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News Briefs

Putin Takes Strong Stand Against Capital Punishment

LOS ANGELES TIMES

MOSCOW -- Russian President Vladimir V. Putin’s words were uncharacteristically strong and unequivocal -- “I am against the restoration of capital punishment in Russia” -- and they set off a fresh wave of controversy Tuesday in Russia over whether the country needs the death penalty.

The statement late Monday ended months of fence-sitting by the Russian president, torn between overwhelming support for the death penalty by his countrymen and overwhelming opposition to it in Western Europe.

In order to retain membership in European organizations, Russia has been halfheartedly observing a moratorium on capital punishment since 1996, but the statute permitting its use remains on the books.

Russian opinion polls show about 80 percent of respondents favor the death penalty.

Condit Offers to Let Police Search His D.C. Apartment

THE WASHINGTON POST

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Gary A. Condit will provide “whatever additional information or material” is needed by police searching for missing intern Chandra Levy, his attorney said Monday, including giving investigators access to his apartment, his telephone records and his staff.

Abbe Lowell, emphasizing what he called Condit’s full cooperation in the Levy case, said at a news conference Monday night that the congressman would be willing to provide a DNA sample and would “listen” to police if they asked for a lie detector test.

Mars Launches New M&M’s Variety Aimed at Latino Buyers

LOS ANGELES TIMES

Hoping to tap into the collective sweet tooth of the growing Latino market, candy maker Mars Inc. will launch a “dulce de leche” caramel variety of its popular M&M’s candy in five markets the company said Tuesday.

The Hackettstown, N.J.-based company, the nation’s third-largest confectioner, follows in the footsteps of such well-known food purveyors as McDonald’s in trying to convert the popular taste -- similar to caramelized or sweetened milk -- into a retail hit.

The candy will feature a swirl of dulce de leche caramel and chocolate inside the traditional candy shell.