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Nation in brief: Deadline on lead in toys postponed

Washington – Makers of toys and other children’s products won a reprieve Thursday from federal regulators trying to implement legislation Congress passed more than a year ago after a holiday season marred by scores of lead-tainted toy recalls.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission voted to delay for another year – until February 2011 – the certification and independent third-party testing rules on the amount of lead allowed in children’s products. Those rules were set to kick in last February but have been delayed twice.

Manufacturers and importers still must test their products to make sure they’re safe and meet federal limits on lead. But the commission’s decision late Thursday means they won’t have to produce compliance certificates and perform third-party testing for now, though many are already doing so at retailers’ requests.

Gunman kills 3, falls to his death

New York – A rampaging gunman killed an elderly man, his son-in-law and grandson in their apartment Thursday, then fell off a fire escape to his death while trying to flee the scene, police said.

Hector Quinones – who knew one of his victims from prison, police said – wounded a woman and terrorized another family member who found him in their third-floor walk-up apartment.

Police found Carlos Rodriguez Sr., 52; and his son, Carlos Rodriguez, 24; shot to death in an apartment bedroom. Rodriguez Sr.’s father, Fernando Gonzalez, 87, was dead in a bathroom, possibly after being stabbed with a bloody knife recovered in the kitchen, they said.

Also discovered in the apartment in the rear of the building were a large stash of heroin and a semiautomatic handgun believed to be the murder weapon, chief police spokesman Paul Browne said.

DOE, Utah reach deal on waste

Salt Lake City – The Department of Energy said Thursday that it has struck a deal with Utah Gov. Gary Herbert that would prohibit radioactive waste from South Carolina from being permanently buried in Utah until stricter state guidelines are put in place.

DOE spokeswoman Jen Stutsman said the agreement was reached Thursday, two days after Herbert called on the department to stop a train loaded with depleted uranium from leaving the Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C.

The material is waste from the development of nuclear weapons in the Cold War era.

State regulators say they need more time to determine whether depleted uranium can safely be disposed of at EnergySolutions Inc.’s site about 70 miles west of Salt Lake City. Depleted uranium is different from other waste disposed there because it becomes more radioactive over time, for up to 1 million years.

The first train, carrying 5,408 55-gallon drums of waste, won’t be stopped or turned around, Stutsman said. But the DOE agreed to place its waste in temporary storage once it arrives in Utah, rather than permanently disposing of it.

The waste is expected to arrive in Utah in the next two weeks.


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Zimbabwe leader calls assassination attempt ‘cowardly act’

UPDATED: 6:41 p.m.

updated  Zimbabwe’s president was unscathed Saturday by an explosion at a campaign rally that state media called an attempt to assassinate him, later visiting his two injured vice presidents and declaring the “cowardly act” will not disrupt next month’s historic elections.