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Special order ruled out on gay contractors

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House said Thursday President Obama does not plan to issue a ban on discrimination against gay federal contractors sought by gay rights groups. The decision disappoints a constituency that has been an important source of support for him.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama is committed to gay rights and would support legislation that would protect gay, bisexual and transgender employees of federal contractors.

But he ruled out a special presidential order that would accomplish the same thing now. Gay rights groups said that Congress won't act to pass such a law and that the White House should step in with an executive order.

Carney denied the White House is trying to avoid a politically sensitive issue in this election year.


Shuttle to be visible along route to museum

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Space shuttle Discovery is expected to fly over Washington's landmarks next week on the back of a Boeing 747 and will also be visible from points in Maryland and Virginia for anyone wishing to travel south to see a bit of American history.

Barring any unforeseen events, Discovery will be flown Tuesday morning from Florida to its new home at the Smithsonian Institution.

It will be housed at the National Air and Space Museum's annex in northern Virginia.

The Smithsonian recommends several viewing sites.

In Washington, the public can gather on the National Mall for a shuttle sighting. Other sites include Hains Point and the Southwest Waterfront.

In Virginia, Discovery may be seen from Old Town Alexandria's Waterfront, Gravelly Point near National Airport and Long Bridge Park. In Maryland, Discovery may be seen from National Harbor.

Discovery likely will arrive between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.


Report faults rigging of collapsed fair stage

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- An engineering review released Thursday found that the stage rigging that collapsed and killed seven people during last summer's Indiana State Fair wasn't built strong enough to meet state building codes.

Scott Nacheman, a vice president of engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti, told the state fair commission that the metal rigging structure didn't meet requirements that it withstand wind gusts of 68 mph.

Nacheman said winds gusts reached an estimated 59 mph when the rigging collapsed onto fans awaiting a concert by the country duo Sugarland. Dozens of people were also injured in the Aug. 13 collapse.

The firm's analysis found that parts of the rigging's support system began to give way at wind gusts of 33 mph.

"It no longer has the ability to support its own weight," Nacheman said. "Once gravity had taken over there was essentially no way the structure could support itself."

Fair commission Chairman Andre Lacy said the investigations weren't meant to place blame for the collapse. "We put ourselves willingly and publicly under the microscope in hopes of preventing a tragedy like that which happened Aug. 13," Lacy said.

Numerous lawsuits have been filed against Sugarland and companies involved with building the stage.