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5:12pm

Thu February 24, 2011
The Two-Way

USAF Picks Boeing To Build Tankers; $35 Billion Contract

The Associated Press reports that the U.S. Air Force has awarded a highly contested $35 billion contract to build a new fleet of military air tankers to Boeing Co.

Boeing, based in Chicago, won the contract over archrival EADS of Europe; the two companies had staged a fierce competition to build nearly 200 airborne refueling tankers to replace the military's aging fleet of KC-135 planes.

The Air Force decision also comes as a blow to Alabama, where EADS had pledged to build its planes "at a long-shuttered military base in Mobile,"according to the AP.

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5:00pm

Thu February 24, 2011
The Two-Way

Shuttle Discovery Lifts Off On Final Mission

Space shuttle Discovery has blasted off on its final voyage, taking six astronauts on their way to orbit.

Discovery will spend 11 days in orbit, and will dock with the International Space Station. The shuttle's launch had been delayed for four months, so that NASA could make fuel tank repairs.

As the AP reports, Discovery has secured a place in history:

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4:39pm

Thu February 24, 2011
Politics

Analysts Say A Government Shutdown Is No Joke

In nine days, the federal government could shut down unless Democrats and Republicans can reach an agreement on a spending bill for the rest of the year.

Time is running out in this high-stakes budget showdown.

In private, talks continue on a possible compromise, but in public, the two parties are squaring off, trying to make sure that if there is a shutdown, the other side gets the blame.

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4:26pm

Thu February 24, 2011
World

Al-Qaida Will Adapt To Mideast Changes, Experts Say

Before al-Qaida made the United States and the West its principal targets, the terrorist group's top priority was to topple regimes in the Arab world.

Now, with revolution rocking the Middle East and North Africa, intelligence officials are watching to see if al-Qaida seizes the opportunity to return to its original mission.

As this year began, European capitals issued terrorism alerts. The U.S. was investigating a plot out of Yemen to bomb U.S. cargo planes. And then, the Arab world got its first taste of people power.

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4:22pm

Thu February 24, 2011
The Two-Way

U.S. Struggles To Evacuate Libya; Others Don't

U.S. efforts to evacuate hundreds of Americans from Libya are being stymied by bad weather on the coast — and by the refusal of Moammar Gadhafi's government to allow American charter planes to land there.

Some 285 people have been sitting on the Maria Dolores, a chartered ferry, since Wednesday, as the ship's crew waits for the stormy seas to calm, according to State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley says.

The ship isn't likely to leave port until Friday, according to reports.

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