CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.

False alarm gets astronauts scrambling at Space Station

In a rare scare, astronauts fled the American side of the International Space Station on Wednesday after an alarm indicated a possible toxic leak. NASA later said there was no leak of ammonia coolant and a computer problem likely set off the false alarm.

By Wednesday afternoon, the astronauts were back in the U.S. part of the orbiting outpost. Earlier, the six crew members had huddled safely on the Russian side – once when the alarm sounded and again following an initial all-clear.

WASHINGTON

Four top-level executives at Secret Service reassigned

Four of the highest-ranking Secret Service executives have been reassigned following a series of security mishaps and scathing reports questioning leadership within the agency, the Secret Service said Wednesday.

The agency’s assistant directors for investigations, protective operations, technology and public affairs have all been reassigned within the Secret Service.

Acting Director Joseph P. Clancy said in a statement Wednesday that he was making leadership changes based on a December report from an independent panel that described the agency as “insular” and “starved for leadership.”

“Change is necessary to gain a fresh perspective on how we conduct business,” Clancy said.

RICHMOND, Va.

Lawmaker defiant in face of attempts to oust him

A newly re-elected Virginia lawmaker hitched a ride from the jailhouse to the statehouse to be sworn in, even as legislative leaders discussed how to throw him out.

Del. Joseph D. Morrissey, who spends his nights in jail because of a sex scandal conviction, was back in his familiar legislative arena Wednesday but with a whole new set of circumstances: Colleagues ignored him; he had to give up his old office; and his desk on the House floor was put in a far corner.

Morrissey didn’t appear bothered by his pariah status and instead brimmed with defiant confidence. He told reporters he wasn’t worried that both parties have repeatedly denounced him.

– From news service reports