- - Thursday, December 22, 2011

MISSOURI

Wal-Mart pulls formula after baby’s death

COLUMBIA | Wal-Mart and health officials awaited tests Thursday on a batch of powdered infant formula that was removed from more than 3,000 stores nationwide after a Missouri newborn who consumed it apparently died from a rare infection.

The source of the bacteria that caused the infection has not been determined, but it occurs naturally in the environment and in plants such as wheat and rice. The most worrisome appearances have been in dried milk and powdered formula, which is why manufacturers routinely test for the germs.

Wal-Mart pulled the Enfamil Newborn formula from shelves as a precaution after the death of Avery Cornett in the town of Lebanon.

The formula has not been recalled, and the manufacturer said tests showed the batch was negative for the bacteria before it was shipped. Additional tests were under way.

“We decided it was best to remove the product until we learn more,” Wal-Mart spokeswoman Dianna Gee said. “It could be returned to the shelves.”

Customers who bought formula in 12.5-ounce cans with the lot number ZP1K7G have the option of returning them for a refund or exchange, she said.

The product is not exclusive to Wal-Mart. The manufacturer, Mead Johnson Nutrition, declined to answer questions about whether formula from that batch was distributed to other stores.

“We’re highly confident in the safety and quality of our products,” said Christopher Perille, a spokesman for the company based in the Chicago suburb of Glenview.

A second infant fell ill after consuming powdered baby formula in the last month, but that child recovered, state health officials said.

OHIO

Danish company sells drug used in executions

COLUMBUS | The only U.S.-licensed maker of a drug used by several states to execute inmates is selling the product to another drug manufacturer.

Denmark-based Lundbeck Inc. says a distribution system meant to keep the drug out of the hands of prisons will remain in place as Lake Forest, Ill.-based Akorn Inc. acquires the drug.

Lundbeck says pentobarbital, also known by its trademark name, Nembutal, was never an important part of its business. Lundbeck couldn’t say if the decision to sell the drug was based on controversy over its use in executions.

A message was left with Akorn seeking comment.

Several states switched to pentobarbital after supplies of a previous execution drug dried up, and states are expected to need a new drug soon as the restrictions on pentobarbital take effect.

CALIFORNIA

Nurses strike over benefits, staffing

OAKLAND | Nurses in California went on strike Thursday - some for the second time in three months - in the latest dispute between nurses and hospital management over health care costs, staffing levels and sick leave.

The California Nurses Association, the union behind the one-day walkout, expected 6,000 nurses at nine hospitals in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas to participate, although hospital officials said some workers had crossed the picket lines.

The strike followed a walkout called by the association Sept. 22 and came on the same day that more than 1,000 nurses in New York City gave notice that they plan to go on strike in January.

Officials at the California hospitals said replacement nurses had been brought in and patient care was not immediately affected.

“Strikes are a last resort, but nurses will only strike if they want to make sure that patients have safe care every day,” said Charles Idelson, a spokesman for the association.

NEW JERSEY

Janitor convicted of murdering priest

NEWARK | A former church janitor was convicted Thursday of murdering a New Jersey priest who was stabbed more than 30 times in 2009 while brewing a cup of coffee in his kitchen, wearing his clerical robes.

Jose Feliciano, 66, of Easton, Pa., didn’t deny stabbing the Rev. Edward Hinds to death in the rectory of St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church in Chatham in October 2009. But his attorney told jurors during closing arguments Monday that Feliciano killed him in a fit of rage over sexual blackmail.

The prosecution said Feliciano “slaughtered” the priest after Hinds discovered Feliciano had an outstanding arrest warrant in Philadelphia from the 1980s for sexually touching a child and fired him.

Feliciano argued that the priest demanded sex in exchange for keeping quiet about the warrant.

Feliciano, who testified for eight days during the trial, was found guilty in Morristown of murder, felony murder, two counts of robbery and two weapons counts. He is scheduled to be sentenced in February.

TEXAS

Judge: Financier competent to stand trial

HOUSTON | Jailed Texas financier R. Allen Stanford is mentally competent to stand trial on charges he bilked investors out of $7 billion in a massive Ponzi scheme, a judge ruled Thursday

U.S. District Judge David Hittner’s decision came after a nearly three-day competency hearing for the disgraced financier. Mr. Stanford’s trial is set for Jan. 23.

Mr. Stanford had been declared incompetent in January because of an anti-anxiety drug addiction he developed while jailed in Houston. He spent more than eight months at a federal prison hospital in Butner, N.C., getting treatment for his addiction and being evaluated to determine if he had any long-term effects from being injured in a September 2009 jail fight.

A forensic psychologist who helped treat Mr. Stanford at the prison hospital testified the financier is now competent, can think clearly after being taken off the drug and has not suffered brain damage from the jail fight.

But four medical experts who testified on Mr. Stanford’s behalf, including a neurologist and two forensic psychiatrists, said the financier suffered a traumatic brain injury in the jail fight that left him with severe memory loss and unable to think or communicate clearly.

FLORIDA

Yoga teacher named ‘world’s oldest’

PINELLAS PARK | The yoga teacher in the front of the room laid on the floor, her hands resting on her upper thighs. She lifted her right leg high in the air, foot flexed. Then she grabbed her right foot in her right hand and brought her leg toward her face as she raised her upper body a few inches off the ground.

Bernice Bates is 91 years old, and she’s more flexible than people a third of her age.

Guinness World Records recently awarded Ms. Bates the title of “Oldest Yoga Teacher.” While there might be other, older yogis somewhere in the world, Ms. Bates completed the lengthy documentation process required by Guinness. She was nominated earlier this year by her daughter.

Ms. Bates first began practicing yoga 50 years ago.