Atlantis heads for linkup with space station today

Atlantis’ astronauts Saturday sped toward a rendezvous with the International Space Station this morning.

Mission Control, meanwhile, decided there was no need to move the space station away from a piece of space junk.

Experts had monitored the orbiting debris for a couple of days, projecting it to pass within six miles of the space shuttle and space station shortly after today’s docking. Flight controllers concluded the unidentified object would stay at a safe distance.

This is Atlantis’ last planned flight after a quarter-century of service. It’s hauling fresh batteries and a new Russian compartment to the space station.


Cab drivers to face tribunal for overcharging passengers

Hundreds of cab drivers accused of repeatedly overcharging passengers will face a special tribunal.

The city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission on Friday issued the results of a monthlong probe into data revealing elevated meter-based charges over the past two years. The agency said 88 drivers each overcharged clients at least 500 times.

Some could lose their licenses, while others with up to 49 overcharges face fines of as much as $5,000.

TLC Commissioner David Yassky said Saturday that in the future, it will be almost impossible for passengers to be cheated as often as in the past. He said an alert system will go off, signaling that the driver has switched to a fare rate that computes a trip beyond city boundaries — a common method of overcharging.

A passenger can then report the problem by dialing 311 to reach non-emergency municipal services.

If the TLC agrees that there was a transgression, the passenger may seek a reimbursement by filing a claim; the driver is responsible for covering the extra amount.


Ex-television host accused in murder-for-hire scheme

A former Food Network host is under arrest in an alleged murder-for-hire plot, Santa Monica police said.

Juan-Carlos Cruz, one-time host of “Calorie Commando,” was arrested Thursday and booked on suspicion of solicitation to commit murder, Sgt. Jay Trisler said. He is scheduled to be arraigned Monday.

Homeless people told the city’s homeless liaison officers that Cruz asked them to kill someone, Trisler said. They agreed to help police probe the alleged murder-for-hire plot.

Detectives discovered where, when and how the targeted individual was to be killed and how much money Cruz allegedly offered, Trisler said.

Police notified the intended victim, who was not identified publicly because of the ongoing probe, he said.

Cruz, 48, is being held on $5 million bail.


Episcopal Church to ordain second openly gay bishop

Seven years after the Episcopal Church caused an uproar by consecrating its first openly gay bishop, it’s about to do the same thing again.

The Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool of Baltimore was to be ordained and consecrated Saturday, making her the second openly gay bishop in church history and one of the first two female bishops in the Diocese of Los Angeles’ 114-year history.

The Rev. Canon Diane M. Jardine Bruce of San Clemente, Calif., also will be ordained Saturday.

The two were elected last December to serve as assistant bishops in the diocese’s six-county territory, but conservative Episcopalians had urged the church not to ordain Glasspool.

The Episcopal Church, the Anglican body in the United States, caused turmoil in the church in 2003 by consecrating the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.


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