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News Briefs I

Husband of Daughter of Manager Of Angels Goes on Killing Spree

Los Angeles Times

A bakery worker on disability leave shot and killed his two young sons early Thursday and then killed himself as his wife, the daughter of California Angels interim manager John McNamara, looked on.

Police said the dead man, Monroe Watkins, went on his killing spree after his wife told him she planned to seek a divorce.

The woman, Margaret McNamara Watkins, 40, suffered lacerations and bruises to the face and neck after scuffling with her husband as she tried to dial 911. Her children were identified as Torrance and Tyler Watkins, ages 6 and 4.

"She confronted him, saying she wanted a divorce, and then he said he was going to kill the children," said Sacramento homicide Sgt. John Parker. "That's exactly what he proceeded to do."

Margaret Watkins managed to call 911, but her husband hung up the phone. A 911 dispatcher immediately called back and heard the sound of screaming and shots after Margaret Watkins picked up the phone.

The children were each shot once in the head with a .45-caliber handgun and appeared to die instantly. Both bodies were found on the floor of the master bedroom. Monroe Watkins used the third of four bullets in the gun to kill himself.

French Public Sector Employees Protest Government Policies

The Washington Post

In a brief echo of massive work stoppages that brought the French economy to a standstill for three weeks late last year, France endured a public-sector strike Thursday, directed against the austerity policies of the embattled government.

Tens of thousands of jeering, whistling workers converged on the Place de la Republique here to protest the government's efforts to freeze the salaries of government employees and to retire 6,000 of them. Marches and walkouts were reported in all of France's major cities.

Public-sector employees represent a fifth of the French work force. The strikers left behind transit lines and rail and air services, telephone systems, postal routes, clinics and classrooms, many of whose operations were idled or curtailed during the daylong action. According to scattered reports, only one commercial air flight in 10 was operating normally, one train in five, and one doctor in three.

But having had a chance to anticipate the long-scheduled day of protest, and to remember last year's weeks of chaos, Paris rolled with the punch.

Many commuters stayed close to home rather than brave the traffic and delays, leaving some subway cars nearly empty and some sidewalks nearly deserted. The evening rush hour, a snarling marathon on a normal day, was abnormally swift on this one.

Study Shows How Smoke Chemical Sets Stage for Lung Cancer

Los Angeles Times

Though a mountain of research has established that cigarettes can cause lung cancer, a study released Thursday shows for the first time exactly how a chemical in smoke sets the stage for the disease by damaging a key human gene.

Scientists said the study done at the City of Hope Medical Center in Duarte, Calif., and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Texas offers a new kind of evidence that smoking triggers molecular events leading to lung cancer, the country's top malignancy. Lung cancer is expected to kill some 158,700 Americans this year.

"This is a very important finding," said Dr. Curtis Harris, chief a National Cancer Institute laboratory studying cancer-causing substances. "It adds weight and specificity to the evidence that carcinogens found in cigarette smoke are the major causes of lung cancer."

City of Hope molecular biologist Gerd Pfeifer speculated that the technique might someday be applied to a blood test that screens for exposure to cigarette smoke, either firsthand or secondhand.