NASA to try the Wiggle Test in fuel-gauge problem

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA's first step in trying to figure out what caused a fuel gauge to fail shortly before liftoff and keep space shuttle Discovery grounded is about as low-tech as it gets: The Wiggle Test.

The only way NASA can launch the shuttle on Sunday - the earliest option - is ''if we go in and wiggle some of the wires and find a loose connection,'' deputy shuttle program manager Wayne Hale said Thursday.

''You laugh,'' he told a packed room of grinning journalists. ''That probably is the first step in any troubleshooting plan. Some technician is going to put his hand on the wires and the connectors ... and start wiggling them.''

Hale conceded that probably wouldn't fix the problem: ''The folks who put those wires together and do those connections do a really good job, so the chances of that? Not high.''

He called Sunday ''a really optimistic good-luck scenario'' and not very credible. NASA's first mission since the 2003 Columbia disaster could be delayed into next week or even September, depending on the extent of repairs needed.

Autopsy: Toddler killed by LA police during shootout

LOS ANGELES - An autopsy found that a toddler whose father held her as a shield during a gun battle with authorities died of a single gunshot to the head, fired from a police officer's rifle.

Los Angeles County coroner's spokesman Craig Harvey released the autopsy reports Wednesday of 19-month-old Suzie Pena and her father Jose Pena, 34, who were both killed Sunday during a shootout at Pena's auto repair business.

The girl died from a single gunshot wound to the head, and her father died of multiple gunshot wounds, the reports said.

Panel investigating Klan shooting to hear from KKK

GREENSBORO, N.C. - Leaders of a grass-roots investigation of the 1979 incident in which five anti-Ku Klux Klan marchers were killed when white supremacists opened fire prepared Thursday for a two-day public hearing expected to include statements by two Klansmen.

The first public hearing of the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission, modeled on similar efforts in South Africa and Peru, opens this afternoon and is to continue Saturday. Organizers have said their commission is a citizen-based effort to tell the full story behind the Nov. 3, 1979, shootings and seek community healing.

Record Powerball winner pleads guilty to DUI

BECKLEY, W.Va. - Record Powerball winner Jack Whittaker will spend five days on home confinement and lose his driving privileges for at least 90 days after pleading guilty to a drunken driving charge.

Whittaker entered his plea to first-offense driving under the influence on Wednesday. In exchange for the plea, prosecutors dropped charges of carrying a concealed weapon, failure to maintain control of a vehicle and failure to submit to a preliminary Breathalyzer test.

Chief Justice Rehnquist released from hospital

WASHINGTON - Ailing Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist was discharged Thursday after two nights in the hospital for treatment of a fever.

The 80-year-old Rehnquist, who has thyroid cancer, had been taken by ambulance to Virginia Hospital Center on Tuesday for tests and observation. Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said he was released and at home around midday Thursday.

The health setback added new intrigue to the rampant guessing game about his retirement prospects. Rehnquist has been on the Supreme Court 33 years.

Prison time ordered for man's 'mercy killing' of wife

ROANOKE, Va. - An 84-year-old man who said he strangled his wife of more than 50 years as she slipped deeper into Alzheimer's disease was ordered to serve a prison term by a judge who said the case was the toughest he had faced on the bench.

William Wallace Hurt was sentenced Wednesday to a 10-year prison term, suspended after serving one year, for the second-degree murder of Neva Hurt, who was 83.

First lady speaks at school during visit to Rwanda

KIGALI, Rwanda - Overlooking this city's red, dusty hills where thousands were killed, Laura Bush on Thursday urged Rwandans not to lose hope as they try to heal the pain of their country's genocide.

Bush sounded an optimistic tone for Rwanda, still reeling from the 100 days in 1994 when Hutu militias shot and hacked to death some 800,000 minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

''Rwandans have done extraordinary work recovering from that devastation,'' Bush said at the FAWE School. ''Now this is a country with growing opportunity, with confidence in the future.''

Bush did not speak publicly about the violence in another part of Africa, the Darfur region of Sudan. More than two years of conflict in Darfur have left tens of thousands dead.

- From wire reports