In Brief

In Brief

November 29, 2008|By From Sun news services

Two dead in shootout at California toy store

PALM DESERT, Calif.: Two men pulled guns and shot each other to death in a crowded toy store yesterday after the women with them got into a bloody brawl, witnesses said. Scared shoppers fled but no one else was hurt. The violence erupted on Black Friday, the traditional post-Thanksgiving start of the holiday shopping surge, but authorities indicated the shooting wasn't related to a shopping frenzy. Riverside County sheriff's Sgt. Dennis Gutierrez said the fight was not over a toy. He said handguns were found by the men's bodies, but he released little other information. He would not answer a question about whether the shooting was gang-related.

Researcher convicted as spy executed in China

BEIJING: Despite pleas for clemency from the Bush administration and European officials, a biomedical researcher convicted of espionage by a Chinese court was executed yesterday, according to family members and American Embassy officials. Wo Weihan, 59, a researcher and owner of a medical supply company, was convicted in May of passing military documents and classified information about an unnamed Chinese leader to Taiwan. Wo's family said he initially confessed to the crimes but later recanted, saying the confession had been coerced. The evidence against him was deemed a state secret, and even his lawyer was not allowed to discuss it with his family. A distant relative of Wo, Guo Wanjun, 66, was convicted as a conspirator and also put to death yesterday, family members said. The U.S. had protested Wo's conviction, saying that his trial was carried out in total secrecy and that the accusations, if true, did not constitute a capital crime.

FDA sets safety limit for melamine in formula

WASHINGTON: Federal regulators set a safety threshold yesterday for the industrial chemical melamine that is greater than the amount of contamination found so far in U.S.-made infant formula. Food and Drug Administration officials set a threshold of 1 part per million of melamine in formula so long as a related chemical isn't also present. They said they are continuing to analyze the results of tests on 87 samples of infant formula, but of the 74 samples analyzed so far, one had traces of melamine below the new threshold and another had traces of cyanuric acid, a related contaminant. None had both contaminants. That's key because studies so far show dangerous health effects only when both chemicals are present, said Dr. Stephen Sundlof, FDA's director of food safety. Both the safety level and the amount of the chemical found in U.S.-made infant formula are far below the amounts of melamine added to infant formula in China that have been blamed for killing at least three babies and making thousands ill.

OPEC ministers meet to discuss output cut

CAIRO, Egypt: OPEC officials meeting here yesterday played down expectations of, but didn't dismiss entirely, an immediate production cut. They are facing a third test in as many months of their ability to engineer a rebound in oil prices. The outcome of today's hastily convened Cairo meeting, billed as a consultative gathering to assess the impact of earlier production cuts, likely hinges on a key issue with which the cartel has had a checkered past: unity. Kuwaiti oil minister Mohammed Al-Aleem told reporters in Cairo that while the market was oversupplied, he believed there was "no need" for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to decide on cuts ahead of its regularly scheduled Dec. 17 meeting in Algeria. But Venezuelan oil minister Rafael Ramirez later said the option remained to cut production by "at least 1 million barrels" at the weekend gathering.

Bank standoff is much ado about cardboard

MONTGOMERY TOWNSHIP, N.J.: A standoff at a New Jersey bank ended when police learned that a "person" inside was actually a full-size cardboard figure. Officers went to the PNC Bank in Montgomery Township on Thursday night after an alarm went off. They saw what they thought was at least one person through the windows of the bank, which had its blinds drawn. The area was sealed off and three nearby apartment buildings were evacuated. Authorities used bullhorns and made telephone calls in a bid to make contact with whomever might be in the bank. After repeatedly failing to get a response, a SWAT team entered the building and discovered the cardboard figure. It was not immediately clear what set off the bank alarm.

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