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TransCanada will adjust proposed route of oil pipeline

At a special session of the Nebraska Legislature, a state senator announced Monday that TransCanada had agreed to adjust its intended route of the Keystone XL oil pipeline to avoid the environmentally sensitive Sand Hills region of the state.

“There had been discussions about this over the last couple of days,” said Matt Boever, a spokesman for State Sen. Mike Flood. “Moving it out of that Sand Hills region is important.”

The proposed pipeline would run from Alberta’s oil sands to the Gulf of Mexico and was slated to pass through the Sand Hills, which includes the Ogallala Aquifer, a vital source of drinking water for the Great Plains.

TransCanada’s offer comes just days after a Nov. 10 announcement by the State Department that it would delay a final decision on the $7 billion project until it had considered other routes through Nebraska.

—Dan Frosch, The New York Times

Barbara Grier, publisher of lesbian books, dies at 78

Barbara Grier, a founder of one of the most successful publishing houses for books by and about lesbians, including a nonfiction chronicle about lesbian nuns that became a phenomenon after it drew complaints from Roman Catholic officials, died Thursday in Tallahassee, Fla. She was 78.

The cause was lung cancer, said her partner, Donna McBride.

Grier became a revered figure to several generations of lesbian writers and readers after founding Naiad Press in 1973 with three other women, including McBride. Armed with just $3,000, they set out to publish books, as Grier later described them, “about lesbians who love lesbians, where the girl is not just going through a phase.”

That comment referred to the lesbian-themed romance novels she had read as a girl, growing up in the 1940s, in which the heroine dallied with a female lover but ended up with a man, reflecting what publishers considered the only acceptable happily-ever-after outcome.

Naiad Press published more than 500 books with unconditionally lesbian themes during the next 30 years — romance novels, histories, erotica, volumes of poetry, science fiction and self-help guides.

Grier’s most controversial and successful book, “Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence,” was a 1985 nonfiction work by two former nuns, based on interviews with 50 former and active nuns who were lesbians like them. Nancy Manahan, one of the authors, wrote in the foreword to the book that its intent was to break the silence about “erotic love between women in religious life.”

—Paul Vitello, The New York Times

High emotions and intrigue in Iran blast

Iran’s supreme leader presided Monday over a vast state funeral for a founder of Iran’s missile program and 16 other members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps who were killed in an explosion Saturday, in an emotional ritual that underscored the commander’s importance and Tehran’s rising sense of confrontation with the West over its nuclear program.

The commander, Gen. Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam, was a crucial figure in Iran’s efforts to build long-range missiles who was “constantly preparing himself for the probable upcoming conflict with America,” according to a eulogy by a fellow senior Revolutionary Guards commander, Gen. Hossein Alaie, that was published on Iran’s Tabnak news site.

That prominent role, previously unknown outside Iran’s military circles, and the secrecy surrounding the explosion have fueled intense speculation that the blast was the result of sabotage, and not an accident as Iranian authorities have insisted.

Videos of the funeral on Iranian news sites showed soldiers weeping and beating their breasts as the flag-draped coffins were carried down a boulevard, and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, stood before a crowd of uniformed officers in a large prayer hall.

“During a time when Israel and America are threatening Iran, his presence is sorely missed,” Alaie wrote.

Robert F. Worth and Artin Afkhami, The New York Times

Russian rocket gives NASA a lift to space station

MOSCOW — A Russian Soyuz rocket blasted off through heavy snowfall in Kazakhstan on Monday morning, beginning a two-day trip to ferry three astronauts to the International Space Station. The flight opens a new era of U.S. dependence on Russia, and eventually on commercial enterprises, for manned space travel, after the end of NASA’s space shuttle program in July.

The rocket launch went off smoothly at 10:14 a.m. from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, carrying an American, Daniel C. Burbank, and two Russians, Anton N. Shkaplerov and Anatoly A. Ivanishin, on the first trip into orbit by astronauts since the final shuttle flight in July.

The Soyuz TMA-22 capsule is scheduled to dock at the space station Wednesday morning, in time to relieve the crew of three who have been there since June and are due to return to Earth next week. Another crew of three astronauts is set to arrive on Dec. 21.

Still, what might have been a triumphal year for the Russian space program — 50 years after Yuri Gagarin became the first human to go into space — has been scarred by mishaps and mission failures, which had raised the possibility that the space station would be left unstaffed for the first time in more than a decade. The newly arrived team will inaugurate a new era of commercial space expeditions to resupply the space station.

—David M. Herszenhorn, The New York Times