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Today's News

  • Family Swept to Sea Mourned in Northern Calif.
  • FDA halts plans for peanut butter plant to resume operations

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration has halted operations of the country's largest organic peanut butter processor, cracking down on salmonella poisoning for the first time with a new enforcement authority the agency gained in a 2011 food safety law.

    The news came just hours after Sunland Inc. said it planned to reopen its shuttered processing plant on Tuesday.

    FDA officials found salmonella all over Sunland's New Mexico plant after 41 people in 20 states, most of them children, were sickened by peanut butter manufactured at the plant and sold at Trader Joe's. The suspension will prevent the company from distributing any food.

    The food safety law gave the FDA authority to suspend a company's registration when food manufactured or held there has a "reasonable probability" of causing serious health problems or death.

    Sunland sold hundreds of products to many of the nation's largest grocery chains.

  • Sandia physicist, cleanroom inventor dies at 92

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Willis Whitfield, an award-winning physicist known for inventing the modern-day cleanroom, has died. He was 92.

    Sandia National Laboratories, where Whitfield worked for three decades, announced Monday that Whitfield died in Albuquerque on Nov. 12.

    Lab President Paul Hommert says Whitfield's concept for a new kind of cleanroom came at the right time during the early 1960s to usher in a new era of electronics, health care and scientific research.

    Dubbed Mr. Clean, Whitfield was born in Rosedale, Okla. He was the son of a cotton farmer.

    Whitfield had his initial drawings for the new cleanroom by the end of 1960. His solution for dealing with the turbulent airflow and particles found in cleanrooms of the day was to constantly flush out the room with highly filtered air.

    Sandia says within a couple of years, $50 billion worth of cleanrooms had been built worldwide.

  • Cyber Monday Not Only Time for Deals
  • Cobalt could replace precious metals as industrial catalyst

    Cobalt, a relatively common mineral, may hold promise as an industrial catalyst with potential applications in such energy-related technologies as the production of biofuels and the reduction of carbon dioxide.

    That is, provided the cobalt is captured in a complex molecule so it mimics the precious metals that normally serve this industrial role.

    In work published Nov. 26 in the international edition of the chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie, Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists report the possibility of replacing the normally used noble metal catalysts with cobalt.

    Catalysts are the parallel of the Philosopher’s Stone for chemistry. They cannot change lead to gold, but they do transform one chemical substance into another while remaining unchanged themselves. Perhaps the most familiar example of catalysis comes from automobile exhaust systems that change toxic fumes into more benign gases, but catalysts are also integral to thousands of industrial, synthetic, and renewable energy processes where they accelerate or optimize a mind-boggling array of chemical reactions.

    It’s not an exaggeration to say that without catalysts, there would be no modern industry.

  • Raw: Capitol Christmas Tree Arrives
  • Portales peanut butter plant plans to resume operations

    PORTALES, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico peanut butter company that was shuttered after a salmonella outbreak is scheduled to resume peanut processing on Tuesday.

    Sunland Inc. spokeswoman Katalin Coburn says officials are eager to begin shelling and processing this year's crop, which is about 98 percent harvested.

    She says the company hopes to resume making peanut butter by the end of the year.

    Sunland shuttered its operations in Portales and began a top-to-bottom scrubbing in late September after salmonella was found in peanut butter it made for Trader Joe's. The company then issued a voluntary recall of hundreds of products. Forty-one illnesses in 20 states have been linked to the peanut butter.

  • 10 things to know for Monday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and stories that will be talked about today:

    1. WHY EGYPT'S PRESIDENT HAS POLARIZED THE NATION

    Supporters and opponents of Mohammed Morsi are growing more entrenched in their battle over the Islamist leader's move to assume near absolute powers.

    2. MERCHANTS HOPE FOR AN ONLINE BOOST

    It's estimated that this year's Cyber Monday will be the biggest online shopping day of the year, for the third year in a row.

    3. BANGLADESHIS HIT THE STREETS OVER FACTORY FIRE

    Thousands express outrage — some blocking roads and smashing vehicles — about conditions in the building where a blaze killed at least 112 people.

    4. THE 'FISCAL CLIFF' LOBBYING BATTLES BEGIN

  • Today in History for November 26th
  • Human Error Blamed in Mass. Gas Blast

    A utility worker responding to reports of a natural gas leak in Springfield, Mass. punctured a pipe and an unknown spark ignited a massive explosion that injured 18 people and damaged 42 buildings, the state fire marshal announced Sunday.