A blue sky begins to emerge from early-morning clouds and fog as the Simpson Tacoma Kraft Co.'s pulp-and-paper mill operates along with cranes at the Port of Tacoma, Wash.


District of Columbia

Obama taps Giffords for Fulbright board

WASHINGTON - President Obama selected Gabrielle Giffords, former congresswoman from Tucson, for the board that selects recipients for Fulbright scholarships.

The Fulbright Scholarship Program is an international education-exchange program. The federal government sponsors the program to increase mutual understanding with other countries.


Woman tries to give baby to strangers

PHOENIX - A woman is facing a child-abuse charge after police say she tried to give her baby to strangers outside a Phoenix convenience store.

Police spokesman Sgt. Tommy Thompson says officers were called to the store Wednesday evening to check on 36-year-old Rozenna Luna and her 6-month-old daughter. Witnesses told officers that Luna was asking strangers if they wanted a free child.

Luna ended up calling police herself. They say she knew she would be taken to jail on outstanding misdemeanor warrants and would not have to take care of her daughter. The baby is in state custody.


Cause of fire in blast at plant is a mystery

WEST - The cause of a fire that led to devastating explosions a month ago at a fertilizer plant in this small town north of Waco remains undetermined, state and federal investigators said at a news conference Thursday.

The April 17 fire at the West Fertilizer Co. led to two explosions of ammonium nitrate at the site, milliseconds apart, leaving a crater 93 feet wide and 10 feet deep, authorities said.

Fourteen people were killed in the blasts, more than 200 were wounded and scores of homes were damaged or destroyed.

State Fire Marshal Chris Connealy said investigators hadn't ruled out an intentionally set fire, a malfunction involving the 120-volt electrical system at the site or a battery-powered golf cart parked in the seed room.

New Jersey

Gov't to buy out flooded homes

SAYREVILLE - Some 350 homeowners in the central New Jersey towns of Sayreville and South River whose properties have flooded repeatedly will be eligible to sell their homes in the first phase of a new federally funded buyout program, Gov. Chris Christie announced Thursday.

Christie returned to the community of Sayreville, which was heavily flooded during superstorm Sandy, to announce the $300 million buyout.

The money will be enough to buy nearly 1,000 homes in targeted communities along the Raritan River, Passaic River basin and the Jersey shore.

The homes that the government buys will be razed and the property maintained as wetlands to help protect against future floods. The program is voluntary.


New pump resolves space-station leak

CAPE CANAVERAL - An impromptu spacewalk over the weekend seems to have fixed a big ammonia leak at the International Space Station, NASA said Thursday.

The "gusher" erupted a week ago, prompting the hastiest repair job ever by residents of the orbiting lab. Spacewalking astronauts replaced a suspect ammonia pump on Saturday, just two days after the trouble arose.

Flight controller Anthony Vareha said engineers don't know whether the pump replacement also took care of a smaller leak that has plagued the system for years. It will take a couple of months of monitoring to know the full status.

Ammonia is used as a coolant in the space station's radiator system.


Brothers are arrested in parade shooting

NEW ORLEANS - Two brothers with a history of drug arrests and suspected ties to a neighborhood gang each face 20 counts of attempted second-degree murder in a shooting spree that brought a sudden bloody end to a Mother's Day parade in a New Orleans neighborhood.

The arrests by city police and U.S. marshals came less than four days after gunfire scattered the crowd and wounded 20 people.

Akein Scott, 19, was arrested without incident late Wednesday at an eastern New Orleans residence. His brother, Shawn Scott, 24, was arrested Thursday morning as he tried to flee another residence in the city, police said.

Wire reports