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BAD WEATHER AGAIN DELAYS LANDING OF SHUTTLE ATLANTIS

For the second day in a row, wind gusts of nearly 25 mph forced the space shuttle Atlantis and its astronauts to keep circling Earth on Monday instead of coming home.

The weather was no better at the backup landing site in Southern California, so Mission Control ordered the crew to spend a 13th day in orbit and aim for an afternoon touchdown today.

"Bottom line is, we're waving off" for Monday, Mission Control told commander Kenneth Cockrell.

Atlantis and its crew of five undocked from the international space station Friday after delivering and installing the $1.4 billion Destiny laboratory and should have returned to Earth on Sunday.

But the crosswind at the landing strip was well above the 17-mph safety limit, a situation that recurred Monday.

The last time Cockrell flew in space, the mission dragged on for almost 18 days because of landing delays and turned out to be the longest shuttle flight ever.

U.S.-British strike on Iraq
planned to minimize deaths

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The joint U.S.-British airstrikes on Iraq were timed to avoid killing or injuring Chinese civilian and military workers who were helping install underground fiber-optic cables to improve the effectiveness of Iraq's air defenses, a senior defense official said Monday.

American and British warplanes bombed five radar sites south of Baghdad on Friday in an attack the Pentagon said was designed to degrade Iraq's capability to defend against allied air patrols over the "no-fly" zone in southern Iraq.

"On a Friday, you have the lowest number of people present -- both Iraqis and Chinese," the senior official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "The goal wasn't to kill people; the goal was to bust up stuff."

The official said some portion of the fiber-optic network already was operating at the time of the bombing.

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said he had no knowledge of Chinese military and civilian experts supposedly helping Iraq's military install underground fiber-optic cables.

Wildfire closes interstate
in Florida; homes evacuated

POLK CITY, Fla. (AP) -- A wildfire in central Florida has forced the evacuation of 30 homes, the closure of part of a key east-west highway and the relocation of some prison inmates.

The wind-driven fire in Polk County had consumed 11,000 acres by early today and jumped Interstate 4, a heavily traveled route connecting Tampa, Orlando and Daytona Beach, closing a 10-mile stretch of the highway.

No injuries were reported, and no houses have been damaged.

"Because of the swampy area, this fire isn't going to subside for a long while," Gov. Jeb Bush said Monday as ash from the fire swirled around him. "It's got anywhere from 4 to 10 feet of fuel to burn before it reaches the dirt."

The Polk County Correctional Institute took 120 inmates with respiratory problems to neighboring jails, authorities said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved a fire suppression grant for Florida's Division of Emergency Management and the Division of Forestry. The grant would recover 70 percent of the costs of fighting the fire once local and state fire teams reach $1.5 million in costs.

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