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News Briefs

French Lose Their Own Test Explosives On Flight

France’s interior minister called it “scandalous.” Le Figaro called it “ridiculous.” But whatever you choose to call it, on Monday, four days after the police at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle International Airport planted explosives in an unsuspecting passenger’s suitcase, nobody knew yet where the explosives had gone.

“We hope the person who finds this will take it to the local authorities,” said a spokesman for the gendarmerie, France’s national police, who planted the mobile-phone-size lump of plastic explosives as part of an exercise to train bomb-sniffing dogs. “We hope they don’t throw it away.”

The explosives, which had no detonator, are not thought to pose a danger. The police spokesman, Pierre Bouquin, said that if detonated, they would probably be enough to blow a door from a car.

The police are working on the assumption that the explosives left Paris aboard a flight between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday. About 90 planes left the airport in that period for international destinations, including Italy, Japan, Brazil and the United States, as well as for French cities.

OPEC May Weigh Cutting Some Production

Oil prices have been at record highs this year, with money gushing into the coffers of oil producers thanks to the world’s growing thirst for oil. But as OPEC leaders head into a fifth and final meeting for the year on Friday, the topic on their minds and on the agenda is whether there will be too much oil sloshing around the world next year. For some, production cuts may be in order.

After hitting a record of more than $55 a barrel in October, oil prices in New York have since fallen by 23 percent. Under pressure to bring down oil prices, members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries began pumping at full capacity this summer and they continue to do so.

Now, because of OPEC’s efforts, there is more oil on the market than is needed to meet demand. With the group’s production at its highest in 25 years, some producers fear oil prices will tumble as demand slows next year in the wake of high prices and the usual seasonal brake in the second quarter. This means OPEC might be tempted to act pre-emptively and reduce output.

Justice Department Begins Studying Safety of Tasers

The Department of Justice has begun to study Tasers, the electric guns that are increasingly popular with police, in the face of new questions over their safety.

Rusty York, the police chief of Fort Wayne, Ind., said that a Justice Department researcher, Joyce Gammelmo, contacted him last week to follow up on a report in a local newspaper that the city had decided to buy Tasers after studying them since early 2003. Gammelmo wanted to know more about Fort Wayne’s research, York said.

After York outlined his department’s work, Gammelmo encouraged him to conduct more research before buying the guns, York said. More than 70 people have died after being shocked with Tasers, though the company that makes the weapons, Taser International, says the deaths were not related to their use.