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The week at a glance ... United States

United States

Roslyn, Wash.
Ban on ‘blackout in a can’: Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna this week called for a nationwide ban on canned drinks that combine alcohol and caffeine. A party featuring one popular brand, Four Loko, a fruity, inexpensive caffeinated malt liquor nicknamed “blackout in a can,” led to the hospitalization of nine Central Washington University students earlier this month. Six students at Ramapo College in Mahwah, N.J., were recently hospitalized after drinking Four Loko along with tequila shots. Both schools have banned the drinks and 18 attorneys general have asked the FDA to review their safety. “This is one of the most dangerous new alcohol concoctions I have ever seen,” said Michael Reihart, an emergency room doctor at Lancaster General Hospital in Pennsylvania.

Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
Shark kills teen: A 19-year-old boogie boarder died after being attacked by a great white shark last week. Lucas Ransom, a junior at the University of California at Santa Barbara, was about 100 yards offshore at Surf Beach, a public beach on Air Force property, when a 14- to 20-foot shark seized him, said a friend, Matthew Garcia. Ransom cried out for help but soon disappeared beneath the waves as the surrounding water turned red. “Imagine a river of blood,” said Garcia, who pulled Ransom to shore. The shark had ripped off Ransom’s leg at the pelvis; rescue workers pronounced him dead at the scene. There have been roughly a dozen fatal shark attacks off the California coast since 1950.

Florence, Ariz.
Unapproved drug in execution: Arizona used an unapproved drug this week in executing Jeffrey Landrigan, who was condemned to death for a grisly 1989 strangling. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved only one manufacturer of sodium thiopental, the barbiturate used in lethal injections. But the drug’s maker has temporarily ceased production, resulting in the delay of numerous executions. A federal judge had initially stayed Landrigan’s execution after his lawyers argued that Landrigan could suffer “cruel and unusual punishment” if an alternative drug proved inferior. But in a 5–4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the stay, ruling there was no evidence that the foreign-made thiopental was unsafe. After first resisting disclosure of the drug’s source, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard revealed the state had obtained it from Britain.

The Midwest
Massive storm: A powerful storm with winds of up to 81 miles per hour battered the Midwest this week, downing power lines and forcing the cancellation of more than 500 flights. Forecasters said it may have been the strongest storm to hit the region in 70 years, with barometric pressure at the level of a Category 3 hurricane. Tornadoes injured several people in Wisconsin and Illinois and flattened a barn in Ohio. Sheryl Uthemann was working her shift at the Case New Holland tractor assembly plant in Mount Pleasant, Wis., when the storm lifted the factory’s roof. “I looked up where the noise was coming from and saw pieces of the roof sucked up. I’ve never been more scared, ever,” she said.

New York
Fox discrimination suit: A former Fox News employee is suing the network, saying he was regularly subjected to “racist, sexist, and extremely offensive comments” about blacks, Muslims, Jews, women, and Hispanics. Harmeen Jones, a 32-year-old African-American technician, worked at Fox’s Manhattan headquarters from 2005 to 2009. He said that while watching footage of a Tea Party protest, a colleague told him: “This is what happens when you mess with white people’s health care.” During the 2008 campaign, he said, two white colleagues said they wouldn’t feel comfortable with a black president. When Jones reacted with visible unease, one asked, “Am I offending your blackness?” Jones, who said he was fired after he complained to management, is seeking $5 million in damages. News Corp., Fox’s parent company, declined to comment.

St. Petersburg, Fla.
‘Hiccup girl’ killing: Jennifer Mee, 19, who made national headlines three years ago when she was afflicted with hiccups—which struck as often as 50 times a minute over five weeks—is being held without bond on murder charges. St. Petersburg police say Mee lured Shannon Griffin, 22, to a house where two men—Laron Raiford, 20, and Lamont Newton, 22—tried to rob him. When Griffin resisted, he was shot four times and killed. The three partners in crime, who police say have confessed, stole less than $50 from Griffin. Mee’s mother, Rachel Robidoux, said her daughter’s hiccup fame led Mee to socialize with a bad crowd she met online. “Her case wasn’t a case of the hiccups, it was a curse of the hiccups,” she said.

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