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Charges in Brazil fire

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Eight people have been charged in connection with the deadly nightclub fire in southern Brazil that killed 241 people earlier this year, prosecutors said Tuesday.

The Jan. 27 fire roared through the crowded, windowless Kiss nightclub in the city of Santa Maria, filling the air with flames and thick, toxic smoke.

Police have said the band performing at the club lit a flare that ignited flammable soundproofing foam on the ceiling, releasing a deadly combination of cyanide, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.

Prosecutor David Medina told a Tuesday news conference the nightclub's two owners and two band members were charged with murder.

"The owners of the nightclub and the members of the band were fully aware of the danger the public faced and could have foreseen the result, but they took no action or were indifferent to the risks," Medina said.

Cancer-fighting spy?

MILWAUKEE -- A researcher at the Medical College of Wisconsin is charged with espionage after prosecutors say he stole details of a cancer-fighting compound he wanted to share with China.

Prosecutors say Hua Jun Zhao stole the compound, C-25, and data that led to its development.

A federal complaint says investigators found several hundred items related to research into C-25 on Zhao's computer. Authorities found a grant application from Zhao, written in Mandarin, claiming he discovered the compound and seeking Chinese funding to continue research.

The 42-year-old Zhao is charged with economic espionage, which carries a maximum 15 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

Arms-trade treaty OK'd

The UN General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the first international treaty regulating the multibillion-dollar global arms trade Tuesday, after a more than decade-long campaign to keep weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists, warlords, organized-crime figures and human-rights violators.

Loud cheers erupted in the assembly chamber as the electronic board flashed the final vote: 154 in favour, 3 against and 23 abstentions.

The United States, the world's biggest arms exporter, voted yes. Iran, North Korea and Syria -- all facing arms embargoes -- cast the only no votes. They argued, among other things, that the agreement favours major arms suppliers such as the U.S. over importers that need weapons for self-defence.

Never before has there been a treaty regulating the global arms trade, which is estimated to be worth $60 billion today and which Amnesty International predicts will exceed $100 billion in the next four years.

-- from the news services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 3, 2013 A11

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