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NATION: Astronauts take last spacewalk of shuttle era

Astronauts take last spacewalk of shuttle era

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Astronauts making the last spacewalk of NASA's space shuttle era on Tuesday retrieved a broken pump from the International Space Station and installed a fill-er-up experiment for a robot.

The space station's two-armed robot Dextre won't tackle the $22.6 million playset -- a fancy Fisher-Price toy as one astronaut describes it -- until long after Atlantis departs and the shuttle program ends.

But perhaps more than anything else on this final journey by a shuttle, the robotic demo illustrates the possibilities ahead for NASA: satellite-refueling stations in space run by robots.

In a departure from previous shuttle visits, the spacewalking job fell to space station astronauts, Michael Fossum and Ronald Garan Jr., who teamed up for three spacewalks in 2008. The four-person Atlantis crew is the smallest in decades, and so the lone spacewalk of the mission was handed over to the full-time station residents.

It was the 160th spacewalk in the 121/2-year life of the orbiting outpost, and the last one planned for Americans for nearly a year.

No perjury charge for Anthony's mom, official says

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A spokeswoman for a prosecutor's office says Casey Anthony's mother will not face perjury charges for testimony during her daughter's murder trial.

State attorney's office spokeswoman Danielle Tavernier said Tuesday that prosecutors have decided against charging Cindy Anthony. She initially told police she did not search for chloroform on the family computer, but at the trial she said she did.

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings says authorities are also investigating a witness tampering allegation. He would not elaborate.

Netflix raising rates for DVD, streaming

SAN FRANCISCO -- Netflix is raising its prices by as much as 60 percent for millions of subscribers who want to rent DVDs by mail and watch video on the Internet.

The company is separating the two options so that subscribers who want both will have to buy separate plans totaling at least $16 per month. Netflix Inc. had been bundling both options in a single package, available for as low as $10 per month.

New subscribers will have to pay the new prices immediately. The changes take effect Sept. 1 for Netflix's current customers.

Netflix isn't changing the $8 monthly price for an Internet streaming-only option, which the company began offering late last year. But instead of charging $2 more for a plan that also offers one DVD at a time by mail, the company will charge $8 for a comparable DVD-only plan. That brings the total to $16.

Deal made for more protection of plants, animals

BILLINGS, Mont. -- The Obama administration on Tuesday struck a new deal with wildlife advocates that would require the Interior Department to consider greater protections for hundreds of imperiled animals and plants.

The agreement was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., by attorneys from the government and the Center for Biological Diversity.

If approved by a judge, the deal would set a 2018 deadline for the administration to decide whether Endangered Species Act protections are needed.

Pa. looking into report of possible test cheating

PHILADELPHIA -- The Pennsylvania Department of Education is looking into a report that has surfaced highlighting possible cheating on state standardized tests in at least 35 districts and noting aberrant scores in dozens of others, a spokesman said Tuesday.

The forensic analysis of the 2009 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment results does not assert cheating occurred, but says certain answer patterns and erasures make the results suspicious.

Larger corn crop could ease food inflation

ST. LOUIS -- A larger corn crop is easing concerns of a grain shortage and could slow food inflation later this year.

The U.S. Agriculture Department estimated Tuesday that 880 million bushels of corn will be left over when the harvest begins in the fall. That's an increase from the previous estimate of 730 million bushels.

Corn prices rose about 9 cents to $6.42 a bushel in morning trading.