CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — On the eve of NASA’s historic, wheel-stopping end to the shuttle program, the four astronauts Wednesday released the very last satellite to be launched from a space shuttle, an 8-pound box covered with experimental solar cells.
On the last full day of the last mission, shuttle commander Christopher Ferguson told the controllers, “I’d love to have each and every one of you to stand up and take a bow, a round of applause.”
Ferguson and his three crewmates checked their critical flight systems for Thursday’s planned 5:56 a.m. landing at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, not quite an hour before sunrise. Everything worked perfectly. Excellent weather was forecast to wind up the 135th flight of the space shuttle program.
3 swept over Yosemite waterfall presumed dead
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. — Three people are presumed dead after they were swept over Vernal Falls on Tuesday afternoon, Yosemite National Park officials confirmed Wednesday morning.
Hormiz “Ninos” David, 22, of Modesto, Calif.; Ninos Yacoub, 27, of Turlock, Calif.; and Ramina Badal, 21, of Manteca, Calif., came to the park for a day trip with family and friends, according to park spokeswoman Kari Cobb.
Witnesses said the three were seen entering the water above the fall, approximately 25 feet from the edge, which is marked with signs and a barricade, Cobb said. Witnesses said several people urged them to step back from the cold and fast-moving water above the 317-foot drop.
The woman slipped. The man reached for her and fell in. Another man in their group of about 10 tried to help but fell into the water as well. Other hikers, including several children in their group, could only watch as the rushing water swept all three students over the edge.
The tragedy brings to six the number of people killed in water accidents in Yosemite this year.
Teen’s family wins $10 million Taser verdict
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Taser International must pay $10 million to the family of a Charlotte teenager who died in 2008 after being shocked by a police officer — the biggest jury award ever against the company.
Darryl Turner died in March 2008 after being shocked with a Taser by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Jerry Dawson Jr. at a Food Lion grocery store in north Charlotte.
The lawyers for Turner’s parents said Wednesday the federal jury found that Taser International failed to warn that discharging its Taser into the chest of a suspect near the heart poses a substantial risk of cardiac arrest. The company’s animal studies, they said, demonstrated the risk.
Taser International sought to convince the jury that Turner, 17, had a medical condition that can lead to sudden cardiac arrest in young adults. The company’s lawyers intend to appeal the verdict.
Cameron concedes error in hiring aide linked to hacking
LONDON — Prime Minister David Cameron dragged his political foes into Britain’s phone-hacking scandal Wednesday, as he sought to distance himself from his former aide at the heart of the allegations and denied that his staff had tried to thwart police investigations.
Cameron defended his decision to hire former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as his communications chief, saying his work in government had been untarnished. But he added that in hindsight he would not have offered Coulson the job.
Coulson was arrested this month in connection with the tabloid’s alleged practice of intercepting the voicemails of celebrities and crime victims to get scoops.
Only some 200 of the nearly 4,000 people whose information is believed to have been targeted have been notified by police, and detectives have started a separate inquiry into whether other news organizations over the years have breached data privacy laws.