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In the Nation

Here's looking at you - in orbit

HOUSTON - Always wanted to fly in space? Now at least your photo can reach orbit.

NASA is inviting members of the public to send their portrait into space aboard one of the two remaining shuttle flights. To participate, upload your picture to a NASA website:

You can select which shuttle to fly - Discovery in September or Endeavour, targeted for November. You can also just fly your name, without a photo. After the flight, participants can download a special certificate. A map on the website keeps track of submissions. - AP

Teen held in plot to attack school

RIVERHEAD, N.Y. - A teenager plotted with another to pull off a Columbine-style attack on his former high school, authorities on Long Island said Tuesday - the second time in three years he has been accused of such a plot.

Christopher Franko, who turned 18 Tuesday, was ordered held without bail after his court-appointed attorney entered a not-guilty plea to felony conspiracy. Franko and Dana Saltzman, 16, were arrested in May on misdemeanor conspiracy charges, but a grand jury voted to upgrade the charges.

Prosecutors said the teens plotted to attack Connetquot High School this Thursday with shotguns and explosives.

Assistant D.A. Glenn Kurtzrock said he could not explain a motive, other than Franko had apparently been teased by classmates - a slight he never forgot. Franko was arrested in 2007 as a juvenile on charges of plotting to attack the school; that case was handled in Family Court. - AP

Discussing gays worries lawmaker

WASHINGTON - The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said Tuesday that he thought the military should keep its ban on openly gay service members in part because he did not want to open a national discussion about homosexuality.

Rep. Ike Skelton, a conservative Missouri Democrat, said he thought the debate in Congress over the proposed repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" law might force families to explain homosexuality to their children.

"What do mommies and daddies say to their 7-year-old child?" he asked during a media breakfast.

The House voted 234-194 last month to overturn the 17-year-old law. Skelton was among the 26 Democrats who joined 168 Republicans in opposing the bill. Skelton said that no one in his district had raised the issue with him but that he still did not think the discussion was family-friendly enough. - AP


An experienced mountaineer from Belgium was killed on Alaska's Mount McKinley when his climbing anchor apparently failed and he fell in a steep, rocky gully. The accident that killed Joris Van Reeth, 27, occurred Monday on a technically challenging section of the Cassin Ridge on North America's highest mountain, the National Park Service said Tuesday.

A World War II-era biplane flying into Washington Reagan National Airport to promote a film premiere at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum flipped over Tuesday during its landing, temporarily closing the main runway. No one was injured.