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Wednesday, July 26, 2000 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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ACROSS THE NATION

Cyanide jars tied to protest of animal-genetics meeting

MINNEAPOLIS - Seven glass jars that may have been placed by opponents of an animal-genetics meeting contained enough cyanide to sicken people, but not enough to kill, the FBI said yesterday.

Special Agent Paul McCabe said two of three batches of chemicals in the jars had been tested, and a third round was pending.

"At the levels (of cyanide) present, it is not a serious health concern," McCabe said. Cyanide can be poisonous and explosive at higher concentrations.

The jars were found in three sites in downtown Minneapolis on Monday, when police clashed violently with people demonstrating against the International Society for Animal Genetics. Seventy-one people were arrested, though no major injuries were reported.

The six-day conference ends today.

Investigators said there was evidence linking the jars to protesters. At a McDonald's Restaurant where the contents of one jar were poured on the floor, a message was left referring to the geneticists' conference.

Wind, previous wildfires stall

blaze threatening artifacts

MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK, Colo. - A wind shift and thinner vegetation helped slow a wildfire that has carved an eerie landscape of burnt tree trunks and blackened ground across one-third of the nation's largest archaeological preserve.

The Mesa Verde National Park fire stalled yesterday at an area damaged by blazes in 1972 and 1996, where shrubs were shorter and spaced farther apart, said Tim Oliverious, a U.S. Park Service fire management officer.

Gov. Bill Owens declared a state of disaster emergency and dispatched about two dozen Colorado National Guard soldiers.

The fire poses special challenges for firefighters and archaeologists, who are working to protect artifacts of ancestral Pueblo Indians, who thrived amid the rugged mesas and canyons between A.D. 600 and 1300.

Poisonous leaves from hedge

kill 2 adopted Russian boys

LOS ANGELES - Two adopted Russian boys have died from eating poisonous oleander leaves in a neighbor's hedge.

Alexei Wiltsey, 2, and his 3-year-old brother, Peter, were found dead in their cribs at their El Segundo home May 4. Laboratory tests confirmed yesterday they died of oleander toxicity, coroner's office spokesman Scott Carrier said. The chemical oleandrian in the popular garden plant causes the heart to stop beating.

Refiners agree to pay penalty,

reduce pollution problems

WASHINGTON - Avoiding the threat of lengthy litigation, two major oil refiners have agreed to spend $580 million to reduce air pollution at 12 refineries and pay $14.5 million in penalties for past environmental violations, the government said yesterday.

The agreements with the Environmental Protection Agency involve nine refineries owned by BP Amoco and three refineries owned by Koch Petroleum Group, which together account for 15 percent of the country's refining capacity.

Under the agreement, BP Amoco is expected to spend more than $500 million on new pollution-control technologies at refineries in nine states, from California to Virginia. Koch Petroleum will invest a total of $80 million at refineries in Minnesota and Texas.

Copyright (c) 2000 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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