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In brief: Activist, neighbor killed by gunmen

Wed., July 8, 2009

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico – An anti-crime activist and a neighbor were killed in northern Mexico on Tuesday by gunmen believed linked to a drug cartel, a local legislator said.

Mexican anti-crime activists said the slaying of Benjamin LeBaron, a U.S. citizen, in Chihuahua state was the first time one of their own had been killed for denouncing crime and called it a chilling warning.

LeBaron led street protests in May demanding the release of his 19-year-old brother, Eric, who had been snatched by a kidnapping gang in May. The teenager was later freed.

Such gangs are frequently linked to drug cartels in Mexico, and there were signs that one such cartel may have been involved in Tuesday’s killings of LeBaron and neighbor Luis Widmar, who apparently went to LeBaron’s house to try to help him.

An official at the Chihuahua state prosecutor’s office confirmed the deaths but offered no further details.

The victims were from a Mormon community in a region with many Mennonite communities.

Rove testifies on attorney firings

WASHINGTON – Former Bush White House official Karl Rove was questioned by House Judiciary Committee lawyers Tuesday on any role he may have played in politically motivated firings of U.S. attorneys.

Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., confirmed Rove’s closed-door appearance through a committee spokesman who was not authorized to be quoted by name.

The committee has been seeking answers on who created the list of federal prosecutors who would lose their jobs. Conyers has suspected the trail led to the White House but couldn’t prove it. Former President George W. Bush asserted executive privilege for Rove and former White House lawyer Harriet Miers and refused to let them testify.

An agreement was struck in March between Rove’s lawyer and the committee for Rove, who was Bush’s top political adviser, to testify on the prosecutors’ firings, as well as the prosecution of former Gov. Don Siegelman of Alabama. Siegelman, a Democrat, has alleged that his prosecution was pushed by Republicans, including Rove.

The agreement called for Rove to testify “under the penalty for perjury,” Conyers has said. The committee could release the transcripts afterward, but the agreement also allowed for public testimony.

Oscar Mayer dies at 95

MADISON, Wis. – Oscar G. Mayer, retired chairman of the Wisconsin-based meat processing company that bears his name, has died at the age of 95.

Mayer’s wife, Geraldine, said he died of old age Monday at Hospice Care in Fitchburg.

He was the third Oscar Mayer in the family that founded Oscar Mayer Foods, which was once the largest private employer in Madison. His grandfather, Oscar F. Mayer, died in 1955 and his father, Oscar G. Mayer Sr., died in 1965.

Mayer retired as chairman of the board in 1977 at age 62 soon after the company recorded its first $1 billion year. The company was later sold to General Foods and is now a business unit of Kraft.


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