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WashingtonTainted peanut butter prompts health alert

Federal health authorities on Saturday urged consumers to avoid eating cookies, cakes, ice cream and other foods that contain peanut butter until authorities can learn more about a deadly outbreak of salmonella contamination.

Most peanut butter sold in jars at supermarkets appears to be safe, said Stephen Sundlof, head of the Food and Drug Administration's food safety center.

"As of now, there is no indication that the major national name-brand jars of peanut butter sold in retails stores are linked to the recall," Sundlof told reporters in a conference call.

Officials are focusing on peanut paste, as well as peanut butter, produced at a Blakely, Ga., facility owned by Peanut Corp. of America. Its peanut butter is not sold directly to consumers but distributed to institutions and food companies. But the peanut paste, made from roasted peanuts, is an ingredient in cookies, cakes and other products that people buy in the supermarket.

More than 470 people in 43 states have gotten sick, and at least 90 had to be hospitalized. At least six deaths are being blamed on the outbreak.

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

Six prisoners moved; call for delays rejected

The U.S. Department of Defense announced Saturday that it transferred six detainees out of Guantanamo, leaving about 245 at the offshore prison.

Four detainees were sent to Iraq, one to Algeria and one to Afghanistan after a series of reviews, the Defense Department said in a statement.

President-elect Obama has vowed to close the detention center in southeast Cuba and stop the military commissions, or war-crimes trials. Still, military judges rejected last-minute requests to postpone pretrial hearings scheduled to begin Monday for five men accused of orchestrating the Sept. 11 attacks and a Canadian accused of killing an American soldier with a grenade in Afghanistan.

Defense lawyers have sought to halt the cases — or at least delay them pending a review by the Obama administration.


South begins to thaw, but Northeast shivers

Bitter cold kept its grip on the Northeast on Saturday, while warmer temperatures brought relief to the Midwest and Southeast.

A day after schools in a dozen states closed and Alabama was colder than Alaska, temperatures in the South climbed into the 40s, thawing water fountains and pipes. Parts of the Northeast, however, persisted with temperatures barely in the teens.

Boston's low early Saturday was 8 degrees, and temperatures hovered near zero elsewhere in the state.

Temperatures reached the low 30s in central Illinois and the low 20s in the northern part of the state Saturday — balmy compared to the subzero weather that forced people to hide their grimaces behind scarves and ski masks. The National Weather Service said it had been the coldest episode in northern Illinois since February 1996.

The weather led to at least seven deaths.

Shanksville, Pa.

Accord is reached on Sept. 11 memorial site

The National Park Service and an organization representing victims' families have reached a deal to buy the most critical piece of land needed for the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa.

Driven by a goal of getting a deal done before President Bush leaves office on Tuesday, the park service and the organization, Families of Flight 93, reached an accord late Friday with Svonavec Inc., the quarry company that owns the 274-acre parcel at the heart of the site where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed after terrorists took over the plane on Sept. 11, 2001. Forty passengers and crew members were killed.

The park service said the deal would allow construction of the memorial to begin on schedule this year. The goal is to have the first part of the $56-million initial phase of the memorial completed by 2011.


New eternal flame is relit at memorial

A communications company, Frontier Communications of Stamford, Conn., has offered to help Bullhead City pay the steep natural gas bills for its new eternal flame at a veterans memorial.

The Arizona town turned the flame off on Jan. 5 after it received a $961 bill for the first full month of service. The flame was relit several days later after protests from veterans who had worked to build the memorial.

The city is considering burning the flame at full power only during special events.

Times wires

WashingtonTainted peanut butter prompts health alert 01/17/09 [Last modified: Sunday, January 18, 2009 12:14am]
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