Navy missile hit wayward satellite on first attempt; details unknown

WASHINGTON - A missile launched from a Navy ship struck a dying U.S. spy satellite passing 130 miles over the Pacific on Wednesday, the Pentagon said.

It was not clear whether the operation succeeded in its main goal of destroying a tank aboard the satellite that carried a toxic fuel that U.S. officials said could pose a hazard to humans if it landed in a populated area.

'Confirmation that the fuel tank has been fragmented should be available within 24 hours,' the Pentagon said in a written statement.

The USS Lake Erie, armed with an SM-3 missile designed to knock down incoming missiles - not orbiting satellites - launched the attack at 10:26 p.m. EST, according to the Pentagon. It hit the satellite as the spacecraft traveled at more than 17,000 mph.

Man accused of taking $2M after bank confusion

NEW YORK - A man was charged with withdrawing $2 million from an account after a bank confused him with a man who has the same name.

Benjamin Lovell was arraigned Tuesday on grand larceny charges. The 48-year-old salesman said he tried to tell officials at Commerce Bank in December that he did not have a $5 million account. He says he was told it was his and he could withdraw the money.

Prosecutors said the bank - which advertises itself as America's Most Convenient Bank - confused Lovell with a Benjamin Lovell who works for a property management company.

The lesser-funded Lovell gave away some of the withdrawn money and blew some of it on gifts, but lost much of it on bad investments, prosecutors said.

Pilot dies after two jets collide during training near Fla.

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - An Air Force fighter pilot died Wednesday after his jet and another likely collided during a training exercise and crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. The other pilot was rescued and is expected to survive.

The single-seat F-15C Eagles crashed Wednesday off the Florida Panhandle, said Col. Todd Harmer, commander of the 33rd Fighter Wing, 58th Fighter Squadron. The pilots had ejected and were later rescued.

The base has suffered a 'great loss,' Harmer said in an e-mailed statement. He said, 'We will continue to do everything we can to assist our families and airmen at this tragic time.'

NASA savors space shuttle return, gets ready for launch

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA savored the return Wednesday of Atlantis and its astronauts from a near-perfect space station mission - then quickly revved up anticipation for another shuttle launch next month.

It's been years since the space agency has attempted such rapid-fire, back-to-back flights.

'It feels good. I mean, it feels really good to be having missions back to back like this again. It almost feels like the mid-90s again,' said launch director Mike Leinbach, referring to one of NASA's hottest shuttle streaks.

Bush says US not seeking military power in Africa

ACCRA, Ghana - In a country teeming with resources the world covets, President Bush sought Wednesday to soothe African fears about American interests on the continent. He said the U.S. isn't aiming to make Africa into a base for greater military power or a proxy battleground with China.

The desire for Africa's vast raw materials - oil, gold, diamonds, minerals, crops and more - has a long and often violent and exploitative history.

So it came as little surprise that Bush's talk about how U.S. generosity has made strides against disease and poverty encountered some skepticism here about the underlying American agenda.

Lawyers ask judge to drop charges against Marine

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - Attorneys asked a military judge Wednesday to dismiss charges against a Marine Corps officer accused of failing to investigate the killing of 24 people by Marines in Haditha, Iraq.

The attorneys from the Thomas More Law Center filed five motions in advance of a pretrial hearing for Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani.

He is the highest-ranking U.S. serviceman to face a combat-related court-martial since the Vietnam War. Chessani was charged with dereliction of duty and violation of a lawful order on allegations that he mishandled the aftermath of the Nov. 19, 2005, shooting deaths.

New standards add word 'evolution' into Florida teachings

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida's public school science standards for the first time will use the word 'evolution,' although the biological concept already was being taught under code words such as 'change over time.'

The new standards, part of a set of overall science changes adopted by the State Board of Education on Tuesday on a 4-3 vote, require schools to spend more class time on evolution and teach it in more detail.