CHICAGO - The city's police superintendent said Monday he was stepping down as head of the beleaguered department, but he would not say what role two videotaped beatings involving off-duty officers had in his decision. Last month, prosecutors filed felony charges against an officer accused of beating a female bartender. Six other officers were removed from street duty after being accused of assaulting four businessmen in a bar. Superintendent Philip J. Cline took over in November 2003 and had been expected to retire later this year. On Monday, he referred to the highly publicized incidents only as "these times of challenge." To the city's police officers, the 57-year-old Cline said: "I encourage all of them to rise above any controversy and stay focused on the mission." Cline did not take any questions from reporters at a news conference. Cline said he will stay on until a replacement was found, and thanked Mayor Richard M. Daley for giving him "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lead the best police department in the country."
FDA blocks wheat gluten from company
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WASHINGTON - The United States is blocking imports of wheat gluten from a company in China, acting after an investigation implicated the contaminated ingredient in the recent pet- food deaths of cats and dogs. The Food and Drug Administration took action against wheat gluten from Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. in Wangdien, China, after the U.S. recall of nearly 100 brands of pet food made with the chemically contaminated ingredient. The pet food, tainted with the chemical melamine, apparently has resulted in kidney failure in an unknown number of animals across the country. Wheat gluten from China has been suspected in the outbreak since the first of multiple recalls was announced in mid-March. Even more pet food could be recalled in the next few days, though there probably has been no contamination of human food, FDA officials said Monday.
Fighting in Somalia has killed nearly 400
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MOGADISHU, Somalia - Fierce fighting between Ethiopian-backed government forces and Islamic insurgents in Somalia's capital has killed nearly 400 people - mostly civilians - in the past four days, a Somali human rights group said Monday. The fighting abated long enough Monday to allow thousands of people to flee the ruined coastal city on foot and in donkey carts, cars and trucks. Some 47,000 people - mainly women and children - have abandoned their homes in the last 10 days, according to the U.N. refugee agency. Since February, nearly 100,000 people have fled the violence, the agency said. Monday's lull appeared to follow a truce between Ethiopian forces and insurgents, brokered by the capital's dominant clan.
Ohio prisoner arrested after escape
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HILLIARD, Ohio - Police arrested a prison inmate at a house where he holed up Monday with two hostages after overpowering a guard in a hospital, carjacking a vehicle and robbing two banks, authorities said. Billy Jack Fitzmorris came peacefully out of a room in the suburban Columbus home after about two hours of negotiations, police said. He had two female hostages, but one woman went out a second-story window and jumped from a porch roof, Hilliard Chief Rodney Garnett said. She was taken to a hospital but not seriously injured, he said. Police identified the woman who fled as Geneva Erb, 45, of Hilliard. The other hostage was identified as Karen Zappitelli, 42, of Columbus. Erb is an employee of an accounting business operated out of the home.