NATION: Corps waiting for weekend on levee break

Corps waiting for weekend on levee break

SIKESTON, Mo. -- The Army Corps of Engineers will wait until this weekend to decide whether it is necessary to punch a massive hole in a levee to protect an upstream Illinois town from the rising Mississippi River, a regional spokesman said Wednesday.

The corps has said it may have to blow holes, perhaps using explosives, in the Birds Point levee in southeast Missouri's Mississippi County to ease rising waters near the 2,800-resident Illinois town of Cairo, which sits near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

Missouri has filed a federal lawsuit to block the effort because it would swamp farmland. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday in Cape Girardeau.

Lesbian gives up on admission to West Point

ALBANY, N.Y. -- A former cadet rejected for re-admission to West Point because of the lingering federal "don't ask, don't tell" policy says she's giving up on her dream of graduating from the military academy.

Katherine Miller said in a statement Wednesday that she is sad but respects West Point's decision and still wants to pursue a military career.

The 21-year-old Miller attends Yale University. She intends to graduate from there and join the military through officer candidate school.

Miller left West Point last year because she said she couldn't live a lie. But she missed the academy and applied as the government moved to repeal a policy barring gays from serving openly.

West Point officials denied her re-entry and cited the fact that the repeal has yet to take effect.

Rep. Gifford heads for NASA for shuttle launch

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Rep. Gabrielle Giffords left hospitals behind Wednesday for the first time since her tragic shooting nearly four months ago and traveled to NASA territory for the next-to-last space shuttle launch with her husband in command.

''Gabby is looking forward to some time away from the rehab center & the chance to see Captain Mark Kelly launch again!'' Giffords' staff posted on her Facebook page.

Space shuttle Endeavour is due to blast off Friday afternoon with Kelly at the helm. It will be Endeavour's final voyage after 19 years of spaceflight, as the shuttle era nears the end.

Bernanke sees risk in further steps to spur jobs

WASHINGTON -- Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Wednesday that the Fed can't take additional steps to try to ease high unemployment without escalating inflation.

If inflation were to accelerate, the Fed would have to raise rates to slow borrowing and spending and blunt price increases. Hiring might then slow.

Speaking to reporters, Bernanke became the first chairman in the Fed's 98-year history to begin holding regular news conferences. The session, the first of three scheduled news conferences this year, is part of Bernanke's long-standing campaign to make the Fed more transparent and to cast himself as open and accessible.

Ex-con says he won't cooperate in bomb probe

DENVER -- A 65-year-old ex-convict accused of planting a homemade bomb in a Colorado shopping mall says he won't cooperate with authorities and has also told federal officials that he has prostate cancer and hepatitis C.

A public defender for Earl Albert Moore disclosed the information during a court hearing Wednesday, a day after Moore was arrested.

A federal magistrate judge ordered Moore held without bond at least until a May 6 court hearing.

Moore faces a federal arson charge. He's suspected of starting a fire and planting a bomb made with two propane. The bomb didn't detonate and no one was injured.

Montana works on modifying marijuana laws

HELENA, Mont. -- Montana moved a step closer Wednesday to slapping some of the nation's strictest limitations on medical marijuana users, doctors and suppliers as lawmakers tried to get control of an industry that has ballooned since voters approved the drug's medical use.

The bill prohibits any sale of marijuana by asking for the drug to be given to patients free of charge, on compassionate grounds. It severely limits the number of people growers can provide to, from unlimited to just three.