CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.
late for space station
The six space station astronauts finally got their Christmas presents Sunday with the arrival of a privately launched supply ship that took an extra month to soar.
The spacemen opened the capsule a day early and started removing items, as soon as the Orbital Sciences Corp. vessel was moored safely at the International Space Station. Packed inside were 3,000 pounds of groceries, equipment and experiments, as well as eagerly awaited Christmas gifts from their families back home and some fresh fruit courtesy of NASA.
Among the first things out: ants that are part of an educational project.
NASA is relying on private industry to keep the orbiting lab well stocked in this post-shuttle era and, in three or four more years, possibly supply rides for U.S. astronauts as well. This was Orbital Sciences’ second shipment.
High court weighs
The Supreme Court is refereeing a politically charged dispute between President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans over the president’s power to temporarily fill high-level positions.
The case being argued at the high court Monday is the first in the nation’s history to consider the meaning of the provision of the Constitution that allows the president to make temporary appointments to positions that otherwise require Senate confirmation, but only when the Senate is in recess.
The court battle is an outgrowth of increasing partisanship and the political stalemate that’s been a hallmark of Washington for years, and especially since Obama took office in 2009.
Kerry sees key
talks for Syria
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday a meeting next week on peace for Syria is a credibility test for necessary participants who are threatening to skip it.
The fractured Syrian National Coalition is weighing whether to attend the Jan. 22 talks in Switzerland after being criticized for not fully representing dozens of opposition groups that seek to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad from power.
The Coalition is the main moderate Western-backed opposition group.
Kerry was among envoys from 11 nations Sunday who urged coalition President Ahmad al-Jarba to ensure that his group will be at the talks.
Kerry called it “a test of credibility” and said he is confident the coalition will attend.
He also said the U.S. is looking restoring nonlethal aid to rebel fighters.
Pope names 19
Pope Francis named his first batch of cardinals Sunday, choosing 19 men from around the world, including the developing nations of Haiti and Burkina Faso, in line with his belief the church must pay more attention to the poor.
But advocates for victims of sex abuse by Catholic clergy said they felt let down that Francis didn’t unequivocally embrace their calls that prelates who hadn’t made a clean break with past practices of covering up pedophile behavior never be promoted.
Francis read out the 19 names to a crowd of tens of thousands in St. Peter’s Square.
Sixteen of the appointees are younger than 80, meaning they would be eligible to elect the next pope, which is a cardinal’s most important task, after the Feb. 22 ceremony to formally install them.