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In brief: Freighter sinks; seven missing

SEOUL, South Korea – A South Korean freighter has sunk in the South China Sea, leaving seven crew members missing, South Korean officials said today.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said that 14 other crew members have been rescued from the 15,000-ton ship, “Bright Ruby,” which sank Monday afternoon south of Hong Kong amid bad weather. The ship is owned by a South Korean company.

The ministry said in a statement that a rescue team is looking for the missing crew of three South Koreans and four from Myanmar.

Three officers kidnapped, slain

PIEDRAS NEGRAS, Mexico – Assailants kidnapped and killed three police officers in the Mexican border city of Acuna, authorities said Monday.

The Acuna Public Safety Department said in a statement that the three were on patrol in the same unit when gunmen kidnapped them early Monday.

The officers’ bodies were found an hour later in a residential area of Acuna, which is across the border from Del Rio, Texas. They had been shot and their hands were handcuffed, the police department said.

Authorities say the Zetas and the Sinaloa drug cartels are fighting each other to control smuggling routes.

EU leaders back shark-finning ban

BRUSSELS – The EU’s executive arm said Monday that it wants to completely ban shark finning – the practice of removing sharks’ fins and throwing the finless creatures back into the sea to die.

Under the proposal approved by the European Commission, all boats in EU waters – and EU-registered boats anywhere in the world – would have to land sharks with their fins attached to prove that the rest of the shark had not been discarded. The law would primarily affect fishing vessels from Spain and Portugal.

To become law, the proposal must also be approved by the European Council – the 27 EU heads of government – and the European Parliament.

Chevron faces fine for offshore spill

SAO PAULO – Brazil’s environmental agency said Monday it will fine Chevron nearly $28 million for a continuing oil spill off the Rio de Janeiro coast, and the company could face several more similar fines in the coming days.

Rio de Janeiro state’s environment secretary, Carlos Minc, said the national government will also ask Chevron to pay for damages caused by the Atlantic spill.

Minc said Chevron will be expected to pay about $5.6 million in reparation for the damage to the environment.

Teen sentenced in gay boy’s death

Los Angeles – A teenager who fatally shot a gay classmate in the back of the head during an Oxnard, Calif., middle school computer lab will spend 21 years in prison under a plea deal reached Monday.

Brandon McInerney, who was 14 when he pulled a gun out of his backpack and shot Larry King two times at point-blank range, will be kept behind bars until he is 38, under the terms of the deal struck by Ventura County prosecutors.

In an unusual arrangement, the 17-year-old pleaded guilty to second-degree and voluntary manslaughter. In return, prosecutors agreed not to go forward with a second trial, which could have resulted in a life sentence.

Whiskey tax proposal fails

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A proposal to tax barrels of Jack Daniel’s whiskey was derailed Monday evening before it could reach the Tennessee Legislature.

The Moore County Council in Lynchburg voted 10-5 to rescind a vote asking lawmakers to authorize a local referendum. It would have taxed Jack Daniel up to $5 million annually with the revenue going to local coffers.

Jack Daniel’s is the world’s top-selling whiskey, distilled in the tiny town which has been celebrated in folksy advertisements for years.


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