Endeavour Space Shuttle Will Launch This Afternoon; Death Toll After Deadly Tornadoes in South at 300

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Endeavour, on a previous mission.
The Endeavour space shuttle launch is scheduled for 3:47 p.m. E.T. today at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The countdown has already begun! Barack Obama, with Michelle and the kids, will be there, as will U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, whose husband, Mark Kelly, is shuttle commander. Forecasters predict a "70 percent chance of acceptable weather for launch time." Fingers crossed! Update: Alas, launch postponed! [MSNBC]

• Sad news: The death toll after deadly tornadoes struck the South on Tuesday and Wednesday is now at 300. President Obama will visit Alabama, the state hardest hit, suffering 213 fatalities, today. (Tuscaloosa was the hardest hit city in the state. Among the fatalities, two University of Alabama students were killed.) Experts are calling the storms "one of the worst outbreaks of violent weather in the southeastern United States in decades." Nearly 1 million people are still without power. The search for survivors continues. [CNN]

• Experts say that the series of tornadoes in the South was likely caused by a powerful jet stream, or "the La Nina effect," and not global warming. [NYDN]

• Uh oh. We are worried about New York's famous hawk eggs, which are on day 38 of incubation. (Chicks usually hatch between 28 and 35 days.) This makes the hawk cam on the ledge outside of NYU's president's office seem a little...unfortunate. Fingers crossed for Violet and Bobby (the hawks). [NYT]

• Those crazy royals went ahead and got married! Read all about it (horses, carriages, hats, and smooches!) on our liveblog. And see Kate's dress here! [RS]

Everybody loves Central Park, apparently. According to a study that we don't exactly understand the point of, it gets more visits than "Broadway, the Yankees or the Empire State Building combined" -- more than 37 million visits a year! Congrats, Central Park! You are popular. [NYP]

• There's more ominousness related to the upcoming closing of Mars Bar. (R.I.P., eventually. Sadface.) [EV Grieve]

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