Russia adviser to get envoy nod

WASHINGTON - President Obama plans to nominate his top Russia adviser, Michael McFaul, as U.S. ambassador to Moscow, a man who helped the administration's work to "reset" the two countries' relationship.

The choice is a departure from standard practice because McFaul is not a career diplomat.

McFaul is considered one of the nation's foremost experts on U.S.-Russia relations and has become a trusted policy adviser as the president has sought to ease long-standing tensions with Russia.

Among the challenges to the U.S.-Russia relationship are an American plan for missile defense, which the Russians say threatens their security, and changes that might stem from the forthcoming presidential elections in Russia.

McFaul, a fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and a political science professor, would replace U.S. Ambassador John Beyrle.

- AP

Endeavour crew prepares to leave

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The astronauts on NASA's next-to-last shuttle flight floated out of the International Space Station on Sunday and closed the hatch behind them after one final round of warm wishes and embraces.

All that remained was space shuttle Endeavour's undocking late Sunday night and its two-day trip home. Shuttle commander Mark Kelly said the 11/2 weeks of joint flight went well. "We're looking forward to getting home," Kelly said.

Endeavour will return to Florida in the predawn hours of Wednesday, never to fly in space again. On its final journey, Endeavour delivered a $2 billion cosmic ray detector that will remain on the space station for the next decade.

The shuttle will be retired to a museum in California following the 16-day mission, its 25th. - AP

Next carrier to be named after JFK

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has announced that the nation's next aircraft carrier will be named the John F. Kennedy.

Mabus announced the honor Sunday in memory of the 35th president. The nuclear-powered ship will be built at Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia.

Mabus said the naming of the next Gerald R. Ford-class carrier in Kennedy's honor pays tribute to the late president's service in the Navy. As commander of PT 109, Kennedy led his crew to safety after his ship was struck and split in half by an enemy ship in the Pacific.

Kennedy received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for rescuing his crew. His other military honors included a Purple Heart. - AP

Elsewhere:

New York City

officials are muzzling musicians who perform near Central Park's Bethesda Fountain by slapping them with nuisance summonses. The city posted a Quiet Zone sign by the stone arcade near the fountain, whose acoustics have drawn top-notch musicians. Fines range from $50 to $200. The Department of Parks and Recreation police started issuing summonses at Bethesda Fountain last month.