Nation/World

Toy exec kills self after U.S. recall

The head of a Chinese toy manufacturing company at the center of a huge U.S. recall has committed suicide, a state-run newspaper said today.

Zhang Shuhong, who ran the Lee Der Industrial Co. Ltd, killed himself at a warehouse over the weekend, days after China said it had temporarily banned exports by the company, the Southern Metropolis Daily said.

Lee Der made 967,000 toys recalled earlier this month by Mattel Inc. because they were made with paint found to have excessive amounts of lead. The plastic preschool toys, sold under the Fisher-Price brand in the U.S., included the popular Big Bird, Elmo, Dora and Diego characters.

An official who answered the telephone at Lee Der today said he had not heard the news.

Harare, Zimbabwe

Gas shortages cripple celebration

Acute gasoline shortages crippled transportation services in Zimbabwe on Sunday, stranding thousands of weary travelers at bus stops before a two-day holiday honoring guerrillas who fought against colonial-era white rule.

Zimbabwe is facing its worst gasoline shortages since the seizures of thousands of white-owned commercial farms began in 2000, disrupting the agriculture-based economy. Shortfalls in food, energy and other sectors, along with the world’s highest inflation rates, have devastated the country – once a regional breadbasket.

At a major terminal in Harare, travelers said buses were infrequent or not available at all to some districts for the holiday period. State radio reported that some bus operators had abandoned government-controlled fares and demanded “exorbitant” amounts from travelers desperate to visit relatives in rural areas.

Some people had been waiting in line since 3 a.m. at the Mbare terminal in western Harare, where riot police were called Saturday to stop passengers fighting to board scarce buses and throw travelers off overcrowded vehicles.

The Heroes and Defense Forces holiday today and Tuesday commemorates the seven-year bush war that ended British rule with Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980.



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