. It's not a fake, it actually happened."

The Tunstall pub called the Ancient Briton, now a derelict site after it was targeted by arsonists, was thought to be HAUNTED.

Mr Bundy, who has hung on to the footage for three years, said: "One previous landlord told a local his young son used to talk to 'another little boy'.

"And one tenant's child spoke of a COWBOY who used to pick-up his socks."

Singer and UFO fan Robbie Williams used to live near the pub.

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Turkish plane crashes at Amsterdam airport

(CNN) -- A passenger jet carrying more than 130 people crashed into a field as it was coming into land in Amsterdam Wednesday. The Turkish Airlines Boeing 737-800 broke into three pieces on impact, but fatalities were initially thought to be minimal.

There were conflicting reports about whether anyone was killed on the plane, which had 127 passengers and seven crew members.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said one person was killed, according to the semi-official Anatolia news agency.

The airline spokesman and Turkish Transportation Minister Binali Yildirim said no one had died, but an airline official told CNN sister station CNN-Turk that at least one person was confirmed dead.

A news photographer at the scene said he saw an unknown number of bodies lying under a white blanket, said Maaike Voersma, a journalist with Dutch newspaper De Bers told CNN.

Twenty people were injured, said Candan Karlicetin, the airline's executive board chairman.

A passenger on the plane who spoke to Turkish network DHA said he saw injured people trapped and squeezed between the seats when he walked off the planeournalist Ivan Watson in Istanbul said Turkish media quoted one crash survivor as saying that the back of the plane hit the ground first. "He said it was not an extremely horrible situation, it was like being in turbulence. He said it was more like a sudden impact, then we stopped."

The Boeing 737-800, which originated from Istanbul, Turkey, was trying to land at Schiphol International Airport when it went down at about 10:40 a.m. local time, Dutch airport officials said.

Pictures from the scene showed the plane broken in three pieces. One tear was in front of the wing, splitting the "Turkish" logo in two, and a larger tear was farther back along he fuselage. Most of the injured were seated toward the back of the plane, which sustained the most damage, a passenger on the plane told Turkish station NTV. Many of the passengers simply walked off the plane through the cracks in the fuselage, witnesses told NTV. Images from the scene showed medics treating passengers on the ground next to the buckled hulk of the plane, while firefighters and police examined the aircraft.

Emergency exits were wide open and there was no signs of fire damage to the fuselage. Also visible was one of the aircraft's engines, apparently separated from the shattered remains of one of the wings.

The plane landed in a flat farmer's field near the airport, RTL journalist Greg Crouch told CNN. He said the weather at the time was partly sunny with no wind or rain.

Witnesses said they saw the nose of the plane pitch up suddenly before the crash, Crouch said.

A bank manager who was a passenger on the plane told NTV that there were no emergency announcements. The crew's last word to the cabin was an announcement to fasten seatbelts and prepare for landing, the bank manager said.

He said he felt the pilot giving more power to the engines before a sudden drop and then the crash. He described the crash as similar to a sudden impact that was over in a matter of seconds.

Kieran Daly, of Air Transport Intelligence said the impact had been severe but it could have been survivable because of the lack of fire. He added that there had been vast improvements in the materials used to build airplanes, meaning they did not burn as easily Daly also said that the Boeing 737-800 is a reliable aircraft that has been successful and safe in service.

"They really are pretty much state-of-the-art airliners with every imaginable technical benefit the industry has come up with over the years," Daly told CNN.

"You would be optimistic that they would be quite survivable in an accident." Daly said the Turkish aviation industry has a "pretty good record" of safety, and that Turkish Airlines, the national carrier, has a "very good record."

The airline's last accident was of a small commuter jet in 2003, he said. It was a fatal crash that happened at a remote airfield in eastern Turkey, he said. "Their mainline operation is safe," Daly said. "Their pilots are well thought of."

The last accident at Schiphol Airport happened in December 2003 when an EasyJet flight carrying 103 passengers to London collided while with a lamppost while taxiing during icy conditions, according to Aviation Safety Network's Web site. The crash caused significant damage to the aircraft, but no one was killed.

The other two most recent accidents at Schiphol -- in 1998 and 1997 -- also resulted in no fatalities, according to the network.

The last fatal incident at the Amsterdam airport happened in April 1994 when a KLM aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff as it tried to return to Schiphol. Three of the 24 passengers and crew members on board were killed.
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Brazil president tosses condoms to carnival crowd

Brazil's president is taking his nation's anti-AIDS campaign into his own hands.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva tossed out condoms to Carnival revelers early Monday during Rio's samba parades.

A presidential spokesman says Silva wanted to show the importance of Brazil's campaign to prevent the spread of AIDS.

Brazil is handing out 65 million free condoms this month; that's up from the usual 45 million.

Brazil is buying 1.2 billion condoms this year for its program, making it the world's biggest government buyer of prophylactics.

The spokesman talked on condition of anonymity, per department rules.

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Rio's Carnival hits high gear at samba showdown

Bubbles, feathers and glitter swirled on the first night of parades in Rio's Carnival, as the city's samba schools battled it out for top honors in what many bill as the world's largest party.

Brazilian celebrities and slum dwellers danced side by side as some samba schools put on brave faces amid the world financial crisis, replacing cash with creativity and enthusiasm.

"Carnival is our Thanksgiving," said Renato Teixeira, a 25-year-old construction worker attending the parades. "As long as we have a good showing in general, Rio's samba schools have accomplished a lot."

The first night of parades lasted from Sunday into early Monday morning.

At least four schools paraded with little special attention: It seemed most judges and television commentators were awaiting the appearance of the reigning champion Beija-Flor school. The school has won five of the last six titles and was not due to parade until just before dawn.

Local media have reported on financially strapped samba schools scaling back their productions, incorporating plastic bottle and other recyclables into floats.

"They say this is the year of the Carnival in crisis, but the party that lives inside us all has no price," said Miqueas Cherry, 30, a seamstress who helped create costumes for the Grande Rio samba school.

The $2.5 million samba-school parades are the centerpiece of the world's largest Carnival bash _ and schools compete fiercely to dominate the show.

Taking place over two nights, the parades feature the top 12 samba schools competing in front of 80,000 spectators at the Sambadrome stadium. The winning school earns bragging rights and massive attention from the local news media.

Hundreds of informal, around-the-clock street parties _ celebrations that many describe as the soul of Brazil's Carnival _ hummed along outside the stadium Sunday, with the largest gathering attracting more than a half-million people.

Samba schools also staged early parades Sunday in Sao Paulo, a business-oriented city that some Brazilians say is too straight-laced to throw a proper party.

But Swiss tourist Christoph Fischer, 42, seemed to appreciate the milder version of events, noting that in contrast to the anything-goes chaos of Rio's pre-Lent bash, "Carnival in Sao Paulo is very organized."

Fernando Angelo Reis, 35, a nurse from Sao Paulo, acknowledged that the city's celebrations lacked the exuberance of those in Rio, or even those in the cities of Salvador and Recife.

But "even though Carnival might be a little better in Rio, I wouldn't trade it for Carnival in Sao Paulo because of security issues," Reis said.

In Rio last week, armed men with guns and grenades invaded youth hostels, tying up scores of foreign tourists and robbing them.

Police have since reinforced patrols in tourist areas.

Associated Press Writer Carolina Escalera in Sao Paulo contributed to this report.

Terra U.S.A/AP

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Clinton urges stronger China ties


Hillary Clinton has called for a deeper US-China partnership, on her first overseas tour as US secretary of state.

Co-operation between the US and China on global issues such as the economy and climate change was "imperative", said Mrs Clinton in Beijing.

She said that these would take precedence over points of friction between the two governments, such as human rights and Tibet.

Her Asian tour has included stops in Japan, Indonesia and South Korea.

"We want to deepen and broaden our relationship," she said at a news conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. "We believe we have established a solid foundation, but there is much work to be done.

"It is in our view imperative that the United States and China co-operate on a range of issues from the economy to global climate change to development and so much else."

Mr Yang said the two nations were facing "a series of major and pressing" challenges.

"The larger situation requires our two countries to strengthen dialogue... and work together to elevate our relationship to a new level," he added.

The two held talks lasting almost two hours.

Afterwards, Mr Yang said the discussions had been constructive and produced positive results, with both countries agreeing to take steps to tackle the financial crisis and reject protectionism.

Mrs Clinton said they had focused on the global financial crisis, climate change and security issues including North Korea.

Asked whether she had raised the issue of human rights, Mrs Clinton said she had held candid discussions on the subject with Mr Yang, the BBC's James Reynolds in China says.

Mr Yang said the two sides saw the subject differently, our correspondent says, but he stressed that China did respect human rights.

Mrs Clinton also had talks with President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao on Saturday.

Before arriving in Beijing, Mrs Clinton said the debate with China over human rights, Taiwan and Tibet should not interfere with attempts to reach consensus on broader issues.

"Our pressing on those issues (human rights, Taiwan and Tibet) can't interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crises," she said.

"We have to have a dialogue that leads to an understanding and co-operation on each of those."

Pyongyang's ally

On the economy, Mrs Clinton sought to reassure China that its massive holdings of US treasury notes would remain a good investment.

"I appreciate greatly the Chinese government's continuing confidence in United States treasuries. I think this is well-grounded confidence," she said.

Mrs Clinton also stressed the importance of dealing with climate change with China, which has overtaken the US as the world's leading emitter of greenhouse gases.

The subject of North Korea, and attempts to get six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear programme back on track, are also high on the agenda for Mrs Clinton in Beijing.

China is seen as Pyongyang's closest ally and the country most likely to influence the hard-line communist country's rulers.

Speaking earlier in the South Korean capital Seoul, Mrs Clinton urged North Korea to hold talks with the South and end its nuclear ambitions.
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Bishop who denied Holocaust ordered to leave Argentina

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (CNN) -- Bishop Richard Williamson, who last month denied the existence of the Holocaust in an interview with Swedish television, was ordered Thursday to leave Argentina within 10 days, the Ministry of Interior said.

"The bishop has repeatedly forged the true motive for his stay in the country, having declared that he is an employee of 'La Tradicion' Civil Society when, in reality, his true activity was as priest and seminary director of the Society of Saint Pius X in the neighborhood of Moreno," Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo said in a written statement.

Williamson and three other bishops who belong to the Society of Saint Pius X were excommunicated in 1988. The society was founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebrve, who rebelled against the Vatican's modernizing reforms in the 1960s, and who consecrated the men in unsanctioned ceremonies.

"Williamson has had public notoriety following his anti-Semitic statements to Swedish media in which he questioned whether Jewish people were victims of the Holocaust," Randazzo continued.

"For these reasons, along with the strong condemnation from the Argentine government of how statements like these harm Argentine society, the Jewish community, and all of humanity by trying to deny a historic truth, the national government has decided to demand that the Bishop leave the country or be expelled."

In the interview with Swedish television, Williamson said, "I believe that the historical evidence is strongly against -- is hugely against -- 6 million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler.

I believe there were no gas chambers," he stated.

Williamson, who had already been removed from his seminary post in Argentina, made headlines in January when he and three other ultra-conservative bishops were welcomed back into the Roman Catholic Church, more than 20 years after Pope John Paul II excommunicated them on a theological question unrelated to the Holocaust.

The rehabilitation of Williamson sparked condemnation from Israel, American Jewish leaders and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, among others.

The Vatican pointed to several statements by Pope Benedict XVI condemning the destruction of European Jewry. The pope said he did not know of Williamson's views on the Holocaust when he lifted the excommunication.

The Vatican said Williamson will not be allowed to perform priestly functions until he recants his Holocaust denial.

Williamson apologized for "distress" his remarks caused the pope, but has not retracted them.

Last week, a German court refused to intervene on behalf of Williamson, who is facing prosecution for denying the Holocaust -- a crime in Germany.
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Baby-faced boy Alfie Patten is father at 13


BOY dad Alfie Patten yesterday admitted he does not know how much nappies cost — but said: “I think it’s a lot.”

Baby-faced Alfie, who is 13 but looks more like eight, became a father four days ago when his girlfriend Chantelle Steadman gave birth to 7lb 3oz Maisie Roxanne.

He told how he and Chantelle, 15, decided against an abortion after discovering she was pregnant.

The shy lad, whose voice has not yet broken, said: “I thought it would be good to have a baby.

“I didn’t think about how we would afford it. I don’t really get pocket money. My dad sometimes gives me £10.”

Alfie, who is just 4ft tall, added: “When my mum found out, I thought I was going to get in trouble. We wanted to have the baby but were worried how people would react.

“I didn’t know what it would be like to be a dad. I will be good, though, and care for it.”

Alfie's story, broken exclusively by The Sun today has sparked a huge political storm with Tory leader David Cameron saying: "When I saw these pictures this morning, I just thought how worrying that in Britain today children are having children.

"I hope that somehow these children grow up into responsible parents but the truth is parenthood is just not something they should be thinking about right now."


PM Gordon Brown refused to comment directly on the story but said it was important that the Government did all it could to prevent teenage pregnancies.

Alfie’s dad Dennis yesterday told how the lad does not really understand the enormity of his situation — but seemed desperate to be a devoted and responsible father.

He wanted to be the first to hold Maisie after the hospital birth. He tenderly kisses the baby and gives her a bottle.

And Dennis, 45, said: “He could have shrugged his shoulders and sat at home on his Playstation. But he has been at the hospital every day.”

Maisie was conceived after Chantelle and Alfie — just 12 at the time — had a single night of unprotected sex.

They found out about the baby when Chantelle was 12 weeks pregnant.

But they kept it a secret until six weeks later when Chantelle’s mum Penny, 38, became suspicious about her weight gain and confronted her.

After that Alfie’s family told only those closest to them for fear he would be “demonised” at school.

Chantelle gave birth to Maisie on Monday night after a five-hour labour at Eastbourne Hospital, East Sussex.

Last night she told The Sun: “I’m tired after the birth. I was nervous after going into labour but otherwise I was quite excited.”

Chantelle told how she discovered she was expecting after going to her GP with “really bad” stomach pains. She said: “Me and Alfie went. The doctor asked me whether we had sex. I said yes and he said I should do a pregnancy test. He did the test and said I was pregnant. I started crying and didn’t know what to do.

“He said I should tell my mum but I was too scared.

“We didn’t think we would need help from our parents. You don’t really think about that when you find out you are pregnant. You just think your parents will kill you.”

But Penny figured out what was going on after buying Chantelle a T-shirt which revealed her swelling tum.

Chantelle admitted she and Alfie — who are both being supported by their parents — would be accused of being grossly irresponsible. She said: “We know we made a mistake but I wouldn’t change it now. We will be good loving parents.

“I have started a church course and I am going to do work experience helping other young mums.

“I’ll be a great mum and Alfie will be a great dad.”

Chantelle and Maisie were released from hospital yesterday. They are living with Penny, Chantelle’s jobless dad Steve, 43, and her five brothers in a rented council house in Eastbourne. The family live on benefits. Alfie, who lives on an estate across town with mum Nicola, 43, spends most of his time at the Steadmans’ house.

He is allowed to stay overnight and even has a school uniform there so he can go straight to his classes in the morning.

Alfie’s dad, who is separated from Nicola, believes the lad is scared deep down.

He said: “Everyone is telling him things and it’s going round in his head. It hasn’t really dawned on him. He hasn’t got a clue of what the baby means and can’t explain how he feels. All he knows is mum and dad will help.

“When you mention money his eyes look away. And she is reliant on her mum and dad. It’s crazy. They have no idea what lies ahead.”

Dennis, who works for a vehicle recovery firm, described Alfie as “a typical 13-year-old boy”.

He said: “He loves computer games, boxing and Manchester United.” Dennis, who has fathered nine kids, told how he was “gobsmacked” when he discovered Alfie was to be a dad, too.

He said: “When I spoke to him he started crying. He said it was the first time he’d had sex, that he didn’t know what he was doing and of the complications that could come.

“I will talk to him again and it will be the birds and the bees talk. Some may say it’s too late but he needs to understand so there is not another baby.”


Chantelle’s mum said: “I told her it was lovely to have the baby but I wish it was in different circumstances. We have five children already so it’s a big financial responsibility. But we are a family and will pull together and get through.

“She’s my daughter. I love her and she will want for nothing.”

Last night Michaela Aston, of the anti-abortion Christian charity LIFE, said: “We commend these teenagers for their courage in bringing their child into the world.

“At the same time this is symptomatic of the over-sexualisation of our youngsters and shows the policy of value-free sex education just isn’t working.”

Today Sussex Police and the local council's children services said they have investigated the case and pledged continued support for the young parents.

Britain’s youngest known father is Sean Stewart. He became a dad at 12 when the girl next door, 15-year-old Emma Webster, gave birth in Sharnbrook, Bedford, in 1998. They split six months later.

He told how he and Chantelle, 15, decided against an abortion after discovering she was pregnant.

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Global alert issued for 85 terror suspects

PARIS, France- Interpol has issued a rare global security alert for 85 suspected al Qaeda-linked terrorists wanted by Saudi Arabia.

The "orange alert," issued on Tuesday, comes after Saudi Arabia asked for Interpol's help last week in apprehending the 83 Saudis and two Yemenis.

Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble said the alert is unprecedented.

"Never before has Interpol been asked to alert the world about so many dangerous fugitives at one time," Noble said in a news release.

He also pointed out that the alert comes ahead of the 16th anniversary of the first World Trade Center bombing in New York.

"Therefore must be especially vigilant of fugitive al Qaeda terrorists," Noble said.

Six people were killed and more than 1,000 injured on February 26, 1993, when a 1,200-pound (540 kilogram) bomb exploded in a rented van in the parking garage below Two World Trade Center.

The 85 wanted "terrorists" are suspected of plotting attacks against Saudi Arabia, Interpol said.

It is rare for the kingdom to announce that some of its most wanted terrorists are on the loose. It is also unusual for Saudi Arabia to ask for help in finding them.

By asking for Interpol's help, Saudi Arabia is sending a clear message that it thinks the men are dangerous.

The country has taken great strides to crack down on al Qaeda within its borders, touting the fact that the suspects have fled beyond its borders as proof that operations against them are successful.

In some cases, terror suspects wanted by Saudi Arabia have fled to the neighboring country of Yemen because they can hide out there more safely than Saudi Arabia, a source explained.

Interpol is an international police organization aimed at facilitating cross-border police cooperation. It is headquartered in Lyon, France
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Homeless woman's plea to Obama draws flood of support

(CNN) -- She's being hailed as the "face of the economic crisis," and now Henrietta Hughes has become something of a media star after reaching out to President Obama in an emotional plea for help.

Her message: My son and I are homeless, and we need immediate help.

"I have an urgent need, unemployment and homelessness, a very small vehicle for my family and I to live in," Hughes told Obama Tuesday at a town hall rally in Fort Myers, Florida, as he pushed for passage of his stimulus plan in the Senate. "The housing authority has two years waiting lists, and we need something more than the vehicle and the parks to go to. We need our own kitchen and our own bathroom. Please help."

Hughes said she had been homeless after her son lost his job and, subsequently, their home. Although her son has been looking for work, Hughes says, so far, no luck.

The Fort Myers-Coral Gables area -- in heavily Republican Lee County, which went for GOP presidential nominee John McCain in the 2008 election -- has seen record housing foreclosure rates.

According to the White House, the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area had the highest foreclosure rate in the nation last year, with 12 percent of housing units receiving a foreclosure-related notice.

Median housing prices in the Fort Myers metropolitan area have plummeted from $322,000 in December 2005 to less than $107,000 in December 2008, the Obama administration notes.

And nearly 12,000 jobs have been lost in Fort Myers in the past year.

The president offered Hughes a kiss on the cheek and a promise: "We're going to do everything we can to help you, but there are a lot of people like you." Video Watch more of Hughes' emotional plea to Obama »

Some questioned the circumstances of Hughes' appearance at the event.

Blogger Michelle Malkin, in a story on the conservative Web site on Wednesday, said that if Hughes "had more time, she probably would have remembered to ask Obama to fill up her gas tank, too."

"The soul-fixer dutifully asked her name, gave her a hug and ordered his staff to meet with her. Supporters cried, 'Amen!' and 'Yes!' " she added.

One reader questioned Hughes' motives and asked how the homeless woman got to the rally at all.

"How does a 61-year-old homeless woman who's living in a pickup truck with her son JUST HAPPEN to get a ticket so she can VERY PUBLICALLY ask Prez. Obama for a HOUSE? Anyone? Who pushes her up on stage? She's right at the front of the crowd. Did she just happen to get a seat there?" asked reader Erik E.

In Fort Myers, a city of about 60,000, people began lining up for tickets to the Obama event over the weekend. Many camped out overnight, with tents and sleeping bags springing up near the front door, and all tickets were given away in less than an hour.

White House spokesman Joshua Earnest said Wednesday that after she spoke, the administration connected Hughes -- who did not vote in the 2008 election because she didn't have a home -- with local housing officials, who happened to be in the crowd.

And it wasn't just officials reaching out.

Chene Thompson -- the wife of state Rep. Nicholas Thompson, R-Fort Myers -- offered Hughes and her son a house in nearby La Belle rent-free, according to a spokeswoman.

"Basically, I offered Ms. Hughes and her son the opportunity to stay in my home rent-free for as long as they need to," Thompson told WBBH-TV in Fort Myers. "I'm not a millionaire, I'm not rich, but this is what I can do for someone if they need it."

Hughes will check out the house in the coming days, according to Thompson's office. In the meantime, she has set up shop in the district office where she gave media interviews.

And help for the woman whose story touched the president keeps pouring in.

A Web site,, was set up featuring video clips of the homeless woman at the rally and information about her plight. The site hails her as "the face of the economic crisis."

The owner of the site said Hughes has "brought to [light] the homeless [an] unemployment problem we have in the United States."

"As a local southwest Florida resident, I have seen countless stories like Henrietta's. I wanted to take this opportunity to promote awareness of our plight on a national level. If you as equally concerned as I am, please bookmark this site and sign up for updates," the owner wrote on the site.

And Fort Myers Mayor Jim Humphrey, a Republican, said Wednesday that his "community has responded" to Hughes' story.

"I even received a phone call from a lady in Ocala wanting to offer her $50 a month, so what we're seeing is, this should be a nonpartisan issue," he said Linda Bergthold, a health policy expert, wrote on the liberal blog that it was a touching moment that highlighted a community coming together.

"It would have been interesting had Obama turned to the crowd and asked anyone who had a solution for Henrietta to step forward afterwards. But he didn't have to. People came forward anyway," she wrote Wednesday. "The dilemma Ms. Hughes described is not limited to her. ... Her request was a compelling one and it only highlights issues of homelessness that will surely get worse as the economic downturn deepens."
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Phelps suspended from competition, dropped by Kellogg

Olympic hero Michael Phelps was suspended from competitive swimming for three months on Thursday -- just hours after one of his sponsors announced it would not renew his contract after a photo surfaced of him smoking from a bong.

USA Swimming, the nation's governing body for competitive swimming, said it was withdrawing financial support for Phelps and barring him from competition during the period of his "reprimand."

"This is not a situation where any anti-doping rule was violated, but we decided to send a strong message to Michael because he disappointed so many people, particularly the hundreds of thousands of USA Swimming-member kids who look up to him as a role model and a hero," they said in a statement.

"Michael has voluntarily accepted this reprimand and has committed to earn back our trust," the statement continued.

Earlier Thursday, Kellogg Co. said it will not renew Phelps' advertising contract.

"Michael's most recent behavior is not consistent with the image of Kellogg," company spokeswoman Susanne Norwitz said. "His contract expires at the end of February, and we have made a decision not to extend his contract."

Norwitz said Kellogg's relationship with Phelps began with the company's support of the U.S. Olympic team. Kellogg did not renew its sponsorship of the team when it expired in December, she said.

Phelps admitted "regrettable behavior" on Sunday after a British newspaper published the photograph. The tabloid News of the World showed Phelps using the bong during what it said was a November party at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

The Richland County, South Carolina, sheriff's office said Tuesday it was investigating whether Phelps smoked marijuana on the school campus, adding it would file criminal charges if it determined he did.

Both university police and Columbia, South Carolina, police said they would not pursue charges, according to The State newspaper in Columbia. It was unclear where the party took place, the paper said, or whether it was on campus.

On Thursday, before the decisions by USA Swimming and Kellogg were announced, Phelps told CNN affiliate WBAL that the incident was a result of "bad judgment."

"I can learn from it and try to make my life better than it has been in the past," he told WBAL.

"I think it's hard to really be ready for any of this. But I've actually been able to talk to a lot of people, and lot of people that have been in my shoes in other sports, and I've been able to get their perspective and just talk to them a little bit, and that's been helpful over the last few days," Phelps said.

In a statement released Sunday, Phelps, who won a record eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, said: "I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment."

"I'm 23 years old, and despite the successes I have had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner that people have come to expect from me," he said. "For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public -- it will not happen again." Should Phelps have been suspended?

The U.S. Olympic Committee also issued a statement that said in part: "Michael has acknowledged that he made a mistake and apologized for his actions. We are confident that, going forward, Michael will consistently set the kind of example we all expect from a great Olympic champion."

In 2004, Phelps was arrested on charges of driving under the influence in Salisbury, Maryland. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 18 months probation. He also issued an apology after that incident.

Phelps is one of 12 Olympic athletes who pledged to "My Victory," an initiative launched last year by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency aimed at keeping competitive sports clean.
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Papa John's founder warns against eating too much pizza

LONDON, England (CNN) -- The founder of one of America's latest pizza chains has offered unexpected advice to his customers to limit themselves to only one or two slices.

During an interview on BBC's Radio Four program in the United Kingdom, John Schnatter, said, "you can't eat five or six slices."

He was responding to a question from presenter Adam Shaw about whether he was concerned about the impact of the British government's anti-obesity drive on pizza sales.

"No. Pizza's actually healthy for you if you don't eat too much of it," Schnatter replied, adding, "You can't eat five or six slices but if you eat one or two slices it's very nutritious."

The pizza chain boss had just finished telling BBC listeners that the UK market was a "huge priority for Papa John's International."

The company has 118 outlets in the United Kingdom, its second biggest market outside the U.S. after China.

Sales in the UK jumped 60% on Monday alone after heavy snowfalls were estimated to have encouraged around one in five workers to stay at home.

Schnatter is in the United Kingdom for the annual franchisee conference, a marketing tool to encourage more small business owners to buy into the Papa John's brand.

While it's impossible to know whether his comments have dissuaded anyone from investing in the company, BBC presenter Shaw suggested shareholders might take issue with his suggestion.

"I'm not sure your investors would want to hear you tell people don't eat too much of our pizzas," he laughed before thanking Schnatter for his time.

Schnatter opened his first shop in 1985, after selling his beloved Camaro to buy his first pizza oven. There are now more than 3000 restaurants worldwide
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Vatican: Bishop must recant Holocaust denial

ROME, Italy (CNN) -- The Vatican says it has ordered a controversial bishop who denies the Holocaust to "distance himself" from his views "in an absolutely unequivocal and public manner."

The Vatican has been under fire since Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunication of Bishop Richard Williamson almost two weeks ago, days after Swedish Public Television broadcast an interview in which Williamson said the Nazis had not systematically murdered 6 million Jews during World War II.

Israel Wednesday blasted the rehabilitation of Williamson.

"The reinstatement of a Holocaust denier by the Holy See offends every Jew, in Israel and around the world, and humiliates the memory of all Holocaust victims and survivors," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

It said the Church's distancing itself from Williamson's position was "the first step in the right direction" and said it expected "more explicit and unequivocal decisions and statements on this issue."

Israel's statement appears to have been made before the Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said Williamson would not be allowed to perform priestly functions if he did not recant.

Williamson's position on the Holocaust is "absolutely unacceptable and firmly rejected by the Pope," Bertone said.

He added that Williamson's views on the Holocaust "were unknown to the Holy Father at the time of the excommunication's remission."

Williamson was rehabilitated on January 21 along with three other members of the ultra-conservative Society of Saint Pius X. The move was announced three days later.

Bertone's order comes only two days after he declared the matter "closed."

"The Society of Saint Pius X has distanced itself from its bishop and apologized to the pope for this embarrassing incident. The pope spoke clearly on Wednesday (January 28). I think the question can be considered closed," Bertone, said, according the Catholic daily Avvenire Tuesday.

But on Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel demanded that the pope firmly reject denial of the Holocaust.

Earlier on Wednesday, a German district attorney said he had launched a criminal investigation into Williamson's remarks.

"I believe that the historical evidence is strongly against -- is hugely against -- 6 million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler," Williamson said in the Swedish interview, which also appeared on various Web sites after broadcast. "I believe there were no gas chambers."

Regensburg District Attorney Guenther Ruckdaeschel said authorities were investigating whether the remarks can be considered "inciting racial hatred." Denying the Holocaust is a crime in Germany, punishable by up to five years in prison.

American Jewish leaders have also expressed outrage that Williamson, who was excommunicated in 1988, was welcomed back to the church days after the interview.

Williamson and three other bishops who belong to the Society of Saint Pius X were excommunicated by Pope John Paul II in 1988. The society was founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebrve, who rebelled against the Vatican's modernizing reforms in the 1960s, and who consecrated the men in unsanctioned ceremonies.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said when the controversy erupted that the Vatican's decision to accept Williamson was part of its desire to normalize relations with the ultra-conservative group, and had nothing to do with the bishop's personal views.

Ruckdaeschel decided to launch his investigation in Regensburg because the Williamson interview was conducted at a seminar of the Society of Saint Pius X, of which Williamson is a member, in the nearby town of Zaitzkofen.

Ruckdaeschel told CNN that a legal representative for Williamson contacted him and said the bishop denied the allegations.

Williamson apologized last week for the "distress" his remarks caused the pope, but did not retract them.

According to the legal representative's account, Williamson had told the Swedish reporters he did not want the interview aired outside Sweden -- and therefore, the remarks would not fall under German criminal law.

According to the German criminal code, comments glorifying or denying crimes committed by the Nazis, or National Socialists, are a crime only if they are made publicly.

Ruckdaeschel says he will attempt to question the two Swedish reporters who conducted the interview. He said it was unlikely Williamson would have to appear in court because he is currently in Argentina, but the bishop may be required to submit a written statement in the case.

The pope -- who was born in Germany and was a child during the Nazi period -- rejected Holocaust denial in public statements on January 28.

After his 14th birthday in 1941, Benedict -- then called Joseph Ratzinger -- was forced along with the rest of his class in Bavaria, southern Germany, to join the Hitler Youth. However his biographer John Allen Jr., said Ratzinger's family was strongly anti-Nazi.

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BBC drops Thatcher in racist remark row

LONDON, England- The daughter of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has been axed by a BBC television show after she made an offensive "off-air" remark, the corporation has confirmed.

According to reports in the British media, Carol Thatcher referred to a tennis player as a "golliwog" back stage during the filming of The One Show last Thursday.

The remark was made about a male tennis player taking part in the Australian Open tournament in Melbourne.

She was immediately challenged about her gaffe but dismissed it as a "joke."

The BBC said it considered "any language of a racist nature wholly unacceptable," before adding that it had hoped Thatcher, 55, would issue an unconditional apology but she had declined to do so.

The remark is thought to have upset a number of people on the show, with one BBC spokesman quoted by The Times newspaper as saying: "We will no longer be working with Carol Thatcher on The One Show."

However, the corporation said on its Web site that she would not be banned from the BBC as a whole.

Meanwhile, Thatcher's spokesman told The Times Wednesday that she made the remark in a conversation with the show's presenter Adrian Chiles back stage. "Carol never intended any racist comment," he said.

"She made a light aside about this tennis player and his similarity to the golliwog on the jam pot when she was growing up. There's no way, obviously, that she would condone any racist comment -- we would refute that entirely. It would not be in her nature to do anything like that.

"It is disgusting that we've had a leak of private conversations in the green room -- the BBC has more leaks than Thames Water."

Carol Thatcher, a winner in 2005 of reality television show "I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!," was a regular contributor on the BBC prime-time show.
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