American Scene: Rubber ducks seized over chemical safety

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LOS ANGELES — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Southern California have seized nearly 36,000 Chinese rubber ducks that contain levels of a chemical that may be unhealthful for children.

The ducks, decorated as Santas, Snowmen and other holiday figures, were seized Dec. 4 by officers and import specialists at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif.

The customs agency said Friday that it worked with the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission in determining that the ducks contain an excessive level of a regulated phthalate, a chemical used to make vinyl and plastics soft and flexible.

The rubber ducks were valued at more than $18,000.

ALABAMA

State’s last dry county plans to stay that way

LINEVILLE — Clay County is the only county left in Alabama where there isn’t a single place that you can buy a beer legally. And there are plenty of people there happy to keep it that way.

It’s a scenic but poor county of about 14,000 people in the hills about 50 miles east of Birmingham.

It isn’t illegal to have a small amount of alcohol in Clay County, and lots of people go across the county line to buy it and take it home. Wayne Watts, the county commission chairman and a former police chief, says it’s an open secret that you can buy it from bootleggers, too.

People like the Rev. Bruce Willis say it’s unlikely the county will ever go wet. He says people won’t vote for it in a rural area where family values are important.

OHIO

Police: Airport security officer killed by husband

CLEVELAND — Authorities in Cleveland say a man fatally shot his airport security officer wife, fired at a second person, and then killed himself at an off-site airport employee parking lot.

Police spokesman Sgt. Sammy Morris says the shooting late Sunday morning on the employee parking lot of the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport was an apparent homicide and suicide.

The police spokesman says the man fired at another Transportation Security Administration employee who was commuting to work with the man’s estranged wife but missed.

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