Space shuttle set for launch today

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - With good weather forecast and no bumps in the countdown, NASA pushed ahead with today's planned launch of the space shuttle Discovery on a delivery trip to the International Space Station.

The 14-day mission has taken on new urgency - the seven shuttle astronauts will take up a new pump for the space station's malfunctioning toilet.

They are also ferrying a $1 billion Japanese space lab that has been more than 20 years in the making. It will be the biggest room at the space station once it is installed. It is 37 feet long and more than 32,000 pounds, and fills Discovery's entire payload bay.

- AP

FEMA struggles to find Miss. homes

BILOXI, Miss. - Since Jan. 1, FEMA has moved 710 Mississippi Coast households from potentially toxic trailers to hotel rooms where they receive three catered meals each day.

"It has been very difficult to find rental units on the Coast, very difficult, because in some areas, Hancock County for example, there really is next to no available residential rental property," FEMA spokesman Eugene Brezany said.

Nonprofit advocates for those still without permanent homes say FEMA has not provided all the promised support and, in many cases, has failed to inform those relocating about the options available, including assistance with rental deposits. Those moved to hotels also have been advised by FEMA they must find a place to live within 30 days.

- McClatchy Newspapers

2 officers held in FBI drug sting

MIAMI - Two veteran police officers were charged yesterday with providing protection for purported shipments of cocaine and stolen goods in what was actually an undercover FBI operation.

Officer Geovani Nunez and Detective Jorge Hernandez are accused in court documents of helping protect shipments of what they thought were stolen televisions and computers and at least 12 kilograms of cocaine - sometimes by using their police cars to escort trucks.

Prosecutors said the 13-year veterans of the Miami Police Department were paid a combined $39,500 by a secret FBI informant they thought was involved in illegal businesses, prosecutors said.

- AP

Elsewhere:

A wildfire consumed

more than a square mile and destroyed or damaged a number of homes in a rural southwestern Florida east of Naples, authorities said yesterday.

Scientists

for the Phoenix Mars Lander are wrestling with an intermittent short circuit on the spacecraft. The problem is in a device that will analyze ice and soil dug from the planet's surface, the scientists said yesterday.

The North Dakota Air Force

wing blamed for a foul-up in which a bomber mistakenly flew to Louisiana armed with nuclear missiles will have to be retested after coming up short in an inspection.