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minneapolis» Min­nesota’s first-in-the na­tion ban on soaps con­tain­ing the once ubiq­ui­tous germ-killer tri­closan takes ef­fect Jan. 1, but the peo­ple who spear­headed the law say it’s al­ready hav­ing its de­sired ef­fect on a na­tional level. Tri­closan once was widely used in an­tibac­te­rial soaps, de­odor­ants and even tooth­paste. But stud­ies be­gan to show it could dis­rupt sex and thy­roid hor­mones and other bod­ily func­tions, and sci­en­tists were con­cerned rou­tine use could con­trib­ute to the devel­op­ment of re­sis­tant bac­te­ria.

Eight dead or miss­ing in ex­plo­sion at Chi­nese fire­works work­shop. An ex­plo­sion at a

fire­works work­shop in a ru­ral area of north­ern China has killed or left miss­ing eight peo­ple and in­jured 16, state me­dia re­ported Sun­day. The ex­plo­sion Satur­day af­ter­noon de­stroyed the work­shop and dam­aged about a dozen homes in the vil­l­lage of Yanz­ihe, ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial Xinhua News Agency. Two peo­ple were killed and six were miss­ing.

Where the heav­i­est-drink­ing Amer­i­cans live. The Depart­ment

of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices re­cently up­dated the of­fi­cial fed­eral sta­tis­tics on the per­cent of state res­i­dents ages 12 and older who drink at least once a month.

New Eng­land is home to the na­tion’s heav­i­est drinkers — New Hamp­shire, where about 64 per­cent of res­i­dents age 12 or older drink monthly, is tops in the coun­try. Ver­mont, Maine and Con­necti­cut also come in at drink­ing rates above 60 per­cent. Hard-drink­ing cheese­heads in Wis­con­sin see to it that their home is the only Mid­west­ern state in the top tier of Amer­i­can drinkers.

The next tier of heavy drink­ing states are all in the north­ern part of the coun­try.

Mas­sive World War II bomb is de­fused B

augs­burg, ger­many» Ex­plo­sives ex­perts on Sun­day de­fused a large World War II aerial bomb — clear­ing the way for thou­sands of evac­u­ated res­i­dents to re­turn to their Christ­mas cel­e­bra­tions at home. About 54,000 res­i­dents in the city’s his­toric cen­tral dis­trict were forced to leave by 10 a.m. Christ­mas morn­ing so ex­perts could han­dle the bomb.

Pow­er­ful earth­quake shakes Chile B A

san­ti­ago, chile» pow­er­ful earth­quake shook south­ern Chile on Sun­day, but there were no im­me­di­ate re­ports of deaths and only mi­nor dam­age. The U.S. Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey said the mag­ni­tude-7.6 quake struck at 11:22 a.m. lo­cal time near the south­ern tip of Chiloe Is­land at a depth of 22 miles. The area, 800 miles south of San­ti­ago, is rel­a­tively sparsely pop­u­lated.

Court re­turns ex-Fort Bragg cook to ex­e­cu­tion track B

fayet­teville, n.c.» A for­mer Fort Bragg sol­dier who killed four women and raped oth­ers more than 25 years ago is again headed for ex­e­cu­tion. Ron­ald Gray last week lost a bat­tle to keep in place a fed­eral court’s or­der is­sued eight years ago block­ing his ex­e­cu­tion. The for­mer Army cook’s death sen­tence would be the first for the U.S. mil­i­tary since 1961. Gray was con­victed and con­demned in mil­i­tary court in 1988 for two mur­ders and three rapes while sta­tioned at Fort Bragg.

Fisher in sta­ble con­di­tion

B los an­ge­les» Car­rie Fisher was in sta­ble con­di­tion days af­ter suf­fer­ing a med­i­cal emer­gency, ac­cord­ing to her mother, ac­tress Deb­bie Reynolds.

Two-time Os­car win­ner, art di­rec­tor Par­rondo dies B

madrid» Span­ish art di­rec­tor Gil Par­rondo, who won Os­cars for “Pat­ton” in 1970 and “Ni­cholas and Alexan­dra” in 1974, has died. He was 95.

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